Mike and The Common Darter


The lake sparkled in the sunlight; early morning fresh yet starting to burnish with algae under the mirrored summer sun. The family of Canada Geese made their way familiarly to the edge of the pond’s bank. As we watched and talked, my friend and I agreed; this was a spot worth visiting every day.

I looked up, and an unassuming, quiet person dressed in white, his camera slung professionally around his sun beaten neck, made his way along the path next to the wooden bench my friend and I were sitting on. He had a brown, gnarly stick in his hand. Something about his manner struck me. I knew this father like figure. Memories of pre-covid times, when he used to embrace our church congregation with Scripture, testimonies of God’s miraculous answers to prayers, and the reassurance of his reliable presence… why, it was Mike Smith!

We three people got to talking, and I managed to get Mike to agree to send me pictures of his latest wildlife discovery at the Mead: the time-lapse photographs of the Common Darter dragonfly shedding it’s exuvia (skin).

When questioned about how and why Mike was so able to notice and capture these types of insects, Mike admitted candidly that he is, as he put it, ‘an observer’.  I made a mental note, to behave myself on future Zoom church meetings when Mike would be present and observing his fellow congregants!

Later, upon receiving the photographs, I was astounded at their crystal clarity, and indeed, the unique way in which Mike had managed to capture his daily observations of the Common Darter as it developed and emerged upon the banks of the south western English wetlands and riverbanks. He had indeed spotted something incredibly beautiful and awe inspiring.

We three chatted for a bit about the various dragonflies observed at the Mead. Mike was a wealth of knowledge and descriptive power. Upon saying our goodbyes, I pressed him for a series of wildlife photographs for the West End Baptist Church blog.

“We’ll see…” Mike said sagely. It was strangely reassuring to hear. Yes, take one day at a time, and yes, “We’ll see…” For now though, enjoy the pictures of the Common Darter taken by Mike Smith, himself.

Jessica Thinks

Jess is a member of West End Baptist Church, and is incredibly grateful to her Church family and leaders who have nurtured her in her faith.