Monday, August 2, 2021

Dragonflies

Walking a dog doesn't give you the time or the space to plant a  tripod, set up artificial lights and zoom a massive lens so my pictures of dragonflies are works in progress on the ...fly as it were.
I find myself standing there, staring at these funny little bugs hovering and stopping on branches apparently at random. They have been represented in art, and scientists say they have been around for 325 million years.
I read somewhere that unlike butterflies, which are impossible to photograph, dragonflies tend to stop back at the same spot over and over. I also read they live as larvae for several months underwater breathing through their backsides, which sounds weird, and after they become adults and get wings they live for up to two months. Which sounds like a lot of effort for a short return.
Which makes it possible to lie in wait for them to return and gives a hopeless amateur a chance to snap them. I guess we should feel lucky to see them at all as they can fly at speeds to 35 mph and they can even fly backwards. 
They are fierce predators but foul weather can wreck their survival chances when they and their prey get grounded.  and on another weird note male dragonflies are sexual harassers so females tend to live separately in drier habitats mingling only when they want to fertilize their eggs. Something like that.
Apparently the females prefer drier habitat and the males wetlands so if that's correct I must spend a good deal of time walking through a  frat party in the mangroves.
This time of year they are all over the place stopping randomly on twigs. They don't walk on their legs reserving them to grab prey or twigs as needed.
And for a change here we have a snail on a seagrape. Little white shells have appeared since the rains began.
Seagrapes are abundant too. They are edible when the fruit turns purple though birds get first dibs so you'll be lucky to taste any. They have a flavor like mild grapes with a  giant stone inside the flesh. It's a bit of work to roll a seagrape around your mouth to extract the pulp and not swallow the stone...
Then there are the resident pigeons hanging out through the summer. These birds aren't migrators like the more rare white crowned pigeons who come back in the winter.
Then there are the usual selection of ibis heron and egret wandering around the salt waters of the extensive mangroves. 
Rusty and I hurried home to supper and sleep leaving behind the sleepers in their trees and nests.