Outstanding Odonate

[ I don’t usually like that word odonate, an Anglicization of Odonata, but it seems to fit in this context, wanting some alliteration.]

We had a morning remaining at the Klein Windhoek Guest House before our transfer to the airport to begin our long journey home. Francine chose to accompany a few others to another dreaded craft outlet but at least this one was a bona fide in town and lacked any high pressure selling or haggling. mercifully, she returned empty handed rather than empty hand-bagged. 😀

I chose to remain at the veranda bar behind the guest house, which overlooked a patch of rough ground and the Klein Windhoek River, which flows occasionally. After some of Namibia’s wet season, this was one of those occasions – or, at least, it had more water in it. Largely, in between beers, I was making notes for this blog.

We had seen nine species of odonate during our trip but one, flying constantly, had eluded capture on my pixels. We’d seen this energetic character at no less than three of our five locations where dragonflies had thus far been seen, including a fuel station forecourt and the middle of the desert. Francine, though, had skilfully managed to nag a distant picture of one, using manual focus,. whilst at Toshari Lodge. Her picture added weight to my suspicions but its identity still remained unconfirmed.

I was tapping away at the keyboard when Francine returned from the trip to town. She spotted a dragonfly cruising about the river behind the guest house. I went with my camera to investigate. It was our unidentified cruiser yet again: four out of six locations, now. There were actually several of them. Once again, they flew tirelessly, though this time I spotted a pair ovipositing in tandem.

J17_1163 Pantala flavescensI started trying to grab in-flight photos, since none seemed about to settle and rest. There was a considerable amount of greenery on both river banks which autofocus was tending to pick up, as is its wont; either that or it was simply too slow. In desperation – I tend not to trust my visual judgement – I switched to manual focus. After some time of frustrating close-but-no-cigar attempts, I was pretty confident that I’d finally got a decent shot.

J17_1186 Pantala flavescensI remained in situ and now switched back to autofocus to see if I could snag anything more reliable. Eventually I did.

I’d fired off 110 shots, most of which would be discarded but I’d got proof of identity on pixels at last. These were, indeed, the iconic Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens).

This remarkable dragonfly is known from all continents except Antarctica, though only in isolated cases from Europe. (There are three confirmed records from the UK.) Nonetheless, it spans the globe and is sometimes goes by the alternative name of Globe Wanderer. It is known to migrate between the Indian subcontinent and Eastern Africa, crossing the Indian Ocean on the monsoon winds. A broad hind-wing chord helps it glide distances [see 3rd picture below]. It breeds successfully in temporary water sources, such as pools made by seasonal rains, which subsequently dry up. This is possible because larval development takes less than 40 days. Contrast that with larger Hawker-type dragonflies in Scotland where larval development can take 5 years, depending on temperatures. Astonishing. This dragonfly was outstanding in more than one sense.

Here’s a few more shots, just because I can. 😉

J17_1149 Pantala flavescensJ17_1151 Pantala flavescensJ17_1170 Pantala flavescens

I was utterly delighted that we’d seen it and captured it on pixels; probably my Namibian highlight.

Who needs big game, anyway? 🙂

Posted in 2017 Namibia
2 comments on “Outstanding Odonate
  1. BlasR says:

    What a very handsome chap! Love the body colours.

    • Franco says:

      Indeed. I had been led to believe that it had rather dull or subdued colours, which is why I was rather doubtfulk about my original suspicions. The male is quite attractive, though.

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