Photographs by Frank

5 June 2016

Backyard Odes – 4 June 2016

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

Yesterday (4 June), while we were eating lunch, I noticed a ode (probably a Hudsonian Whiteface) hunting from a perch at the edge of the deck. After we finished eating, I picked up the camera and headed out to see if I could make a photograph of the “lunch-time ode”.

I did not find our lunch companion. However, two hours later I headed back to the house looking for a drink! I never  left our yard.

In that interval, I saw (and photographed) six species of dragonflies: four-spotted skimmer, spangled skimmer, American emerald, lancet clubtail, chalk-fronted corporal, and Hudsonian whiteface. The first three of these were my first observation of those species for the season.

Oddly, I saw no damselflies while I was out.

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20 April 2016

Spring Birds

Filed under: Birds,Spring,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Monday (18 Apr) afternoon was warm and sunny. I spent a few hours watching (and photographing) the backyard birds.

In addition to the year-rounders (nuthatches, chickadees, titmice and woodpeckers) a number of returning migrants have appeared. There were good numbers of American goldfinches, sometimes as many as a dozen or so at one time. I am always amazed at the brilliance of the yellow coloring of the males at this time of year. Smaller numbers of purple finches were also present.

Small flocks of juncos (eight or ten) came and went all afternoon. I am unable to get a sense of what stimulates the entire flock to make an exodus. When they leave en mass they seem to startle everyone else (including me!) and often cause all of the finches to flee as well.

Lastly, I saw two singletons… a red-breasted nuthatch (which I did not photograph) and a chipping sparrow.

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9 March 2016

Spring Training

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,The Yard — Tags: — Frank @ 10:15 PM

Just like baseball players, the skills of small bird photographers get rusty over the winter. Thus for the past two days, in anticipation of spring bird action,  I headed about twenty feet out the back door for a bit of spring training.

Even though it was 70 degrees F this afternoon, the tufted titmice and the chickadees still seem to be in their winter mixed-flock mode. At times, there were seven birds at the feeder (with nine feeding ports). Also present were white-breasted nuthatches  and downy woodpeckers. A single red-bellied woodpecker made a brief appearance as well. There were also blue jays and crows present nearby but, as is usual,  neither species showed much interest in the feeders*.

All of these species spend the winter in our neighborhood and there was no sign of any spring birds these past two days. We did, however, catch a glimpse of a purple finch at the seed feeder a few days ago. I also heard the call of a pheobe this afternoon on a number of occasions.

Spring can not be too far away.

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* In the depths of winter we will get an occasional blue jay on the suet, but not when the ground is bare.


28 August 2015

Late Season Odes, Down Back

Filed under: Odontates,Summer,The Yard — Tags: , — Frank @ 10:30 PM

Yesterday afternoon I headed “down back” to the beaver-made wetland at the back of our property.

I was expecting to find the usual late-season odes… autumn meadowhawks and a number of the spreadwings. Although the numbers of individuals were small, there was a nice variety of species present.

I observed a total of three meadowhawks (all female) and about a dozen (total) of the three species of spreadwings.

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11 August 2015

The Past Week’s Birds

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,The Yard — Tags: — Frank @ 2:00 PM

No special “photo sessions” in the past week… I keep the camera set up on the deck and “catch-as-catch-can”.

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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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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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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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27 June 2015

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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* 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!!!


24 June 2015

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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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.

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