Thursday, August 31, 2017

Field Guide Available

Well, my field guide is out now and available on Amazon, plus other locations. Here's what you get if you search for "dragonflies of the pacific coast" on Amazon:

Click on that link and you go to the main page for the book:

I'll post some samples from the book soon, but just wanted to get the word out that the book is now in stock.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Eclipse Odonata

After the eclipse, which occurred shortly after 10:00 am, we went dragonflying at a pond right next to our hotel. It's in a business park in Salem, OR, and in the past we've seen River Jewelwings there. None were seen this time, but it was a nice place for dragonfly observing in any case.

When we first got there we saw a number of Vivid Dancers. This is a lovely damselfly, with intensely (vivid) blue colors. Here's one that perched for a few photos:

Notice the black "arrowheads" on the side of the abdomen, within the blue bands, that point toward the rear—this is a key field mark for this species. As with other dancers, it holds its folded wings above the abdomen.

We also saw the following species: Variegated Meadowhawk, Black Saddlebag, Flame Skimmer, Widow Skimmer, Blue-eyed Darner, Common Green Darner, Twelve-spotted Skimmer. We even saw a Blue-eyed Darner do two splash-dunks.

A Variegated Meadowhawk perched in a bush near us, posing for pictures, it seemed. Here are a few:

Notice the variegated pattern along the abdomen, and the white stripes on the side of the thorax with a yellow spot at the base. The white will fade with time, leaving just the yellow spots in older individuals.

Here's a closer look:

Lovely lavender colors in the eyes. This fellow is looking directly at us—curious about us, I suppose, like we're curious about him. Notice also the yellow stripe along the length of the legs.

A couple more photos of this attractive individual:

The side view shows the white "portholes" on the side of the abdomen. Notice also the rough surface on the lower side of the abdomen, and the variegated, two-toned, stigmas near the tips of the wings.

The final photo shows details of the structure of the eyes:

You can see the granularity of the compound eyes here, as well as a reflection of the sun—which was past eclipse phase at this time!

One further note: Traffic and crowds were significant, but not totally terrible. We didn't drive home on the 21st, right after the eclipse, so we don't know how the traffic was at that time. We went home on the 22nd after some more birding and dragonflying, and the driving was fine for a few miles.

Then we hit heavy traffic, well before reaching Portland, and were traveling at about 10 to 20 mph for long distances. This continued on and off well into Washington. We stopped at a Rest Area in Washington, and it was packed—every parking spot was filled and people were parking along the side of the road. We continued on, sighting a fire along the side of the road that was being fought by lots of fire trucks. Finally, a bit north of Tacoma, the traffic lightened up for the rest of the trip home. Overall, it took us 9 hours to get home, when it usually takes 6 hours.

We saw some campers along the way that were headed home after the eclipse. One, in fact, had a sign saying "Eclipse Or Bust" on its back window. Another trailer had the following sign on the back: "I go wherever I'm towed to."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Eclipse Sighted!!

It was a fantastic experience seeing the total eclipse of the sun on August 21, 2017. We saw it at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer, OR. The eclipse delayed the baseball game, creating the first-in-history eclipse delay of a ball game.

Here's what USA Today had to say about the eclipse the next day:

"Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer, Ore., hosted the first "Eclipse Game" in baseball history. The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes played the Hillsboro Hops in a game interrupted by the first "eclipse delay" in baseball history.

Fans from 34 states and eight countries were there. One, Joan Bouchard, came to share the moment with her granddaughter. "Very moving," she said. "I will never be around to see another one, so this was very important."

It may not be the last one for her granddaughter, Chase. "I was surprised that people were coming from all over the world to see this," the girl said. "But now that I've seen it, I would definitely go again.""

Here's the sun before the eclipse started. Lots of sunspot activity.

Next, we see the sun just minutes after the eclipse got underway.

The moon is taking a chunk out of the sun—maybe around 5% of totality at this point.

Here's a view of the partially eclipsed sun on the Jumbotron at the ballpark.

Shortly before this photo was taken the refs called the game due to low light conditions, and the teams gathered on the field to observe the eclipse.

You can see how pale and weak the light is, even though it was a bright sunny day with not a cloud in the sky. The freeway was almost deserted as the eclipse neared, with most people finding a place from which to view the event.

Here's the first moment of totality:

A roar came up from the crowd at this point.  Here's a closer look at the eclipse.

The "star" at the 7 or 8 o'clock position is actually the planet Mercury. You can see the corona surrounding the sun, and the pink areas are prominences peeking out from behind the moon.

What a spectacular sight, to see the sun and moon align so perfectly. It was an incredible experience, especially with a whole stadium of people cheering.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Eclipse Bound

Tomorrow we head for Oregon to prepare for the big total eclipse of the sun on Monday. Part of my duties will be to provide an eyepiece projection of the partial phases of the eclipse on the Jumbotron at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer, OR. It should be interesting. Here's a chart I produced to give estimates of the amount of coverage of the sun throughout the eclipse.

The equation at the bottom is one that I derived for the area of overlap of two circles of unit radius with a center-to-center separation d. This equation is solved numerically for each percentage of coverage to produce the above set of images.

We will be staying at a hotel that is right next to a prime dragonflying spot, where we have seen River Jewelwings in the past. With luck, we may have some new and interesting odonate photos to share when we return. In the meantime, we're eclipse bound!