Photographs by Frank

20 June 2018

Hattie Brown Road

Yesterday afternoon I took a walk up Hattie Brown Road. This old (and now gated) road leads to an old homestead but is used mainly for logging access these days. On its way up to the old foundation (which is roughly a mile from Craig Road) , the road passes a beaver pond and a fairly new (i.e. still grassy, not brushy) log yard. Both are good spots for odes.

The weather was ideal; the temperature was in the low 70s F, the skies were azure blue and there was a bit of a gusty breeze blowing.

At every sunny spot on the road there were chalk-fronted corporals, often a dozen or more in one patch of sunlight. I saw literately hundreds of individuals, in total.

In addition to the corporals, I saw a half dozen Hudsonian whitefaces, mostly maturing (i.e. turning from yellow to red) males, two or three teneral frosted whitefaces (along the edge of the beaver pond), a single four-spotted skimmer (in the woods near the old foundation) and a single spreadwing (in the beaver pond).

I also saw a single darner of some sort. It perched briefly on a stem of grass along the road by the beaver pond. However, the weight of the insect, its sail-like wings and the wind conspired against me making its photo. It was swaying back and forth so vigorously that I could not keep the critter in the viewfinder, much less focus on it!

It was also a good day for seeing non-ode animals. I saw a both tiger swallowtails and pipevine swallowtails; a few of each type. I also found a small (first joint of your thumb-sized) toad at the edge of the road in the woods and a painted turtle (a female wanting to lay eggs?) in the middle of the road a few dozen yards up hill from, and pointed away from, the beaver pond.

I also saw an indigo bunting at the edge of the log yard. It hung around long enough so that I could remove the extension tube from between camera and lens. Although with only 300 mm of magnification available, the resulting photos are merely record shots.

Lastly, I observed a young deer in a small sunny patch on a skid road leading off of the main road. If was maybe fifty feet from me, but it did not hang around long enough for me to even contemplate removing the extension tube this time.

All-in-all are very good few hours of wildlife observation!

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8 June 2018

Small Critters

This morning, after an absence of almost two weeks*, I took a walk up the unmaintained section of Brimstone Corner Road just to see what was around.

Ode-wise, the most common species were still the “early birds”… Hudsonian whitefaces (yellow individuals only) and chalk-fronted corporals (of both sexes). The numbers were small about six whitefaces and a dozen corporals in the three miles I walked.

I also observed a single brown-grey damselfly (probably a female bluet of some sort) and a female racket-tailed emerald.

There were a number of other small critters about. That is, besides the black flies and the mosquitoes (although neither of these were present in numbers large enough to be bothersome). I saw two red efts and a small (about the length of the first joint of my thumb) wood frog. Small numbers of at least three species of butterflies and one moth were also out and about.

Plant-wise, the spring ephemerals (trillium, etc.) are gone but a number of small summer flowers are in bloom or just about to open up.

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* I spent ten days in Maryland visiting my mother who is in a rehab facility after breaking both a wrist and a hip.


6 April 2017

2017 Trip South

Filed under: Amphibians,Birds,Odontates,Other Insects — Tags: , — Frank @ 3:30 PM

If two years makes a tradition, we headed south after (a snow-delayed*) town meeting for our “traditional” trip south. Our destination this year was the Florida panhandle.

We spent a week camped at the Wright Lake campground in the Apalachicola National Forest. Each day we headed out to explore from this base. We ranged from the Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in the east to the St. Joseph Peninsula State Park in the west. In addition, we hit a number of Florida Birding Trail sites within the National Forest, the Saint George Island State Park and the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve  (their Unit 4 tract on St. George Island was particularly productive photographically).

Since we had such a good time last year at the Okefenokee NWR/ Foster State Park in SE Georgia, we stopped there for a day on the way back home. This time we were able to kayak some of the swamp on our own. It was quite an experience sitting low to the water with dozens of alligators all around.

Birds (many IDs needed but in the interest of a timely post, they will be added later)

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Other Subjects

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* Two feet of snow will do that… even in NH! We arrived back home on the evening of 3 April to find a knee high pile of snow at the end of the drive way (the result of another foot of snow dumped a few days previously). It took about 45 minutes of work with snow blower before we could get the car and camper into the driveway.


12 June 2016

A Cool and Cloudy Afternoon

Filed under: Amphibians,Birds,Mammals,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 1:58 PM

Yesterday was cool (it never reached 60 deg. F), cloudy and damp (there were sporadic showers in the morning)… in other words the odes were not flying. Thus, I turned my attention (and lens) to birds and I staked out the feeders for a few hours in the afternoon.

The damp weather brings out the red efts and yesterday was no exception. There were half a dozen in the small patch of lawn behind the house.  As usual there were chipmunks and squirrels scavenging what they could from the bird feeders.

The usual feeder birds were present, among them were a female rose-breasted grosbeak, a male goldfinch and a number of tufted titmice. None of which presented themselves well for photography.

Also present (and photographed) were what seem to be a pair of downy woodpeckers, a hairy woodpecker, at least one male ruby-throated hummingbird and a lone turkey.

The turkey has been a regular visitor to our yard for the past few weeks. I’m no expert, but I would hazard a guess that it is either a female that did not nest or a immature male looking for a territory.

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


12 May 2014

The Weekend’s Work

Filed under: Amphibians,Birds,Monadnock Region,Spring,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 9:00 AM

After a wet Friday, Saturday dawned clear and sunny and brought a number of red efts to the yard.  This was the start of a good weekend for photography.

On both Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, I spent some time down by the north end of the lake. There were at least three species of warblers (yellow rumps, common yellow throats and I third that I could not identify or photograph)  present. Chickadees, pheobes, and kingbirds were also present.

