Photographs by Frank

30 August 2020

Late Season Odes — Opportunities

This morning. as I headed out the door to go for a walk, I noticed a meadowhawk perched on a flower just outside the porch door. I successfully resisted the urge to get my camera and headed out for the walk.

Shortly after my return home, I was sitting in my chair rehydrating when I hear Joan call from out in the flower bed where she was working “Perched Darner! Perched Darner!”. As quick as I could I headed out the door, camera in hand but as is usual with darners (they do not stand still for long… ever) the perched individual was long gone.

It turns out that as Joan worked on cleaning up the flower bed she was disturbing lots of small insects and creating her own mini-feeding swarm in the process. There were at least there or four darners making regular passes over the beds and carefully veering around us as we stood there. In addition to the darners, there were also a number of autumn meadowhawks also taking advantage of the bounty.

Darners are very frustrating to photograph. They spend the large majority of their time in flight; even eating most prey while on the wing. Every once in a while, when one does perch, it is their habit to hang vertically from a branch or twig quite near the trunk of whatever plant they chose. (They are big and heavy as odes go and prefer good sturdy shrubs for perching.) This often makes for very cluttered photos.

In all today, I saw three perched darners. The first was in such deep shadow in a rhododendron that the photos are not worth showing. I never got close enough to the second to even make a photo. However, I was able to get a pretty typical photo of the third darner. I was able to make exactly three exposures before it took flight again.

Meadowhawks, on the other hand, are pretty easy to photograph. They perch frequently and often on nice isolated stalks of vegetation.

There were plenty (a few dozen) of meadowhawks around both the flower bed where Joan was working and at other places in the yard. Most were mature males but there were a few immature males and females in the mix.

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Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (female)
Autumn Meadowhawk (female)
White-faced Meadowhawk (male)
White-faced Meadowhawk (male)
Meadowhawk with Prey (immature male)
Meadowhawk with Prey (immature male)
Meadowhawk (female)
Meadowhawk (female)
Darner (Canada or Green-strip)
Darner (Canada or Green-strip)

19 August 2020

Odes at the Harris Center Property on Brimstone Corner Rd.

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 3:45 PM

Yesterday afternoon, about 3:30, I headed for a walk down the road on the Harris Center property near us. The weather was in the low 70’s and it was partially cloudy. Although at one point, I had to sit out a brief sprinkle under some hemlock trees. I got back home just before 6:30.

The pattern for this year held true. There were small numbers of odes present but a decent number of species to be found. The most common species were the meadowhawks, slatey skimmers and spreadwings (probably Elegant spreadwings, but possible Slender spreadwings). I saw about six of each. The meadowhawks were all in the old log landings along the road and were all yellow (i.e. either immature males or females). The skimmers were mostly male and found at the waters edge near the beaver dam. Although, I did see one female in a clearing along the road. The spreadwings were mostly in the stream flowing out of the beaver pond. I also saw two male eastern forktails (one immature) in the grass along the road just downstream from the dam.

Additionally, I saw very briefly a nondescript brown dragonfly that paused just long enough for one exposure as well as an unidentified damselfly and what I think was a male common pondhawk neither of which stayed around long enough for even a single photo.

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Meadowhawk (female)
Meadowhawk (female)
Eastern Forktail (male)
Eastern Forktail (male)
Dragonfly (ID?)
Dragonfly (ID?)
Elegant (?) Spreadwing (male)
Elegant (?) Spreadwing (male)
Slaty Skimmer (male)
Slaty Skimmer (male)
Meadowhawk (immature male)
Meadowhawk (immature male)
Eastern Forktail (immature male)
Eastern Forktail (immature male)
Slaty Skimmer (female)
Slaty Skimmer (female)
Blue Dasher (female)
Blue Dasher (female)

15 August 2020

Hattie Brown Road Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 8:00 AM

Yesterday afternoon about 3:30, I headed out Hattie Brown Road to look for odes. The temperature was in the low 80s and it was partly to mostly cloudy. I spent just about three hours in the field, arriving back at the truck at 6:15.

Walking down the well shaded road through the woods, I did not see a single ode. When I got to the spot where the road crosses the beaver-made wetland things began to get better. As I moseyed along this stretch of road, I saw maybe four or five male white-faced meadowhawks.

At the clearing past the wetland, I saw more white-faced meadowhawks , several male common whitetails (including four sunning themselves on a large granite boulder), a single male spangled skimmer and two female spangled skimmers.

I headed farther up the road into the woods again, but I did not go too far. I saw no odes. However, there were plenty of mosquitoes!

White-faced meadowhawks were, by far, the most common ode I saw this outing; numbering between one and two dozen. I only saw males. I found exactly zero damselflies on this trip.

