April: BBLNWR

It didn’t take us long to figure out that outside and alone was a good way to avoid Covid-19. I do not in any way mean to make light of the plight of those folks who crave company and for whom an “outdoor experience” is a cigarette on the balcony. But I must say that outside and alone works well for me, very well.

BBLNWR stands for Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge. It is 4,200 acres of biodiversity and beauty, and I am beyond grateful that I live just a 20-minute drive away. Facilities like the Environmental Education Center and the Visitor’s Center closed down due to the pandemic, but trails remained open. I and the small numbers of other hikers had no trouble keeping safe distances from each other. It became my escape from the confines of the house.

Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita)

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that delightful surprises happen in creature photography. So I spied a damselfly on a blade of grass growing in shallow water at the edge of the lake. But it was only after a few frames that I realized I was photographing a damselfly that had just emerged from it’s “naiad,” or larval, stage.

A damselfly (and a dragonfly) that has just emerged is called a “teneral.” While this one perched over its discarded exoskeleton waiting for its wings to dry, I leaned in as close as I could without getting my feet wet (well, maybe a little) and clicked away. What an extraordinary moment to witness!

BTW, damselflies are tiny, their bodies thread-like. Learning to see them at all takes some practice. You are seeing this one through a macro lens, and putting a ruler up against a damselfly to show scale is not an option! Just remember, that’s a blade of grass perhaps an eighth of an inch wide.

Now try to think about how that entire body–head, wings and all–fit inside that exoskeleton (now called “exuvia”). Fascinating.

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