Photographs by Frank

30 May 2020

May — The Explosion

May is a month of explosive change here in New England.

We begin the month wondering if we will ever be able to stop feeding the stove and end the month ready for a swim many afternoons. The woods are drab and gray at the beginning of May and fully leafed out a couple of weeks later. The summer breeding birds, the earliest of which begin arriving in April , are sitting on nests by the end of May. Additionally, there are waves of both migrating birds and ephemeral wildflowers which come and go all within the month.

And… most importantly, to me anyway, the dragonflies reappear! I saw my first ode of the season, a lone Hudsonian whiteface in the woods on May second. Their population in the uplands around the house peaked a week or ten days ago… most have headed back to a wetland to breed, but there were still a few stragglers in the yard this afternoon.

The past few days have seen an explosion of chalk-fronted corporals in the uplands. Walking along the unmaintained section of Brimstone Corner Road this morning, in every sunny spot, I stirred up a dozen or more chalk-fronted corporals. The large majority were brown (either female or immature males).

There are also a few individuals of another, larger species also present… I have to find where I stashed the ode books for the winter in order to identify these!

And then there are the chipmunks… remember when, a few seasons ago, we were all concerned about the lack of chipmunks? Well… thanks to the remarkable reproductive capacity of rodents, I can report that they are back in numbers which seem larger than ever. The current generation also seems much bolder than those of the past. I have had chipmunks trying to steal seed as I was filling the bird feeders! The photo of the chipmunk which accompanies this post was made with my camera set up for odes… in this mode it can not focus beyond about four or five feet!

All of these photos were made over the course of an hour or so this afternoon.

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Lady Slipper
Lady Slipper
Dragonfly - ID Needed
Dragonfly - ID Needed
Hudsonian Whiteface (immature male or female)
Hudsonian Whiteface (immature male or female)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chipmunk
Chipmunk
Chalk-fronted Corporal (female)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (female)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (immature male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (immature male)

18 May 2020

Gregg Lake Loons, Update (May 2020)

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 3:43 PM

Last Friday (15 May 2020) morning , I spent a couple of hours watching the loon nest. I observed a single individual sitting on the nest and then spend a considerable fraction of the two hours I was there working on building up the nest. I saw no evidence of eggs.

This morning (Monday, 18 May 2020), I again headed down to observe the nesting loons. I arrived at about 10:15 and found a bird sitting on the nest. The temperature was in the low sixties and it was overcast.

Ten or so minutes later, I noticed a great blue heron approaching the nest area from the right. It was on the other side of vegetation from the nest and I had great hopes of an interesting photo of both the heron and the loon in a single frame. Well, I got the photo… sort of… see the third photo!

A few minutes later Joan arrived and set up the spotting scope. We were hoping to get definitive evidence of eggs.

About fifty minutes after I arrived, the loon stood up, rearranged things in the nest,sat back down and began working on the nest.

Joan was able to clearly see a single egg at this point with the spotting scope. At one point Joan could clearly see the loon lift the egg and add nest material underneath. A while later, she was able to get a clear view of two eggs in the nest. My camera was set up at a bit of a lower angle (and it does not have the same degree of magnification) so I was not able to get photos showing eggs.

Eventually, the loon must of run out of nest building material. It slipped off the nest and spent the rest of the time (more than an hour) we observed it gathering more nesting material. It does this by dredging up material from the bottom and tossing it over its shoulder towards the nest. The bird was never more that six or eight feet from the nest. On occasion it would climb onto the nest and add material to the nest. However, it was mostly in gathering mode.

About two hours after I first arrived the second loon finally made an appearance near the nest. We heard some low vocalizations between the birds at this point. The newly arrived bird tentatively approached the empty nest and eventually climbed up on to it. After a short period of egg turning and shifting around it settled down on the nest.

We decided that it was lunchtime and headed home about half past noon.

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Loon Sitting On Nest
Loon Sitting On Nest
Nearby Great Blue Heron
Nearby Great Blue Heron
Loon On Nest with Heron Flyby
Loon On Nest with Heron Flyby
Loon Turning Eggs
Loon Turning Eggs
Nest Building #1
Nest Building #1
Nest Building #2
Nest Building #2
Gathering Nest Building Material
Gathering Nest Building Material
Nest Building #3
Nest Building #3
Loon Near Nest
Loon Near Nest
Loon #2
Loon #2
Loon #2 Climbing Onto Nest
Loon #2 Climbing Onto Nest
Loon #2 Making Adjustments
Loon #2 Making Adjustments
Loon #2 Settled In
Loon #2 Settled In

14 May 2020

Gregg Lake Loons (May 2020)

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Spring,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 10:23 PM

About five this afternoon Joan’s brother George called to say that he and Michelle had seen a loon on a nest on the north side of the bridge while they were out on a walk.