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White-faced Meadowhawk (male) #1
White-faced Meadowhawk (male) #1
White-faced Meadowhawk (male) #2
White-faced Meadowhawk (male) #2
White-faced Meadowhawk (male) #3
White-faced Meadowhawk (male) #3
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Common Whitetail (male)
Common Whitetail (male)
Spangled Skimmer (female)
Spangled Skimmer (female)

8 August 2020

Gregg Lake Loons – An Update

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 7:15 PM

Joan had the first shift as Lake Host this morning. She got to the Gregg Lake boat launch by 7. An hour or so later the phone rang and although the call was dead when I answered (cell phone signal at the lake is poor), the caller ID said that it was Joan.

Surmising (properly as it turns out) that she was calling with a wildlife sighting. I packed the camera, long lens and tripod into the truck and headed down to the lake to see what was up.

Joan had spotted a sapsucker spending much time at the hole in a dead tree along the road. By the time I had set up, I was able to make one exposure (which is not worth showing) before the bird took flight and I did not see it again… maybe tomorrow!

About 9:30, the loon family made an appearance off the point at the beach. I headed over there and was able to make a few photos of the youngsters at a decently close range. My photo op did not last long because all of a sudden the two adults (who were quite a distance away from the chicks) sounded the alarm call and the family rapidly converged and headed off.

Initially, I thought that I had spooked them, but I was not really very close. (The photos below are significant crops of the full frame.) I packed up when they got too far away and headed back to the truck. It turns out that I was not the cause of the loon commotion. Joan said that an eagle had passed fairly low overhead causing the ado.

It was good to see that both youngsters are doing well and will probably learn to fly in the coming weeks.

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Loon Chicks (Gregg Lake, Aug 2020)
Loon Chicks (Gregg Lake, Aug 2020)
Gregg Lake Loon Chick (Aug 2020)
Gregg Lake Loon Chick (Aug 2020)
Loon Family (Gregg Lake, Aug 2020)
Loon Family (Gregg Lake, Aug 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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Meadowhawk (male) #1
Meadowhawk (male) #1
Meadowhawk (Imm. Male?) #1
Meadowhawk (Imm. Male?) #1
Meadowhawk (Imm. Male?) #2
Meadowhawk (Imm. Male?) #2
Meadowhawk (Imm. Male?) #3
Meadowhawk (Imm. Male?) #3
Teneral Maedowhawk (male)
Teneral Maedowhawk (male)
Calico Pennant
Calico Pennant
Meadowhawk (male) #2
Meadowhawk (male) #2

1 August 2020

Contoocook River Odes

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

Late yesterday afternoon, I made the short drive to the paper mill in Bennington (NH) to look for riverine odes. It was mostly sunny and the temperature was in the low 80s. Donning my wades, I spent about seventy five minutes in the river.

Immediately below the papemill dam there is a short rocky falls and then a section of fast moving water with a generally sandy bottom; a very different habitat than the lakes, ponds and beaver-made wetlands I usually frequent. As I expected, I saw some species that I don’t often see. Stream bluets and powdered dancers are species that prefer hard bottomed, fast moving water.

As seems to be the pattern for this year, there were small numbers of odes present. I observed less than a half dozen individuals of each species I photographed, including two dragonhunters perched within a foot of each other on the same dead branch overhanging the water.

Upon returning to the truck, I ordered a pizza from Rick and Diane’s. While waiting for pizza to bake, I walked around the edge of the pond at Memorial Park. There I saw maybe a half dozen eastern forktails (mostly males, but at least one female); the last photo is from this site.

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Stream Bluet (tandem pair)
Stream Bluet (tandem pair)
Dragonhuneter (male)
Dragonhuneter (male)
Stream Bluet (male)
Stream Bluet (male)
Slaty Skimmer (male)
Slaty Skimmer (male)
Stream Bluet (male)
Stream Bluet (male)
Powdered Dancer (male)
Powdered Dancer (male)
Powdered Dancer (female)
Powdered Dancer (female)
Eastern Forktail (male)
Eastern Forktail (male)

31 July 2020

Ode and Leps

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Other Insects,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 10:00 AM

Yesterday afternoon, I headed out to photograph. It was mostly sunny and the temperature was in the low 80’s.

I stopped at two sites along Powdermill Pond… Elmwood Junction, where I walked the railbed out to the bridge across the river, and the boat launch in Greenfield, where I concentrated on the “field”. I put field in quotes because the clearing is rapidly overgrowing; it is roughly half full with shoulder height or larger trees.

As seems to be the pattern this summer, there were only small numbers of odes at both sites. For all, but the widow skimmers, I saw only the single individuals that I photographed. I saw a total of maybe half a dozen widow skimmers (of both sexes) in the field at the boat launch. I also observed (but did not photograph) a lone female slatey skimmer along the rail bed.

In addition to the odes, I was able to make nice photos of some butterflies (in the order lepidoptera, thus “leps” for short). The first three individuals were all congregated in a small area of the old rail bed, attracted by the minerals in the ground. Sorry about the lack of IDs on the leps… that is not in my skill set!

