Photographs by Frank

8 August 2020

Odes “Down Back”

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 7:00 PM

Yesterday afternoon I donned my waders and made the short walk to the beaver-made wetland complex at the back of our property. I arrived a few minutes past three and stayed for about 2 hours. The temperature was right around 80 and skies were partly to most cloudy turning to a high thin overcast while I explored.

This combination of beaver pond, wet meadow and floating bog is usually full of odes this time of year. However, as seems to be the pattern this year, the odes were sparse.

In a typical year there would be dozens of darners in flight over the area; this year there were two or three, max, in your field of view at any one time. The most common ode present were meadowhawks; a pretty even mix of red individuals (mature males) and yellow individuals (either females or immature males). Most of the yellow individuals I got close to were immature males. I saw about a dozen individuals total in the couple of hours I was out. In addition to the meadowhawks, I saw exactly two sprites (very small damselflies; most probably sedge sprites, based on previous years) and one immature male calico pennant).

I was able to make photographs of some of the meadowhawks and the calico pennant, but not the sprites.

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18 August 2018

Morning Visitor

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 9:59 AM

One the the large oak trees down by the road has a large dead branch that overlooks Joan’s vegetable garden. Semi-regularly we see birds of prey, usually hawks sitting in this branch.

This morning, while eating breakfast, Joan noticed a hawk perched in “the branch”. I made a few exposures from the driveway before it decided to head off.

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30 July 2017

Calico Pennants

Filed under: Odontates,Summer,The Yard — Tags: — Frank @ 12:05 PM

Yesterday, for the first time this season, I took the “ode rig” along with me on my daily walk.*

I was rewarded with some nice photos of calico pennants (see below). The individual in the first photo is a male and the other two individuals are females; the one in the third photo is carrying a number of mites both on its abdomen and it thorax.**

In addition to the half dozen (four male and two female) calico pennants I observed, I also saw a single male meadowhawk and a number of female spreadwings.

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* There was a light overcast and the temperature was about 70 deg. F. I was out from about 1 to 3 PM.

** Something has happened to my ability to caption individual photos in the gallery. Thus, these descriptions will have to suffice.



Filed under: Mammals,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Thursday afternoon, shortly after lunch, I was wandering by the doors that open onto our deck. As is my habit, I looked out to see what birds were present at our feeders. To my great surprise, not only were there no birds present, but there were no feeders in view!

I headed out the doors to investigate. I found empty feeders strewn about and the steel pole upon which the feeders were once mounted bent over at a right angle at ground level.

I knew at once that we had been visited by a bear… in broad daylight no less!

This conclusion was confirmed, maybe an hour later, when Joan summoned me to the deck doors. The vandal had returned! She/he was looking to see if they had missed any seeds during their first visit. I took two quick photos through the kitchen window before heading outside to chase the miscreant away.

As soon as I opened the doors to the deck the critter looked up and as I put a foot out of the door she/he headed into the woods at top speed. A good response!

Joan was sitting out on the deck later that afternoon and thought that she heard the bear in the woods, but we have seen neither hide nor hair since.

Alas, in the interests of not habituating a wild creature to humans, our bird feeding is over at least until December when the bears begin their hibernation.

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26 August 2016

Autumn Meadowhawks

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 11:55 PM

This afternoon, with the temperature around 80 F and partly sunny skies, I headed “down back” to our beaver-made wetland looking for autumn meadowhawks. I was not disappointed.

As a I passed by our brush pile, located in a sunny clearing in the woods near the house, I noted the presence of five or six autumn meadowhawks (mostly yellow ones; females or immature males). They were perched up high in the middle of the large pile so I did not try to photograph them.

When I arrived at the bottom of the hill and the juncture between woods and wetland, I observed another five or six bright red male meadowhawks in flight and a single yellow individual caught in a spiders web. The males spent most of the time I watched them in flight but occasionally one would perch and I got a chance to make a photo.

