Odonata Days

Forktail and Friend Okay, I figured that it was about time I posted something again. It’s been an early turn to the summer doldroms, and I haven’t been motivated to get off of my butt long enough to write. I’ve got about a half-dozen 50%-done posts to catch up on one of these days (it’s amazing how much time one can lose playing a simple game of Civilization IV. So while I haven’t been writing, I have been going through a lot of archived shots of dragonflies and damselflies … and I’ll probably have more by the end of Shari and my trip to Cape May on Friday (and/or Saturday). However, I think I’ll start it off with some more local odonates.

You see, in June through August around here, there is a relative paucity of birds to find and photograph. Those that are around tend to be well-hidden in the trees, or of the ‘common’ type that aren’t as much to find. So, a couple of years ago Shari and I started doing butterflies and dragonflies to fill in that space. And it’s been fun – I really loved my hikes around Valley Forge National Park two summers ago, and miss those almost daily excursions. This year, the butterflies have been less plentiful, and the dragonflies (and damselflies) are just starting to get some numbers going.

Dashing Dasher

My favorite haunt so far for odonata (that is, members of the order Odonota, which includes dragonflies (infraorder: Anisoptera) and damselflies (suborder: Zygoptera)) has been Wallworth Pond in Haddonfield. It really starts picking up this time of year, and I’m becoming more and more aware of the diversity of creatures here at this small pond. So far this year I’ve found:

  • Dragonflies: Common whitetail, beaverpond baskettail, common baskettail, eastern pondhawk, unicorn clubtail, blue dasher, slaty skimmer
  • Damselflies: Orange bluet, stream bluet, familiar bluet, blackwater bluet, citrine forktail, fragile forktail, eastern forktail, blue-fronted dancer, blue-ringed dancer

Blue-fronted... um, yeah right.

Not too bad for one place. Palmyra Cove has also been a nice location although it hasn’t had as many dragons as it did last year, probably mostly due to the fact that the two large retention ponds at the front of the park have been mostly dry this year (last year they were true ponds across their width). It’s still been good, though, as my last trip was really full of a variety of odonata including many of the same ones above plus common green darner, widow skimmer, black saddlebags and spot-winged gliders.

Stare Down

But this weekend will hopefully be the coup de grace: we’re heading down to Cape May and there has always been a bounty of different odonates (and good birds) there. We’re planning on hitting Higbee Beach, Cape May State Park, Cape May Meadows, Bellevue State Forest and anywhere else that catches our fancy. Hopefully I’ll get a lot of good photo opportunities, although I have a feeling we might be playfully arguing over who gets that awesome Nikon 105mm f/2.8 (have I mentioned that I love that lens?

Familiarity Familiarity, Part II

But that’s not for a couple of days – and I need to actually get to work. So, until then, here are some more parting shots. [ note: these all link back to Flickr instead of a lighbox. ]

Slaty Skimmer


The Damsels Are Here


2 Responses to “Odonata Days

  • gorgeous shots buddy. have to get our golden boys together for a swim and photos soon

  • I’d love to, but I don’t know that I can trust Miles – he has a bit of a Napoleon complex. But I would love to take you and Bubs out for a ‘field trip’. I just got asked by my mother-in-law to create some handbooks for Palmyra Cove on butterflies, dragonflies and other insects.

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