Daring Duo Dragon Hunters In The Swamp of Doom !
Now that I have your attention, hope you are all well today. We are.
About two weeks ago, we escaped went out for a bit of fresh air and found ourselves on the edge of the Green Swamp.
In a recent post, Brian at Butterflies To Dragsters described the sensation of our local swamp perfectly: “The rich, dank smell of bog, ditch, mud and water plants is nicer than the finest perfume.”
Never mind our two “bogs” are over a thousand miles apart, the sensation is identical. (Visit Brian’s blog to see beautiful dragons, butterflies and more.)
Florida’s Green Swamp covers a lot of area, over 560,000 acres (+226,000 Ha) in central Florida. Four major rivers begin life here from underground springs: Hillsborough, Ocklawaha, Peace and Withlacoochee. Much of central Florida’s water supply comes from these rivers.
The relatively small area we explored is about 30 miles north of the house and is accessed from logging roads which can vary in condition from not-so-bad to impassable. As the landscape transforms from upland pine forest to cypress swamp, a small wetland offers ideal habitat for many insect species. Our recent visit was during the last week of April and stepping out of the vehicle was exhilarating! Not only did we experience Brian’s olfactory description but we were also overwhelmed with an extravaganza of color as myriad flowers of all sizes bloomed around us. All of this dampness and blooming attracted a host of potential pollinators.
A lazy drive took us deeper into the swamp where we enjoyed the rhythmic hammering of a Pileated Woodpecker, singing Northern Parula Warblers from every direction, Eastern Bluebirds carrying nesting material, expanses of lush green ferns and a river crossing. The Little Withlacoochee River barely flows along under an old wooden bridge and herons, egrets and hawks perch above the dark tannin-stained water.
Another perfect day.
The brightest dragonfly in our area is not a native. The Scarlet Skimmer (Crocothemis servilia) was introduced near Miami in the mid-1970’s and has now become fairly common in central/south Florida.
Replete with racing stripes and blue eyes, the male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) is ready to race away in pursuit of a bug breakfast.
Shimmering gold wings with a distinct pattern help identify the Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina).
Not a fire-breathing dragon, but we couldn’t ignore the beautiful and plentiful White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae) butterfly.
I couldn’t manage a decent photograph but this Gray-green Clubtail (Arigomphus pallidus) is a new species for us. We’ll return soon to see if we can find a more cooperative model.
One of our more common dragons, often seen patrolling the edges of roads in great numbers, a Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina) posed briefly.
Golden-edged wings and light dorsal stripe help identify a female Needham’s Skimmer (Libellula needhami). Hard to believe the male is more colorful. Perhaps we’ll find one on the next visit.
Ladies’ day continued with a cooperative female Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea). Again, maybe next time we’ll spot the purple-hued male.
A reminder for would-be dragon hunters: remember to look up once in awhile. Something may be hunting YOU! A young Bald Eagle, thankfully, prefers a fish dinner.
The humble Bumble Bee (Bombus spp.) seeking nectar and spreading pollen.
Thistles in bloom mean bugs galore! The blooms of these prickly plants certainly attract an amazing array of insects. Bumble Bees (Bombus spp.) were the main actors in the group of thistles we found today.
A shiny metallic blue Mason Bee (Osmia Chalybea) found plenty to like among the purple threads.
Purple Thistle (Cirsium horridulum).
We enjoyed our hunt for dragons on the edge of the swamp. As all of us proceed through uncertain times, step outside if you’re able and marvel at what nature offers. Better days are just around the bend.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!
That was bug heaven! Wonderful sharp macros of all the insects!
Thank you, Ken! A fun excursion.
Awesome collection of dragonflies. The Peacock Butterfly is beautiful. The thistle looks pretty too, lovely closeups.Wishing you a happy day!
Thanks so much, Eileen! Stay well.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Fabulous shots, Wally! I love the challenge of dragonflies! 🙂
Me, too, Donna! Thank you.
