Dragons amidst a Peaceful People

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Filed under Outdoor Notes

July 13, 2011

Widow Skimmer, Libellula luctuosa

Widow Skimmers pose like supermodels

Amish one-room school

Amish School on auction day

The Amish community holds an annual auction to pay for their schools. It is a great affair: homemade ice cream, barbecued chicken, quilts, draft horse rides—just a lot of fun. This year, I showed up after the parking lot was almost full, so I ended up parked way back in the horse pasture.

In the middle of that pasture was a small slough from the nearby creek.

Slough off of Sherman's Creek

Slough in the middle of the "parking lot.

Mostly, the slough is dry, but a stretch about forty feet by eight feet was still holding water—enough water to hold fish, in fact.

And dragonflies.

There were Blue Dashers, Widow Skimmers, Pondhawks, Green Darners, Common Whitetails, Amberwings, a Spangled Skimmer, and a Wandering Glider (probably drawn to the parked cars, more than the slough—they love parked cars).

The Whitetails and the Widow Skimmers posed, as they are wont to do. They are balm to the frustrated dragonfly photographer who has stood sway-backed in the summer heat trying to photograph constantly moving Darners.

Common Whitetail, Plathymis lydia

Common Whitetails are equally obliging

One of the few times that Green Darners stop patrolling is when they apply themselves to the perpetuation of the species.

Green Darners ovipositing, Anax junius

Yes, there will be Green Darners in the future.

All this was zipping around over less than a quarter acre of wetlands. The emerging midges didn’t stand a chance.

And actively patrolling the slough was one reddish-colored dragonfly with a patterned wing. No matter how I positioned myself, I could not get a photo. I was wearing shorts and ratty old shoes, so I thought about wading out into the slough.

Freshwater leech

Some leeches don't suck mammal blood; don't know them apart; didn't want to find out

I decided not to.

I tried for over an hour to photograph the mystery dragon, but the best I did was a Loch-Ness-Monster-quality photo. I thought it might be some sort of red Saddlebags (genus Tramea). Someone who knows a lot more about dragonflies than I do opined that it was a Spot-winged Glider (Pantala hymenaea). That seems about right, but I would certainly like a better photo. Maybe next year.

Unidentified red dragonfly

Probable Spot-winged Glider, or maybe the Loch Ness dragonfly

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