Photographs by Frank

28 July 2015

Time Marches On

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer — Frank @ 10:30 PM

Well, here it is the end of July. I am not saying that fall is just around the corner, but… I am beginning to see signs of changes around the bird feeders.

In the past couple of days I have seen a chickadee and a tufted titmouse at the seed feeder. These are the two most common birds at our feeders in winter. However, they have been completely absent since late March. I have no idea where they have been!

There are two other changes of note.

The number of chipping sparrows is on the increase, we see small numbers in the summer and significantly more in the fall.

I have also noted a drop in the consumption of “nectar” from the hummingbird feeder. We still get regular visits to the feeder but, these days, the hummingbirds have lots of other choices, including the garden flowers at the foot of the post where the feeder is mounted.

Otherwise, the gang that has been here all summer, are still common… three kinds of woodpeckers (hairy, downy and red-bellied) and white-breasted nuthatches on the suet and two kinds of finches (purple and gold) on the seeds. The rose-breasted grosbeaks also still put in an occasional visit to the seeds.

Oh… and the seed and suet thieves seem to be as active as ever!

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Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse
Chickadee
Chickadee
Downy Woodpecker (juvenile male)
Downy Woodpecker (juvenile male)
Hairy Woodpecker (juvenile male)
Hairy Woodpecker (juvenile male)
Chipping Sparrow (male)
Chipping Sparrow (male)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male)
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker (juvenile)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (juvenile)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (male)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (male)
Purple Finch (male)
Purple Finch (male)
American Goldfinch (male)
American Goldfinch (male)
Thief!
Thief!

 

22 July 2015

Yard Odes and Flowers

Yesterday (Tuesday, 21 July) dawned hot and sticky and stayed that way. Despite the weather I spent some time in the late afternoon haunting the yard in search of odes. The numbers of odes were small, but there was a nice variety. The most common insect was a butterfly; the great spangled fritillary.

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Spreadwing
Spreadwing
Great Spangled Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Frosted Whiteface (female)? #1
Frosted Whiteface (female)? #1
Frosted Whiteface (female)? #2
Frosted Whiteface (female)? #2
Frosted Whiteface (female)? #3
Frosted Whiteface (female)? #3
Calico Pennant (male) Oblisking
Calico Pennant (male) Oblisking
Calico Pennant (male)
Calico Pennant (male)

At some point during my rounds, I turned my attention from odes to the flowers Joan has growing in the many beds and containers around the yard.

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Black-eyed Susan #1
Black-eyed Susan #1
Black-eyed Susan #2
Black-eyed Susan #2
Garden Flower #1
Garden Flower #1
Poppy
Poppy
Garden Flower #2
Garden Flower #2
Purple Coneflower
Purple Coneflower
Black-eyed Susan
Black-eyed Susan
Snapdragon
Snapdragon

 

20 July 2015

Gregg Lake Odes

Filed under: "Camp",Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer — Tags: — Frank @ 4:00 PM

I spent a few hours yesterday (Sunday, 19 Jul) afternoon wading the shore of Gregg Lake near our camp. The weather was hot, sunny and breezy.

Although there were a few dragonflies in flight over the water, I saw only damselflies along the edge of the lake. The most common damsels were variable dancers. There were mostly males present; probably two or three dozen along the roughly hundred feet of lake shore I wandered.  However, I also observed four or five tandem pairs ovipositing.

I also saw two male eastern forktails and either one or two (it could have been the same individual twice) male swamp spreadwings. I do not remember seeing swamp spreadwings along the lake before.

The highlight of the day (for both the spider and myself; not so much for the damselfly) was watching a spider feasting on a variable dancer trapped in a web.

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Variable Dancers (tandem pair)
Variable Dancers (tandem pair)
Spider Eating a Variable Dancer
Spider Eating a Variable Dancer
Eastern Forktail (male)
Eastern Forktail (male)
Variable Dancer (male)
Variable Dancer (male)
Variable Dancer (male)
Variable Dancer (male)
Swamp Spreadwing (male)
Swamp Spreadwing (male)
Exuvia
Exuvia

 

18 July 2015

Zealand Falls

Yesterday (Friday, 17 Jul) Joan had a plant survey scheduled for the northern White Mountains. The forecast was for perfect hiking weather, so I went along and spent the day meandering along the trail to Zealand Falls and the nearby AMC hut.

The bright sunny weather and timing (middle of the day) were not going to make for great landscape photos, but I was hoping for some odes, especially for more northern species. The map showed a number of ponds/wetlands along the upper portion of the trail, so I was expecting good “hunting”.

The first critter I encountered along the trail was a garter snake sunning itself at the trail’s edge. Of course my approach spooked it, but it hung around under the shrubs long enough for me to photograph it.