LikeLiked by 1 person
A terrific range of dragonfly images, Wally, all superb, and documenting a very pleasing range of species. I couldn’t help but wonder, however, upon entering the area and hearing Pileated Woodpeckers what it might have been like in times past to have also heard (and seen) Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. That possibility has gone forever unfortunately, but it must have been an incredible creature to come across. No wonder it has been referred to as The Lord God Bird!
Thank you very much, David.
Although perhaps a bit morose, when the big Pileated has found just the right hollow limb in the spring and taps out his woody ballad – I think, is he my great-grandchild’s Ivory-billed Woodpecker?
We live in hope that will not come to pass.
In the interim – time to go birding!
Great post and photos, Wally.
It seems more like the swamp of life than the “swamp of doom” to me – although I suppose we should all agree to extend your literary license in order to keep your blog entries coming!
Thank you, Ed!
I should have been incarcerated long ago for attempting literature with no license.
Likewise, our dragons are few and far between just now. It’s gone back to ten degrees and northerly winds, nothing like Florida. That description of a swamp stirred memories of wading along net rides through reedbeds full of LBJs. It is an acquired love, both the smell and the early morning work. Your insect pictures make me quite envious Wally.
We’re coming out of lockdown. Yipee. Hopefully we can get some ringing in soon.
I’m fortunate (IMO) to have experienced that “acquired love” early in life and thankful it has persisted.
Thank you, Phil, for such kind words.
Here’s to ringing in your future!
Dragons are always welcome. As are bees and flutterbyes.
I so often find comfort, solace, healing and delight in nature, and am grateful to the blogosphere which expands my horizons.
Gini and I hope you are well, EC. Rough times for all.
Thank you for visiting and for such kind remarks.
We appreciate it!
Oh dear! You’ve got my juices running, Wally, with this wonderful array of fabulous dragonflies – and that butterfly’s a little cracker too. Can’t comment about the smell, however, as it’s out of range
I’m in danger of not seeing a single dragonfly this year unless I can get out of this lockdown situation – but I’m working on it. The situation is dire enough that, just today, Lindsay offered that I could have a garden mini-pond for my upcoming birthday in the hope of attracting more wildlife and possibly get the occasional breeding dragonfly/damselfly. We’ve resisted having a pond till now because of Lindsay’s phobia of frogs, but this one will be raised so that frogs can’t get in. Will probably be ordering it tomorrow.
My very best wishes to you both. Take great care and stay safe – – – Richard
Thank you, Richard! We’re working hard to make images so you don’t have to! 🙂
Seriously, the idea of a pond garden sounds great! Don’t keep the frogs out as they can help supplement your grocery problem – they taste like chicken. Ummm, best not relate that part to Lindsay.
Here’s hoping all this will pass much sooner than predicted.
WOW Wally what a feast for the eyes! Obviously our Countries are so different, the climate here means our dragons are only just starting to appear and we have far fewer species than yourselves. The colour of some of ‘your’ odonata is incredible and we only have one dragonfly with coloured wings (and 2 damsels or demoiselles to be exact).
Have you purchased a macro lens? The shots are so crisp.
Thank you for the link it’s quite humbling to think others like my efforts.
Anyway, we have had a slight easing of lockdown this week meaning I can legally go in pursuit of species further afield or as was said “Drive to a favourite beauty spot to exercise but keep social distancing” Hopefully I can photograph a couple of spring butterflies this weekend when the weather recovers.
Keep well you two regards B.
You are way too kind, Brian, thank you!
We are really blessed with insect diversity within our sub-tropical ecosystem. In other words = “we are spoiled”.
Those images were made with my trusty Tamron 150-600 and most of them shot at 600mm. Multiple clicks in hopes of obtaining a few in focus. Nikon D750 body.
Hope we all continue to see less virus, less restriction and more Nature!
LikeLiked by 1 person