Saturday, August 18, 2012

Watching Dragonflies...Learning How

Monday mid-afternoon, a hot summer day...my wife and I go to Fort Fizzle to wade in Lolo Creek for the exquisite feeling of cold, rushing water. Brrrr, water is still cool in August! I've got my Canon DSLR camera and Christine has her keen eye on rocks. The action begins, a dragonfly...it's a darner zooming by, nice! After several more darner sightings, a smaller, darker dragonfly with emerald eyes blows past. As 'Scooby Do' would say "rut row". Yep, I'm fully engaged with getting a photo of this mystery odonate. The best I could do:
Emerald species
I'm thinking this is a member of the Striped Emerald group, genus Somatochlora. Did not know or think of looking here for this genus of dragonfly. These dragonflies really fly, I mean for extended periods which photographing them challenging. And this could be a species I've never seen before. Choices according to the Dennis Paulson field guide Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West are Ocellated, Ringed, and Hudsonian Emerald (all stream species to a degree). The photo I took does show a diamond shape (if not a photo artifact) on the front of the thorax, indicative of Ringed. However, not getting any sense of white rings on the abdomen. So have gone back two other times this week after work to get a diagnostic photo. No luck. So tomorrow morning will be going to the spot for success. Had a similar challenge with Sedge Darner (Aeshna juncea) at Mud Lake near Skalkaho Pass (east of Hamilton, MT). After the fifth try I captured one in flight:
Sedge Darner
Hey, the fun is in the doing and discovery. 

Other groups of dragonflies are not as difficult at least to photograph. Meadowhawks, genus Sympetrum, are much more cooperative. Check out this video:

I encourage you to investigate your own neighborhood...learn something new and good:-)