Common Whitetail Skimmer

Darner butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek Park, PA, 6/7/07

Some of us are very much like street photographers, seeking subjects with real visual interest, and that certain illogical attractiveness. In the field, I too struggle to resist capturing images of stand-out plants and animals. That’s what happened when this Libellula lydia flew to this leaf, just ahead of me. We were at Raccoon Creek State Park, on Nichol Road. A small stream moved through a culvert under the narrow road, its borders classic wetland.

Quick appraisal! She looked good, she was undamaged, the light was excellent, she knew I was near her, and she tolerated that. Quicker decision needed . . . Way too much challenge here. Darners (dragonflies) are among the most improbable creatures. Who after all would design such a thing? The heart of the challenge, getting much of it in good focus and, those wings. Sharing the venation of those wings.

These last 14 or so years have found me spending thousands of hours scouring habitat for butterflies in the U.S., Canada & Israel. That painful memory, recounted earlier, when the very foolish Jeff-boy, whose hands as a boy were fast, very fast, bypassed his gray matter and caught a darner in mid-flight, in the air. PAIN! It’s bite may have been the most painful bite I have ever received is forever remembered. That’s the thing here. During my lifetime I have spent considerable time with very dangerous people, all of whom fortunately understood their potential risk to others, and managed to contain it. That same acknowledgement leads me to a certain fondness for darners. They have flown past me a million times, have the ability to PAIN, and never, never do. Quite civilized, no?