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Monday, July 21, 2014

Exciting new oasis species today

After banding at a couple of places south of the oasis today, Kelly and I came to the oasis to see what was here. At first it didn't seem very promising, but looking is still fun, like a treasure hunt. I decided to go back into the arroyo between the two dams (where the soapberry thicket is) and see if I could find any interesting butterflies. Kelly was photographing some odonates at the big tank.

Soon thereafter, I saw a different looking damselfly with a white looking tip on its tail. I wondered if it was an egg sac or some deformity. Seriously, I can be pretty dumb. Hey, just this morning I was photographing white sacs on this acacia branch (Cottony Cushion Scale, see yesterday's post).

So you see things are not always as they appear to be, and I had abnormal white stuff on my brain. Anyway, I took several photos of the strange damselfly just in case, then got to thinking I should alert Kelly, just in case. I'd feel bad if I left, then later showed him the photos, and it turned out to be something rare that he really wanted to see and photograph. Besides, his photos are perfect and put mine to shame.

So I hollered for him. No answer. I hollered as loud as I could, hoping he didn't leave something awesome and come running for nothing. Or think I was snakebit or something. I don't recall ever hollering for him before. When I was about to give up and leave, I heard him near the arroyo, asking if I was in the arroyo. I told him I was, and shortly he carefully approached, at which time I pointed to the damselflies (I was eyeing a couple others that I couldn't ID either.)

He immediately recognized that the one with the white-looking tail was something unusual, and after he took a few perfect shots of it, he went to get his book and see what it was. I heard an exultant shout a few minutes later, by which time, I was dying to know what it was myself. Here's my pitiful photo of it.

 Only after Kelly told me it was a rare Cream-tipped Swampdamsel, a species only found in the US in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of  TX, did I allow myself to get really excited about it, too. Next, he wanted me to keep my eye on it while he went for his closeup lens, which I did. But when he returned and tried to get closer to the ode, it disappeared, not to reappear.

One reason my damselfly shots are so poor is because I have to shoot on manual focus. My autofocus feature won't focus on such small critters. Kelly's won't either, but apparently his eyesight is better than mine. Not to mention Kelly's superior camera and photographic expertise. Looking through the viewfinder, I can't tell if I have it in sharp focus or not. I'm just glad this first W TX swampdamsel species got good documentation, regardless of who got the best photo of it. A fun afternoon!

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