Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Big blue darner mating dragonflies

Big blue darner — what a treat! © SB 

Near Regina, Saskatchewan: The blue and gold flash of this big blue darner dragonfly was a late summer treat — especially when it stayed still long enough for a photograph, and when I caught a mating pair with my lens a few days later.

The pair below are in what's called the wheel — a position they can maintain while perched or in flight. (And yes, this pair were on another tree before they kindly flew to this one, which had better light.)

Big blue darners in wheel position © SB 

I don't pretend to fully understand what's happening here, except that the male is the one on top, clinging to the branch, and the female is the one below, clinging to him. The oddest part is that he is clutching her behind her head, perhaps to keep her from escaping before the deed to be done.

For more on dragonfly mating, I like the series of shots (and explanations) by Alistair Fraser, a Kootenay Lake nature blogger and great photographer in his Sex in the Park post.

And for more about dragonflies in Saskatchewan, Nature Saskatchewan has a great new book, Dragonflies & Damselflies in the Hand, by Gord Hutchings and David Halstead (who takes amazing dragonfly photos).

What are these? Big blue darner dragonflies. (I'd thought from the large, pale, thorasic stripes that these may be Sedge Darners... but David Halstead e-mailed to say that although it's difficult to tell, these are most likely to be Lance-Tipped Darners. He says these are fairly common on the prairies.)  
Location: Pair, Hidden Valley Nature Refuge, Saskatchewan (near Craven); single, top: Condie Nature Refuge (near Regina, Saskatchewan). 
Photo dates: Pair, September 5, 2011; single, top: September 3, 2011. 

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