A male Seaside Dragonlet (see what I mean about fantastic names?), an older one as the dusty bloom along his tail attests. [Hmm, I must remember to ask about those tick-like bumps along his back…]
A female of the same.
And another, younger, female Seaside Dragonlet.
Confusing, confusing, confusing! Many of the seaside dragonlets flitting around a local little pond appear solidly black. One of our expat Brits, who knows more about our flora and fauna than just about any local expert and generously shares it with us, tells me that any combination of black and orange (all black; all orange; black body, orange-spotted tail; orange-striped body, black tail) can be found on this particular little dragonfly.
Add in the fact that these things hardly ever sit still and you should not be surprised that a person must be more than a bit obsessive-compulsive to key them out. And have fun doing it. I am thrilled to find that I am not so obsessed. (Although I have to wonder if that is only because I'm inherently lazy and have someone like Mike around to happily do it for me…)
My conclusions after my recent mini-lessons in dragonfly id and morphology? It's much easier to tell males from females than species from species--you just look at the naughty bits. (Odonata porn. *sigh*) And beginners should not attempt either without a digital camera.
Naturalists are indeed very odd folk… We love chasing dragons.