Photographs by Frank

21 August 2014

The “Wilds” of Antrim

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer — Tags: — Frank @ 2:00 PM

This morning about 9, my CWS* announced that an AWS** had emailed saying that there was a great blue heron on the Mill Pond behind town hall.

It takes about seven or eight minutes to drive from our house to the town hall… I was on the scene in the parking lot behind town hall by about 9:15!

When I arrived the bird was atop the pile of rocks in the middle of the pond by the bandstand in Memorial Park. I got two or three frames before it moved to the far side of the pond and began hunting. The hunting was poor as I saw him/her make a single attempt to grab prey in about 45 minutes. At about 10 AM the bird moved from the pond to a tree near dam at the south end of the pond. After a few minutes of preening,  (s)he flew again, this time headed east over Main Street and towards the Contoocook River.

I chatted briefly with the folks in Town Hall (including the AWS) and was back home before 10:30; not a bad way to spend 90 minutes.

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Great Blue Heron #1
Great Blue Heron #1
Great Blue Heron #2
Great Blue Heron #2
Great Blue Heron #3
Great Blue Heron #3
Great Blue Heron #4
Great Blue Heron #4
Great Blue Heron #5
Great Blue Heron #5

*Chief Wildlife Spotter; i.e. my wife, Joan.

** Associate Wildlife Spotter; one has to have a network! Thanks… you know who you are!!!


 

9 August 2014

Connecticut River Odes

Filed under: Odontates,Summer — Tags: , , — Frank @ 12:00 PM

I haven’t done much photography in the past 10 days or so… sometimes life get in the way!

We spent a few days at the end of July helping one of Joan’s cousins move and then I spent the past week stacking the nine cords of firewood that was delivered last Sunday.

The completed pile measures 16′ by 16.75′ by 4.25′. The weight is roughly13 tons. (The web says that dry fire wood weighs between 2000 and 4000 pounds per cord; I used the midpoint in my calculation.)

I would take a photo of the stack but it looks pretty much like last years stack; this years is just a bit larger having an almost complete row in from where there was only a quarter of a row last year.

Woodpile 2013… the 2014 pile looks pretty much the same!

I did take off Wednesday afternoon from my stacking duties to accompany Joan and her cousin Suzy on a kayak trip on the Connecticut River in Walpole, NH. Joan wanted to scout out some rare plants that she will need to collect seeds from later in the season, so Suzy and I tagged along.

I, of course, wanted to explore for odes which I did. I also re-learned the lesson that making photographs of small critters from a boat in a rapidly moving current is frustrating.  Most of the species are new to me and even though I spent some time with the books, I have not been able to identify most of them.

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Bluet (ID Needed) #1
Bluet (ID Needed) #1
Bluet with Prey (ID Needed)
Bluet with Prey (ID Needed)
Bluet (ID Needed) #2
Bluet (ID Needed) #2
Clubtail
Clubtail
Bluet (ID Needed) #3
Bluet (ID Needed) #3
Stream Bluet (male)
Stream Bluet (male)
Stream Bluet (tandem pair)
Stream Bluet (tandem pair)

 

29 July 2014

Wildflowers of the North Country

Filed under: Other Insects,Summer,wildflowers — Tags: , , — Frank @ 10:00 PM

Please note: Thanks to Allan, Al and Joan for getting the plants identified. 

The New England Wildflower Society (“NEWFS”) occasionally sponsors field trips for their “PCVs” (i.e. plant conservation volunteers).  This past weekend was was the occasion of the most recent of these.

Nine folks total… staff, PCVs and two husbands gathered in Pittsburg, NH for a weekend of botanizing. I (one of the husbands, obviously?) tagged along for the adventure in general and the hope of some “interesting” odes.

The far north of NH is interesting ecologically since it represents the southern limit of the range for some species found mainly in Canada (plants and odes included) so we were all hoping to see new “stuff”.

Joan and I left the house mid-morning on Friday with camper in tow. We meandered north up the center of NH (staying west of I-93 until Franconia) studiously avoiding the highways. We passed through Kinsman Notch (the second nicest of the notches*)  in the White Mountains and arrived at the Mountain View Cabins and Campground in Pittsburg by the late afternoon.

After a home-cooked dinner with much great food, we spent the evening observing the neighborhood moths as one of the participants had set up white sheets and  lights to attract these critters. I had heard about this activity before but this was my first time experiencing it. Very interesting!

On Saturday morning, after a breakfast of homemade blueberry pancakes, we headed out to the South Bay Bog (part of the Connecticut Lakes Natural Area) and spent the day slogging through the bog in search of rare plants (especially orchids) and odes. The search for plants was a rousing success. The search for odes was less successful as the weather was not ideal (temperature in the low 70′s and cloudy).  I did observed a couple of emeralds, a few sphagnum sprites and a couple of  unidentified dragonflies but did not make any photographs of them.