Of course, I grabbed Big Bertha (my 600 mm lens) , camera and tripod and headed down to the lake as soon as I could. The bird and its nest were easily seen at the waters edge on the far side of the lake.

Five or ten minutes after I arrived the bird on the nest slipped into the water leaving the nest empty. This behavior (i.e. leaving the nest empty) suggests to me that the nest does not (yet, hopefully) contain eggs.

I made a couple of photographs of the empty nest hoping to be able to decide if eggs were present or not. However, the angle of view did not allow a clear view of the interior of the nest.

Joan says that she saw two birds in the water at one point, but I, while concentrating on the camera, only saw one. The individual I saw stayed in the general vicinity of the nest for another five or ten minutes before disappearing. At one point it swam close enough that I could fill the frame with the bird. I watched for another fifteen or twenty minutes before hunger and the black flies drove me back home and did not see either loon again.

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Common Loon on Nest - Gregg Lake (May 2020)
Common Loon on Nest - Gregg Lake (May 2020)
Common Loon Near Nest - Gregg Lake (May 2020) #1
Common Loon Near Nest - Gregg Lake (May 2020) #1
Common Loon Near Nest - Gregg Lake (May 2020) #2
Common Loon Near Nest - Gregg Lake (May 2020) #2
Common Loon #1 (Gregg Lake - May 2020)
Common Loon #1 (Gregg Lake - May 2020)
Common Loon #2 (Gregg Lake - May 2020)
Common Loon #2 (Gregg Lake - May 2020)

1 October 2019

Close Encounters of the Avian Kind

Filed under: Birds,Early Fall,Monadnock Region,Wildlife — Frank @ 11:00 PM

This afternoon I took a break from editing the photos I made on our recent trip and took a walk up the un-maintained section of Brimstone Corner Road.

As I started down the hill towards the Hancock border, I flushed a red-tailed hawk from the middle of the road maybe twenty or thirty feet in front of me.

Initially, the bird flew up to a perch in a tree at the edge of the road where it paused for only ten or fifteen seconds — long enough for me to see the chipmunk in its talons — before flying out of sight in the woods.

It must have just caught the prey since, despite a careful look, I did not find any evidence of chipmunk “pieces” on the road; not even a tuft of fur/

No photos… I was not carrying my camera. Besides, it all happened too fast for framing a photograph. Sometimes it is best to just watch.

Close encounters with animals usually only seen at a distance are always special.

6 September 2019

Late Season Odes (and Wild Flowers)

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

Yesterday afternoon, I took a walk on the Harris Center Brimstone Corner Road property just down the road from our house. My goal was to see what odes were still out and about. I was expecting to find autumn meadowhawks and some darners.

As I expected the most common dragonfly I observed was the autumn meadowhawk. I saw more than a dozen; mostly in the old log yard. However, there were also a few, including a mating pair, by the outlet of the beaver pond. Here, I also observed a single variable dancer; the only damselfly I saw yesterday.

There were a few large darners flying out over the water of the beaver pond. However, the most common dragonfly here was the slaty skimmer. There were at least a dozen, mostly males, patrolling the edge of the pond defending territories.

In addition to the odes, my eye was attracted to all of the late season flowers.

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Autumn Meadowhawk (female)
Autumn Meadowhawk (female)
Autumn Meadowhawk Mating Wheel
Autumn Meadowhawk Mating Wheel
Slaty Skimmer
Slaty Skimmer
Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Seed Head
Seed Head
Wild Flower #1
Wild Flower #1
Wild Flower #2
Wild Flower #2
Wild Flower #3
Wild Flower #3
Wild Flower #4
Wild Flower #4

7 August 2019

Hattie Brown Road Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 9:33 PM

On Monday afternoon (from about 2 – 4) I took a walk up Hattie Brown Road to see what was up “ode-wise”. The temperature was in the high 70s F, the skies were mostly clear and there was a bit of breeze intermittently.

The walk along most of the road is heavily shaded and I did not expect to see many/any odes until I approached the beaver swamp. My expectations were met and I saw my first ode, a bright red male meadowhawk, just as I got to the swamp.

The swamp itself is amazingly dry, even for this time of year. The outlet stream is still flowing, but much of the swamp proper consists of large dry or drying patches separating discontinuous patches of surface water. (I imagine that there is still significant subsurface water.)

Usually, there would be good numbers of darners cruising out over the swamp, but not this trip. There were a few (two?) male meadowhawks along the road and a single female damselfly (most probably a variable dancer).

I continued along the road past the swamp and was rewarded with more numerous insects in the clearing just where the road turns up the hill.

