Friday, July 13, 2012

A DAZZLE OF DRAGONFLIES

Widow Skimmer, male

When you're a photographer looking for sheer eye-stopping color, dragonflies and damselflies will easily rival anything in nature. Even the most impressive panoply of birds or butterflies can't out-dazzle these large flying insects. By last count, Ohio has some 164 species of Odonata. For the past few weeks I've been fiddling around trying to capture images of a few—mostly while skulking about a pond and meadow just up the road. I thought you might enjoy seeing a handful of my favorite shots. 

Eastern Pondhawk, female

I'm no expert when it comes to identifying these lovely creatures. Quite honestly, I'm not even a semi-competent amateur. Nor do I (yet!) have a good field guide to help me fumble along. The best i.d. resource I possess is Dragonflies of Ohio, a PDF publication from the Ohio's Division of Wildlife. That said, I'm pretty confident for the identifications given…though if I'm wrong, please don't hesitate to say so. The identity of two of the dragonflies pictured remains a vexing mystery—despite my best efforts to figure them out. If perchance you know what they are, I'd really appreciate the help.

Calico Pennant, male
Eastern Pondhawk, male

Halloween Pennant, female

Unknown (found in deep shade away from water)

Widow Skimmer, male
Eastern Amberwing, male

Eastern Pondhawk, female

Unknown (perched on stick floating in pond)

Halloween Pennant, male


20 comments:

George said...

I love these photos, Grizz! Dragonflies are pure magic!

And thanks for all of the information in the previous post about your camera, lens, and techniques. We photographers are always interested in how the other guy is doing it.

Have a good weekend.

Grizz………… said...

George…

Dragonflies are magic! I love seeing and trying to capture their image…just as I love rambling about the environs where they're found.

After so lengthily answering your question yesterday, I thought…well, there's a perfect case of my tendency to blather on in informational overkill. Poor George will likely never dare comment again, though I knew you'd be too much the gentleman to ever say so. Nevertheless, please forgive me for such long-windedness. Sometimes I'm incapable of succinctness. (This paragraph being another prime example.)

The Solitary Walker said...

Well, how's this for succinct: Staggering pictures, Grizz! Incredible detail.

The Weaver of Grass said...

The perfect collective noun to describe dragonflies Grizz - that is one of the benefits of living so near to water - absolutely beautiful photographs

The Weaver of Grass said...

Just to add - did you know that one of the names for them over here in UK is 'the devil's darning needles'?

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

Thank you.

And just so you know, I can write a comment just as succinct as yours any time I want…in about 500 words.

Grizz………… said...

Weaver…

Thank you. Actually, not all dragonflies are exclusively associated with water; several species hunt fields and meadows. And those which do like watery backdrops sometimes prefer streams over ponds, or bogs over fens.

"Dazzle" is indeed the perfect collective noun…but, alas, it isn't mine. I, uh, "borrowed" it from the title of a fairly recent book on dragonflies I have on my shelf, by Forrest L. Mitchell and James L. Lasswell. It may be Messrs. Mitchell and Lasswell themselves borrowed it from the wonderful book on collective nouns by James Lipton, "An Exaltation of Larks." I can't checked because THAT book is stored in one of my boxes of books. To my knowledge, though, the old texts simply—and rather unimaginatively—suggest multiple dragonflies should be called a "flight" or "cluster." One writer, in another book, opts for "levitation," which I think this is more applicable to a gang of Jack Russell terriers happy greeting you.

There are a number of regional common names for dragonflies. I'm familiar with "devil's darning needle" and "mosquito hawk," but the one I've heard most is "snake doctor," which is still quite often employed, especially among those of us with a Southern heritage.

Hildred and Charles said...

Wonderful post, - thank you so much for sharing with all us 'townies'...

Grizz………… said...

Hildred and Charles…

I make all these photos of birds and butterflies, wildflowers, and countless other things—and while I do use some in my nature columns, after that they just get stored on a hard drive. I truly believe the most fun you can have is to share things with others—that's one of life's greatest blessings. I'm just delighted to have a way and place to share these photos so other folks can enjoy them, too.

