A dragonfly lands on a purple loosestrife on the edge of Lower Range Pond in Poland Wednesday afternoon. Although beautiful, it is an invasive plant that is taking over many bodies of water. Experts recommend pulling it up and disposing of it. For more information visit the state website at http://www.maine.gov/dep/blwq/wetlands/invasive.htm.

There are few things that make a photojournalists day more enjoyable than finding a feature photo on your own that you are proud of, has significant information to convey to readers, and is diplayed well.  Waking up in the morning to see your work, and having your wife and children comment on it keeps the high going.  However, there are few things worse than finding out that the information you gave out was incorrect.  This very scenario played itself out recently.  While on assignment with reporter Bonnie Washuk to interview and photograph Madelyn Given at her home in Poland for a story about her recent completion of the Appalachian Trail, I noticed some striking images that could be made in her backyard on the shore of Lower Range Pond.  While Bonnie and Madelyn were inside talking, I excused myself to pursue a feature photograph.  I made the image of the dragonfly landing on this pretty purple plant.  I had no idea what it was, so I followed the procedure I often use to identify plants and insects.  I searched the internet until I thought I had the correct identification, then called one of my sources I often use to confirm my findings.   I usually email her the photo, but thought it pretty easy to identify by description and location.  When she quickly identified it as purple loosestrife, it matched what I had seen on the internet.  When I showed it to an editor working that night, she immediately said, “that’s purple loosestrife isn’t it.”  Confirmed, I thought.  When I checked my voicemail while on vacation last week, I discovered two messages from local “experts” that I often use as sources for identification of plants, animals and insects.  Both identified my mistaken identification of the plant.  Both said it was pickerelweed.  After further review, it was confirmed.  I was wrong.  To make matters worse, in my caption when the photo originally ran, I advised readers to pull it out to get rid of the invasive plant. 

A pair of Large Red Damselflies mate as they fly around Lower Range Pond in Poland on Wednesday afternoon.

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