Rather, I figured “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” and concentrated on photographing the vegetation.

Wild Flowers in and around South Bay Bog

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Club-spur Orchid (Platanthera clavellata)
Club-spur Orchid (Platanthera clavellata)
Little Green Sedge (Carox viridula)
Little Green Sedge (Carox viridula)
Common Wood Sorrel (Oxalis montana)
Common Wood Sorrel (Oxalis montana)
White beaksedge (Rhynchospora alba)
White beaksedge (Rhynchospora alba)
Sparse-flowered Sedge (Carex tenuiflora?)
Sparse-flowered Sedge (Carex tenuiflora?)
Horned Bladderwort (Utricularia cornuta)
Horned Bladderwort (Utricularia cornuta)
Northern White-fringed Orchid (Platanthera blephariglottis)
Northern White-fringed Orchid (Platanthera blephariglottis)
Pitcher Plant Flower
Pitcher Plant Flower
Tawny Cottonsedge (Eriophorum virginicum)
Tawny Cottonsedge (Eriophorum virginicum)
Cottonsedge sp. (Eriophorum sp) ?
Cottonsedge sp. (Eriophorum sp) ?
Fireweed (Epilobium augustifolium)
Fireweed (Epilobium augustifolium)

On the way back to the campground, we stopped at a spot where there was a large concentration of butterflies nectaring on the roadside flowers. (Also included in this set  are other “miscellaneous” photos.)

Mostly Insects

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ID Needed #19
ID Needed #19
Amanita Mushroom
Amanita Mushroom
ID Needed #20
ID Needed #20
LIchen
LIchen
Moth Nectaring on Milkweed
Moth Nectaring on Milkweed
ID Needed #22
ID Needed #22
ID Needed #23
ID Needed #23
ID Needed #24
ID Needed #24

Sunday morning we awoke to scattered rain showers, but we headed out again for a second morning of botanizing in the East Inlet area**. The group was successful in finding a number of the rare plants they were looking for. I saw a single ode (a female meadowhawk) during one of the lulls in the rain and, again, entertained myself photographing the flora.

Wild Flowers Near East Inlet

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Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)
Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea)
Fireweed (Epilobium augustifolium)
Fireweed (Epilobium augustifolium)
Fleabane (Erigeron sp.) #1
Fleabane (Erigeron sp.) #1
Fleabane (Erigeron sp.) #2
Fleabane (Erigeron sp.) #2
Fleabane (Erigeron sp.) #3
Fleabane (Erigeron sp.) #3
Spotted Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum)
Spotted Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum)
Tall Meadow Rice (Thalidrum pubescens)
Tall Meadow Rice (Thalidrum pubescens)
Thistle
Thistle
Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
Closed Gentian (Gentiana clausa)
Closed Gentian (Gentiana clausa)

As the weather continued to be iffy, the group broke up around lunch time. After a quick sandwich at the Lake Francis boat launch with a few of the others, Joan and I pointed the car and camper south. We took an western route home, hugging the Connecticut River as much as possible until we hit the Hanover area where we followed NH 10 (which veers east there) to NH 31. We arrived home about 7 PM.

A good time was had by all!


* The nicest notch… that would be Jefferson… the one driven by hardly anyone!

** We’ will definitely be headed back to East Inlet as it looks like spectacular canoeing/kayaking territory.

 

23 July 2014

The Dearth of Odes Continues

Monday afternoon I spent a couple of hours (4:15 – 6:30 PM) “down back” at our beaver-made wetland. I was interested to see how the population of odes was doing here. My impression is that the total numbers of odes was low here, as it was at other sites that we visited late last week.

Usually, there are large numbers (dozens) of darners flying out over the wet meadow. On this visit there were a few… maybe five or six… on patrol mainly over the beaver pond. I also saw a single male calico pennant and a single male frosted whiteface. That was it for dragonflies.

As for damselflies, I observed a handful (maybe six total) of spreadwings. The most common damsel was the sphagnum sprite. There were both males and females present and I saw two pairs flying in tandem. That was it. I saw no bluets at all.

The rose pogonias and swamp candles that were blooming a couple of weeks ago on my last visit “down back” were completely finished blooming. However, I did note the presence of sundew which I had never seen in this location before… probably because I was’t paying attention!

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Spreadwing
Spreadwing
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Sphagnum Sprite (female)
Sphagnum Sprite (female)
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Calico Pennant (male) #1
Calico Pennant (male) #1
Calico Pennant (male) #2
Calico Pennant (male) #2

 

20 July 2014

Garden Flowers

Since there were so few odes around on Friday, I took to making photographs of the flowers that Joan has growing around the vegetable garden.

