Photographs by Frank

28 June 2015

Eastern Kingbirds Redux

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 12:30 PM

Yesterday (27 Jun) morning I headed down to the eastern kingbird nest at the lake. The skies were mostly overcast; good light for photographing black and white birds. The light on the nest would also be coming from a good direction. I was hoping to catch a “feeding sequence”… the events that happen within the couple of seconds after an adult arrives at the nest. In the two hours I observed the nest, I watched between ten and twenty visits by the adults.

The first photo in this sequence was made about two minutes before the others. The remaining four frames were made within a total of two seconds.

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Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence, 1 of 5
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence, 1 of 5
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence, 2 of 5
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence, 2 of 5
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence, 3 of 5
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence, 3 of 5
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence, 4 of 5
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence, 4 of 5
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence, 5 of 5
Eastern Kingbird Feeding Sequence, 5 of 5

In the intervals between adult kingbirds arriving at the nest, I chatted with numerous passersby and photographed whatever perched nearby. In addition to the kingbirds, I was able to photograph cedar waxwings (there are a lot of still green blueberries along the lake road) and grackles. I also heard many red-winged blackbirds in the marsh to the north of the road but none approached close enough to photograph.

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Eastern Kingbird Taking Flight
Eastern Kingbird Taking Flight
Female Grackle
Female Grackle
Eastern Kingbird with Prey
Eastern Kingbird with Prey
Cedar Waxwing #1
Cedar Waxwing #1
Cedar Waxwing #2
Cedar Waxwing #2
Eastern Kingbird Perched Near Nest
Eastern Kingbird Perched Near Nest
Eastern Kingbird Hunting
Eastern Kingbird Hunting
Eastern Kingbird at Nest -- Feeding Time
Eastern Kingbird at Nest -- Feeding Time

 

27 June 2015

Ode Stroll

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 6:30 PM

On Wednesday afternoon, I had about an hour to kill before heading off to a Conservation Committee meeting. I filled the time by “hunting” odes in the yard.

The numbers of chalk-fronted corporals and hudsonian whitefaces are way down. Presumably most have headed off to the water to mate and oviposit. The most common dragonfly present were yellow (immature male or female) calico pennants. There were about a dozen individuals present.

The most common damselfly (by far) were immature male sedge sprites. Initially, I observed two or three sedge sprites very low (within six inches of the ground) in one of Joan’s flowerbeds. I knelt down and photographed them.

As I arose to move on, I was amazed to notice that I had flushed dozens of these creatures, which I had completely missed, from their hiding places. This scenario was repeated three or four more times even though I now knew to look more carefully. I have no clue how dozens of (admittedly small) insects could repeatedly escape my notice!

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Calico Pennant #1
Calico Pennant #1
Calico Pennant with Prey
Calico Pennant with Prey
Calico Pennant #2
Calico Pennant #2
Hudsonian Whiteface (female)
Hudsonian Whiteface (female)
Sedge Sprite (immature male)
Sedge Sprite (immature male)
Sedge Sprite (immature male) with Prey
Sedge Sprite (immature male) with Prey

 

Meet the Downy Family

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 6:15 PM

Yesterday (Friday, 26 June) afternoon , just before 2:30, a male  red-bellied woodpecker made a brief appearance at the feeder* and left with a large chunk of suet in his bill. I suspect that he was carrying the choice tidbit off to a nest, but have no proof of that; he headed into the woods at great speed.

After the red-bellied departed, I noticed a male downy woodpecker hanging around fairly high in a nearby spruce tree. I thought it odd that he did not approach the now unoccupied feeder. I watched him move about in the spruce tree for some minutes and then, suddenly, he headed for the feeder.

When I turned my gaze (and lens) to the feeder, I was extremely surprised to find three woodpeckers on the trunk… the adult male I had been watching and two juveniles (a male and a female). The female left within a minute, but I watched the adult male feed the juvenile male for another three or four minutes before the adult took off. The juvenile spent a short interval tentatively feeding itself before it, too headed for the woods..

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Downy Woodpeckers (adult male at top, juvenile male and female)
Downy Woodpeckers (adult male at top, juvenile male and female)
Downy Woodpeckers (adult male in back, feeding male juvenile)
Downy Woodpeckers (adult male in back, feeding male juvenile)
Downy Woodpeckers (adult male on right, feeding male juvenile) #1
Downy Woodpeckers (adult male on right, feeding male juvenile) #1
Downy Woodpeckers (adult male on right, feeding male juvenile) #2
Downy Woodpeckers (adult male on right, feeding male juvenile) #2

* I use custom-made, photogenic suet feeders. These consist of a chunk of tree on a stand to hold it vertically. I drill holes in the “back-side” of the trunk and keep the holes stocked with suet and/or dried meal worms.  There… my secret is out!!!


