A wave of dragonflies arrived this week, washed into the yard by the rising tides of summer’s heat.
Blue Dashers are by far the most numerous, claiming spots near the ground in all of the iris beds.
Great Blue Skimmers seem to prefer the slightly higher perches provided by our trellises.
Higher yet, in the wax myrtle canopy, Halloween Pennants pivot in the wind like miniature weather vanes.
(At first glance, the next dragonfly seemed to be another Halloween Pennant, but the camera’s zoom function revealed inconsistent wing patterns. After consulting a few online resources, I believe this is either a female Common Whitetail or a Twelve-Spotted Skimmer. Please comment if you can correct or confirm my identifications!) [Update added June 30: Possibly a Painted Skimmer, see comment from Gillian.]
These new dragonflies join an already-established population of Eastern Pondhawks, which began arriving in late May.
Now, no matter where I look in the yard, I find dragonflies. Summer wouldn’t feel the same without them.
The heatwave continues. Every so often, an afternoon thunderstorm brings brief relief, but these storms are too scattered to offer any reliable remedy. The only creatures who seem to thrive are dragonflies.
My camera struggles in this weather. The lens fogs, whenever I step outside, and the camera’s body absorbs so much sunlight that it actually becomes uncomfortable to hold. I’m still getting my twenty minutes per day, but time in the yard is increasingly forced. Perhaps I’ll try the park, where a stretch of beach and plenty of shade might defuse the relentless heat.
The lotus garden near Sandbridge Beach is beginning to bloom. Today I stopped for a few minutes, trying to ignore the ridiculous heat and harsh midday glare.
We bought this speedwell because it was advertised to attract butterflies. I haven’t seen any butterflies on it, but it draws a lot of wasps.
The wasps chase everything away from the speedwell’s bed, but Blue Dasher dragonflies patrol all the other beds.
And, as predicted, Halloween Pennants have begun to arrive.
The bird feeders get less traffic than the flower beds, but not by much. Doves are our most frequent diners. And the hungriest. This one ate so much it could barely fly.
Doves are the most numerous birds in the yard, but the blue jay fledglings are the loudest.
However, their cries cannot compete with the Blue Angels, who are in town for a weekend airshow. The show’s flight path takes them right over our yard…
My obsession with dragonflies flared during a particularly perfect summer, when hordes of them settled in the back yard. They fairly swarmed that year, gold and green and blue jewels glittering in the heat. In the seasons since, I’ve learned to call a few by name, though I am hardly a dragonfly expert. A field guide is on my wish list, but until then I’ll do the best I can with my camera and the internet.
Once I started noticing them, I found them everywhere. While the above pictures were all taken in my own back yard, the photos below were taken at Norfolk Botanical Garden (top), at First Landing State Park (middle), and near the beach at Sandbridge (bottom).