At one point, I was aggressively investigated by a female ruby-throated hummingbird.  I guess that she decided that I was not going to eat too much nectar because, after the initial close encounter, she proceeded to visit a few flowers while I fumbled to take the extension tube off my camera. I was too slow and she headed off before I could make a photo of her.

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Purple Cone Flower & Visitor
Purple Cone Flower & Visitor
Black-eyed Susan with Visiting Committee
Black-eyed Susan with Visiting Committee
Garden Flower #1
Garden Flower #1
Garden Flower #2
Garden Flower #2
Garden Flower #3
Garden Flower #3
Garden Flower #4
Garden Flower #4
Garden Flower #5
Garden Flower #5

 

A Paucity of Odes

Thursday afternoon Joan and I headed out to explore… Joan was interested in wild orchids and I in odes, of course. Our “targets” were the cedar swamp at Lovern’s Mill and the Bradford Bog.

The most significant observation was the low numbers of odes we encountered in what are usually rich environments. The number of dragonflies we observed in four or five hours can be counted on one hand. Damselflies were slightly more numerous, but only at Lovern’s Mill; we saw none at the Bradford Bog.

The main trail near the Lovern’s Mill boardwalk yielded a handful of ebony jewelwings. This is always a reliable place for them. The actual swamp/boardwalk yielded single individuals of two other species.  (All of the photos shown below were made at Lovern’s Mill.)

The dearth of odes continued when I took a careful look around the house on Friday. I saw small numbers of damselflies and two or three dragonflies.

Last Tuesday we had periods of torrential rain which came and went beginning in the evening and continuing for most of the night. I wonder if this weather is related to the general lack of odes?

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Ebony Jewelwing (male) #1
Ebony Jewelwing (male) #1
Blue-fronted Dancer (blue-form female) -- I think!
Blue-fronted Dancer (blue-form female) -- I think!
dsc0442
dsc0442
Ebony Jewelwing (male) #2
Ebony Jewelwing (male) #2
Ebony Jewelwing (male) with Prey
Ebony Jewelwing (male) with Prey
Wildflower
Wildflower

If you look closely, you will note that all of the photos of the ebony jewelwing are of the same individual (with a bent wing tip). We encountered this fellow both coming and going from the swamp. We saw three or four other individuals as well.


 

16 July 2014

Monday Reflections

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Summer — Tags: , — Frank @ 6:00 PM

Monday afternoon I stopped by a local beaver pond. While I was getting out of the truck I clearly heard the sounds of a beaver near the dam. As I walked to the waters edge, I saw him/her dive quietly. I set up the camera and tripod and waited for the beaver to reappear. I waited more than a half hour and had only two quick glimpses of a nose poking out of the water.

I entertained myself by photographing the reflections on the dead-calm water. I am a sucker for the abstractions of reflections!

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Snag Reflected #1
Snag Reflected #1
Snag Reflected #2
Snag Reflected #2
Beaver Pond Reflections #1
Beaver Pond Reflections #1
Beaver Pond Reflections #2
Beaver Pond Reflections #2

 

15 July 2014

Recent Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates — Tags: , — Frank @ 11:00 AM

Below are photos taken over the past few days…

The first five photos are from last Friday at the heavily wooded stream flowing from Willard Pond into the nearby Mill Pond. There were lots of male ebony jewelwings present but no females and a smattering of other species. There were also many odes out over the Mill Pond proper that I did not get a chance to photograph.

On Saturday, I gave a presentation titled “Photographing Dragonflies and Damselflies” as part of the Athol Bird and Nature Club’s Dragonfly Institute. The presentation was followed by a couple of hours in the field at a nearby park along the Miller’s River. I did not make many photographs here but I did get a nice photo of a Halloween Pennant, a species that we do not have in our NH neighborhood.

Joan and I spend Sunday afternoon over at camp.The weather was overcast and windy and it rained for a couple of short intervals. There were not too many odes out and about. There were, however, a fair number of variable dancers hanging out low in the vegetation just above the waters edge… most seemed to be in active mating mode with many pairs flying in tandem. I did get some nice photos (the last four) of  “behavior”.

Lastly, an update on the nesting loons. I visited the nest last Friday and again yesterday (Monday). There has been no change; the pair is still sitting on two eggs.  This is not good news at 36 days since I first saw them sitting on the nest. The normal incubation period is usually cited as 26-30 days.

A fellow loon watcher who was there yesterday (and whose name I can’t remember) said that he read of a pair of loons who sat on a nest for 70 days before giving up!

