Monday, September 24, 2018

A Real Head Turner

Darners use a variety of means to clean themselves. A particularly "splashy" method is the splash-dunk, followed by a spin-dry to dry off.

They also clean their eyes with their legs. The following video shows a Paddle-tailed Darner (the Happy-face Dragonfly) cleaning its eyes as it rests on its perch. Note the extreme flexibility of the eyes, which can rotate by at least 135˚.


Their eyes are beautiful, almost like small gemstones. Notice that the pseudopupils keep pointing toward the viewer as the head rotates, but that the "eyebrows" move with the eyes themselves. The eyebrows are actually pigment on the surface of the eyes, and are a permanent feature, visible even when the dragonflies dies.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

It's Tule Time!

Betsy and I have been to Cranberry Lake the last several days enjoying the beautiful Fall days. The weather has been lovely, and the dragonfly activity has been interesting. Yesterday there were lots of Paddle-tailed Darners perched in the bushes (6 to 8 at a time), and many pairs of Autumn Meadowhawks flying in tandem.

We also saw lots of bluets, but the funny thing was they were all Tule Bluets, like the ones below:





Notice that these bluets have roughly equal amounts of black and blue on the middle segments of the abdomen. In comparison, Northern and Boreal Bluets have mostly blue with small rings of black. You can see this comparison in the pages from my field guide, Common Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Pacific Coast, shown below:





You can find the field guide on Amazon, at the following link:

https://www.amazon.com/Common-Dragonflies-Damselflies-Pacific-Coast/dp/1934199265/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537462425&sr=8-1&keywords=dragonflies+pacific

I was surprised to be seeing only Tules, but on consulting my field guide, I see that it is twice as likely to see Tules in September.

As with all bluets, the Tules are aggressively territorial. Here is one harassing a pair of Blue-eyed Darners:



We filmed a "cloud" of bluets at Cranberry Lake a couple days ago, and noticed that they are very accomplished at flying backwards. Here's a short video clip showing one flying in reverse:



Here's a group of them backing up in unison, like some kind of bluet line dance:



Fascinating creatures, coming or going.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Reader Visits Cherry Springs!

Note: Over the years, this post from September 4, 2013 has been one of the most popular on the blog. I thought I would re-post it so more people will have a chance to see what it's all about. I still hope to get to Cherry Springs Nature Area one of these days.

Not long ago, I was contacted by naturalist Sheri Covert at the Cherry Springs nature area near Pocatello, Idaho. She was putting together an interpretive sign to inform visitors about some of the interesting insect life to be found there, and asked if she could use a couple of my dragonfly pictures. I was happy to help with a project like that, and supplied her with pictures of the species she was looking for. Here's a rough draft of the sign, which looks very nice.


Here's an enlargement of the dragonfly section:


I look forward to visiting Cherry Springs one of these days. If any of my intrepid readers gets there first, please take a picture of the sign in place and we'll include it in the blog.


Follow Up:
Well, it's happened now—a reader of the blog, Thom Dyson, has visited the Cherry Springs Nature Area. He reports that it's a pleasant walk, though there were no odonates out when he visited in early June. Still, he found the sign, and took this photo of it on the trail:



It so nice to see that it's still there, five years on. Thanks Thom, I'm so happy to finally get to see the sign in it's natural habitat!


You can learn more about the species featured on the Cherry Springs Interpretive Sign in my new field guide, Common Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Pacific Coast. You can see more about it at the following link to Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Common-Dragonflies-Damselflies-Pacific-Coast/dp/1934199265/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537113380&sr=8-1&keywords=dragonflies+pacific

P. S. They have it at a very good price right now!

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Whisperer Speaks Again!

Well, the Dragonfly Whisperer is set to speak again, this time on Saturday, September 15 at 2:00 pm at the Arlington Public Library. Here's the venue:





As a bit of a taste of what it's like to hear from the Dragonfly Whisperer, check out this segment from Evening Magazine:



We look forward to seeing you there. Stop in and say "Hi".

