Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A dragonfly! My guess...a Brown-spotted Yellow-wing, commonly called a Halloween pennant!

I headed over to Voice of American (VOA) Park today. It had been over two weeks since I'd been there, and I couldn't wait to visit the High Meadow. I've really become attached to the open grassland habitat. I love the wildflowers, the sun, and the insect sounds. Today I was hoping for butterflies. The last time I went looking for butterflies at VOA, I found a Henslow's Sparrow and a Sedge Wren instead (so I'd be happy with those too). I found neither, instead, I photographed my first dragonfly!

Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina)
I love that face...big red eyes, freckles,
and what looks like a happy smile! ;-)

I know nothing about dragonflies. I didn't even know what they ate. After a quick Internet search I found they were carnivores and ate a lot of mosquitoes and other flying insects. I can't believe that as old as I am, I've never studied a dragonfly! They are GORGEOUS when viewed up close. Unfortunately, I still haven't gotten a macro lens, so I shot these with my 70-200mm with the 2x TC, catching a bit of detail, but not as much as a macro lens could do. The longer lens does capture cool photos by blurring parts of the wing and sharpening others, so I guess it's a good effect.

It was very breezy, but he (or she) clung to the stalk
with ease, letting those delicate-looking wings move
freely in the wind. I don't know if he was moving them
to adjust for the wind or if the breeze was simply
blowing through them like leaves on a tree.
(Either way, it was beautiful...and peaceful.)

There were five dragonflies I followed around for about 1.5 hours. Every one loved this plant and would return to these little stalks to ride out the breezes. At the time I didn't know what dragonflies ate, and I wondered what they liked about these plants scattered all over the meadow...I even wondered if they were eating the plant, but they didn't seem to be moving their mouths, so I assumed they were just resting. Soaking up the intense heat in the dry meadow, it was hard to imagine these beautiful creatures started life in the water. Their gorgeous wings were definitely made to shine in the sun...

Hang on tight little Halloween pennant!

Sun glistens off his wings producing
iridescent colors mixed with bits of gold.

I know I'll be heading to the bookstore tomorrow to find more info on dragonflies. A few are in my National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders, but I need more details!

Tom of The Ohio Nature Blog gave me the common name of Celithemis eponina, Halloween pennant, and recommended "Dragons and Damsels of NE Ohio" by Larry Rosche and Judy Semroc. He says it's one of the best dragonfly guides every published. I'll order it. It's available through the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Thanks, Tom!

44 comments:

Roy said...

These are really great shots of this very colourful species Kelly.

Midmarsh John said...

Beautiful shots of your first dragon, Kelly. Yes it is difficult getting the depth of field with a long focus lens. Such lovely wing patterns. Those which visit my pond have colourful bodies but plain transparent wings.

Sue said...

Now that's a fine looking dragonfly. I have these blue/black ones that are gorgeous, hanging around our scummy pond. I knew they are good to have around for mosquitos. I've never seen a yellow one like this....how neat!

Chris said...

Wow These are really great shots Kelly... You can guess that I'm not gonna be of any helps with ID but at least I love your shots ;-)

Tom said...

Kelly-

The most often used common name for this species is "Halloween pennant". I recommend dragons & damsels of Ne Ohio by my friends Larry Rosche and Judy Semroc. It is one of the best dragonfly guides ever published. It's not a perfect fit for SW Ohio, but I have used it throughout the state with success. It's available through the Cleveland Museum Of Natural History.

Kelly said...

Thanks, Tom for providing the species! I'll update the post and use the site!

Jayne said...

He's beautiful Kelly! I did not realize that they are carnivores either. :c)

Steve Ingraham said...

Great creature and amazing shots.

Laure Ferlita said...

There was a pond out behind the building where I used to work and one evening there must have been 100s of dragonflies engaged in an aerial show of unbelievable acrobatics! The sun was low in the sky and lit their wings to look like copper jewels.

I've no idea how long I stood and watched them, but it was a magnificent show to see. Later, (like you) I learned they were carnivores and most likely feeding on gnats or some other small insect.

ShySongbird said...

