Thursday, 15 February 2007

Dragons and damsels

While sitting in my office getting more and more incensed by the utter stupidity of work, I decided that staring out of the window would be a better use of my time. And I was right.

My office is on the second storey and has windows opening to the N and NNE. (This is hideous in the afternoon, when the sun heats up the expanse of glass, but magnificent for the hours before.) I can look past the computer monitor, which is cluttered with all sorts of e-mail crap, and watch the white-plumed honeyeaters chase each other around the eucalypts or gaze at the squadrons of pelicans heading from the Bay to inland waters. (I saw 17 of them yesterday, flying in elegant V-formation.)

Today, I spotted dragonflies zipping around in the free air-space between my window and the trees. Obviously, I couldn't tell which species they were because it's difficult to check the wing venation when the insects are 10 metres away. But they looked a lot like this one, which I photographed over the nearby pond.

Dragonflies have an air of belligerence when compared with the rather more refined damselflies. Their eyes cover most of the head. What's left is mouthparts. Dragonflies hunt whatever won't get them first. That's not to say that damselflies are wimps. They're simply more delicate.

Odonates catch food on the wing by scooping prey up with their forelegs. Damselflies almost always take lunch back to a perch, whereas dragonflies either do that or eat in flight.

3 comments:

Dark Orange said...

...and here's one I prepared earlier...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dark_orange/245996585/

Snail said...

*wild applause*

tapperboy said...

:)