Yesterday (18 July) afternoon I headed down back to the beaver-made wetland complex at the back of our property.
As I headed out, I got distracted by the butterflies on the flowers in the beds around the yard. I in the middle of photographing butterflies, I spent some time stalking a small orangeish dragonfly but I was not able to make a photo. After this dragonfly vanished for good, and as I was about to stand up to move on, I noticed that a small robberfly had landed on the perch last used by ode. Of course, I had to photograph it!
Eventually, I did wander down the hill to the natural habitat of the beaver pond and wet meadow.
New, since my last trip down back, was the presence of darners. I am not sure of the exact species. They were patrolling over both the pond and the wet meadow. The numbers were not large; I saw maybe half a dozen.
By far, the most common ode present were frosted whitefaces. They were mostly patrolling over the pond. However, every once in a while one would perch near me and I was able to make a photograph. The numbers were way down compared to my last visit (on 2 July, see this post).
I also observed two sprites (either sphagnum or sedge) deep down among the vegetation along the pond. Neither were able to be photographed.
Out over the meadow there were a small number of calico pennants. As with the frosted whitefaces, the number of pennants are way down from a couple of weeks ago. However the individuals present were all actively feeding. I watched (and photographed) one individual for about fifteen minutes. During that time, I watched it make dozens of hunting forays always returning to the same perch. It was successful on about half of its hunts.
Late last Tuesday (12 July) afternoon I headed over to the Nature Conservancy’s Loveren’s Mill preserve. This property contains a rare Atlantic White Cedar swamp and is often good for finding rare odes that prefer this habitat.
Walking along the woods road near the entrance, I spotted a number of butterflies nectaring on the abundant wildflowers. However, there was a complete lack of odes.
This dearth of odes continued as I turned on to the trail and headed to the boardwalk that heads into the swamp proper. I saw two damselflies along the boardwalk and exactly zero dragonflies during the entire time I was out.
However, I did have some fun photographing the wildflowers.
July… the peak of the day lily season.
Day lilies are one of the treats of summertime. They seem ubiquitous* in the gardens and along roadsides of New England.
I have been taking my camera with me when ever I head out in hopes of finding the perfect combination of flowers, foreground and background.
Yesterday, while returning from the “dump”**, I finally made a few photographs with which I am happy. The barn photos were a bonus.
* In my first draft, I wrote “almost ubiquitous”, but that is like saying “almost pregnant”! 😉
** I was returning with a truck still loaded with trash. The dump closes at two on Fridays; I got there just after four somehow thinking that it closed at five (as it does on Saturdays). I am not sure which fact I was mixed up on… closing time or the day of the week!
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There is a barn in Hancock that I enjoy photographing (see this post from a couple of years ago, for example).
Last week, I happened to be in the neighborhood of this barn and I stopped to pay another visit. The details caught my eye this time.
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Saturday (2 July) was warm (temperature in the low 70’s) and mostly sunny. Perfect weather for odes, except… for the strong gusty winds!!
I decided to head “down back” in spite of the wind. My instinct, which said that there would be few odes flying because of the wind, proved true.
There were a couple (one each male and female) of calico pennants still hanging around the yard (low in the grass). I watched the male calico pennant for some time. Each time the sun came out from behind a cloud, this individual assumed the classic obelisking pose with abdomen held almost perpendicular to the ground. When the sun “disappeared” it quickly lowered its abdomen and resumed the pennant pose (with the abdomen parallel to the ground) for which it is named.
Obelisking is a thermoregulation strategy where the dragonfly orients its body to minimize its exposure to the sun and thus minimize solar heat gain.
Down by the beaver pond there were frosted whitefaces and slaty skimmers patrolling territories out over the water. As I moved about in the wet meadow, I stirred up a half-dozen or so damselflies which quickly settled back down away from the wind and deep in the vegetation
Botanically, the blue-flag irises are completely done for the year, the rose pogonia are near their peak and the swamp candlesticks are just beginning to bloom.
Late last Friday (24 Jun) afternoon, I tossed my waders and camera into my truck and took a short drive to the Contookook River near the paper mill in Bennington, NH. I spent a couple of hours wading the shallows on the east bank immediately adjacent to the paper mill’s lawn.
There were three species of damselflies present low in the emergent vegetation. Stream bluets, Eastern forktails and a second Bluet (which I can not positively identify). The stream bluets were, by far, the most abundant and it was clearly mating time for them. I observed two mating wheels and a third pair flying in tandem.
Flying (and occasionally perching) higher up on the back were small numbers of male twelve-spotted skimmers and a lone male common whitetail (which I did not get a photograph of).
Yesterday afternoon I made my first trip of the season “down back”* to see what was up ode-wise.
The weather was near perfect… sunny and warm (low 70’s F). There was a gusty breeze which made the photography a bit difficult at times.
The numbers of chalk-fronted corporals and calico pennants in the yard have started to drop… the corporals are nearly absent, although the pennants are still the most abundant ode in the yard. I now know why… both species are moving back to the water.
Chalk-fronted corporals were by far the most common dragonfly “down back” yesterday; there were dozens flying over the open water of the beaver pond. There were also many calico pennants flying over the marsh. Most were yellow (females or immature males) but there were a few red ones (mature males) and couple of orange ones mixed in. Third in abundance were frosted whitefaces, including the only mating wheel I saw in the two and a half hours I was out.
I also saw small number of damselflies (bluets and sedge sprites), a couple of four-spotter skimmers and a lone lancet clubtail. The last being quite uncommon “down back” but very common at the lake (about a half mile away).
* The back of our property contains a beaver-made wet land complex consisting of a small stream, a beaver pond and a marsh. It is a wonderful place to spend time observing and photographing.
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The weather was hot (for NH) and humid last weekend (18 and 19 Jun). We headed down to the lake and our camp for both afternoons. I spent most of the time we were there odeing.
Both days there was lots of evidence of damselfly emergence… teneral bluets were the most common ode I encountered and I even found a few damselfly exuvia.
Interestingly, on Saturday, there were many lancet clubtails present. However, on Sunday, I saw very few despite the conditions and the time of day begin similar. I have no idea why.
Photos from Saturday
Photos from Sunday
Joan’s cousin Suzy arrived at her summer place to find an olive-sided flycatcher nest on the beams that support her deck.
I took the opportunity to make a few photos of the adults as they came and went from the nest.
I only spent ten minutes on this “stakeout” since the adults seemed to delay going to the nest even though I was twenty-five or thirty feet away from the nest and the adults.
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The last few days has seen our yard inundated with calico pennants. They spend most of their time down low in the grassy parts of the yard. One can often see a dozen or more in one field of view.
They are all yellow right now…meaning that they are either immature males or females. Some will be changing to the orange-red of mature males over the next week or so. Then they will disappear… back to the water to mate and oviposit.
In addition to the calico pennants, in the past couple of days, I have seen (and photographed) chalk-fronted corporals (very common), American emeralds (a couple of individuals), a single delta-spotted spiketail and lancet clubtails (common). I have also seen (but have not photographed) small numbers of frosted whitefaces.
Damselflies are also present in small numbers but I have not been paying too much attention to them given all of the dragonflies… I guess that I should though!
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