Surprisingly, the beaver ponds were not the ode “hot spot” that I thought they might be. Maybe they are too high (between roughly 3000 and 3500 feet) for water warm enough to support many species.

I did see small numbers of larger dragonflies (probably darners of some sort) patrolling out over the water. Along the shore of one of the ponds, I also found (and was able to photograph) some bluets (either Boreal or Northern) and a few male chalk-fronted corporals.

I observed a single female bluet and roughly a dozen males. When I first spotted the female she was already flying in tandem with a male. As I watched, the pair were harassed by a number of males trying to break up them up (and thus have their own chance of mating with her). The harassment was for naught, as the pair finally formed a mating wheel.

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Garter Snake #1
Garter Snake #1
Garter Snake #2
Garter Snake #2
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Bluet Mating Wheel (either Boreal or Northern)
Bluet Mating Wheel (either Boreal or Northern)
Zealand Pond
Zealand Pond
Zealand Falls
Zealand Falls
Golden Thread
Golden Thread

 

13 July 2015

Ode Tragedy

Filed under: Odontates,Summer — Tags: , — Frank @ 6:15 PM

Yesterday (Sunday, 12 Jul), Joan and I made a hot, sunny trip (of about three miles round trip) on the Connecticut River in Claremont, NH.

Joan was on a rare plant hunt for NEWFS. I, of course, was interested in big river odes!

Joan did not find the plants she was looking for. I watched two teneral dragonflies drown!

The most common ode we saw were, I believe, powdered dancers. Most were single males patrolling out over the river. But I did see four or five pairs ovipositing in a small patch of emergent vegetation. I have no photos of them since it is simple not possible to make photos at high magnification while sitting in a boat on a relatively fast moving river.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

At one point, I noticed a odd fluttering movement on some emergent vegetation at the rivers edge. I headed over to discover a damaged and teneral dragonfly. I pulled my boat ashore and spent some time observing and photographing this “fellow” (see the first three photos below). Twice, while I watched, the wake of a passing boat washed the critter off the stem it was holding but each time it climbed back up. Notice the crumpled wing, despite much fluttering of wings at times, I suspect that this individual was never going to fly and was, thus, doomed.

After some minutes of my watching this individual, Joan came along and pointed out another teneral dragonfly about ten feet further upstream from the first. I headed over to photograph the second individual who was clinging to a stem of grass within inches of the water  (see the second three photos below).

After a few minutes of photographing this new individual, another boat (with its concomitant wake) went by and washed it off its perch; the current carried it quickly downstream. I went back to the place I first stopped and, alas, there was only a very soggy clump of vegetation to be found.

I packed up the ode rig and headed on upstream to the spot where Joan was searching for plants on the back. I beached the boat and began to hunt unsuccessfully for a powdered dancer to photograph. I did, however,  find a small number of very nondescript brown damselflies which I think are female dusky dancers.  At one point Joan came by bearing a small piece of vegetation to which an exuvia was clinging. I was able to prop this up between two river stones and make a nice photo of it as well.

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Arrow Clubtail (male; teneral) #1
Arrow Clubtail (male; teneral) #1
Arrow Clubtail (male; teneral) #2
Arrow Clubtail (male; teneral) #2
Arrow Clubtail (male; teneral) #3
Arrow Clubtail (male; teneral) #3
Teneral Dragonfly (ID Needed) #1
Teneral Dragonfly (ID Needed) #1
Teneral Dragonfly (ID Needed) #2
Teneral Dragonfly (ID Needed) #2
Teneral Dragonfly (ID Needed) #3
Teneral Dragonfly (ID Needed) #3
Dusky Dancer (female) - I think!
Dusky Dancer (female) - I think!
Exuvia
Exuvia

 

Saturday Birds

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

Warning… photo geek talk ahead!!!

Saturday (11 July) afternoon I set out to experiment with adding extension tubes to Big Bertha (my 600 mm f/4 lens). Extension tubes which are mounted between the camera and the lens, shorten the minimum distance at which one can focus a lens… this, of course, means the subject can be larger in the frame. However, there one never gets something for nothing. The “downside” is that one loses the ability to focus on distant objects when using an extension tube.

I added a 20 mm extension tube to Big Bertha and set up to photograph the humming birds near the feeder. Big Bertha’s minimum focus distance is about 18 feet. With the extension tube, I could focus on the humming bird perch which was about 14 feet from the the camera. I did not do any formal testing so I do not know what the actual minimum focus distance with the extension tube is but from the bit of “playing around” I did I got the impression that it might be between 12 and 13 feet. The suet feeders were about 24 feet from the camera and I could still focus on them with the extension tube mounted.

All of the photos shown below were made with the extension tube mounted.

