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Flame skimmer (Libellula saturata)        Images © Mark A. Chappell

The bright red males and brownish females of this species are a common sight around ponds and streams in much of North America.   It closely resembles the southwestern neon skimmer, but male flame skimmers have brownish thoraxes and extensive red patches on the wing bases, in contrast to the red thorax and small amber wing patches in neon skimmers.   Most dragonflies are highly alert and have excellent vision, and perched skimmers often tilt and twist their heads in an apparent effort to scan their surroundings.   I got these pictures by slowly edging up to favorite perches; even if temporarily frightened into flight, they often come back to their preferred twigs.   These skimmers were photographed at several places in southern California.

  • digital captures, Canon 1D Mk. II, 1D3, or 40D, 500 mm IS lens + 2X converter and extension tubes, fill-in flash (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)