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Ethan Winning / 2,165 items

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To quote Charles Dickens, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." For the Great Egret, it was a good day. For the Western Fence Lizard, short life span wasn't it!

For me, it was a good day, well certainly better than this lizard. I got three pretty good images. This was the last shot I took. I saw the egret strolling the banks of the stream. Then, he'd stop and look. A few more steps. Stop. And then his neck got realllly long. He had spotted something and was about to strike. And I was ready. For only the fifth time in 15 years I got an image of a heron or egret that caught its prey. I was a little sorry for the Fence lizard ... especially when I got this image on the monitor. It was probably in its second year. Way too long to be a juvenile, way too short to be a full-fledged (so to speak) adult. I do like these little lizards that also feed on mosquitoes and other insect pests. But it's a egret-eat-lizard-eat-insect world out there. If only it was an Egret-Eat-Gopher world! Well they do, but more likely the Great Blue Heron and the byproduct of such a catch on my patio might be worse than the pests burrowing under patio and house.

Tags:   Great Egret Western Fence Lizard The Beak Is Quicker Than the Feet Predator/Prey Foothills Pond of Mt. Diablo Northern California Canon SX50 Copyright Ethan A. Winning

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Lacking variety of species, I've been going for background and perches with skimmers and dashers. To get gray, I've looked for rock rather than water behind the subject (though much of the swamp's water is green). I usually have to go to different parts of the large pond than I would for damselflies, and that was the case here where, after a few years of paying attention, I find that the Blue Dasher loves horsetail grass as a perch. It had been almost 10 days since seeing one, but here he was, spanking new from the looks and color of him.

The blue dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) is a dragonfly of the skimmer family. It is the only species in the genus Pachydiplax. It is very common and widely distributed through North America, and certainly loves this part of northern California. Blue dashers live near still, calm bodies of water, such as ponds, marshes, slow-moving waterways, and ditches, in warm areas typically at low elevations. The adults roost in trees at night.

These dragonflies, like others of their infraorder, are carnivorous, and are capable of eating hundreds of insects every day, including mosquito and mayfly larvae. The adult dragonfly will eat nearly any flying insect, such as a moth or fly. Nymphs have a diet that includes other aquatic larvae, small fish, and tadpoles.These dragonflies are known to be voracious predators, consuming up to 10% of their body weight each day in food. I know this is some old information, but as old and interesting as Odonates are, I'm limited in information and my personal memory may be reaching the point where I have to pay Mother Nature for a continued subscription (as seems to be the case with everything else nowadays).

Tags:   Blue Dasher Dragonfly Pachydiplax Longipennis Odonata Diet and Consumption Habitat and Perches Foothill Ponds of Mt. Diablo Northern California Canon SX50 Copyright Ethan A. Winning

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I only have a few more images of Yellowstone to share, but I like to give you variety between dragons and damsels and wildflowers.

This is more Paintpots at Norris Geysers Basin as I recall. Not really known for spouting geysers, it is an area of infinite shapes, colors, and other-worldly and unique algae formed ponds and puddles for lack of a better way to describe this part of the three thousand square mile park.

The park has an interesting history, but I'll just leave you this: "Yellowstone National Park spans an area of 3,468.4 square miles (8,983 km2), comprising lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges. Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-elevation lakes in North America and is centered over the Yellowstone Caldera, the largest supervolcano on the continent. The caldera is considered a dormant volcano. It has erupted with tremendous force several times in the last two million years. Half of the world's geysers and hydrothermal features are in Yellowstone, fueled by this ongoing volcanism. Lava flows and rocks from volcanic eruptions cover most of the land area of Yellowstone. The park is the centerpiece of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the largest remaining nearly-intact ecosystem in the Earth's northern temperate zone. In 1978, Yellowstone was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hundreds of species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians have been documented, including several that are either endangered or threatened. The vast forests and grasslands also include unique species of plants. Yellowstone Park is the largest and most famous megafauna location in the contiguous United States. Grizzly bears, wolves, and free-ranging herds of bison and elk live in this park. The Yellowstone Park bison herd is the oldest and largest public bison herd in the United States. Forest fires occur in the park each year; in the large forest fires of 1988, nearly one third of the park was burnt."

For those of you who showed concern about the caldera, believe me, Yellowstone will be here long after we are gone.

Tags:   Yellowstone National Park Wyomins and Montana Norris Basin Geysers Caldera The Big Boom Algae Formations Canon SX50 Copyright Ethan A. Winning

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Got this Sunday. About as close as I ever have. This Flame Skimmer is finishing chewing his mosquito snack. You can't see it? It's the whitish "blob" under his mandible. Note the right combed foreleg next to its left eye: it's used to seize prey in midair, hold it, balance, climb up stalks of grass, and most important to clean off its mandible after a meal, and brush its eyes. The forelegs are the shortest of the six and are often confused as antennae like those of a moth. They're anything but! The next time you're out near a pond or stream, and you see a dragon turning a hugh eye (actually, it will turn his head which is mostly its two eyes) and the leg up like this, it's grooming. When it swipes at its mandible, it's flossing.

Will keep this short. Mary Chapin-Carpenter had a song in 1992 called "The Bug." The lyrics started, "… Sometimes you're the windshield, Sometimes you're the bug". This morning, I'm that mosquito!


Tags:   Flame Skimmer Short Pronounced Combed Forelegs Odonata Dragonfly Mt. Diablo Northern California Canon SX50 Copyright Ethan A. Winning

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The last image I captured today was of this Northern Bluet perched at the precipice of what must look to him like a giant chasm. However, while it evolved with the wings to avoid such a drop, I doubt if it's brain even thought, "Damn, that's a long way down!"

Not a terribly productive day. Hot. People. Hot people. And the same three species of damsels as the last 10 days or so.

Tags:   Northern Bluet Odonata Damselflies Boulders By The Stream Reserve at the Base of Mt. Diablo Northern California Canon SX50 Copyright Ethan Winning


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