 

Eastern Kingbirds

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

Thursday (25 June) afternoon, I discovered an Eastern Kingbird nest on a small island in Gregg Lake. It is within easy sight of the road but a bit far for photography.*

I watched the adults come and go for almost two hours. They brought in a constant supply of insects (often dragonflies) which went down the gullet of one of the three chicks the instant (and I mean instant!) the adult alit on the nest. Twice, I observed an adult leave the nest with a fecal sac.

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Eastern Kingbird #1
Eastern Kingbird #1
Eastern Kingbird #2
Eastern Kingbird #2
Eastern Kingbird Nest
Eastern Kingbird Nest
Eastern Kingbird Leaving Nest with Fecal Sac
Eastern Kingbird Leaving Nest with Fecal Sac

* All of these photos are cropped significantly. Also, I present them here a bit larger than my normal blog size so that the nest is more visible.


 

24 June 2015

You Can Observe A Lot By Watching

The title of this post is a quote attributed to Yogi Berra and how true it is!

When one is low to the ground with a camera set up to take photos of small things (such as odes) one finds oneself attuned to a world that is hidden in plain sight. There is a lot of “stuff” going on between the ground and six inches of elevation!

Much of the “stuff” one sees are insects, but I often observe other types of critters as well. The immature wood frog is one of those.

I had just stood up from photographing a damselfly and had taken a step or two when I heard a faint rustle in the old leaves underfoot. I quickly dropped to my knees to investigate and after searching for a few minutes, I finally found the source of said rustle… a wood frog the size of my thumbnail, unmoving and doing its best impression of a dried leaf!

I moved a bit trying to find a “window” in the detritus on the ground without scaring away the frog. I successfully found an angle with a clear view of the frog and was rewarded with a nice photo of this fairly common but seldom seen animal.

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Grasshopper
Grasshopper
Insecta Fantastica
Insecta Fantastica
Immature Woodfrog
Immature Woodfrog

Another good subject for a camera set up to photograph odes are small wildflowers. One can easily make nice photos of the flowers nicely isolated against out of focus backgrounds.

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Wildflower
Wildflower
Hawkweed
Hawkweed
Yarrow
Yarrow
Fern
Fern

 

Maturing and Cooling Odes

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

In some species of dragonflies, the males change color as they mature. Two of these species have been present in our yard recently.

Both sexes of the hudsonian whiteface and the calico pennant are yellow when they are newly emerged. Over the ensuing week or two the males become red. This process seems to occur from “head-to-toe”. Thus, you can sometimes find individuals (such as those in the first two photographs below) with orange spots on their abdomens.

The third photo in this series shows a behavior involved in thermoregulation called “obelisking”. On hot sunny days, some dragonflies will orient themselves, while perched, to minimize their exposure to the sun. Often this involves “standing straight up” rather than “laying out flat”.

The last photo in this series is of a relatively rare (at least in our neighborhood) species, the racket-tailed emerald. This individual is immature since its eyes are brown. When it is fully mature it will have the bright green eyes characteristic of emeralds.

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Hudsonian Whiteface (maturing male)
Hudsonian Whiteface (maturing male)
Calico Pennant (almost mature male)
Calico Pennant (almost mature male)
Calico Pennant (male) Oblisking
Calico Pennant (male) Oblisking
Racket-tailed Emerald (male)
Racket-tailed Emerald (male)

 

Not Your Typical Bird Portrait

Filed under: Birds,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 11:00 AM

Woodpeckers make a distinctive call that announces their imminent appearance at the feeders. Each species’ call is unique. Thus, if I listen carefully, I know when to head for the camera (which is set up on the deck) and what I can expect to find.

The other day I heard the call of a red-bellied woodpecker, but as I got to the camera he flew up into the trees. I found him in the lens, but he was very strongly back lit against a patch of sky… not a recipe for a good photo and I did not press the shutter release.

As I turned away from the camera a thought popped into my head… “silhouette”. I put my eye back to the viewfinder… the bird was still there. I pressed the shutter release.

