Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sandhill Cranes and Ebony Jewelwings


Sandhill Cranes, Horicon Marsh, WI; 6/16/2012.
The Big: Sandhill Cranes are one of North America's largest birds ( with a wingspan of over 6 feet) and a good place to see them are at the Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin. It is very rare when I visit the Horicon Marsh area that I do not see a couple a couple of these cranes. If I don't see any, I almost always hear a few cackling away in the vast vegetation of the marsh.  This pair (Above and Below) was very close to the trail of the Wisconsin DNR section of the marsh.

The same pair of Sandhill Cranes, Horicon Marsh, WI;  6/16/2012.

Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly

and now for the small...
A male Ebony Jewelwing, Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 7/6/2012.
On the flip side, one of our smallest winged creatures are Damselflies. The very first damselfly that I was able to photograph this summer were one of the most the common damselflies -  Ebony Jewelwings which are anywhere from 1.5 - 2.5". Most damselflies can usually be found near ponds and lakes; however, Ebony Jewelwings  are most often found near forest streams. And it was in the dark woods where I found my first Ebony Jewelwings. They have very dark colorings with black wings, metallic bluish green head and thorax and a dark abdomen in certain light also looks metallic greenish/blue, but in the shadow looks black or dark purple. Because they are very dark and found in dimly lit environments, it took me several attempts to finally find one in good enough light to get a decent photo (Above).
A pair of mating Ebony Jewelwings, Rock Cut State Park; 7/6/2012.
Females have lighter wings - in many descriptions are said to be dark gray, but the ones I saw had reddish brown wings with a white spot at the tips. I was able to catch a pair of Jewelwings in their mating position (Above) - called the "wheel position" because they form a circle.  The male (on the right) uses the forked tip (tail) of its abdomen to hold onto the back of the neck of the female (on the left) which curls her abdomen underneath the male's thorax to connect to his genitals. Later the female will deposit her eggs inside the soft stems of plants found in the water. The eggs will hatch into larvae called naiads. When the naiads are fully grown, they will crawl out of the water and molt, leaving their old skin behind. Once the molting is complete and the Jewelwing is dry enough to fly, it will immediately go out to look for a mate.
A male Ebony Jewelwing, Rock Cut State Park; 6/15/2012.
(Above) is one of my first pics of an Ebony Jewelwing sitting on a leaf.  Even though the photo is soft, I liked how the light glinted off its wings to show off the texture of the wings.

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