Thursday, September 3, 2015

Pond Secrets

Pickerelweed Pontederia cordata in bloom
Generations after quarrymen blasted pits into the granite of Halibut Point, water-dwelling communities come to flourish where none had been before.

Slender spreadwing
Dragonflies arrived to patrol the air over the water. They spend their early life stages as nymphs in the murk below.
Eastern Forktail on a water lily pad
Lily pads float on the interface between the aquatic and the atmosphere.

Water bugs
Water bugs skitter unconcernedly across the surface.

Amphibians at home in both worlds keep their secrets to themselves.

Water lily
A pollinator on wings earns its exchange with a flower.

Dragonfly exuvia
A Green Darner dragonfly nymph climbed out of the pond last night under the cover of darkness. It wriggled out of its exoskeleton, pumped blood into its wings, freed itself for flight.
Blue Dashers
A pair of dainty Blue Dashers courts on the promontory of the stick.

Blue Dashers mating
The couplers initiate a new generation of dragonflies in a heart-shaped union, symmetrically with the Green Darner's shell.

A resting Green Darner, Anax junius
Across the pond a Green Darner rests in the shrubbery. It's getting ready to live up to its forceful name, Anax (emperor, lord, military leader) Junius (a Roman male name).

A Green Darner in flight
I watched the Green Darner take off on a circuit around the pond, scattering the diminutive Blue Dashers.
A tattered Blue Dasher
The Blue Dasher is no match for His Lordship Anax junius.

Out of the depths,
up the pickerelweed stems.
The next night more Green Darner nymphs clambered out of the pond for their nocturnal molt.
Perfect casting
One partnered with a pickerelweed flower. It cast off its body-cast in a theatrical embrace.
A Blue Dasher in 'obelisk pose'
Fortunately for the smaller dragonflies the Green Darners moved on to other environs. The Blue Dashers are free to relax. One does a handstand in what their admirers call 'the obelisk pose.'

Immersed frog
Half in, half out of the pond the bullfrog ponders its opportunities. It too lived a formative phase wriggling on the bottom where dragonfly nymphs prey on tadpoles.

From their aqueous origins dragonflies take to the air in diverse patterns as we shall see in next week's essay.

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