Mile High Dragons

Howdy everyone!  Seems like it has been ages since my last post, but that is likely due to the extra high output over the last couple of months leading up to the last post.  One of the reasons for the delay was taking some time to work up another non-birding post – kind of a theme this month and figured I would keep it going at least one more post.  Not sure how much longer I can hold out on the birds though, developing a horrible twitch from the withdrawal hehehe.

Dragonfly at Denver Botanical Gardens May 2015

The good news is my brother and I were able to bird last Saturday up at Chain O’ Lakes State Park.  We took a 6 hour hike starting at 9am and then caught an hour or so after catching a bite to eat.  Unfortunately, it was pretty damn cold out with the temps dropping down to 23 the night before with a healthy dose of snow and sleet to accompany us on the drive up.  On the positive side, we had a dry day with plenty of sunshine that brought out a lot of birds for us to shoot.  I’ll catch you up on the day’s tin loading at another time but it is highly likely there was at least a +1 for each of us that day – Yeah!

Dragonfly at Denver Botanical Gardens May 2015

Hit the jump to read the rest of the post!

I should probably get back on topic seeing as how I am just about out of shots.  This little lady was spotted while at Denver’s Botanical Gardens.  We dropped by there on our return leg from a Yellowstone National Park visit back in May 2013.  That location provided a large amount of fodder for this blog including the previous lily post, another on statues (link here) and even my first encounter with a Black-Crowned Night-Heron (link here).  The dragonfly today cost me a lot of time thanks to being unable to identify it.  I’ve posted numerous dragonfly images in the past (usually due to not having birds to shoot at the time).  For those posts I was actually able to provide the species name – this time … ummm nope.  This thing is impossible to figure out.  After many hours of scouring the net, determined it must be a female and therefore, like a juvi sparrow, way to hard to identify.  I do think it is a Common Dragonfly, but don’t hold me to it.

Dragonfly at Denver Botanical Gardens May 2015

I should point out that I did have to work the first and last picture quite heavily – at first I liked all the sun spots, but in the end opted to simply remove them.. helps add to the serenity of the shot.

Lastly, I thought I would throw in a shot of a Damselfly to round out the post.

Blue Damselfly at Denver Botanical Gardens May 2015

Oh, and this is one of those I can identify – a Blue Damselfly.  If only they were all that easy to identify.  Hope you enjoyed another non-birding post!

6 thoughts on “Mile High Dragons”

  1. Well, another hour and a half of my life gone for good. I believe that this is a female Variegated Meadowhawk dragonfly. You can Google that or you can look at the female on this page: or the female at the top left of page 7 in this field guide: . “This is a common western species ranging east to Ohio, with vagrant records in almost all states. This is one of the first dragonflies to appear in spring, as a migrant, and one of the last to be seen in fall.”

    Your picture shows white sides on thorax segments 2 through 8, which is perfect. On a Variagated Meadowhawk there are two yellow spots on each side of the thorax from which white stripes lead upward, and one of those spots could be the yellow spot you see on the dragonfly’s side under its wings in your pictures. I am again impressed with your restraint in not taking photographs from different angles when one will do. I am a bit disturbed that there seems to be no dorsal black spots on thorax segments 8 and 9, even dark gray spots as shown on the female on page 7 in the MDP Field Guide. This troubles me and will likely keep me up tonight.

    It would also have been useful to have a shot of a wing that’s in focus to look for the double row of cells between the radial sector and the radial planate, which separates this species from Striped Meadowhawk and Cardinal Meadowhawk. But this would perhaps have been too much to ask. 🙂

    I have to say that I would never had learned these fascinating facts about the Variagated Meadowhawk under any other circumstances, so my hour and a half was productive after all. Thanks for the puzzle–I enjoyed it! I hope my identification is correct. But those missing dorsal spots…



  2. Wow, thanks for putting in the time!! Trust me, I know exactly how time consuming it can be trying to identify these dragons. I do agree you nailed the ID – big thanks for the two new reference links I can use in the future – there is really little out there that I could find that is actually usable. One had way too many pictures to the point it wouldn’t even load and others had very little I could actually use in the way of identification keys. These look really good (especially that pdf).

    It seems you would like a couple of different angles in your dragonfly posts! I bet you are wishing I had processed the shots I had from underneath, on top, backside, wings only, head only, tail only in addition to the ISO view contained in this post. Maybe next time, but then you again, you learned so much without them.

    Now I get to go add a new dragonfly species to my list – cool.

    Thnx again


  3. You’re welcome! I should probably learn to recognize some of these, because there’s always times when there are simply no birds so what are you going to do. I talked for quite a long while with a lady at the Deer Grove Forest Preserve last year who is a butterfly monitor there (yes, I talk with butterfly people I meet, too, in addition to birders, singing insect hunters, and people out drinking by themselves in the woods. I did avoid the group out in the middle of nowhere in the woods last weekend singing Christian hymns, though.) Anyway, she identified a brilliant red dragonfly as a “Cardinal” that may have been a Cardinal Meadowhawk, although I didn’t know enough to ask. Now I know to ask about the lack of a double row of cells between the radial sector and the radial planate. And then move on.



  4. You also avoided the hunters you came upon for some unknown reason!?! I do have some shots of a brilliantly red dragonfly I have not revealed as of late – maybe it is a Cardinal … when I post it, I’ll reference back to this post for your astute ID hints!

    Thanks again!


  5. I didn’t avoid the hunters, I just avoided their rifles, and they were carrying said rifles. And for the record since you alluded to this earlier, I actually did not talk to the horses at Chain O’ Lakes when we were there, just to the riders. 🙂



  6. Well, you were going to talk to the first horse, but it looked back and pointed out other horse’s large lens and then scurried off!


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