Here in Michigan red dragonflies appear in the middle or latter parts of the summer. The last dragonfly, which in the modern climate can linger till early December, is the Autumn Meadowhawk. In July and August I watch for these crimson harbingers of the fall, knowing that their arrival means that summer has peaked and that the day swill surely begin to shrink while night will blossom and grow…
Each year is different. Last weekend - the first in September - I finally spotted the first red meadowhawks. It seems that the dragonflies of spring and early summer have lingered longer than usual, and the red dragons are late or absent.
Here are a couple of Blue Dashers, a species that hits the scene in late May and early June, still lingering here in early summer (click on the images for a larger file):
And here are some red dragonflies - the males are red, the females brown. It is very difficult to indentify red dragonflies from photos or simple observation, but I think these are all Autumn Meadowhawks:
This is the first red dragonfly that I encountered. The first shot is OK, but shifting the camera a little results in a better, more high key background. More shots of others follow.
I recently purchased a Pentax Q compact interchangeable lens camera. Aside form a wanting a fun and compact camera, I was intrigued by the prospects of excellent macro capabilities using this camera and K Mount macro lenses - along with a K to Q mount adapter.
Here are a couple shots of spiders from earlier today, taken with the Q and D-FA 100mm f2.8 macro lens. The tiny sensor size means great depth of field at open apertures, which also means high shutter speeds and lower ISO settings. I hope to be doing some more macro work with the Q in the days ahead.
These were both out in my wildflower garden, which is now completely overrun by non-wild Sweet Autumn Clematis. I’m certain that the first subject is a Nursery Web Spider, mostly likely Pisaurina mira. I’d guess that the second one is another species of Nursery Web Spider as well.
Click the images for larger files.
Bull thistles have popped up all over my wildflower garden this summer, and Goldfinches have been watching them closely all season long. The bull thistles started blooming a few weeks ago, and when I look out of my upstairs office windows late in the day I see the finches reveling in the thistle seed. They also gather the down for their nests, and this is the time of year when they lay eggs and raise their young.
I took a few lazy stabs at photographing these guys in past years and in the last few weeks, but recently decided to get serious. I broke out the Pentax SMC A*400 f2.8 and 1.7x teleconverter / autofocus adapter, and rummaged through my closet for a suitable flash bracket. It’s been years since I used this setup!
Last weekend I did not have much luck - every time I stepped out the door the finches flew off. So this afternoon I setup the camera and big lens peeking around the corner of my wife’s car, grabbed a book and some beer, and sat back to enjoy the afternoon, reading. It took a few hours but eventually the finches came back to the thistles, and when they did they no longer seemed concerned about me or my efforts to photograph them. With a little luck, I’ll get a few more shots before the summer is over.
Click on the images for larger files.
West Michigan sweltered under the great drought of 2012 throughout the early summer, but in late July we began to get sporadic small rain events, in the last week we were blessed with a 24 hour soaker. The brown lawns are now green again, though the stunted and withered crops are unlikely to recover.
Today I drove out to the Allegan forest to see if the red dragonflies have appeared. Some summers they are early, others they are late. This year, they are running late. In August 2011 the red dragons were well established and darted through the sky like crimson joys. Today I found the undifferentiated yellow amber dragons that someday will turn red, but no bright red subjects yet.
It’s been a while since I posted some dragonfly shots, so here are a few photos from late July and early August. Click on any image for a larger file.
First off - some Blue Dashers - the first two from July, the last one from today:
And here is a somewhat rare visitor - a Red Saddlebags. They seldom perch but this one landed high up on a mullein stalk and let me take its photo:
A Green Darner, perched low in vegetation:
And lastly - the red meadowhawks, still young and yellow or amber, surely to be brilliant red sometime soon:
For a detailed look at this guy’s face, click here.
Let’s hope for some brilliant red ones in the weeks ahead!