Photographs by Frank

10 December 2010

Massachusetts Wildlife

Back in September, I entered ten images in a photo contest sponsored by Massachusetts Wildlife magazine, a quarterly publication of Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

I had pretty much forgotten about the contest and my entry. However, I was pleasantly reminded about it when I recently received email informing me that four of my photos have been given awards!

According to the email from Peter Mirick,  the editor, there were “1,137 entries received from 183 individuals living in 149 cities and towns, some as far away as Florida and Arizona.”

No large cash prizes! Just a subscription to the magazine and a few extra copies of the  issue in which the images will be published.  However, it is nice to have ones work recognized this way.

Here are the four images that were selected:

And here are the other entries:

Thanks for “wandering by”.

24 June 2010

Swamp Spreadwings & Blue Dashers

Filed under: Carver's Pond,Odontates — Tags: , — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Yesterday, I made another quick trip to Carver’s Pond just to see what was around; I headed out around four. As six o’clock approached the sky darkened considerably and there were a few sprinkles. After that the number of odontates diminished significantly and I called it a day.

There were a number of mated pairs of swamp spreadwings ovipositing. This species oviposits  in tandem, with the male holding on to the female by the back of the neck as she deposits eggs. The female has a knife-like organ at the end of her abdomen which she uses to slice open the stems of plants above the water line. The eggs are deposited  into the openings she cuts.

There were also a number of blue dashers around, each male defending a territory from a convienent perch. When an interloper arrives the perched male takes off and a short (and non-violent) aerial dog fight takes place.


16 June 2010

Carver’s Pond… Yet Again.

Filed under: Carver's Pond,Odontates — Tags: , — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Last Saturday (12 June 2010) dawned gray and the forecast was for showers starting in the early afternoon. Cool (high 60’s)  and cloudy is not a good combination for hunting odontates, but I figured why not! Thus, after a leisurely breakfast, I headed back to Carver’s Pond.

It is nearby so I could, by avoiding a longer drive, maximize my “field time”  before it started raining. In addition, I had not been there in over a week (that pesky day job) and it was time to see what was new!

I spent an enjoyable few  hours at the pond and was just heading back to the truck a bit after noon, when the rain got serious.

There were two real finds among the more common sights. The first was a male emerald  swamp spreadwing (Lestes dryas viglax).  [Identification updated on 23 June 2010… emerald and swamp spreadwings are very similar with swamp spreadwings being common and emeralds being “uncommon” according to “A Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Massachusetts” by Nikula, et al. (order here) which is my primary source for identiflying odontates.]

Emerald Spreadwing (male)

Spreadwings are a small group of damselflies that generally perch obliquely on reeds and other stems emerging from the water. Additionally, when at rest, they hold their wings partially open unlike most damselflies who keep their wings tightly together when at rest.

The second find was a teneral female common pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis).

Odontates lay their eggs in water where they develop into larva. The larva overwinter (at least one year) in the water before emerging as adults. As the water temperature rises in the spring the larva emerge from the water and the adult emerges.

Each species has a characteristic temperature at which they emerge. The earliest odonates typically emerge in mid-May here in New England while the latest emerging species probably make their appearance around the end of June.

The newly emerged adult is characterized as “teneral”. In this state its body is very soft and its wings are not yet able to support flight. Teneral adults are usually found clinging to vegetation near the water and are very vulnerable to predation both by birds and by fish. As soon as they are able, teneral adults make a very weak initial flight to a more secure location to finish “drying out”.

I noticed this individual after she had fully emerged. She was clinging to the grass stems and still had her rear end in the water and her wings were still folded back. (This is the only time you will see a dragonfly which wings held together.) Over the course of the five or ten minutes I watched her, she crawled up the stems as far as she could go and her wings became outstretched. You can see the very shiny wings typically of a newly emerged dragonfly; they only stay that way for a day or two. I decided that I had stressed her enough and moved away before she was ready to fly.

Here are the rest of the mornings photos:

1 June 2010

More Odontates from Carver’s Pond

Filed under: Carver's Pond,Odontates,Southeastern MA — Tags: , — Frank @ 11:03 AM

Carver’s Pond is an old mill pond in Bridgewater, MA. It is about two miles from our house and just up the street from the College. I walk there from work at lunch time many days. It is a place we go when we have time only for a very short jaunt… sometimes with the kayaks or canoe or sometimes just for a walk.

The pond is home to much wildlife… turtles,  fish, birds, small mammals and, of course, odontates. I spent a few hours hunting dragonflies and damselflies there again last Thursday.

It is good to go back to the same place often… just to see what has changed.

In the case of odontates, the “signal” for emergence from the larval form to the adult is mainly water temperature. Each species has a specific temperature at which it emerges.  This time of year, when the water is warming rapidly, new species seem to “pop up” almost daily. Thus, multiple trips, even in quick succession are often rewarded with new species to see and photograph.

Here are some of the day’s photographs:

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