pine barrens

Yesterday I rode my bike to Lake Roland, a favorite Friday activity for several years. As always, I entered through the pine barrens section of the park. This unique area speaks to me; the sweet pine fragrance in the air and the low volume of human traffic combine to make an ideal haven for this solace-seeking pilgrim.

Here is the beginning of the trail leading into the pine barrens:

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Pine barrens at Lake Roland, Baltimore County, MD

I have been paying more attention to the abundant insect life while out in the woods. I don’t know if the Odonata species (dragonflies and damselflies) this year are more prolific but they’re catching my eye more than usual. I tried to capture a few shots before my camera’s battery died. The photos are unfortunately not so clear because I digi-binned them (i.e. used my point-and-shoot through binoculars). It’s incredibly difficult to keep my camera hand steady while shooting through binoculars. I would love to get a nicer camera, but that’s going to have to wait. There are 177 confirmed Odonata species in Maryland, and I can now identify two of them. I have a long way to go, but plenty of time.

Note: there are a few basic differences between dragonflies and damselflies. In general, damselfly bodies are narrower, while dragonfly bodies are thicker. Most damselflies also fold their wings over their bodies when perched while dragonflies keep them spread out. Damselflies also have eyes that are clearly separated, while dragonflies have eyes that are close together, and typically meet in the middle. Of the two species below (the first two photos are male and female of the same species), can you tell whether they are damsels or dragons? No cheating with Google, either…

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Common Whitetail (Libellula lydia), Male, at Lake Roland, Baltimore County, MD

Common Whitetail (Libellula lydia), Male, Lake Roland, Baltimore County, MD

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Common Whitetail (Libellula lydia) at Lake Roland, Baltimore County, MD

Common Whitetail (Libellula lydia), Female, at Lake Roland, Baltimore County, MD

© 2012 S. D. Stewart, Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata), Male, at Lake Roland, Baltimore County, MD

Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata), Male, at Lake Roland, Baltimore County, MD

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5 Comments

  1. That’s so cool. I’m impressed that you were able to identify the male and female of the species.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Wrenna. I confess to initially thinking they might be two different species. The fact that they were not anywhere near each other in the park didn’t help. But I guess the females and males don’t always hang around each other, just like with humans.

      Reply
  2. I’m likewise impressed. Here’s my own (lucky) capture of a damselfly from a while back: http://awildslimalien.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/damselfly/ (and I never went as far as to identify the species).

    Reply
    • Nice shot! So striking against that background. It pains me when I get up so close with my sketchy digi-bin set-up, knowing that there’s no way the shot will come out clear. What kind of camera were you using? I know you can get a lot more camera for your money now than when I bought my little Canon PowerShot. I may just have to tighten the belt and upgrade.

      Reply
      • At that time I think it would have been a humble Fujifilm Finepix, which definitely punched above its weight in terms of colour reproduction. But really it was a lucky shot for me – the damselfly was right by the river bank, and considerate enough to allow me to get as close as I did.

        Reply

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