The Odonata of Tarrant County

I was recently asked by a local shop to do a display for their art wall. They asked me because previously I had done one that went over pretty well...and I think it's actually harder than you'd expect to find people to put up halfway-cool stuff. My previous display had a large nature component but it was mostly atmospheric scenes featuring plants that were dead or dying during winter.

Why does this have anything to do with iNaturalist?

Good questions.

Well, I just finished hanging the display this evening. It is entirely on Odonata (dragonflies) found in Tarrant County, Texas. Many of the prints are from observations I have posted here and some of the reason I ended up going with this educational/aesthetic display over a "purely artistic" and more abstract display have to do with people I have met here on iNaturalist.

Observing and studying dragonflies has always been a personal, almost meditative hobby of mine but recently I've come to enjoy the educational/outreach aspect of it as I have often witnessed @sambiology while hanging on bioblitzes or other events. Also I recently received some of @scottking's books which are at heart deeply-personal but obviously valuable as shared works. In addition earlier this month I spent some time hanging out with @greglasley, @ericisley and @gpstewart (and others) where I shot a few photos for this display (only dragonflies that co-occur in Tarrant County) and enjoyed getting to know them a bit and hanging out, the initial gateway only being our shared interest in dragonflies.

Though the majority of the work I used was shot before getting into iNaturalist I seriously doubt had I not joined iNaturalist and met many of these people and also come to value spending time in nature enjoying teaching friends' kids about dragonflies, that I would have pursued this as a display topic. But, with inspiration from these people and events, I did, and I am happy with the results.

Anyway, here is an overview of the display and a pre-cursor I wrote on how I became interested in dragonflies, if you are for some reason interested.

I am going to have a reception night for the display in a few weeks. I will post the details for it once I finalize the date. At the reception I'll probably have prints from dragonflies from around the world (mostly Asia, some South America) and some specimens from my collection.

Thanks to all of you for your support and inspiration. I have really enjoyed putting together this display an I look forward to sharing it.

Posted by briangooding briangooding, October 01, 2016 04:52

Observations

Photos / Sounds

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What

Black Saddlebags Tramea lacerata

Observer

briangooding

Date

September 19, 2006 05:30 PM CDT

Description

Tramea lacerata (and fish)

Another instance of fish going for ovipositing Tramea lacerata. The other pictures in this sequence were not very cohesive but this one kind of shows the pace of the action.

Sometimes the attack happened during the site selection (while both hovered in tandem close to the water's surface) and sometimes during the female's release to oviposit; unfortunately I did not qualify any of this data at that point in my interest.

I watched this type of encounter many times and the fish probably did not have much more than a 50% success rate (by my calculations from sampling one pond about 20 times during the spring/summer).

Often the couple was disrupted and the tandem broken but both escaped. I wonder the amount of energy it takes for a fish to propel itself with such force. Obviously it's worth it even without a 100% payoff but still...how much nutrition is in one dragonfly?

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Photos / Sounds

What

Cyrano Darner Nasiaeschna pentacantha

Observer

briangooding

Date

June 22, 2016 05:37 PM CDT

Description

Female Nasiaeschna pentacantha eating male Dythemis velox

I had just squatted down to use my knee as a platform for my camera to get a shot of a male setwing and I heard the shuffling of wings. As I looked up all I could see was two forms shadowed where I was going to focus but couldn't tell if it was a Dythemis pair attempting to mate or what.

I stood up and attempted to use my internal autofocus to find the damn thing and realized the size differential and at least that it was a darner but was still too flummoxed/excited to make sense of it.

Finally I tracked it down and saw it was a Cyrano Darner and it was consuming head-first the setwing I had previously set up to shoot.

Photos / Sounds

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What

Ebony Jewelwing Calopteryx maculata

Observer

briangooding

Date

June 24, 2016 07:31 AM CDT

Place

LLELA (Google, OSM)

Description

Female Calopteryx maculata with dried mud on abdomen from ovipositing

Had a great time the other day out at LLELA hanging out with Michael Fox (@mchlfx), Brent (@brentano) and Alan. We were inundated with jewelwings on the first path we took, which featured a little meandering creek through a wooded area. Definitely excited to head back and experiment more, maybe actually use the flash and extra batteries I carry around.

Photos / Sounds

What

Eastern Ringtail Erpetogomphus designatus

Observer

briangooding

Date

June 24, 2016 10:44 AM CDT

Place

LLELA (Google, OSM)

Description

Male Erpetogomphus designatus

We saw the female shortly ahead on the path, as well as a bunch of other clubtails. I can't wait to go back and bring more water/sandwiches. This was near the end of our day and we were all getting a bit worn.

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Photos / Sounds

What

Eastern Ringtail Erpetogomphus designatus

Observer

briangooding

Date

June 24, 2016 10:48 AM CDT

Place

LLELA (Google, OSM)

Description

Female Erpetogomphus designatus

Second image just a close crop of first.

They seemed vary unwary compared to my usual experiences with Gomphidae.

Photos / Sounds

What

Halloween Pennant Celithemis eponina

Observer

briangooding

Date

July 1, 2016 07:43 AM CDT

Description

Male Celithemis eponina (featuring special guest)

I was looking at spider on a plant stalk and saw a glint out of the corner of my eye from the rising sun. Amazed at how quick the light changed (I got there when it was dark) and the fog (or whatever it is called) rising off of the pond I turned to look it all over and saw a male Halloween Pennant being backlit by the sun.

