Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The young and the restless of Cougar Creek

The dragonflies were out in force at Cougar Creek Park yesterday, mostly in couples. They were dressed in shimmering black and blue, or dazzling reds; some wore white, some brown. One had green eyes, and another was resplendent in silver and silky sheers.

We managed to catch a few of them at rest.

A common whitetail male, Libellula (Plathemis) lydia, with a blue tail.

The tail is not white, and I wondered about that. I found the explanation on BugGuide: he's a young male whose tail has not reached its full brilliance. I like the blue better, but then, I'm not a whitetail dragonfly, so my opinion doesn't count.

Another dragonfly that I saw and got only a couple of shots at (although the camera couldn't find it to focus), was almost invisible. A big dragonfly, but with transparent wings, and a shimmery, silvery, mirror-like pale body. The camera just looked straight through it, and it shows up as a shiny fog over the background. I looked everywhere for a transparent dragonfly, with no luck until I happened across it with the whitetails on BugGuide. It's a female whitetail, just hatched from its nymph stage.

This is the BugGuide photo; mine are hopeless.
It looks all weird and shimmering because it is teneral, which means that it has just emerged from the nymphal stage, and its parts haven't fully hardened yet. (Mark Fox)

The same male, but here he looks like he has 8 wings. The light was very bright, and he was on almost white clay, so the shadows are almost as vivid as the wings.

A tiny, green-eyed bluet resting on a branch.

There were other bluets, as well, dark-eyed ones with dotted-line abdomens. And many of those big black and blue darners. None of them stopped their mating frenzy long enough for us to get close.

A Cherry-faced Meadowhawk, Sympetrum internum.

A meadowhawk and a whitetail, caught in the same photo.

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