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Frosted Whiteface (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Ebony Jewelwing (male) #1
Ebony Jewelwing (male) #1
Ebony Jewelwing (male) #2
Ebony Jewelwing (male) #2
Ebony Jewelwing (male) with Prey
Ebony Jewelwing (male) with Prey
Spreadwing (male) probably a Northern
Spreadwing (male) probably a Northern
Female Bluet (Miller's River, Athol, MA)
Female Bluet (Miller's River, Athol, MA)
Halloween Pennant (Miller's River, Athol, MA)
Halloween Pennant (Miller's River, Athol, MA)
Spider with Variable Dancer as Prey
Spider with Variable Dancer as Prey
Variable Dancer (male)
Variable Dancer (male)
Variable Dancer Ovipositing
Variable Dancer Ovipositing
Variable Dancer Mating Wheel
Variable Dancer Mating Wheel

 

10 July 2014

Odes “Down Back”

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,wildflowers — Tags: , , — Frank @ 11:00 AM

Yesterday afternoon, I donned my waders and spent a few hours at the beaver swamp “down back” on our property. I am always amazed how quickly time passes while I am out in the field. The old saying “time flies when you are having fun” is certainly true for me!

Darners have appeared out over the wet meadow since I last visited the swamp. You know…the ones that I have yet to figure out how to photograph! Their numbers are small right now but their arrival is, to me, a signal that summer is truly here.

Additionally,  male spangled skimmers and male frosted white faces were present in good numbers. Mating season for the bluets (which I can not identify exactly) was in full swing… I saw more pairs flying in tandem than I did individuals.

The most common damselfly present was the sphagnum sprite. I had forgotten how frustrating these are to photograph. They spend all of their time down low in the vegetation and are very small. One finds them by looking for the bright blue spot on the end of their abdomen. Then the challenge is to find a clear “window” through  the grasses and sedges in which to photograph them. All good fun!

The fragile forktail is quite rare here. The single individual I saw and photographed yesterday represents only the second time that I have observed one “down back”.

In the water at the edge of the pond, there were large numbers of  rose pogonias in bloom. I had not noticed them in years past. Their foliage is very inconspicuous and thus they are easily missed  if you do not catch them in bloom.

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Calico Pennant (imm. male)
Calico Pennant (imm. male)
Bluet Mating Wheel
Bluet Mating Wheel
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Calico Pennant (imm. male)
Calico Pennant (imm. male)
Bluet (male)
Bluet (male)
Fragile Forktail (male)
Fragile Forktail (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Bluet Tandem Pair
Bluet Tandem Pair
Bluet (male)
Bluet (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Rose Pogonia
Rose Pogonia
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Sphagnum Sprite Mating Wheel
Sphagnum Sprite Mating Wheel
Swamp Candle with Visitor
Swamp Candle with Visitor

 

9 July 2014

Loons and Catbirds

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer — Tags: , — Frank @ 12:15 PM

Yesterday afternoon, I spent some time observing the nesting loons again. No chicks yet… a worrying state of affairs as they have been sitting on the nest at least since the 9th of June.

I did watch the two adults switch places twice during the four hour interval (1:15 to 5:15 PM) that I watched them.

Photographs of loons actually leaving or entering the nest are not very interesting. These birds leave the nest without any obvious (to me anyway) warning… they simply slide off the nest into the water. Loon butts do not make for interesting photos! Conversely, watching an adult loon climb back onto the nest is a vivid reminder that these are water birds… the word “ungainly” comes to mind.

Once the incoming adult gets on the nest, they proceed to move the eggs about a bit and do a bit of housekeeping by rearranging a stick or two before settling down on the eggs.

Take a careful look at the loon photos… see any other animals present?*

The best place to photograph the nesting loons is from atop a large rock. Yesterday,  I kept noticing that  two or three small gray birds would briefly appear on another nearby rock and then disappear back into the bushes behind the rock.

Eventually, an adult appeared with a single small insect that one of the three fledglings gobbled up in a microsecond. There are only two young birds in the photo because the “winner”  did not waste any time in getting away with the prize. The two you see are still yelling at mom or dad “where’s mine”!

The appearance of the adult allowed me to identify, without the need for a book, the birds as gray catbirds.

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Adult 1 on Nest
Adult 1 on Nest
Empty Nest
Empty Nest
Adult 2 Shifting Eggs
Adult 2 Shifting Eggs
Adult 2 on Nest #1
Adult 2 on Nest #1
Adult 2 on Nest #2
Adult 2 on Nest #2
Gray Catbirds (Adult and Fledglings)
Gray Catbirds (Adult and Fledglings)
Gray Catbird
Gray Catbird

*I am now to the point were I can photograph odes without trying!!!


 

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