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OPINION

Just Looking Around: We are never alone

Gale Rose/Gannett
A dragonfly, also known as a common whitetail or long-tailed skimmer, stands on dry earth before taking to wing as hikers use the Green Recreation trail. They are most frequently seen in a clearing near the northeast corner of the Pratt hiking trail.

Taking a walk on a nature trail is never a solo experience. No matter where the trail is located, humans are definitely not alone. Besides the bigger animals that are easy to see such as rabbits, raccoons and an occasional deer, there are numerous birds and a vast array of smaller critters. 

Among those little tagalongs at the Green Recreation Trail are several species of dragonfly including the common whitetail or long-tailed skimmer. 

The unique characteristics of this dragonfly include that long white tail and square shaped spots on four translucent wings. This particular species seems to hang out towards he northeast side of the trail especially in a clearing filled with tall cheat grass. They spend time on the ground but takeoff when someone approaches but they don't seem to go far before they land again as if to say hurry up and walk on so we can have our special area back.

Sometimes they seem to be showing off as they fly close to me but always just out of reach. I have managed to capture a photo or two of these uniquely patterned creatures. When they are on the ground, they are difficult to see but they always fly up to get out of my way when I go walking through their territory. 

There are other species of dragonfly that are always on the trail and they always seem to be in the same place as the last time I walked past them. There are some very small species that are hard to see and there are lots of them. They tend to show up on the trail on both the north and south side. 

Also, on the south side by the river, there is a species that has dark blue, almost black wings that it always folds as it moves from leaf to leaf. They seem to be curious about me and will take off only to quickly land on a nearby leaf and watch me stroll by or just take wing and go to another leaf. 

It's difficult to get a good picture of these dark blue guys in flight. They instantly fold their wings and it gives them a sleek, aerodynamic look that's very sharp. 

But those whitetail dragonflies seem to enjoy showing off for me and probably for anyone else who frequents their home on the trail. 

I will continue to enjoy my encounters with these whitetails with the box shapes on their wings. Its like a good friend who waits for me to come pay a visit as I make my way around the trail. 

Who knows, maybe some day I'll get a good photo of the dark blue dragonflies and be able to share that  encounter with those that like to keep looking around.