Eastern Amberwing Dragonflies

I want a dragonfly field guide, though I suspect many of my dragonfly photos would defy identification.

Dragonfly identification seems to depend, in large part, on minutiae. “Major” identifying characteristics include eye configuration and wing vein patterns, details that are hard to spot as a dragonfly zips past. Even when they perch, allowing close inspection of eyes and wings, they seldom give me enough time to catalogue the minor variations of thorax and abdomen that are key in separating related species. In some cases, identification is further complicated by differences between males and females.

The more I learn, the less I know. Now, every time I photograph a dragonfly, I want to say, “Pardon me, but could you turn to your left? Your right? Raise your wings a bit? Yes. Very good… Now, here’s a pen. Please write down your name.”

I don’t know why I haven’t given up. Even my successes feel incomplete. Every identification is tentative. I can never say, with complete confidence, “These are Eastern Amberwing dragonflies.” I’ll always need to add, “Please correct me, if I am wrong.”

17 thoughts on “Eastern Amberwing Dragonflies

  1. Sharon Poch March 20, 2012 / 4:46 PM

    Wings of crisp gold–he(she) is magnificent for one so delicate and tiny. Your photographs are phenomenal.

    • Rae Spencer March 20, 2012 / 4:58 PM

      Thank you! These are, by far, the smallest dragonflies that show up in the yard. When I first started seeing them, I didn’t think they were dragonflies at all!

  2. mike585 March 20, 2012 / 4:49 PM

    Nice images, Rae. I am looking forward to dragonflies in the UK.

    • Rae Spencer March 20, 2012 / 5:00 PM

      Thank you! I should have mentioned that these photos are from my dragonfly archive. So far, I haven’t seen any dragonflies this year, but I hope they’ll show up soon!

  3. kathrynmartins1 March 20, 2012 / 5:39 PM

    Hi Rae. In the 2nd pic, the wings look sugary. Like after you melt sugar in a pan and it cools… So beautiful.

    Yout take care.

    • Rae Spencer March 20, 2012 / 5:53 PM

      I always think their wings look like leaves. I haven’t seen the sugar in them, before now… Thank you!

  4. Jeanette Gallagher March 20, 2012 / 11:42 PM

    You may not be able to identify each but you sure can photograph them in delail and beautiful colors. I enjoy all so much and thank you for sharing!

  5. Jeanette Gallagher March 20, 2012 / 11:44 PM

    That would be deTail…

  6. Trileigh March 21, 2012 / 12:06 PM

    Wonderful dragonfly photos! Are there no dragonfly field guides for where you live, or do you just not have one yet?

    • Rae Spencer March 21, 2012 / 6:17 PM

      There are guides, but I can’t decide which one to get. My indecision is complicated by the fact that I haven’t found one in stock anywhere. I’m picky about field guides. I like to hold them and look through them and fall in love with them before I buy them.

  7. Betty Hayes Albright March 22, 2012 / 12:37 AM

    Great close-up dragonfly photos! (There’s something very magical about dragonflies….)

  8. magpiesmiscellany March 24, 2012 / 6:53 PM

    They’re lovely pictures, can’t help with identificatio I’m afraid. My knowledge of dragonflies begins and ends at ‘the little stinker with blue bits on his wings or the cheeky bugger with black bits that flew between my glasses and my face and scared the hell out of me!’ (Okay, and I embroider them on my purses sometimes too. But according to one of my aunts those are more like damselflies.)

    • Rae Spencer March 24, 2012 / 6:59 PM

      In embroidery, I don’t think it matters if they are dragonflies or damselflies. Both are beautiful! Makes me want to dig out my needles and yarn, which are buried under years of unfinished projects. Maybe this summer…

      • magpiesmiscellany March 27, 2012 / 12:02 AM

        Go for it! Embroidery seems to be a dying art. Even at craft shows you see that a lot of it is machine nowadays.

  9. bardessdmdenton March 31, 2012 / 3:39 PM

    Once again, wonderful captures, especially of such an elusive even magical creature!

    This made me smile (brightening my day as it so needed brightening):

    Now, every time I photograph a dragonfly, I want to say, “Pardon me, but could you turn to your left? Your right? Raise your wings a bit? Yes. Very good… Now, here’s a pen. Please write down your name.”

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