Photographs by Frank

4 August 2013

“Down Back”, Yesterday Afternoon

About three yesterday afternoon, I donned waders and headed out “down back” to “our” beaver swamp. To me, there is nothing more enjoyable than spending a few hours outside watching (and photographing) the world.

One can tell that August is here because there the meadowhawks appear to great you as you get to the wetland. Meadowhawks spend most of their time at the margin of the beaver meadow. They often perch on the shrubs found there. Yesterday was typical, meadowhawks were the first and last odes I saw.

Out in the meadow proper, I was surprised at the small numbers of darners that were present… maybe it is still a bit early. I think of them as “late season” species… we’ll have to keep looking!

Of course, there was much else going on if one looks carefully.

There were more damselflies out and about than there were dragonflies. Perhaps the most common species present were sphagnum sprites; I saw a number of pairs flying in tandem and ovipositing.

Photographing ovipositing pairs of damselflies is very frustrating. Usually the male is sort of free standing and therefore he is constantly “vibrating”. This makes for “fuzzy” if not downright blurry males. One rare occasions the male finds something solid to grab onto which makes for better photographs (as is the case in the eighth photo shown here).

All of the books about odes make mention that ovipositing puts these critters at risk of predation. This unlucky pair is an example. As I was watching them through the viewfinder a spider came literally from nowhere  and pounced on the pair capturing the female. The actual attack took only a few tenths of a second and my reflexes are not that good! Thus, I only have photos of the aftermath (see the ninth photo in this series). I searched for the spider in all of the frames I shot of the pair and can not find it!

There were also fair numbers of eastern forktails, mainly older females, about. Female eastern forktails start out bright orange and turn a dull gray with age. It is hard to believe that they are the same species much less the same individuals they look so different.

I also saw (and photographed) for the first time a lone fragile forktail; it was about two feet from all of the “spider drama”.

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Meadowhawk sp? (male)
Meadowhawk sp? (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Eastern Forktai (pruinose female)
Eastern Forktai (pruinose female)
Eastern Forktai (pruinose female)
Eastern Forktai (pruinose female)
Swamp Spreadwing (male)
Swamp Spreadwing (male)
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Meadowhawk sp? (teneral female)
Meadowhawk sp? (teneral female)
Sphagnum Sprite (ovipositing pair)
Sphagnum Sprite (ovipositing pair)
Spider with Prey (the female Sphagnum Sprite in the preceeding photo!)
Spider with Prey (the female Sphagnum Sprite in the preceeding photo!)
Fragile Forktail (male)
Fragile Forktail (male)
ID Needed
ID Needed
Meadowhawk sp? (female)
Meadowhawk sp? (female)
Meadowhawk sp? (male)
Meadowhawk sp? (male)

23 August 2011

Sunday Afternoon

Filed under: "Camp",Odontates,Other Insects,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Sunday afternoon we decided to put the canoe in the water and head down to camp. Just as we arrived at the public beach we heard the first thunder!

We pressed on anyway and made it about half way down the lake before we decided that we had better sit things out on the shore. We spent a half hour or so under a hemlock on the shore watching and listening to the storm which was mostly to the west of us. There was only a couple of brief sprinkles where we were sitting and we barely got wet sitting snug under our hemlock.

When the storm had passed we continued on down the lake which we now had to ourselves… literally!

Joan headed out for a paddle in the kayak and I headed out to stalk odes along the lake shore in nice light. The only odes about were variable (or violet) dancers which are very common along the lake  for most of the summer.

At one point my “spotter-in-chief” (i.e. Joan), who was a bit farther down the lake than I had made it, called out that there was a damselfly in a spider web. I headed on over to said location post haste.

Upon my arrival I found two variable dancers (a male and female) entangled in the web. The spider  (a comb-clawed spider, I think) was making quick work of the male but photography was impossible as the gyrations of the female were causing the entire web to move violently.

I watched as the spider moved to the female and, I assume, bit her. It took maybe a minute for the spider venom to work and the web became still. The spider went back to trussing up the male and then returned to the female to do likewise.

At this point the spider retreated to a hiding spot in a nearby, curled up leaf. I waited ten minutes or so hoping that the spider would make a reappearance but the wait was in vain.


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