I moved a whole four meters and sat my bag down and set up the tripod. Took some clean shots, nice wide open shots and then saw a male Blue Dasher storm in and try to take the perch. The dasher was relentless but the pennant just lowered its wings and nonchalantly held on as if there were no threat. I watched the Blue Dasher attempt to usurp the perch at least five times and then Brent got there and we moved on.

I would rather post a GIF or something but don't know how so I posted a bunch of the images from the sequence.

Photos / Sounds

What

Swift River Cruiser Macromia illinoiensis

Observer

briangooding

Date

July 1, 2016 03:10 PM CDT

Description

Female Macromia illinoiensis

  1. dorsal, minimal flash
  2. a bit harsh flash
  3. ambient, to show potential differences between flash and ambient light (still trying to figure out how to apply flash best to this task)
  4. stunning eyes
  5. eyes up close
  6. abdominal pattern

7. iridescence on thorax

Hung out with this one for a while. I walked about a mile checking the side of the path closest to the river for perched Epitheca princeps and Macromia illinoiensis and came up with just one female E. princeps. The walk back yielded much more, at least 10 M. illinoiensis and five or six E. princeps. The opposite side of the path is only about three to four meters away.

There would be slightly more sun coming through where they were found (also would hit them dorsally instead of ventrally) even though they were all in the shade--not sure why but this has happened before when walking same beat. I devoted virtually the same amount of attention (if not more to the first portion as I wasn't tired yet) to each side.

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Photos / Sounds

What

Swift River Cruiser Macromia illinoiensis

Observer

briangooding

Date

July 1, 2016 03:27 PM CDT

Description

Male Macromia illinoiensis

  1. ambient dorsal
  2. interesting terminal appendages
  3. clean close shot
  4. questionable use of flash but illuminates the brilliant eyes

5. dragonfly in top left, only black and yellow abdomen visible (I'm not a big selfie taker),no lens hood to avoid scaring and also in shade

I did capture this guy but I was shooting extremely close to him--I took an uncomfortably awkward selfie of me taking his picture to demonstrate how close. I will consider uploading it. He was less than a foot away.

I did not capture him but did take a slow motion video of me about to touch his abdomen, thus causing him to flee. He dismounted by just letting go and falling away backwards (think back dive) and then he must've began flying as he got lower--I didn't get everything on video.

Here is the link: https://youtu.be/kVqaZHXei1k

Photos / Sounds

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What

Blue Dasher Pachydiplax longipennis

Observer

briangooding

Date

May 20, 2007 10:27 AM CDT

Description

Male Pachydiplax longipennis being eaten by Opheodrys aestivus

Like a lot of these predation shots I heard the irregular beat of frantic, chafing wings before locating the scene.

I was taken aback when I first realized what was happening. That quickly wore off though and I was on the ground trying to get as close as possible without disrupting or having any meaningful influence on the situation.

Two great predators. In the end the dasher broke free and clumsily flew off (though he was lucky there were birds looking for an easy catch). I can't say for sure whether or not I played any part in the snake not succeeding in this struggle. If it were venomous I think (though I don't know if venomous snakes spend their venom on dragonflies or if they specialize in more protein-rich options) the dasher would've been done for.

But, the snake maneuvering his jaws to clamp down on the dragonfly gave some room for escape--especially since his jaws were over the thorax and wings, which were already beating trying to escape.

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Photos / Sounds

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What

American Rubyspot Hetaerina americana

Observer

briangooding

Date

September 6, 2016 02:47 PM CDT

Description

Female Hetaerina americana

Out with @greglasley exploring. Had a great time hanging out with someone else who enjoys ruining their outfit for the day and mucking through the water.

This little lady was perching in the middle of the shallow stream, pretty cooperative...the pleasant breeze was more challenging than the hunt. I saw just one male and didn't get any keepers but I guess I'd rather photograph females anyway, right?

Comments

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Really great stuff, Brian and congratulations! That looks fantastic and I'm sure your photos will inspire others to take a 2nd look at nature and odonates!

Posted by greglasley almost 5 years ago (Flag)
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Brian, very cool! I only wish I lived near enough to stop in and have a look. All best and I hope the show goes over well.

Posted by scottking almost 5 years ago (Flag)
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Awesome! I wish I was close enough to see it too. I think people will really enjoy it- your photos are really beautiful.

Posted by alaws almost 5 years ago (Flag)
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Thanks, Greg, Scott and Angela! I will take some closer photos and probably post them as well as the text on my personal website.

Angela, I think I should've probably also thanked you, @legolaws and @scottbuckel as there are a few images from my trip down that way that I used but don't have up on iNaturalist yet, particularly a nice image of an immature Argia moesta predating a moth. Also, thanks to @mchlfx and @brentano who hosted/organized a walk out at LLELA where I got some of the clean shots used for Erpetogomphus designatus and Calopteryx maculata.

Posted by briangooding almost 5 years ago (Flag)
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Heck. Yes.

Magnificent -- can't wait to see it in person! :)

Posted by sambiology almost 5 years ago (Flag)
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Excellent Brian. Please keep us posted on the reception night. I'd really love to see these up close and your prints from Asia.

Posted by mchlfx almost 5 years ago (Flag)
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Thank you for sharing this Brian. I only wish I was close enough to be able to enjoy it in person. You truly are an inspiration.

Posted by ellendale almost 5 years ago (Flag)
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very inspiring.good work. congratulations briang

Posted by satishnikam almost 5 years ago (Flag)
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The American Rubyspot is really beautiful and the picture with the snake is so cool! Are you still going to Big Thicket? Looking forward to seeing you there.

Posted by alaws almost 5 years ago (Flag)

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