Sunday, July 17, 2011

Into The (Slightly) Wild

I took a little trip down the road this afternoon to visit out local wildlife preserve, thats reserve to the Brits. Hoffler Creek is literally just down the road, a mile and a half on so. The preserve consists of three parts. There is Hoffler Creek itself which is a tidal creek running into the estuary of the James River.

The Creek at high tide

There is a tidal salt marsh and between the two lies Lake Ballard, a large flooded borrow pit or again what the Brits would call a gravel pit. The whole is surrounded by woods rich in bird and animal life from Pilliated Woodpeckers to the ubiquitous White Tailed Deer
The salt marsh and
Lake Ballard

I went primarily for the dragonflies and there certainly were plenty. If anything there were so many its hard to get a picture. The dragonflies are so numerous they are almost endlessly bothering one another and fighting over perches. There are moments of quiet though when peace reigns and a spirit of amity prevails as here:

The branch is shared by (from top to bottom) a Needhams Skimmer, a Four Spotted Pennant and a Blue Dasher.

Lots and lots of mating and egglaying going on. Alas the egg laying was mostly a little out of range and even the long lens was struggling with such small and fast moving subjects.
These Halloween Pennants could have been a great pic if the focus was just a little sharper. But still its an arresting image as they fly, paired, and dip into the still surface of the lake, meeting their own reflections.

Needhams Skimmers pair perched and then seperate before the female goes off to dip and lay on her own.
 The pair.

The ovipositing female.

And as a treat today heres a species I don't seem to ever see on our own pond.

This is a male Widow Skimmer Libellula luctuosa . The blue patch on the wings is very distinctive.

 But most impressive today were the numbers of Great Egrets in the marsh and on the creek.  I havent really mentioned the wading birds around here yet and I'll have to do more about that another time. But I've not seen so many at once before. It did make me wish again that I had a better long lens. And its tough to photograph pure white plummage in the blazing sun of noon.

In the salt marsh.

On the creek. 
And on the wing.

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