Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, it all changes on you.
Here we are, close to Halloween, and I set the day aside for shooting landscapes and scenics, hoping to capture some more fall color. I explored several areas I had staked out earlier in the summer - but found that either the trees had turned and dropped their leaves, or were still as green as high summer. I don’t know if I’m ahead of schedule, or behind my time…
I hiked into some new areas in the Allegan Forest – places I had scouted out months ago, but had not yet visited in the fall. Some have seen heavy traffic from hunters – new trails of marched down grass snake their way across the fields. While out I noted a lone dragonfly in one far field, and after a disappointing session with the 6x7 medium format film camera, I trudged back to the car to pick up the digital insect rig. After all, I thought, who knows when I’ll see another good dragonfly subject.
And so I hiked back and shot a few frames of a fairly cooperative Autumn Meadowhawk. Since coming home and doing some research, I’ve learned that the Yellow Legged Meadowhawk is now termed the Autumn Meadowhawk. Well, that’s a poetic change – even if these dragons are found in most of the summer months.
After investing an hour or so in this one dragonfly – figure it may be the last I’ll see for a while – I visited other parts and places in the forest. Ultimately I wound up at the Swan Creek Dam.
To my amazement, when I opened the car door I immediately saw half a dozen dragonflies in flight. Males were sparring for territory, and mating pairs lumbered through the air. Moving down towards the creek, the numbers only increased. Dozens, if not hundreds, of Autumn Meadowhawks filled the air.
There was a frantic air to their movements. For one thing, they wanted to soak up the warm rays of the sun. This was a brilliantly clear and somewhat cool (temps around 55 F) afternoon. As I knelt down to try to get good eye level shots, I often rose up to find three or four dragonflies clinging to my black fleece vest.
The dragonflies were also incredibly busy mating. I paused on the trail along Swan Creek and watched one male, who I hoped would make a good subject. He flew up, hovered a few seconds, and then darted down into a short plant near my feet – only to rise up, coupled with a female and heading out into the marsh. Well, it looks like next year’s brood will be abundant.
Unfortunately, none of the dragonflies today were perching – so no shots of them sitting on a plant stalk, contemplating the world around them. I guess they were just too cold for that. But this afternoon at Swan Creek was probably the single greatest concentration of dragonflies I’ve seen all year.