Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Dragonfly Whisperer Spoke: The Prescott Talk

Betsy and I had a wonderful time in Prescott.  We made a lot of new friends, and enjoyed a field trip the next day.  Thanks to all who attended the talk – you made it a memorable experience for us.

Here's an advertising flyer for the talk:



We were also delightfully surprised after the talk with a nice plague to commemorate the event.  I have it hanging in my office now.


Thanks again to the Prescott Audubon Society – we look forward to our next visit!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Whisperer Speaks Tomorrow!

Here's sort of an engraved invitation to tomorrow's dragonfly talk, by way of the Vitruvian Darner:


This dragonfly (the Happy-face Dragonfly) shows the nice proportions of da Vinci's Vitruvian Man.

I was curious how these proportions would compare with other dragonflies, so I tried a Vitruvian Glider, based on a Wandering Glider:


Not surprisingly, the broad, wide wings of the glider give it distinctly different proportions.

Both of these sketches were taken from photographs, so the proportions are true to life.

Off to Prescott tomorrow.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Whisperer Speaks: Dragonfly 101 Handout

I've prepared a handout to go along with my upcoming talk for Prescott Audubon.  Unfortunately, I don't know how many to expect at the meeting, so it's probably best to post the handout here where everyone can have a copy if they like.


This should make the handout available to a wider audience, and also provide a color version suitable for printing at home.  Please feel free to print out a copy.  No need to bring it with you, unless you want to use it to take notes.

See you there, Thursday.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Whisperer Speaks in One Week!

In just one week, on Thursday, May 22, 2014, The Dragonfly Whisperer speaks at the general meeting of the Prescott Audubon Society.  They've been kind enough to invite me, and I'm looking forward to a fun evening.  We also plan to conduct a dragonfly walk the following day.

They have a very active organization, with lots of different programs, and they've produced some excellent promotional materials to advertise the talk.  Here's an example:


That should attract some attention.  Even the Vitruvian Dragonfly is getting into the act:


Prescott Audubon's website contains more specific information:


Be sure to say "Hi" if you can make it to the presentation.  Betsy and I will be looking onward to seeing you..

You can find more information about Prescott Audubon at their website:

http://prescottaudubon.org

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Unexpected Pleasures of Dragonflying: A Rattler and a Monster

One of the great things about dragonflying is that it gets you out in the field where you're likely to see many wonders of nature.  A couple weeks ago we went to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and though we saw only a couple Blue-eyed Darners and one Flame Skimmer at Ayer Lake, we saw lots of other delights.

One was a beautiful male Broad-billed Hummingbird that perched for us in the sunlight.  This was in the Cactus Garden area, near the boojum tree.  Such a nice contrast between his flame red bill and the iridescent blues and greens in his body.

A Broad-billed Hummingbird at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

A little later, on the shady path near the Herb Garden, we saw two baby Anna's Hummingbirds almost spilling out of their tiny nest.  Good thing it's so elastic.  Here are the babies:

Baby Anna's Hummingbirds overflowing their nest.

As we watched, they decided to take a little nap:

Nap time for the babies.

Hummingbirds are a common part of a visit to the arboretum, even babies in the nest.  What was a bit more exciting, however, was the next unexpected pleasure – a Western Diamonback Rattlesnake.  We were heading back toward the picnic area for lunch when we spotted a good-sized rattler under a bush.  I would say it was around 5 feet long.  Here are a couple photos of it:

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake.  Clearly a member of the pit viper family.

He was getting a good look at us.  As he moved on I was able to get a couple shots of his rattles, and also the black and white bands of roughly equal width:



It was interesting having lunch, knowing this guy was just a few feet away.  Oh well, he was staying well under the bush, so we weren't concerned.

After lunch we took a walk through the Demonstration Garden.  We checked out the hummingbird nest on top a pine cone, but discovered that the babies had left.  Just then we stopped dead in our tracks as we saw the guy below lumbering out of the meadow onto the walking path:

A Gila Monster strolling across the walking path.

What a treat to see the Gila Monster.  We've seen them before at the arboretum, but always in the desert area, near the Cactus Garden.  This was the first we'd even heard of one being in the Demonstration Garden.

He sauntered across the path, then disappeared into the brush on the other side.  A nice treat to top off our day of unexpected pleasures.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Whisperer Speaks! Prescott Audubon, May 22

In just one month, on May 22, 2014, The Dragonfly Whisperer speaks at the general meeting of the Prescott Audubon Society.  They've been kind enough to invite me, and I'm looking forward to a fun evening.

They have a very active organization, with lots of different programs, and they've produced some excellent promotional materials to advertise the talk.  As an example, here's an ad they'll be distributing soon:


That should attract some attention.

Their website contains more specific information:


Betsy and I will be there – be sure to say "Hi" if you can make it, too.

You can find more information about Prescott Audubon at their website:

http://prescottaudubon.org

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Roseate Bay at the Gilbert Water Ranch

Another place we like at the Gilbert Water Ranch is what we call Roseate Bay, so named because Roseate Skimmers are so abundant there.  It's located at the northern end of Pond #5 in an area that stays wet all the time, while most of the pond dries up.  Its location is indicated on the map below:


There's also a nice shaded viewing blind at Roseate Bay.  It's a great place to see 3 or 4 Roseate Skimmers perched at a time, while in the background all sorts of ducks and shorebirds are feeding.

Here are a couple shots of a Roseate Skimmer at Roseate Bay.  They're very active right now, and often just perch for a few seconds before taking off again, but every now and then one rests for long enough to get some good shots.

Roseate Skimmer, at Roseate Bay, Gilbert Water Ranch.

The same individual.  Notice how the front two legs are tucked up nicely behind its head.  This is where they hold the front legs during flight as well.  Once the rear four legs capture an insect, the front two legs come into play as they manipulate the prey item for processing.


Also observed at Roseate Bay were a couple Variegated Meadowhawks.  Here's one on a stem, watching for something to take off and chase.

Variegated Meadowhawk, Roseate Bay, Gilbert Water Ranch.

The same individual from a different angle.  Notice the two yellow spots on the thorax.  When it was younger, there would have been two white stripes on the thorax, with yellow spots at the bottom.  With age, the white fades away, leaving just the yellow spots.  Notice also the intricate pattern on the abdomen, the reason for its name.