Always Learning

Cobra Clubtail – f/11 @ 1/200, ISO 500
All photos made with a Nikon D300 & Sigma 180mm f/3.5 + 1.4 teleconverter

Mid July is a relatively slow time of year for bird photography. Sure, shorebirds are on the move , but the best is yet to come in August. This is a period when I’m out looking for plants and learning about insects. I’ve got a long way to go to become proficient at identifying dragon and damselflies, but I’m working on it. If you want to learn more get Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East, by Dennis Paulson. I have that but, more importantly, I have Curt Powell as a longtime friend and knowledgeable dragonfly geek. On July 21 we hit several spots along the Huron River in Washtenaw County and a few other spots. Curt pointed out some lifer dragonflies to me and taught me where and when to find them.

Black-shouldered Spinyleg – f/9 @ 1/500, ISO 400

Cobra Clubtail, Swift River Cruiser, Halloween Pennant, Spangled Skimmer, Ebony Jewelwing, Dragonhunter; we try with difficulty to use words to describe the beauty of these creatures. I’m always excited to see new animals and plants and try to understand where they fit into the seasons’ cycle. I attempt to illustrate these events, and once in while I manage to make an image that maybe is a bit more than an illustration and has some poetry in it. Well maybe not, but I’m trying for that!

Swift River Cruiser – f/10 @ 1/200, ISO 640

If you’ve never seen a Swift or Royal River Cruiser coming towards you FAST, maybe while canoeing, prepare to have your mind blown! There’s no way a photograph can capture the intensity of the green in these creatures’ eyes. It’s as if they’re lit from within, and you can see it from a long distance as they zip over the water in pursuit of other insect prey. This light fades quickly after death and I hope to learn how this all works. Why are these dragonflies’ eyes this color and so huge that they are joined?

Halloween Pennant – f/6.3 @ 1/20, ISO 800

Closer to home, I found a field that’s home to dozens of Halloween and Calico Pennants. These are small dragonflies that like to hold their wings up high over their abdomens. They like to perch on the tops of tall grasses and photographing them is always a challenge due to wind movement. Our yard is currently loaded with Common Whitetails, Eastern Pondhawks, Meadowhawks and more Widow Skimmers than I’ve ever seen.

Damsel in distress:  A female Eastern Pondhawk preys on a unidentified damselfly – f/10 @ 1/160, ISO 400, flash as main light

Dragonflies prey on other insects and sometimes take some pretty big ones. I was lucky to watch this Eastern Pondhawk take this damselfly. I’ve got closer shots too but will spare you the gory details.

Halloween Pennants just before sunset.  f/5 @ 1/500, ISO 500


~ by David Stimac on July 24, 2013.

7 Responses to “Always Learning”

  1. Awesome to say the least! I have always had an interest in these critters but had no way to identify them. I’m going to pick up the book you referenced. Lovely work as always David!!!


  2. Amazing….as always!

  3. Your blog is always a well respite from, of late, my non-nature-filled days. Poetry: Swift River Cruiser and sunset Halloween Pennants 🙂

  4. That would be welcome respite.

  5. Hi Dave, I myself am waiting for the cooler mornings. I love the look of dragon fly with dew on them. Know any good places to look for them around here. Its the toughest part of the shoot just to find these things in a field but once u find them its like shooting fish in a barrel. Gotta love Aug and Sept for warm days a and cool mornings.

    • Hi Todd, Seven Ponds can be good and it’s easiest to see them when you’re walking toward the sun. I’ve had good luck watching where insects roost for the night. I mark the spot with ribbon or tape. This makes it easier to find them in the morning.

  6. Thanks for your comments everyone!

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