Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sketching Dragonflies

Douglas County, Oregon, USA

Earlier this spring I told myself I don’t need to sit and drip in the hot sun;  shading my camera so it doesn’t fry; squinting because my paper is too bright in the sunshine ..... I should be nicer to myself than that.   But, then I find a dragonfly that has just emerged from its exuvia (nymph casing) and hasn’t even opened its wings yet.  

I fetch a 3 inch cushion and plop it on the damp ground.  I’m sitting just a few feet from the edge of a pond.  There is only about ten feet of shoreline open to the pond.  Lots of cattails on either side.  This tiny, sun-warmed bay is a mecca for dragonflies.  Last year there never seemed to be a normal quota.  This year lots.

I’ve just settled and I spot a pair of cardinal meadowhawks (dragonflies) flying in tandem.  The bright red male hangs on to the back of the female’s head with his cerci.  She frequently dips her abdomen just to the water’s surface -- laying eggs.  
Song Sparrow
Soon insanity strikes.  I decide to quick sketch every dragonfly species I see from this one spot.  It’s hot.  Dragonflies love hot.  I drip and get sticky, but I persist.  A fly buzzes by.  A song sparrow discovers me and scolds.  Way off I hear a pileated woodpecker pounding.  Zip!  Zoom!  Many of the male dragonflies are very territorial.  Chases go on right over my head.  

Finally it’s time for lunch.  I’ve got six species of dragonflies, a damselfly, and I couldn’t resist adding the little crab spider hunting from the top of a cattail.  I’ve sketched a couple of chalk-fronted corporals, the pair of cardinal meadowhawks, a widow skimmer, an eight-spotted skimmer, a four-spotted skimmer, a female western pondhawk,  plus two damselflies and the crab spider.
Shadows have grown long putting the far side of the pond in shadow.  A song sparrow pops up into the late afternoon sunshine and sings a brief soliloquy.


  1. Hi, Elva,
    Your post and drawings are so poetic and beautiful! Thank you for sharing them.
    Best wishes, Sadami

  2. Lovely sketches. Thank you for reminding me as to why I too sit and sweat in the sun on a hot summer day. Where else can we witness such miracles?

  3. Thank goodness, your good sense is overcome by the moment! Wonderful sketches.

  4. Oh I envy your tenacity to sit and draw. Lovely sketches too. Love your stories..Love the song bird singing last sketch. :)