Monday, October 19, 2009

Late Season Dragonflies

These are a few dragonflies I photographed around the end of August and beginning of September. The first two are Eastern Pondhawks (Erythemis simplicicollis), one male and one female. It is common around wet areas, though I have sometimes seen it in meadows as well. For a brief period towards the end of August, these seemed to be the most common species that I was seeing.

I find the females the more distinctive of the pondhawk sexes. I photographed both male and female at Cape May Point State Park.

The next is a Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis), photographed at the Nature Conservancy's South Cape May Meadows refuge. It is another common dragonfly around ponds and wet areas.

This may be the dragonfly I see most frequently throughout the summer months, even if others are more eye-catching. I like the way that Blue Dashers curl their abdomens when they perch. Some curl even more than this one was doing.

Above is a Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina), named for the prominent markings on its hindwings. This species can be difficult to separate from Red Saddlebags, using markings not visible in this photo. When I took this photo I was standing directly underneath the dragonfly. It seemed to struggle to cling to the branch in the stiff Brigantine breeze and kept shifting its position to find a better grip.

The last in this series is an Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum), photographed at Leonard J. Buck Gardens. This species peaks in New Jersey in September and is one of the most commonly seen fall dragonflies. In fact, they have been reported as late as December in warmer years.