Photo Shoot: August 1st at Siebenthaler Fen (Beavercreek Wildlife Area)

© - Twelve-spotted Skimmer

A couple of weeks back I chose between going to Caesar Creek State Park and Beavercreek Wildlife Area  after making a quick but relatively unsuccessful jaunt out to Spring Valley Wildlife Area.  Go with the known rather than the unknown I said at the time.  And really it was a very good trip out to Caesar Creek.  But I still had Beavercreek on the agenda.  So with reasonably good (though getting hot) weather on the horizon, I made my way over to Beavercreek Wildlife Area.

This is where I need to be reasonably careful in the way I describe things.  Beavercreek Wildlife Area is a designation made by Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources.  This particular wildlife area is actually a pair of tracts of land.  I chose to go to the southern of the two tracts which is known by the local residents of the area by a more appropriate and descriptive name: Siebenthaller Fen.  Siebenthaler Fen is a very marshy area that is accessed via a long boardwalk.  This boardwalk traverses most of the wildlife area in a sort of a balloon-type pattern.  The boardwalk goes from the parking area up to a loop.  That loop leads to an observation tower over the marsh.

What I found was true photographic gold in terms of a marsh that was accessible, but it took some time to develop.  When I first arrived at about 7:30 am, there was very little in the way of flying creatures.  A few damsels here and there, but you really had to look for them.  As it started to warm up, the place came alive with dragonflies, though the species spread was reasonably narrow.  The dominant species were Blue Dashers, Common (Eastern) Pondhawks, and Common Whitetails.  As the morning wore on, a reasonably new species for me popped up as well in big numbers:  Twelve-spotted Skimmers.  I made quite a few shots of this particular dragonfly.

In the realm of dragons, I had one other thing present itself that was an add to the portfolio.  I had noticed a pair of Common (Eastern) Pondhawks (Erythemis simplicicollis) flying low around where I was at.  One baby blue and one light green.  Two possibilities popped into my head.  Either it was territorial (light green can mean both female and immature male in the Common Pondhawks), or it was mating ritual.  It turned out to be the latter as they ended up landing right in front of me on the boardwalk and formed their mating wheel.  Thankfully I was in the right place in terms of lighting and I made a few images.  And no, I will not be sharing that image here…

Also in the area were a number of butterflies, including another for my butterfly list:  The Summer Azure.

As I was wandering up and down the boardwalk, there were some volunteers out trimming the vegetation away from the walkway.  One of them commented that I should come out in the early evening because the species spread would be a little different.  I did come out later, though I did not see a significant change in the roster.  But I did get one very cooperative Twelve-spotted male that was “willing to work with me” for a little while and I made a series of images that I was able to experiment with in an HDR environment which I posted in my “Playing Catching up” post a little while back.

The same volunteer who gave me the tip on coming back later in the evening also explained to me that this was just a small piece of a corridor of marshland that ran from north to south in this vicinity.  This loose conglomeration of wetlands is supported by the Beavercreek Wetlands Association.  Among other things, they provide manpower to various projects for the health of these marshlands (i.e. removal of invasive species, restoration, etc) as well as maintain the boardwalk on this tract of land and work towards making other wetlands more accessible.  Great folks putting in hundreds of hours to help nature and their local community.  Outstanding!

Frame count for the day between the two trips was approximately 450 images.  The life list expanded again, the portfolio undoubtedly expanded, and I was able to relax a little bit.  Win, win, win in my book.

~ by Jim Miller on Sunday, 8 August 2010.

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