So, thank you! It is really my pleasure.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ - your pictures are so beautiful and detailed as is your information. My Mom loved dragon flies and I bought her a dragon-fly pin that she wore on her jackets. I miss her Grizz - I ache but I am okay too as I know she is 'home' and with my Dad - actually, I think she is still traveling - cuz my Dad told her, in a dream, that it takes three days to get to heaven, so she is a third of the way there. Soaring freely and gently.
Love Gail
peace.....

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

In this time of sorrow and loss, when your world is so emphatically empty, know that your Mother dwells in a wonderful place, free from pain. When Jesus said, "let not your heart be troubled…" He spoke to dispel any fears of death and doubts regarding what awaits beyond. Your Mom, in her strong faith, had no uncertainty—she knew to the core of her very soul exactly where this final journey would lead. You can take comfort from that eternal promise…but it's also only natural to miss those we loved so dearly, to ache and cry because our hearts are broken. My father passed away in June of 1983, and my mother in June of 2005. The pain of their loss is still there. I think about them every day, remember their great love for me and the joys of our family. There are times when the memories and the hurt and emptiness of that impossible-to-fill hole in my heart simply flood to surface in such an emotional overpowering that I can do nothing but weep. Love remains.

Your mother was a lady of courage, convictions, faith, honor, strength and abiding love. She passed that legacy to you. Take care of yourself these next few days. You and your family will remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Gail said...

Hi again - your loving, wise and honest words give me great comfort. I am in a good place, as good a place as I can be - I am able to rest and unwind and then face what is next as we bring this time of arrangements to her physical resting place next to my Dad and my nephew Clayton, she is in the middle. My sister's husband is there too. Our family plot, so to speak. But I know that by Monday her soul and spirit will be with our Lord and my Dad and all those who have passed before her - her life is a gift to us forever - her love is eternal. thanks Grizz - i so love how you were loved by your Mom and Dad and that you know my heart in this.
Love to you
Gail
peace.....

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

In times like these, I never really know what to say—no matter what I write or speak, my most sincere words always sound so hollow. Death is a part of life, yet that doesn't make it any easier—especially on those left behind. However, your mother has given you many priceless gifts as well as her great love and precious memories. Her wonderful spirit through these final days has taught you all you'll ever need to know to use them exceedingly well.

KGMom said...

Scribe--
this series of photos is absolutely stunning.

Grizz………… said...

KGMom…

Thank you. I really enjoy dragonflies—they're fun to stalk and their colors are just amazing. The more I get into it, trying to identify them and come up with ever-better images, the more fun I have…and I've barely scratched the surface so far as capturing shots of even the common species. I don't usually put up so many photos, but I just hoped readers would get a kick out of seeing a few.

Robin said...

Wow!

Oh, the Calico... and the Amberwing looks like nature's church windows.

Thanks, Grizz.

Robin said...

James Lipton, "An Exaltation of Larks."

Great. Now I have yet another book to buy.

Thanks!

Grizz………… said...

Robin X2…

I found both the Calico Pennant and and the Eastern Amberwing the same morning this week. It was really hot out, I'd made a couple of other short stops, and I only spent maybe 20 minutes checking no more than 50 feet of meadow grass adjacent to a small pond. They were a half-dozen yards apart, and right down in the dry grass. The Eastern Amberwing is a really small dragonfly, one of the smallest we have in the state.

I think my favorite purely from a photographic standpoint—it being what I'd call the "best shot" of the series—is the female Halloween Pennant. I couldn't choose a favorite dragonfly.

Love the comparison with a stained-glass window.

You'd enjoy Lipton's book, I think. While I dip into my copy regularly (except when I mistakenly put it in a box stored in the attic!) it's kind of offbeat info only a writer/word person who loves nature and the old classics stuff would read more than once. BTW, he's the same James Lipton who also hosts the interviews from the Actor's Studio. Go figure.

giggles said...

Gobsmacked.

Grizz………… said...

Giggles…

They are stunning, huh?