I thought I'd post a few shots from a little series that I did of a dragonfly I found one cold morning last October. What neat creatures! Once the sun came over the hill, he warmed up his wings and away he went! I wish I'd had my GoPro back then, I would have shot some slo-mo of that! These were shot on my cell phone camera! LOL... I don't have a nice proper camera, but you just gotta make due sometimes when there's something too good to miss!
Hi Becke I also saw dragonflies like this last fall wile I was working in the Morris Valley. Great photos for a cell phone. I work with dragonflies and butterflies and love them. I also am always trying to id them so I have to with yours. I believe it is a male Paddle-tailed Darner. Denis
That is very cool. My daughter absolutely loves bugs, and butterflies are a huge favourite. I think it stems back to when she was a toddler and a butterfly came and landed on her and just hung out for about an hour with her. It was magical. She was so proud to be it's guardian for that little while. Hey... I'll post a photo and maybe you can tell me what kind it was? It looked a little ragged around the edges, but was very pretty still.
The butterfly looks to me like a Lorquin's Admiral. What a wonderful experience it must have been! If only every child could have the opportunity to get excited about nature like this!!
Thanks for posting these very nice dragonfly photos. Far be it from me to second guess Denis, and he may well be correct in calling it a Paddle-tailed darner, but I'd welcome some discussion on this dragonfly identification.
There are only two darner species likely to be seen in October around here -- Paddle-tailed darner and Shadow darner. They are very similar but they can be separated by two specific differences and two (or perhaps more) relative differences. The two specific differences are, first, the presence (Shadow) or absence (Paddle-tailed) of a double row of blue spots on the underside of the abdomen (can't tell from these photos); and second, the presence (Paddle-tailed) or absence (Shadow) of blue dots on the upper side of the tenth (last) segment of the abdomen. I note in the first photo that these are absent (unless the lighting is playing tricks), indicating it's a Shadow darner.
As for the two relative differences, Paddle-tailed darners show a prominent brown line across the face, but this is present but not as dark on some Shadow darners. The photos do show a brown line across the face, a bit darker on this individual than for most Shadow darners, but this is relative. And the blue spotting along the abdomen is usually more prominent on Paddle-tailed darner than on Shadow darner, and this one seems more brightly marked than I would expect for a Shadow darner, but again this is only a relative difference.
Also, Shadow darners tend to show some dark outlining around the stripes on the thorax, but I can't tell on these photos, as the whole thorax looks quite dark given the lighting in the photo.
In sum, the brown line on the face and the light blue spots on the abdomen are more prominent than I would expect on a Shadow darner, but for both these the differences are relative. The apparent lack of colour on the tenth segment is an indicator for Shadow darner. When I first looked at the photos, I was undecided but leaning a bit toward Shadow darner. I'm still not sure.
It's a familiar scene -- in the fall when the only dragonflies still flying are meadowhawks and darners -- trying to tell if that darner that keeps flying back and forth in front of me is a Paddle-tailed or a Shadow darner. Usually I just try to net it, and check the characteristics described above.
I always learn from discussions like this and I'd love to hear from others, including a response from Denis.
Here, I will post a couple more photos for you guys, to see if it helps decide. I was playing around with the colours a bit in post at the time, so that might mess things up. Here are a couple more different angles, though I don't have any from directly underneath.
I think Stan may be right I was being a bit sloppy not thinking that the photo may have been alters. On my computer the second photo shows a destined black not pale brown face strip. I just went with that. On close examination I see more points for Shadow that Paddle-tailed. Like Stan said the last segment doze not appear to have spots like a Shadow, in the new photo were you can see part of the underside I believe I can just make out abdominal spots (that would confirm a Shadow). The thorax stripes are more typical of Shadow but they could go either way. Thank for your careful observation Stan always prefer to get it right. I have been home with the flue and defiantly not at my best. Denis
I can't make out anything on the underside of the abdomen in the photos, but Denis has always had sharper eyes than mine. Who else do you know besides Denis that can pick out the dots on the wings of a Cabbage White in flight to separate it from a Margined White? I sure can't.
Everything about this darner looks to me to be closer to Paddle-tailed than Shadow darner, except for the apparent lack of colour on the top of segment 10, which is a clincher for Shadow. I say "apparent" because I wondered if there really is no colour there, or if it might be obscured by the lighting (a bit of reflected glare, maybe?). Photos are always subject to lighting quirks and other possible distortions. But the second set of photos also makes it pretty certain that there's no colour on the top of S10. So I feel safe in calling it a Shadow Darner. Always an interesting exercise. Thanks for posting these, Becke. Every part of nature is fascinating!
Denis, it must be torture for you being confined inside. I hope you get well quickly!