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Meadowhawk (female)
Meadowhawk (female)
Butterfly #1
Butterfly #1
Butterfly #2
Butterfly #2
Butterfly #3
Butterfly #3
Widow Skimmer (male)
Widow Skimmer (male)
Meadowhawk (male)
Meadowhawk (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Butterfly #4
Butterfly #4
Widow Skimmer (female)
Widow Skimmer (female)

24 July 2020

Cilly Family Forest Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,wildflowers,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 10:45 PM

The Cilly Family Forest is a parcel of conserved land along the Contoocook River in Greenfield. It was once part of Joan’s cousin Stevie’s farm. The parcel is mostly wooded but there is a large field abutting the river that is kept open. There are often good numbers of dragonflies in the field.

I spent about ninety minutes there later this afternoon. The temperature was in the upper 70s and it was mostly sunny. There were relatively small numbers of odes present. The most numerous were female widow skimmers; I saw roughly ten individuals. In addition to the species I was able to photograph (i.e. slaty skimmer, widow skimmer and blue dasher) I also observed a single calico pennant and one other dragonfly that I was not able to get a good enough view of to identify, but it flashed green as it sped by.

I also saw (but did not photograph) roughly half a dozen damselflies total. Additionally, there were good numbers of a small (maybe an inch and a half across) orange butterfly.

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Widow Skimmer (female) #1
Widow Skimmer (female) #1
Slatey Skimmer (male)
Slatey Skimmer (male)
Closed Gentian
Closed Gentian
Widow Skimmer (female) #2
Widow Skimmer (female) #2
Orange Butterfly
Orange Butterfly
Blue Dasher (male)
Blue Dasher (male)

20 July 2020

Weekend Odes

Filed under: "Camp",Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 4:00 PM

The past few days have been has hot and hunid as it gets in this neck of the woods. Despite the weather, I have headed out to look for odes on three occasions over the weekend.

On Saturday morning, I headed down the road on the Harris Center property near our house. I went as far as the beaver dam. The odes were few and far between, but they were there.

On Sunday morning, I walked up the unmaintained section of Brimstone Corner Road. The odes were very sparse… I saw exactly two dragonflies, both patrolling an old log yard well above head hight.

Sunday afternoon, I headed across the lake to camp and waded the shoreline. Again, the odes were sparse, but present.

The first three photos below were made on Saturday morning; the remainder on Sunday afternoon.

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Slatey Skimmer (male)
Slatey Skimmer (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Spreadwing
Spreadwing
Lancet Clubtail
Lancet Clubtail
Eastern Forktail (female)
Eastern Forktail (female)
Eastern Forktail (male)
Eastern Forktail (male)
Dragon Hunter
Dragon Hunter
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Lancet Clubtail with Prey
Lancet Clubtail with Prey

15 July 2020

Lake Hallowell Odes and Other Wildlife

Filed under: Birds,Mammals,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 10:15 PM

Lake Hallowell is a small, man-made body of water in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC near where my mother lives. It is an island of wildlife in a sea of suburbia.

We are just back from ten days of attending to my mother while my sister was occupied with work and the wedding of her eldest son. While we were there, I spent two hot and sticky late afternoons around the edges of Lake Hallowell photographing the odes and other wildlife.

I was not alone. There was a seemingly never ending parade of walkers, joggers, anglers, etc. on the paved path that girds the pond. Over the two afternoons, I also encountered three other photographers mainly stalking the birds.

I was set up to photograph odes (with my 300 mm lens and extension tube mounted on the camera). However, twice I was tempted to (and had time to) remove the extension tube and make photos of other critters… namely a green heron and a rabbit.

There were large numbers of dragonflies and very few damselflies out and about. (I saw two damselflies in the two days.)

The most common ode was a small rusty orange dragonfly with which I am not familiar*. There were thousands of individuals in more-or-less constant movement low over the water near the shore. Infrequently one would perch for a brief interval but I was having trouble making a successful photo of this species.

However, every once in awhile lady luck smiles upon you. The only successful photo of this species I made is the last one in this set; a mating wheel, the only one I saw!

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Blue Dasher (male)
Blue Dasher (male)
Blue Dasher Obelisking
Blue Dasher Obelisking
Exuvia
Exuvia
Common Pondhawk (female)
Common Pondhawk (female)
Common Pondhawk (male)
Common Pondhawk (male)
Green Heron
Green Heron
Rabbit
Rabbit
Teneral Damselfly
Teneral Damselfly
Mating Wheel (ID Needed)
Mating Wheel (ID Needed)

* They are reminiscent of eastern amberwings, but they seem somewhat larger than the minute eastern amberwing and the wings of the female in this photo are not those of the female eastern amberwing. {UPDATE: The collective wisdom of the Northeast Odes email list says that these are, indeed, eastern amberwings.}

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