Thursday, 20 August 2009

Dragons in My Garden Part 3

Troy Mullens from TX., USA posted an ID challenge in his high-octane nature blog, ICU Nature with the following image.
ID challenge by Troy Mullens
The correct answer was commented by only one person, who happened to be yours truly!
The dragonfly in question, Red Saddlebag Tramea onusta does not occur in Sri Lanka. However, we do have two related Tramea species here.

The name “saddlebag” is given for dragonflies belonging to the genus, Tramea considering that they have a dark band at the base of their hindwing, reminiscent of saddlebags on a horse’s saddle. The Sri Lankan representatives have not been given this peculiar name by the authors of our popular dragonfly guide. Instead they are referred as “Gliders”—which is another named used for species belong to the genus Tramea due to their ‘gliding’ flight habits. (Note: Not all Gliders are Tramea species.)

In late April, I was able to observe the emergence of the Sociable Glider Tramea limbata in my dragonfly pond. First, this is how its adult male looks.

Sociable Glider Tramea limbata adult male
Most dragonflies emerge under the cover of darkness in order to escape predation—especially from birds. In my pond, the nymphs come out of water to begin their transformation (into winged dragonflies) typically at around 8.00 p.m. And it can take several hours until the final winged insect appears.

The nymph of Sociable Glider shown below was seen climbing the vertical wall of my pond in its deepest section (4 feet) just pass 9.00 p.m., on 29 April. After coming out of the water, the nymph found it difficult to negotiate the last few inches of the vertical wall. And in trying to push itself, it slipped and fell back into the water. I then collected it and placed it on the outer wall of the pond, which serves as the cradle for most of my dragonflies.
Tramea limbata nymph
The the most crucial episode of this emergence drama unfolded pass midnight in what was a pretty sleepless night for me with a couple of Dawn Dropwings also emerging. Here are some of the shots of this dragon birth.

This was fired at 0004 hours on 30th April.

Tramea limbata emerging
At 0009 hours.

Tramea limbata emerging
At 0022 hours. It has now done an upside down hanging crunch to grab its empty outerskin.

Tramea limbata emerging A side on view at 0032 hours.

Tramea limbata emerging
Call me a dragonfly fanatic, but this newly emerged dragonfly (teneral) was taken at 2.41 a.m. I had some rest in between.
Tramea limbata teneral And finally this at 2.47 a.m. before calling it a day!

Tramea limbata teneral
You can make out the 'saddlebag' in this.

Related posts:
Dragons in my garden Part 1
Dragons in my garden Part 2
The Pond
Dawn of a Dropwing
Scrabble and dragonfly tips


This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Amilia: You getting the answer certainly didn't surprise me. You got some neat captures again.

Texas Travelers said...

Thanks for the shout-out.

This post is so cool and I must put you at the top of my list for 'dragon king'.

I have stayed up all night in the tropics just listening to unknown birds call, laid awake for hours listening to loons call in the north country, and even enjoyed the nighttime serenade of coyotes and wolves, but never stayed up all night to watch a dragonfly "hatch". I believe the phrase that the Australians use is "Good on ya".

I went by the bank today and people were talking about the large insects flying outside (migrating), and I had to stop and give an impromptu lecture on Dragonflies.


rainfield61 said...

You are so good and patient for the pictures which are, how can I describe, .....

Anonymous said...

Such beautiful pictures !

I'm not quite sure how you will perceive this,... or if you've tried it as a kid, but when we were very little, ( I'm a girl from a family of all boys)...we would catch dragon flies, tie little threads to their tails and have fun flying them around. ( This was when we were VERY LITTLE.) I know this may sound like sheer cruelty ( especially to a dragon fly lover like your self...) but I just felt the need to share this :(

I guess you've never done something like this ?.....or ...have you ?

Dee said...

those are some amazing shots. wow.

flowergirl said...

You are amazing! Awake at 2:47 am to get this sequence!!

Terrific, and we all benefit!

Thank you!

Kirigalpoththa said...

I wouldn't have guessed that even for million years :)

When you take a macro of a dragonfly you know why they called 'dragon' after all..

Great stills..Fascinating!

Tabib said...

Great macro work!.
Mommythecook story is almost the same with what we did in the 6o's.

Harshi said...

Wow.. amazing macros. I'm sure the pics are a true reward for your patience and perseverance.

Also congratz on guessing the name right!

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Tom,
Thanks! It was a tough one.

Hi Troy,
No worries! And thanks!
I can see that you are like me in many ways!!
I too very much enjoy tuning to the soundscape at night when I am in wild.

Hi rainfield,
Very nice of you to put it like that!

Thanks! That game you’ve described did not appeal to me as I feared dragonflies when I was a kid. It still doesn’t appeal to me, for slightly different reasons.

Hi Dee,
Thank you! Dragonflies are amazing insects.

Hi flowergirl,
I am quite used to hearing that ....hahahaha!
Sometimes when I cannot get sleep, I visit the pond to watch such emergence drama. A lot of them go un-photographed, btw.

Hi K,
Dragonfly photography has taught me good skills – I quite enjoy it.

Hi Tabib,
Sounds like it was an ancient game!

Hi Harumi,
Thanks! Glad you liked them.

Anonymous said...

simply beautifully captured shots!

Pat - Arkansas said...

A wonderful sequence of "birthing" shots! No matter how many times one might see this process, it's always amazing. (I have never seen a dragonfly emerge) only butterflies.

Chrissy said...

Absolutely amazing! I am always left saying WOW after looking at your photos.

Amila Salgado said...

Hi flyingstars,
Thank you! I am pleased to hear from you.

Hi Pat,
I hope you will see an emergence of a dragonfly one day. You'll enjoy it very much.

Hi Chriss,
Thank you so much! It is always nice to hear such comments!

oldcrow61 said...

Your photos are unbelievable. Beautiful shots.

Stuart Price said...

You're getting some amazing bug shots.....the 0022 shot is fantastic......

Harshi said...

Just dropped by to say you've been tagged! Check it here. =D

Ayie said...

This can be for a documentary! Thumbs up to you!

Sunita Mohan said...

Amazing photos, Amila! I loved the phase by phase photographic account.

spookydragonfly said...

Amila...Simply... STUNNING!

Amila Salgado said...

Hi OC,
Thanks! I delete more to retain a few like this.

Hi Stu,
Thanks! That was taken though my MP-E 65mm Macro lens.

Hi Harumi,
Thanks for tagging me. I will have to give it a miss this time. I am appalled by the fact that you do not eat Kohila!

Hi Ayie,
Wonderful to hear that - thanks!

Hi Sunita,
I have been able to make a fair number of such observaions in my dragonfly pond.

Hi Kim,
Thank you! Long time no see.
I hope you had a super break.

Anonymous said...

A very nice sequence of photos - I've not yet managed to see a dragonfly emerging.

合田學 (上坂眞信)  said...


Amila Salgado said...

Hi Ted,
Thanks! If you visit local wetlands/ponds at night you may be able to observe this.

Hi PZ,
Good to hear from you. I hope you have said something very good!

flowergirl said...

Hi Amila

Someone asked me today what dragonflies ate...and I realised I didn't know!

So please do tell!

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