Exquisite Kelly, beautifully photographed. Isn't it it amazing how blogging (and the digital camera) concentrates the mind and opens our eyes to creatures we might once have overlooked? I know I notice far more than I ever used to!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I am amazed by your photos here today!
we have had so many dragonflys(ies?) in our yard and we see them as we eat our dinner and marvel at the number of them. Have not been close enough yet to see what they look like in detail though.

Cindy said...

Wow Kelly he's gorgeous. I can't believe we posted the same dragonfly in the same week.

These are great shots.

Cindy

Jenny said...

You've got some fabulous shots of your first Dragon Kelly. What a beauty! Dragons love to have their favourite perches where they keep a sharp eye out for their prey. Thanks for sharing your new found facination with another part of nature! (-:

Roy said...

Good shots, Kelly! And don't worry about the macro lens bit; I've never yet managed to have one let me get close enough to use the macro - most of my dragonfly shots were taken with a zoom.

An interesting bug! We have Calico Pennants (Celithemis elisa) in our meadows here; the only difference between yours and ours seems to be body color - Calico males are black with red markings and the females are black with yellow markings. I have shots of both, I think.

holdingmoments said...

What a stunner he is. Those wing patterns are amazing.

Kelly said...

Roy...John...thank you! The british blogs are part of the reason I developed an appreciation for dragonflies. Seeing them on all the posts really piqued my interest.

Sue...thanks...I hope a see a lot more. Usually once you get into something, they start popping up all over!

Chris...thanks (there's so much to learn...I'm excited!)

Tom...I found the book on the museums Web site. I'm going to order it!

Jayne and Steve...thank you!! I hope I can find other species!

Laure....Wow! Hundreds must have been a spectacular sight! The wings do shine iridescent. I can imagine in the setting Florida sun they were gorgeous.

Songbird...so true....I'm so much more observant now and am learning all the time!!!

Suzan...and Cindy....you fall in there with Laure with those gorgeous Florida dragonflies! I bet you have tons!!

Jenny.....ahhhhh...that explains why he was sitting there. Perching and looking for his next meal!! Thank you!

Roy....well that sounds good. Knowing me and my ability to remember it will be about 10 years before I get a macro lens!! Thank you!! This was the first time I was ever able to photograph them. Usually they fly as soon as I get close, but these fellows just hung out, clinging to those stalks.

Kelly said...

Keith....thank you! You should see the other fellow I shot. Beautiful reds....

Cicero Sings said...

What great pictures you are getting Kelly. These are lovely.

NW Nature Nut said...

Your photos are spectacular, and such a beauty he is!

Nature As Is said...

Wonderful shots Kelly!! I think without the macro lense your pictures are wonderful. I didn't even know there was a variety that looked like that. We have the Red and Blue here...I'm sure if I took the time I would find more...but as always I get sidetracked when I go out with my camera. Have a wonderful day.

The Early Birder said...

Hi Kelly. Cracking shots of your first dragon with those fabulous golden wings. Now I feel this is going to open up a whole new area of investigation for you. Have fun.
FAB.

Warren Baker said...

well that beats all our dragon fies for markings and colours, or does it just seem that way because they are new to me!

Laubaine said...

superbe
que j'aimerais avoir la meme a coté de chez moi ...
BRAVO

Ginnymo said...

Wow!! What beautiful shots of that Dragonfly!! I've never seen one up close.

Elaine said...

Gorgeous, Kelly! We don't have a lot of variety of dragonflies here, mostly the blue darners, but I have been seeing a lot of them this summer, and very happy about that because they eat the mosquitoes.

Andor Marton said...

These are some lovely shots and you captured a lot of details whit that 70-200 lens.
What is that annoying spot in the second shot?

Kelly said...

Andor....you made me laugh. That is an annoying spot, isn't it! It's actually his wing. Since I was shooting into him at that angle, it is blurred because I focused on his head.

Steve B said...

Wonderful Kelly. I believe your plant is timothy. I've seen many dragons and damsels perching on this grass.

I've been shooting my dragons with the 70-300mm zoom. I'm 90% happy with the shots. I think I'd do much better with a fixed focal length lens. It’s a compromise between minimum shooting distance and resolution. I can shoot at about 5 feet minimum.