Moving out into the wet meadow, there were small numbers of darners (presumably males) patrolling territories along the waters edge. I also observed two presumptive females flying low in the vegetation clearly looking for a place to oviposit. None stopped moving long enough to be photographed.

Out in the meadow, I found a single immature male (i.e. orange) meadowhawk that was most cooperative in terms of photography. This individual made repeated hunting forays from the same perch and thus was easy to photograph.

Heading back towards home, I encountered a lone spreadwing at the edge of the woods. It sat still just long enough for me to make three or four photos.

Upon returning to the yard, I saw a feeding swarm consisting of two or three dozen darners. Hot, tired and thirsty*, I watched them for only a few minutes before heading into the house to fetch a large glass of ice water. When I look again, less than ten minutes later, the swarm was gone.

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* Spending a couple of hours in the sun while wearing waders will make one hot tired and thirsty!


Backyard Birds

Filed under: Birds,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 10:00 PM

Yesterday (i.e Thursday, 25 August), I spent a few hours watching the birds in our backyard. Along with the usual suspects* for this time of year, a few rarer (at least in our yard) birds made their appearances.

At least one red-breasted nuthatch has been making regular visits to the feeders, usually to the sunflower seeds, but occasionally to the suet. Because of the frequency of the visits and the fact that it seems to fly off in the same direction after each brief visit, I suspect that there might actually be a pair of adults attending to young birds in a nest.

I also watched a black and white warbler hunting for insects in the trees near  the feeders; it never approached the feeders. This is the third time in recent days that I have seen this species in our yard and this is the first summer that we have observed them here.

Additionally, a sparrow (of some sort other than a chipping sparrow) made a short appearance near the sunflower seed feeder but it did not approach it.

The hummingbirds have provided some great entertainment over the past week or so, there are four or five individuals (a family consisting of an adult pair and two or three juveniles, I think), they frequent both the feeder and a nearby butterfly bush. Their incredible speed and agility in flight as they chase each other around the yard, makes them great fun to watch. I only try to photograph them when they stop to perch nearby.

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* Two types of woodpeckers (downy and hairy; we’ve seen only one red-bellied in the past few weeks), titmice, chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, goldfinches, mourning doves, chipping sparrows and hummingbirds.


13 August 2016

Other Birds

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 11:59 PM

Although I spent the majority of my time today with the camera pointed at the humming bird feeder, I did, occasionally, point it elsewhere.

Goldfinches and tufted titmice are the most common birds around the feeders these days. Woodpeckers (both downy and hairy) were also common; I did not see a red-bellied woodpecker today. A variety of other birds appeared in small numbers. In addition to the phoebe and the mourning dove I made photographs of, I also observed a couple of blue jays and a number of chickadees.

I think that the chickadees are a sign that autumn is coming. We have lots of chickadees at the feeder all winter and early spring. However, at some point in the spring, they disappear. I am guessing that they must not breed nearby the house. Over the past few weeks small numbers of chickadees are reappearing at the feeder. Maybe because their breeding season is over?

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Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,The Yard — Tags: — Frank @ 11:30 PM

I spent a good chunk of the middle of the day today watching and photographing the birds around our feeders.

The sky was overcast, the temperature and the humidity were both in the high seventies. All around the conditions were better for photography than for stacking firewood!

The hummingbirds were quite active. A mature male spent most of his time perched near the feeder. There were two juvenile birds who appeared seeming out of nowhere regularly. When the juveniles appeared they would be harassed by the male as they tried to feed. Once the juveniles had had enough (food or harassment, I am not sure) they would take off for the woods. The male would feed and then head back to his guard station. This behavior was repeated often at irregular intervals for couple of hours I watched them.

I was able to make some nice photos of the male hovering near the feeder but the juveniles were impossible, the males harassment made their movement too erratic.

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Likewise, I was able to make photos of the male perching near the feeder but the juveniles rarely perched near the feeder and if they tried the male drove them off. I did manage a single frame of a perched juvenile.

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16 June 2016

Inundation of Calico Pennants

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

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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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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