I have previously stated that the Zebra Clubtail is probably my very favorite dragonfly. That being said, like many of you, it is hard to pick a favorite. Certainly, people (myself included) are drawn to their striking colors and bold patterns. Beauty is more apt catches our eye, rather than the drab and inconspicuous, and this is true for so many of our beloved outdoor creatures. Our social media accounts are riddled with photos of brightly colored birds, boldly patterned beetles, and striking butterflies in addition to our Odonate friends. Am I wrong here? How many photos do you see of the drab ground beetles on Facebook as compared to their boldly patterned cousins the tiger beetles? I probably have seen a thousand pictures of brightly colored warblers for every picture of the non-descript, but cute, Song Sparrow. We all gravitate to beauty, and there is nothing wrong with that. I am often guilty of ignoring the mundane looking creatures and favoring the bold. However, I often find that when I learn something peculiar about one of these overlooked creatures, I become enchanted with them. I would like to think that my science background really draws me to the uniquely behaviored creatures just as much as the uniquely colored or patterned.
Let me give you a peek in my brain. Beware! For it is a place full of dangerous distractions; ranging from long-legged flies, genealogy, shiny guitars, and science fiction and fantasy epics. There are many pitfalls and places to get lost. With that warning, I am going to take you back to 2018 when my family took a trip to Massachusetts for some family history exploration of my wife’s deep colonial roots. They go way back in this country; mine are not quite so deep but are still very interesting. However, that is an entirely different topic. I did warn you about how dangerous my brain is, right?
Anyway, all of the family history and colonial history was very interesting, but I wasn’t going to go all the way to Massachusetts and not look for Odonates. I wanted to see some species that I hadn’t seen before, and at the top of that list was the Seaside Dragonlet. Is it the most spectacularly patterned and colored species in the northeast? I think you would agree that it is not. However, its unique ecology and biology had it as the only species I tagged as a “must see”. I was maybe a bit obsessive about finding it; my wife could probably corroborate this. I looked a few times in Massachusetts, and completely failed. I was a bit melancholy that all my efforts yielded no fruit.
On our last full day in the northeast, there was a trip planned (with my wife’s distant cousins) to travel north to Maine where there was some more family history to learn. I did not expect that the trip would allow me the time to stop and check out any salt marshes along the way, but just in case, I went to Google Earth and followed our route north. I found what looked like an accessible salt marsh in Maine and memorized its location. The day was beautiful, the drive was incredible, and we saw many New Hampshire license plates. New Hampshire has the coolest state motto, so I’m quite certain that my large family group became weary of my “Live Free or Die!” proclamations. To fully appreciate that image, you have to picture a van that included my sons ages three and ten, my seventeen-year-old daughter, my wife, my mother-in-law, and her soon to be husband. This eclectic group deserves credit for tolerating my sporadic outbursts of patriotism.
|Live Free or Die!|
|Male Seaside Dragonlet from Maine|
|Fawn Darner - the last of 2019 from September 17th|