Red-bellied Woodpecker in Shilouette

 

18 June 2015

Up North

Filed under: Amphibians,Mammals,Odontates,Other Insects,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , , , , — Frank @ 5:00 PM

Monday afternoon, we strapped the kayaks to the roof of the car, hitched up the camper, and headed north. We arrived at Lake Francis State Park (in Pittsburg, NH) at supper time.

Pittsburg is as far north as you can go in New Hampshire… it is so far north that Canada lies to the west as well to the north!

On Tuesday morning we put the kayaks in the water at the East Inlet (to the Second Connecticut Lake) and paddled as far up this watershed as we could go. We were finally stopped by the willow thicket overhanging the narrow and fast moving channel.

About a noon time the predicted rain showers began. We were soaked to the skin by the time we got back to the landing and the car. We had a good time anyway!

We saw a loon as we got out of the car and a second one while we were out in the boats. There were other birds about as well, along with lots of frogs and a lone moose.

The frogs were calling from the marshy areas but hard as I tried, I could not espy a single one. I was beginning to despair every getting a photo when I finally noticed the bright yellow throat sac of one sitting just at the edge of the open water. After finding the first specimen, I began to see yellow throat sacs from the proverbial mile a way… they were, in fact, rather numerous!

As for the moose… I was peacefully and slowing paddling along when, as I rounded a bend in the shore line, I heard a great splashing sound. I am not sure if the bull moose or I was more surprised. The moose quickly made for the shore and the first photograph I made of him contained mainly his posterior as he headed up into the marsh. Once out of the water, he did turn to look at me  and I was able to make an adequate (but not spectacular) portrait.

Joan missed the entire show as she was botanizing some distance behind.

The rain was just letting up as we got back to the East Inlet boat launch… figures! We changed into dry clothes and decided to drive up to Scott Bog; another kayaking/wildlife hot spot.

Along the way we scared another smallish moose off the road.  Scott Bog will be our target next time we are in the area with our boats!

After an early dinner, we took a drive up Indian Stream Road. We turned around at the parking area for the Indian Stream Gorge trail head. We’ve put this on our “to do” list as well.

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East Inlet
East Inlet
Frog #1
Frog #1
Frog #2
Frog #2
Moose
Moose
Scott Bog
Scott Bog

Wednesday morning we were on the road south by 7:30. Joan was meeting another NEWFS PCV* in Northumberland to do a rare plant survey. While they were botanizing, I headed to the nearby Eames Wayside.

This piece of public land along the Connecticut River looked promising on the map, but I could not find much information about it. It turns out to be essentially undeveloped, there is small parking area on Route 3, but that is it. I tried to bushwhack down to the river but was turned back by the willow thickets.

As I headed back to the car somewhat dejected, I noticed a dragonfly in a sunny spot along the rail bed. Thus all was not lost!

I spent the next couple of hours photographing damselflies and other insects, along about fifty feet of rail bed near a small stream flowing under the rails in a culvert. I did not see another dragonfly the entire time I was there but the damsels were plentiful!

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Eastern Forktail (male)
Eastern Forktail (male)
Fly
Fly
Moth
Moth
Tule Bluet (male) ?
Tule Bluet (male) ?
Tule Bluet (female) ?
Tule Bluet (female) ?
Insect
Insect
Familiar Bluet (female) ?
Familiar Bluet (female) ?

*NEWFS… New England Wildflower Society; PCV… Plant Conservation Volunteer


 

14 June 2015

Nesting Loons

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 1:00 PM

A couple of weeks ago, Joan and I discovered a loon nest on a body of water that has not supported a breeding pair for more that forty years*.

Yesterday, I got permission to cross the privately-held shore line and photograph the nest and its occupant.

Common Loon On Nest

* I am being a bit circumspect about the exact location in order to protect the nest site.


 

Backyard Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 12:30 PM

Friday (12 June) I notice two yellow (i.e. female or immature male) calico pennants in our yard.

Yesterday there were a dozen or more… enough so that I dropped what I was doing and picked up the camera.

There were a few four-spotted skimmers in the mix. The usual chalk-fronted corporals were also “out and about”.

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Calico Pennant #1
Calico Pennant #1
Calico Pennant #2
Calico Pennant #2
Calico Pennant #3
Calico Pennant #3
Four-spotted Skimmer (male) #1
Four-spotted Skimmer (male) #1
Four-spotted Skimmer (male) #2
Four-spotted Skimmer (male) #2
ID Needed
ID Needed

 

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