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Dragonflies and Damselflies of Oregon: A Field Guide Paperback – May 15, 2011
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About the Author
Cary Kerst is an aquatic entomologist retired from a career in environmental sciences. He has conducted professional aquatic insect studies on local rivers and streams and authored scientific articles on Caddisflies, Dragonflies, Damselflies, and Stoneflies.
After retiring from thirty years as a planner for the Lane Council of Governments, longtime birder Steve Gordon became interested in Odonates. He is a contributing author for Birds of Oregon: Status and Distribution and Birds of Lane County, Oregon and co-author, with Cary Kerst, of Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Willamette Valley, Oregon.
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Top Customer Reviews
About a week ago as I walked across a grassy field I noticed there were some large dragonflies flying above my head. What kept me watching them for the next fifteen minutes was the wild acrobatic show the beasts put on (eventually counted 4 of them) as they ranged about the area, up and down, round and round, here, there, rocketing downwind and then wheeling right 'round, faster than an eyeblink to charge back up field. They didn't just cruise the area: They owned it.
It made me think that the dragonfly flies like a fighter pilot wishes his plane would. The aerial acrobatics was spectacular and thrilling. It's not as if I hadn't seen dragons before, it is just that I was not aware they were capable of sustained flight such as these, for these creatures were airborne for the whole time I watched them....I figured they were both eating and looking for mates, as I saw one go after and almost take a butterfly at one point, and they flew after each other at breakneck speeds maybe chasing, maybe socializing.
This brief encounter raised all kinds of questions in my head about the animals and caused me to immediately order this book upon my return home. Now I have it, I have learned that I was likely watching Darners as the Darner species is a dragon that flies and flies and never seems to rest.
As my opening statement indicates, I've been waiting for this book for some time. Years ago 'Oregon Field Guide,' a television show, did an episode on Oregon's Dragonflies and their human pursuers....at that time a book was in the works. I contacted one of the principals depicted on the show than and every year or so for a few years but the book was always 'still being worked on.' Eventually I gave up inquiring.
Definitely worth the wait, I must say, for this book reads and acts just like an ideal field guide should. It is super easy to read, written, as it is, in an almost conversational style that covers all of the important stuff and breaks down the critical visual bits in very, very, well-drawn and photographed examples. After reading this book, the reader will definitely feel that he knows something about Dragons and Damsels. It ain't like most bird books which just leave the reader feeling bemused.
The photography in this book is unbelievably good. UNBELIEVABLY! Just go out and try to take a picture of a flying insect. Good luck. Somehow these guys did it....and they did it over and over and over and in such a way that many of the images cause one to think he is viewing delectable candies which should be plucked from the page and popped into one's mouth and devoured with crackly, crunchy, gusto.
The book isn't perfect. First off, it is Printed in China. I don't know what the editors were thinking (cost?) but it were wrongheaded to place a work of art and information this vital and precious and wonderfully comprehensive into the hands of the printing world's equivalent of a slaughterhouse ala Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle.' It makes me want to reach out and pinch their heads off, frankly, for this is the fatal flaw in the pudding. For, now the photographic reproductions are not as clear and clean as they should be, but often grainy and washed out from the cheap chinese reprographics. Likewise, the paper stock feels soft and flimsy where it should be sharp and crispy, in such a way that it gives the entire publication that Made in China look and feel every self-respecting Dragonfly has come to dread.
Also, and this is NOT a criticism, but a note, the dispersion maps are incomplete for the simple reason that there is a tiny number of people logging sightings and Oregon is a vast state. What this really means is that there is a huge opportunity for budding entomologists to earnestly go forth and discover/identify.
If you have ever attempted to write an academic paper, or compile a reference guide, you will know what a huge and daunting task this can be for even a very narrow topic. The fact that this book exists is a testimony to love and perseverance and I wish to thank and commend the editors and contributors for making such a wonderful book. You all can take to your respective graves the knowledge and satisfaction that you have contributed something deep and meaningful and important to mankind.
You are collectively deserving of the honor of naming the official Dragonfly of the state of Oregon, I hope you get the chance to.