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Photo Shoot Report: September 11th, 2011 @ Mitchell Lake Audubon Center

September 24, 2011

© - Roseate Skimmer dragonfly

After being home after my Ohio adventures, I felt the need to get out.  Pain levels were manageable, temperatures had cooled a bit, and there had been a spot of rain in south Texas.  So I had an itching to go out and shoot.  Plus it was 9/11 weekend.  And if there is one lesson that I have learned from the last ten years is that it is important to remember those who died on that tragic day.  But it is also important to not allow those events, made to happen for the purpose of changing our way of life, to do so.  And as such, I remembered those who we lost on that day, said a prayer for all those affected, and then did not allow it change my way of life.

As I had other things to do (like study for an incredibly difficult test), I figured a somewhat local spot was a good start.  So I stayed to my somewhat dependable spot of Mitchell Lake Audubon Center.  I had wanted to make it all the way down to the lake in previous visits, but had still not had the chance to do so.  So I gassed up, stocked up on hydration, and made the short drive.

© jmillerphoto - Variegated Meadowhawk dragonfly

What I found was incredibly better conditions than I had found in the previous two visits.  Big dragonfly numbers, both in terms of species spread and depth within those species.  I counted 10 dragonfly species and a single damselfly species.  My big find was what I first thought was a life list add but was instead just the female Variegated Meadowhawk.  I had seen a tattered male up at San Angelo State Park back in December, but I didn’t have much of an angle and really didn’t get all that good of images.  This time around I had a perfect view of both males and females and I was taken aback by how good it looked in the field, but how much better it looked when I got it home on the big monitors.  At least one wall hanger in that group.

© - Four-spotted Skimmer dragonfly

There were other treats from that visit as well.  I saw my first Halloween Pennant west of the Mississippi.  Didn’t get a really good shot of him, but good enough to know what I was looking at.  The Roseate Skimmers were cooperative and I even managed to get a couple of Common Green Darners in tandem during the visit.

What was missing was the birdlife.  The Bird Pond at the north end of the center had shrunk significantly since my last visit.  The herons, stilts, and avocets that had been present the week before had all disappeared. The American Coots were still around as was an immature Glossy Ibis which I added to my birding life list.

The West Polder had significantly more water in it (likely the reason for the increase in odonate action) and this too had pushed the shallows birds out.  There were a couple of Green Herons along the banks, but nothing photo worthy.

It was a great trip.  Cooler weather, more cooperative subject matter, and a great break from studying and world events.

About the images:

The lead image is a male Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea).  Middle image is my new favorite Texas dragonfly image, a female Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum).  Bottom image is a male Four-spotted Pennant (Brachymesia gravida).  No special Photoshop work was applied to any of these–just the standard crop and adjust levels.  For the most part I got it right in the camera.

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