Your shots are wonderful and you are doing a great job with your gear. We have to work within the limits of our gear. I think you may find that getting on top of the dragon with a macro lens will be challenging!

Check out the dragons on http://floridagreetings.blogspot.com/. (Thanks Sharon of A New England Life for turning me on to this site.) She’s doing some awesome work with a Cannon fixed lens camera.

Keep up the good work. We like what you are doing.

Atanasio Fernández García said...

Hi Kelly, beautiful shots! I like the framing you have chosen and the backgrounds and, of course, the beauty of the dragonfly, with these wings so curious. Greetings!

Born Again Bird Watcher said...

Nice work indeed!

Steve Willson said...

Really like your dragonfly shots. I have several dragonfly books, but my favorite for Dragonfly ID is Dragonflies through Binoculars by Sidney Dunkle. Accumulating field guides can become addictive. There always seems to be one more you have to own.

dAwN said...

Kelly,
Your first?
well i shouldn't be surprised...that your first photos are spectacular.
Wonderful!

Garden Lily said...

I love dragonflies, and that one is gorgeous. Nice photos.

Mary said...

That is a really great macro shot of the head and details! I never get a good look at the head, but love how they hang there like they are fighting the wind. Aren't they beautiful? I had never even looked at a dragonfly until last year when other bloggers started posting photos. I quickly discovered that I had 5 kinds on my own pond...duh! You mentioned what they eat....Yesterday I got photos of one eating a fly...a first for me. Will post them soon.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Great dragonfly shots! I've been shooting a lot of damselflies lately,and I'm just amazed at their colors. I think you've done an excellent job, macro or not. And frankly, you might never need that macro for stuff like this. A couple of months ago I received a how-to monograph from a fellow who specializes in bird and dragonfly photography for a living. It changed and improved my shooting technique immediately. If you want, write me at my email address posted on my blog and I'll send you a copy as a MSW attachment.

Regardless, these are still great photos!

Caroline said...

What wonderful photographs, Kelly. I love dragonflies - in Hong Kong where I lived for a few years they swarmed in September - it was an amazing sight! Here in KL I see a lot of beautiful red ones and they're slow enough to allow me to photograph close up with my small Canon Ixus! I find the odd dead one too to study - the wings are incredible!

Heather said...

What gorgeous photos Kelly. And we're only 2 months away from Halloween, so it's somewhat timely! Take care!

Jim H said...

Kelly, the dragonfly photos are incredibly beautiful and detailed! You must have a great lens on your camera.

Abraham Lincoln said...

I was in the car waiting on my granddaughter to come out from school and one of these hovered in front of my car. Of course i didn't have a camera with me.

Your photos are just outstanding.

Pick a Peck of Pixels

Rambling Woods said...

These are fantastic photos..wow.. I just started paying attention to dragons and damsels in the last couple of years. It was pretty easy to find info on dragons, but not on damsels..until I found a book on damsels in the North East if you ever want to look at damsels too. I am trying to indentify and document the wildlife around our house, pond and woods. I started with the birds and am branching out... I shouldn't have started before I turned 50 though..LOL... Michelle

Rambling Woods said...

Regarding dragons..I started here and this is a good way to get acquainted with them...
'Stokes Beginner's Guide to Dragonflies' and also 'Dragonflies through Binoculars' and for damsels.
'Damselflies of the Northeast: A Guide to the Species of Eastern Canada & the Northeastern United States by Ed Lam' and if you want to do some citizen science..http://www.odonatacentral.org/ to record what you see... Michelle

Kerri said...

Fabulous shots! I used to be SO SCARED of these when I was little - not anymore! They are on of my favorite creatures to photograph.

Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor said...

I am so in love with your blog. Such interesting information and drop dead gorgeous nature photography! Thank you!

Heathen heart and vagabond shoes said...

Hi Kelly

Just wanted to say that i've really enjoyed your photographs. They really are quite stunning. The subjects are fabulous and you really have a great eye! Beautiful rich color and composition. Inspired!