Monday, July 7, 2008

The Monday Dragons and Damsels Report

One of the first dragonflies I photographed around the pond was this one. They are quite prolific and being relatively large they are easy to spot even from a distance. Each one tends to stay in a territory, but they will often take long flights far across the pond. They are very fast and their flights tend to be longer in a straight line before making the typical dragonfly quick turns.

As with many of the larger dragonflies this one seems to prefer a higher perch along the edges of the pond. You can almost always find one on the alder bush. I don't think it has anything to do with the type of bush as I have never seen them land on the other alder bush further along the bank. Their preferred bush is in the sun more often and has a few bare branches that point toward the pond. I presume this gives them a commanding view of their territory.

I will also see them from time to time away from the pond, but I have not yet been able to capture them in a decent photograph in other settings. I understand that individual dragongflies will often leave the pond maybe 4 or 5 times a day. Even at their small size it is not difficult for them to travel up to a mile or so quickly to find a good hunting spot for prey.

By the way, I just ran across an interesting article in the Houston Chroncicle about installing a dragonfly pond for mosquito control. You might want to check it out.


  1. What a beautiful creature...almost looks like a sculpture.....there is such a lot to see out there, if only people would take the time...

  2. Yes, cheryl, a beautiful creature. You can't help but admire the intricate veins in the wings and the way the sunshine reflects in the expanded view.

  3. Years ago when we had a pond, we never imagined it could attract such a diversity of creatures. Sitting quietly, just watching, adds years to your life.

  4. Hey Avril!

    Yes, they can be quite interesting. Every day that I visit I see something different and interesting.


  5. Hi Baker! Thanks for the lovely compliments on my blog. I love the photo you shot of this dragonfly. They're such beautiful insects! I've linked your blog to my nature blogroll on I hope you don't mind!


  6. Hi Cindy - And thanks. Of course I don't mind. I feel honored that you would think of listing me in your nature blogroll.

    I love those dragonflies, too. And the damselflies. I usually try to make a post each Monday about them with a few photo's. I can't get the really good macro shots since I'm using a basic point-and-shoot but I've been pleased with some of the shots I have been able to get. I'm always excited when I run across a new dragon or damsel visitor to our pond.

    For you other visitors Cindy has a great blog with incredible photo's on a wide variety of subjects. Lots of gardens, flowers, birds, and insects such as dragonflies. Plus she provides excellent descriptions and comments along with relevant resources in her many of the posts. You really need to check it out. Beautiful work.

    Thanks again Cindy.

  7. Baker, Love your photos and commentary. What lens are you using?
    We need to compare notes, me thinks. Did you read this post from my blog..

  8. Hi bob - thanks for the visit and comments

    Actually I don't use any special lens. Virtually all the photo's on the blog were taken with a hand-held Kodak EasyShare DX6340. (Some of the earlier photo's were taken with another point-and-shot by a friend.) It's a fairly nice little point-and-shoot that will fit in a big shirt pocket. I think the model is probably 3-4 years old so it is a little heftier and doesn't have all the features of a comparable current camera in that price range. (I'm still learning to use some of those that it does have, lol.)

    It has a limited zoom so that precludes taking some distant shots of birds and such. I'm not a serious photographer but I would love to be able to get those distant shots as well as the good macro shots I see so often on the net.

    I checked out that link - Great captures on the dragonfly. I've bookmark your blog for some further reading and visits.

    I think dragonflies are great subjects for photo's. The colors are amazing. They are relatively large for an insect making the various body parts stand out all the better. The various poses almost show a sense of personality. And the wings are magnificent. It's hard to match them in other insects. The play of the sunlight on the prism-like wings can produce an awesome array of colors.

    Some of the damselflies are a bit different. They are equally beautiful but many are so small that it is hard to focus on them with the camera I use so I miss a lot of good shots.

    I'd be glad to compare notes on photographing these amazing creatures but I'm afraid I would have very little input on the technical side of the photography.

  9. One of the things I would like to know is, how do you get close? For the most part it seems the dragonflies like to keep me at about ten yards.

    For my lens to work well I need to get within five inches.

    It seems that when they are chewing on something you can get closer.

  10. Oh - 5 inches - that is close.

    The vision of dragonflies probably ranks in the top tiers of the insect world so they can see virtually anything that approaches.

    It seems to me most of the dragonflies I approach will let me come much nearer than 10 yards. Usually they don't move as a response to my approach until I get maybe 2-4 yards away. Of course I try to approach slowly. I learned to try and make sure that I approach them in a way that my shadow doesn't precede me. The movement of the shadow seems to spook them at times.

    For the most part I've had good luck with waiting for them to approach me. I find that many will return to the same perch if there are limited perches around that meet their requirements.

    Most of my photo's are around breeding grounds so the dragonflies tend to stay localized. Many are evidently territorial so they may prefer certain perches over others. I will just park myself near certain perches and wait for them to return. Then it is a matter of slowly moving the camera into position and not spooking them. I think I mentioned on your blog about using artificial perches for them in certain places.

    Actually sometimes my problem is getting too close for my camera's capability (or rather my capability to focus on the subject).

    I've wondered about using something as a 'lure' but I have no idea what would be useful. The are strict carnivores so something sweet or the like would probably not be effective. I presume all their hunting is by sight.

    Oh yes, one other thing for close approaches. I think my worst day for shots was on a day that there was abundance of dragonflies. I realized why as I sat cross-legged and sweating in the hot sun by the edge of the pond. Even I could smell the insect repellent on me. Not a good move when trying to photograph insects up close, lol.

  11. I read somewhere that they can travel up to 85 miles in a day! Unbelievable!
    These are fantastic pics - you captured them perfectly!

  12. Yep - 85 miles seems unbelievable - I think maybe one day I will estimate how far one travels in a day just back and forth along the edges of the pond.

    If you figure they are flying only an average of 15 miles an hour (and some fly over 35 MPH at times) then it would only take 4 minutes for them to travel a mile. So obviously it is not uncommon for them to travel fairly far from a water source to forage.

    Thanks for the comments.


  13. so true! that would be a neat experiment! and they have so much energy and I watch through the windows as they go from morning til dusk!


Thanks for stopping by to visit our little pond. We would love to see you again real soon.