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The period beginning now and extending through the first week or two of November is my favorite time of year for photographing wildlife in Arizona. The advent of slightly cooler temperatures (which sounds ironic, because it peaked at above 100 degrees today for the fourth or fifth day in a row) means that lots of species that had spent the summer working the night shift begin to become visible after sunrise and before sunset. Other species, birds in particular, are on the move at this time of year. Local residents are therefore augmented considerably by others that are just passing through or who are coming here to spend the winter.
This time of year is an especially good time to observe and photograph dragonflies. Many species mature right about now and spend the next six – eight weeks hunting and mating before they die off.
This morning I went over to Sweetwater Wetlands and found the place alive with dragonflies. The air was thick with them and I saw and photographed members of six distinct species in a little less than two hours of walking around. I’ll be featuring them and, likely, others over the next few weeks.
One of the species I saw today was the Variegated Meadowhawk, a species that I consider to be among the most spectacularly beautiful of all dragonfly species. The males of this species are banded a deep and intense red.
The brilliant red stripes on the Meadowhawk’s abdomen are a distinguishing feature that make this dragonfly instantly recognizable. It is a medium-large insect, not the biggest of all dragonflies, but quite large as dragonflies go.
The red stripes are complemented by garnet-colored eyes and red accents on the insect’s wings.
Female Variegated Meadowhawks lack the males’ red pigment but they are subtly beautiful in their own right. Their translucent abdomens give them a gem-like quality that is stunning.
Images taken with a Canon 5Diii and 180 f3.5L Macro Lens, assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite. The first two images were taken at ISO 125, f13 @ 1/160. The third image was taken at ISO 160, f13 @ 1/160.