The humming bird photos shown here (at a relatively small size on the web) may not look very different from those I made back in June (see this post). However the older photos are more heavily cropped (they are about one-third of the full frame) than the current photos (about one-half of the full frame). This difference is not critical for posting small files on the blog but it important when one wants to make prints.

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Ruby-throated Hummingbird (male) #1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (male) #1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (male) #2
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (male) #2
Eastern Pheobe (juvenile)
Eastern Pheobe (juvenile)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (juvenile)
Red-bellied Woodpecker (juvenile)
Purple Finch (female)
Purple Finch (female)

 

6 July 2015

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks et al.

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 12:00 PM

After an activity-filled Independence Day, I finally settled down with the camera near the feeders at about 5 PM and spent the couple of hours watching (and photographing) the birds.

I was especially hoping to photograph the rose-breasted grosbeaks that we have observed coming to the feeder for the past few days; I was not disappointed. At one point I observed two males in the area at the same time. I only saw females one at a time so I am unsure if there are two pairs or not.

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Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male) #1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male) #1
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (female)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male) #2
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male) #2
Hairy Woodpecker #1
Hairy Woodpecker #1
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker #2
Hairy Woodpecker #2
White-breasted Nuthatch #1
White-breasted Nuthatch #1
White-breasted Nuthatch #2
White-breasted Nuthatch #2
Hairy Woodpecker #3
Hairy Woodpecker #3

 

Eastern Kingbird Nest Update

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 12:00 PM

I spent a couple of hours yesterday (5 July) observing (and photographing) the eastern kingbird nest on Gregg Lake. The nestlings have made great progress since my last visit a week previous. See the first photo below… that is one of the nestlings, looking very adult-like both in color and size.

I saw no signs of fledgling… the juveniles spent most of their time with mouths agape waiting to be fed. The adults obliged them; bringing in a steady supply of insects, mainly dragonflies from what I could see.

In addition to the kingbirds, there was a small flock (maybe six individuals) of cedar waxwings in the vicinity. One a couple of occasions, waxwings perched in the trees along the road within three or four feet of where I had set up my camera.

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Eastern Kingbird Nestling
Eastern Kingbird Nestling
Eastern Kingbird with Dragonfly (prey)
Eastern Kingbird with Dragonfly (prey)
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence 1 of 3
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence 1 of 3
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence 2 of 3
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence 2 of 3
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence 3 of 3
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence 3 of 3
Cedar Waxwing #1
Cedar Waxwing #1
Cedar Waxwing #2
Cedar Waxwing #2

The three frame feeding sequence took less than four seconds.


 

Little Bluets at Camp

Filed under: "Camp",Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 11:00 AM

Late on Friday (3 July) afternoon Joan and I headed for our camp on Gregg Lake. I spent about ninety minutes (beginning about 4 PM) photographing odes along the lake shore.

Although I observed a small number of dragonflies in flight over the lake, I only saw two species of damselflies along the shore. The most common damselfly was the male Little Bluet. I saw at least a dozen individuals in about a 100 feet of shore, all perched within a foot of the water; the large majority with in six inches. Additionally, I observed a single pair of variable dancers ovipositing.

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Little Bluet (male) #1
Little Bluet (male) #1
Damselfly in Spiderweb
Damselfly in Spiderweb
Little Bluet (male) #2
Little Bluet (male) #2
Little Bluet (male) #3
Little Bluet (male) #3

 

Campbell Pond Odes

Last Thursday (2 July) afternoon I spent a couple of hours looking for odes at Campbell Pond. I arrived at about 3 PM. This pond was once the public water supply for the Town of Antrim. It is now set aside as conservation land and has a completely undeveloped shore line. This was my first “odeing” trip to the pond.

There is no vehicular access to the pond but it is a short walk along a well maintained woods road into the pond. I saw my first ode, a calico pennant, maybe twenty five feet down the road. I continued to see small numbers (one or two individuals) of a variety of species all along the road.

When I got to the stream flowing out of the pond things changed. There were dozens of ebony jewelwings of both sexes around the stream where it flows over the road.

Out over the pond proper there were many odes, probably calico pennants, flying and (I think) ovipositing.  There were also smaller numbers of chalk-fronted corporals present.

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Calico Pennant
Calico Pennant
Calico Pennant with Prey
Calico Pennant with Prey
Lancet Clubtail (male)
Lancet Clubtail (male)
Swamp Spreadwing (male)
Swamp Spreadwing (male)
Variable Dancer (female)
Variable Dancer (female)
Ebony Jewelwing (female)
Ebony Jewelwing (female)
Ebony Jewelwing (male)
Ebony Jewelwing (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Fly
Fly
Wildflower
Wildflower

 

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