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November 3rd, 2008
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New dragon

I went out into my new courtyard last night to do a bit of top-up watering, and disturbed this chap who was roosting on the drapes by the hose reel. It was, in fact, the same curtain that hosted a roosting Chipping Sparrow on migration in September, so it’s a curtain with a track record…

The dragonfly settled amongst the philodendrons so I dashed in to get the camera. Aware that the flash might frighten it I decided to get a manual focus shot first, so as not to have the flash flicker whilst auto focusing. As predicted, the dragonfly didn’t appreciate the flash one little bit and took flight, only to settle again on the underside of the porch.

This is a darner, the same family of dragonflies that are known in the UK as hawkers. Darners in Arizona are absolute buggers to see perched like this. Whilst I encounter them just about every time I’m near water, they never seem to land and I’ve only ever observed them settle two or three times since I got here six years ago. So any chance to get a shot must be taken.

They’re also not that easy to identify. Having trawled through the dragonfly book and the Bug Guide and AZ Odes websites, I came to the conclusion that the only species out in Tucson in November, with the combination of blue eyes and yellow thorax stripes, is a male Riffle Darner, a new one for me.

I am, of course, perfectly willing to accept that I’m wrong. Do you have a better suggestion? If so, please leave a comment below…

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