Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Mark Sturtevant has graced us with another batch of insect photos. His captions and IDs (and links, which he supplied) are indented:

Here is another installment of dragonflies. At times I’m asked what kind of equipment might be required for close-up and macrophotography. Neither of these requires expensive equipment. For close-up photography of larger insects like dragonflies and butterflies, you can do quite well with an old dslr camera body and an ancient medium-range zoom lens like a 70-200mm. In truth, a small point-and-shoot camera can also do wonders.

Now—on to dragonflies. The first picture is a mature male Eastern pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis). This species starts out with an intense green color, and males gradually develop a waxy coating that produces this lovely blue color. By then, males are spending most of their time out over water.

Next is a species that was new to me. I kept seeing these small, ‘darty’ dragonflies that would zip across a certain forest trail. Presently, I found a wet patch that seemed to be a gathering place for several of them. It took more than one trip to the spot, but I was eventually able to get pictures of one that had briefly landed. This is a female racket-tailed emerald (Dorocordulia libera), members of the Emerald dragonfly family (Corduliidae). Besides the amazing eyes, one can see the metallic green thorax that is a feature of many species in this family. It is always extra exciting to find a new dragonfly!

The large dragonfly in the next picture was yet another occasion where I had to run in from my back yard to grab a camera. The backyard visitor this time was a female lance-tipped darner (Aeshna constricta). This was a species I was trying to get for some time, and here one had come to visit me!

The next several pictures are some of our local clubtail dragonflies (family Gomphidae). I say ‘some’, because this is a huge family and there are many, many more species just in my area. Some clubtails are extremely tricky to identify, and it is possible I am wrong on some, although these have been seen by some seasoned experts in the hobby.

Male dusky clubtail (Phanogomphus spicatus).

Male and female lancet clubtails (Phanogomphus exilis). The female is eating what may be a robber fly.

Female midland clubtail (Gomphurus fraternus). This boldly patterned dragonfly can be common in my favorite place known as the Magic Field. She is perched in what is known as the ‘obelisk’ position, where the abdomen is pointed upwards to the sun. This reduces the surface area exposed to the sun so that they do not overheat.

Next is a male splendid clubtail (Gomphurus lineatifrons) that also came from the Magic Field. The pale color is because this individual is young. When mature, it will be almost identical to the midland clubtails.

In closing, this is an unidentified meadowhawk dragonfly that seems a little shy. The extra shiny wings are because it too is a recently emerged adult.

15 Comments

  1. Mark Jones
    Posted March 10, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Great shots, as usual!

  2. Posted March 10, 2020 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    I looked at the photos, noticed the subjects and the high IQ, and thought, That’s Mark S. again. Sure enough. Nice work!

  3. Posted March 10, 2020 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the great photos and IDs Mark!

  4. Posted March 10, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos. A few brought back faint childhood memories of encounters with some of these species (or species a child might confuse with them) 40-50 years ago in Wisconsin. They would often get stuck in our garage windows, giving me the chance to admire their stripes and colors and beautiful eyes.

  5. Warren Johnson
    Posted March 10, 2020 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Love the pictures. Where were they taken? And what camera and lens did he use? I request that all wildlife photos include both bits of information. Any scientific paper would probably include both, at least the location.

    • Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      I live in Michigan, U.S.A. I shoot with Canon, and these pictures were taken with a 100-400mm lens that is resting loosely on a monopod. A diffused external flash was used to help push more light on the subjects.

      • Warren
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Thanks! Really amazing photos. They reminded me to pay more attention to these amazing flyers.

  6. Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    These are absolutely stunning. Thank you, Mark for sharing them. I love dragonflies, and have never been able to photograph them, so yes, I am also a wee bit envious. 😉

    • tjeales
      Posted March 10, 2020 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      Try getting out early. Most dragonflies need the air to warm up before they can fly so you can approach them with ease in the cool of the morning.

  7. rickflick
    Posted March 10, 2020 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Fine batch of pictures Mark. The dragonfly always reminds me of primeval jungles, with dragonflies with 12 inch wingspan. They also resemble a tiny military helicopter. Hard to get close to.

  8. Mark R.
    Posted March 10, 2020 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    This is a terrific batch…lovely insects. Dragonflies are my favorite, I especially like their aggressive and scary looking nymphs.

  9. tjeales
    Posted March 10, 2020 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful shots of one of my favourite insect groups. That darner looks so much like one of the large Australian dragonflies I see around the place Adversaeschna brevistyla the Blue-Spotted Hawker. Thanks for these.

  10. Posted March 10, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Love me some dragonflies, thanks! I guess you might have figured, from my avatar.

  11. Posted March 12, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    What astonishing colours and textures!

  12. Posted March 13, 2020 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    These are wonderful, Mark, thanks!


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