I concentrated on the birds which spend time down low in the bushes along the waters edge… mainly the warblers and the chickadees. These birds will be present all summer but the become next to invisible when the shrubs leaf out. Even without the leaves they are difficult to photograph as they spend most of the time in the thicket of branches. Usually one get a single chance to trip the shutter when a bird appears at the “surface” of the thicket.

Late Saturday afternoon, we put kayaks in the water at Eva’s Marsh WMA in Hancock. I don’t think that we visited Eva’s Marsh last year.  Yesterday, we discovered two big changes since our last visit.  There is now a very long (200 feet or more) beaver dam bisecting the marsh. Thus, the mud flats that used to support foraging sandpipers here are now well under water. Additionally, there is now a single great blue heron nest on a snag in the back section which was not present on our last visit.

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9 May 2014

Mackerel Skies & Spring Birds

Filed under: Amphibians,Birds,Early Spring,Landscapes,Monadnock Region — Tags: , , , — Frank @ 11:00 AM

About 9:30 yesterday morning, I headed out to run some errands. When I got to the lake, I noticed the mackerel skies over the north end of the lake and the nice, soft light. I stopped to make a photograph or two.

As I walked back to the boat launch where the truck was parked, I noticed the birds in the trees along the road and the turtles basking in the sun.

The section of road that runs along the beach and up to the bridge seems to attract many insect-eating birds. Later in the season there will be many swifts and swallows present, but yesterday I saw mainly Eastern Kingbirds.

There were also  red-winged blackbirds and grackles present. The male red-winged blackbirds were very vocal singing their distinctive “conk-la-ree” song repeatedly.

When I got back to the truck, I decided that the errands could wait. Switching from landscape mode and wide angle lens to wildlife mode and “Big Bertha” , I  headed back towards the bridge photographing all the way.

An osprey also appeared briefly. It hovered near the bridge looking for prey and made one, unsuccessful plunge into the water before heading off. A couple of days ago, Joan and I observed an osprey exhibit  the same hovering behavior by the bridge. I guess that I’ll have to plan to spend some time  down there just to watch for ospreys!

About 11:30, I headed back to the truck and my errands.

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8 May 2014

Painted Turtles

Filed under: Amphibians,Monadnock Region,The "New" Yard & Environs — Frank @ 7:00 AM

On Tuesday, I headed “down back” to check out how my  blind was faring; the preceding couple of  days had been very windy.

The blind was intact and I spent a couple of hours watching four painted turtles. They was lots of bird noise as well, but none that came within photographic range.

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27 April 2014

First Photographs from My Semi-Permanent Blind

Filed under: Amphibians,Birds,Early Spring,Monadnock Region — Tags: , — Frank @ 2:00 PM

About a month ago, I spent a couple of warm days out in the garage constructing a blind from which to photograph. The blind consists of frame constructed from one inch PVC pipe and cover constructed from burlap cloth crudely sewn together with some twine. It is certainly not fancy but hopefully it can stay outside until late fall at least*.

This past Tuesday, I erected the blind “down back” near the edge of the beaver pond “down back” on our property. We share this pond and its associated wetlands with NH Audubon as the boundary between our lot and the Willard Pond Sanctuary roughly bisects this territory.

As luck would have it, Wednesday turned out to be incredibly blustery so the blind got a good test of its stability immediately… it failed miserably! I went down on Thursday to check things out and found that the blind had collapsed!

I knew enough to stabilize each joint with a small screw between the connector and the pipe. However, when I set up the blind I could not align the holes for the screws in a few of the joints. I plowed ahead anyway, figuring that I would get the last of the screws in another time.

Guess which joints failed in the wind? Every one that was lacking a screw… and none of the others! I went back, got the tools I needed and re-erected the blind securing all of the joints this time.

Early Friday afternoon, I headed down to try out the blind. Conditions were not ideal for photography… the light was harsh and fairly high over head, but I had to try it out. I took a chair and a water bottle along with camera, Big Bertha and tripod and settled in.

The first lesson I learned was how hard it is to stay alert in a  quiet, sunny spot.  After waking from my nap, the first critters I noticed were two painted turtles sunning on a log in the pond. I had suspected that turtles must be present but had never observed them here before… score one for the blind!

I could hear a number of birds (most commonly phoebes)  nearby, but only a very small number came into view. I managed to see and get a photograph of a  single phoebe.

A short time later, I heard the sound of great splashing about in the water. Scanning the environs, I finally found large plumes of water in the air, but the source was out of sight from my vantage point. A short time later a pair of mallards came into view. They swam about and bathed for quite some time.

At one point the pair of birds approached the log upon which the turtles were sunning. The male mallard decided that he wanted to perch on the log and immediately one of the turtles did the expected… it dove into the water. However, the second turtle held its ground and after a minute or so, the bird headed back into the water!

The mallards continued to bathe and preen for another five or ten minutes at which point they both suddenly looked in the same direction (to the north, or camera right). About thirty seconds later they both exploded into the air and were gone. I have no idea what they saw.

A few minutes later, I decided to head back up to the house**.  As soon as I stood up outside the blind the second turtle headed for the water… more evidence of the success of the blind?

Here are the photographs…

*I probably could have bought a commercial “pop-up” hunting blind for less that I spent on the materials for this blind. However, every commercial blind I have seen comes with the warning not to leave it sitting in the sun for long periods of  time. It turns out that the coated nylon they are made from is not stable to UV light and will fall apart with exposure to too much sun. Not very useful in my opinion.

**The blind faces to the west and the sun was getting low. Pointing the camera into the sun does not make for great photographs.  Generally, the blind will be most useful in the morning.

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