Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 30: The Poetry of Dragonflies

I've been told by a very reliable source that this handsome fellow is a male Celithemis elisa, or Calico Pennant. I came upon him today while tromping around the milkweed patch at my office trying to photograph butterflies. I saw my first monarchs, a red admiral, and a few things I couldn't identify, but this guy was the only thing that would hold still for my camera. The Calico Pennant first emerges in late May to early June and is apparently very common throughout the summer here along the Megunticook River. It's also easily recognizable, as its all-over red appearance is noticeable at a distance. Right now several of them proudly wave their red selves above the overgrown lawn. 

I know next to nothing about dragonflies, but several birder friends are also avid odophiles. (These same friends are also very good at identifying butterflies--I guess once you start paying attention to one set of flying things, you just start noticing the others.) I like to watch dragonflies flit and dart through the air, wings shimmering, iridescent bodies glistening like jewels. But my real interest in them is not as a naturalist or observer, but as a poet. Check out these common names of some dragonflies found in Maine: Ebony Jewelwing, Violet Dancer, Lilypad Forktail, Sedge Sprite, Sweetflag Spreadwing, Spatterdock Darner, Unicorn Clubtail, Riffle Snaketail, Stygian Shadowdragon, Ringed Boghaunter, Seaside Dragonlet, Cherry-faced Meadowhawk, and Black Saddlebags. They sound like creatures from a fantasy novel! Naming really doesn't get any better than this unless you're an elf or fairy.

Jewelwing, sedge sprite--
dragonfly or elf, your wild
Maine magic shimmers.

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