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Out in the Field-Father’s Day: The New Halloween (Pennant)

June 16, 2014
Halloween Pennant

© – Halloween Pennant

There is a geek joke that has gone around for a number of years that says that Halloween (OCT31) is equal to Christmas (DEC25).  I’ll save the explanation for the end of this post.

I bring this up because Father’s Day had a strong element of Halloween in it, too.  Well, Halloween Pennants that is.

I visited Mitchell Lake Audubon Center in San Antonio, Texas on Sunday.  It had been a number of weeks since I had been out to MLAC.  Heck, it had been a couple of weeks since I’d been out anywhere having skipped last weekend due to some household chores and some work towards future projects (more about that, sort of, in a post scheduled to publish on July 8th).

But it was Father’s Day.  I had a free pass to do what I wanted to do.  And what I wanted to do was go and make some images.  I didn’t want to very far and after contemplating MLAC or Medina River Natural Area I went with MLAC.  I don’t think I’ve been to MRNA once this year.

My trip to MLAC yielded three gifts.

The first gift for the day was that I learned that MLAC is now open Tuesday through Sunday.  Outstanding!  If I get one of those rare days off in the middle of the week I now have another dependable option.

The second gift was getting a phone call while I was paying my entry fee.  Okay, normally being interrupted like that wouldn’t be a gift, but the invitation that was attached to it to get to preview another shooting location was an incredible gift.

And the third gift was out at the bird pond.  There were not a lot of dragonflies.  The weather was not overly cooperative as the wind was a little higher than I would have liked.  But the gift was a Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina).  Actually a number of them.  A plethora, if you will.  And they were perching repeatedly in good locations.  Awesome gift.

Halloween Pennants are not a rare species by any stretch of the imagination.  I’ve seen them as far north as Ohio.  I have seen them in Austin at Hornsby Bend.  I’ve seen them at MLAC as well.  But never in these numbers in Texas.  And when I have they were skittish.  The ones I saw kept going back either to the same perch or a perch just a couple of feet away.  Over two-thirds of my shots from the day were Halloween Pennants.

There were other dragons out and about as well.  Eastern Pondhawks, Four-spotted Pennants, Blue Dashers, Great Pondhawks, Roseate Skimmers and Red-tailed Pennants were out in varying numbers.  But the hams, the stars of the show, were the Halloween Pennants.

I made two passes on the pond before heading home.  Had I made it out earlier I probably would have made at least one loop around a basin or poulder on the south end of the property.  But by the time I called it a day the wind was getting unmanageable and I knew there was no benefit to making that walk.  However, with the water level on the bird pond being as high as it is, I’m curious as to whether or not Skip’s Pond has water in it.  I will have to take a gander the next time I’m out.

About the Image:  One of many images of Halloween Pennants from my morning of shooting.  Loved the perch.  Loved the background.  Should have maybe shut down the aperture a couple of f-stops but at the same time that would have made for an even slower shot on a reasonably windy day.  As always, this was on the Standard Gear.  No flash, though I don’t think it would have helped.  And on the resuscitated tripod.  Technical specs were ISO 400, 1/320 sec at f/11.

About the Geek Humor:
The explanation gets a little long-winded, but the short version is that in octal numbering system each number place is base-8 rather than the base-10 in our normal day-to-day decimal system.  Thus OCT31 is really 3*8 and 1*1, equally a decimal (or DEC) 25 of 2*10 and 5*1.  Okay, maybe too geeky for a mostly photography blog.  But you knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred.



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