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Dragonfly Whisperer on Evening Magazine

The Evening Magazine segment about the Dragonfly Whisperer in Anacortes aired last night (9/11/2018) on King 5 TV. Here's the segment as it aired:


I think they did a very good job of integrating my slow-motion spin-dry videos into the program—it was a delight to see them on the air. They also did a nice job of showing some of the dragonflies we encountered at Cranberry Lake and Heart Lake here in Anacortes.

They also talked about the Happy-face Dragonfly, which is always fun, and pointed out that it is on the cover of my field guide. As they mentioned, the field guide is available on Amazon; in fact, it can be found at the following link

https://www.amazon.com/Common-Dragonflies-Damselflies-Pacific-Coast/dp/1934199265/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1536788429&sr=8-2&keywords=dragonflies+pacific

They have a good price for the guide right now!


Below is the original post about Evening Magazine's visit, in case you missed it.


A few weeks ago, Evening Magazine from King5 TV came to Anacortes to do an interview with the Dragonfly Whisperer. It will be aired on September 11 at 7:30 pm.





They were getting some great shots with their video equipment. They could fill the entire frame with small damselflies, and get really nice close ups of dragonflies. Here's the cameraman getting a video of me taking a picture of him (notice the reflection of my hands holding my camera in the video lens):



We filmed at Cranberry Lake, where we took videos of damselflies, and at Heart Lake, where we concentrated on dragonflies. At Heart Lake we had a nice look at a female Cardinal Meadowhawk. They got great video of the dragonfly, as well as video of me taking pictures of it. They will then intersperse some of my still shots, like this one, in the finished segment:



We also saw several Eight-spotted Skimmers, again with the video camera getting great views, as well as shots of me taking pictures of the dragonflies. Some had quite a bit of wear on their wings, like this one:



One even had an entire wing missing. I've seen ragged wings, and wings with sections missing, but this was the first time I had seen a dragonfly with one wing completely gone.



As the cameraman for Evening Magazine said, "It's amazing it doesn't just fly around in circles." That's right, but in fact it was flying pretty much normally.

I'm sure the segment on King5 will be quite brief, but it will be fun to see some dragonflies on TV.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Whisperer Speaks Again!

We'll be giving a presentation at 6:30 pm this evening at the Burlington Public Library in Burlington, WA. It looks like a very nice facility:







We hope to see you there!

Also, don't forget about the Dragonfly Whisperer segment on Evening Magazine this evening at 7:30 pm on Channel 5. Here's the original post:


A few weeks ago, Evening Magazine from King5 TV came to Anacortes to do an interview with the Dragonfly Whisperer. It will be aired on September 11 at 7:30 pm.





They were getting some great shots with their video equipment. They could fill the entire frame with small damselflies, and get really nice close ups of dragonflies. Here's the cameraman getting a video of me taking a picture of him (notice the reflection of my hands holding my camera in the video lens):



We filmed at Cranberry Lake, where we took videos of damselflies, and at Heart Lake, where we concentrated on dragonflies. At Heart Lake we had a nice look at a female Cardinal Meadowhawk. They got great video of the dragonfly, as well as video of me taking pictures of it. They will then intersperse some of my still shots, like this one, in the finished segment:



We also saw several Eight-spotted Skimmers, again with the video camera getting great views, as well as shots of me taking pictures of the dragonflies. Some had quite a bit of wear on their wings, like this one:



One even had an entire wing missing. I've seen ragged wings, and wings with sections missing, but this was the first time I had seen a dragonfly with one wing completely gone.



As the cameraman for Evening Magazine said, "It's amazing it doesn't just fly around in circles." That's right, but in fact it was flying pretty much normally.

I'm sure the segment on King5 will be quite brief, but it will be fun to see some dragonflies on TV.

The Whisperer Spoke!

Betsy and I gave a presentation for the La Conner Rotary Club last night at the Farmhouse Inn. We had a great time, and were given a wonderful and friendly reception by the rotarians. Thanks for your hospitality!