Present in this clearing were small numbers (less than six) of both male and female common white-tails. The most common ode present were female spangled skimmers, roughly a dozen; I saw no males.

Individuals of both of these species seemed to be attacking me as they flew directly at my head numerous times, often close enough that I could hear there wings beating. A male common white-tail even briefly perched on the front of my thigh. Of course, what these insects were really doing was picking off prey from the cloud of small flying insects that I had attracted!

I also observed a single male twelve-spotted skimmer who was a very obliging model. During the course of the ten or fifteen minutes I watched him, he made repeated hunting forays and always returned to the same perch. In contrast to the other species, he ignored me and the cloud I attracted, as he flew off in seeming random directions each time.

One the way back to the truck, I passed a single meadowhawk along the road by the swamp and a single spreadwing along the road almost at its junction with Craig Road. I watched the spreadwing for a few minutes always staying low to the ground and in the shade. Just as I despaired of making its photo, it flew to a chest-high perch in a patch of sun. Even the background (the dark shaded woods at some distance away) was perfect. I made two exposures before it flew away!

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Meadowhawk (male) #1
Meadowhawk (male) #1
Dragonfly (ID needed)
Dragonfly (ID needed)
Common White-tail (female)
Common White-tail (female)
Common White-tail (female) with Prey
Common White-tail (female) with Prey
Spangled Skimmer (female) #1
Spangled Skimmer (female) #1
Spangled Skimmer (female) #2
Spangled Skimmer (female) #2
Twelve Spotted Skimmer with Prey
Twelve Spotted Skimmer with Prey
Twelve Spotted Skimmer #1
Twelve Spotted Skimmer #1
Twelve Spotted Skimmer #2
Twelve Spotted Skimmer #2
Twelve Spotted Skimmer #3
Twelve Spotted Skimmer #3
Meadowhawk (male) #2
Meadowhawk (male) #2
Spreadwing
Spreadwing

27 July 2019

Another Short Walk

This afternoon (about three) I took a walk up the unmaintained portion of Brimstone Corner Road. I wanted to see what was up with the logging operation that has been going on for the last several weeks. The good news is it looks like the loggers are essentially finished. Therefore, shortly, serenity will again reign in the neighborhood.

It was a perfect mid-summer day. It was sunny and the temperature was right around 80 degrees F.

Most of the road is well shaded but I did find some dragonflies in the sunny patches and in clearings near the road.. I did not see any damselflies.

The most common ode were male calico pennants; I saw three individuals, all immature males) in one clearing. In addition, I saw single specimens of the following species: a female meadowhawk (exact species not know), a female Halloween pennant, a female blue dasher, a male common whitetail and a male spangled skimmer. I was unable to make photos of the last two of these.

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Meadowhawk (female)
Meadowhawk (female)
Halloween Pennant (female)
Halloween Pennant (female)
Calico Pennant (imm. male)
Calico Pennant (imm. male)
Calico Pennant (imm. male)
Calico Pennant (imm. male)
Calico Pennant (imm. male)
Calico Pennant (imm. male)
Blue Dasher (female)
Blue Dasher (female)

26 July 2019

A Slow Day “Down Back”

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,The "New" Yard & Environs,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 10:30 PM

This afternoon (at about four) I donned my waders and headed “down back”. It is a short (maybe a quarter of a mile) walk to the beaver made wetland complex at the back of our property.

The weather was mostly sunny and the temperature was right around 80 degrees. I spent about seventy five minutes watching the wildlife.

The beavers have been busy as the water level in the wet meadow is as high as I have ever seen it. Many of my usual spots: for hunkering down along the pond are now part of the pond!

As seems to be the case all over this season, the number of odes were small. There were darners flying over the vegetation in the wet meadow. They are impossible to enumerate, identify or photograph as they are in constant motion. I also observed a single male meadow hawk at the woodland/wetland interface. It did not stick around long enough for a photo.

The most common odes present were the sprites. I probably saw at least a couple of dozen. Both sedge sprites and sphagnum sprites were present. The latter were more common. Most of the individuals I saw were male but females were present. I saw (but did not photograph) a single pair of sprites flying in tandem. I did not see any damselflies other than sprites,

Sprites are very difficult to photograph. They are the smallest ode we have in the area; about one inch long and very slight of build. They also prefer to stay low in the emergent vegetation. I rarely see a sprite more than six inches off the water.

However, if one stakes out a small open spot and applies some patience a sprite or two are likely to show up. With a little luck you can then find a window in the grasses with a clear view and make a photograph before the critter moves on. The challenge is all part of the fun!

Lastly, as one would expect for the end of July the blue flag irises are done for the year. I did, however, see a number of their fruits (seed pods?). The equally showy but much smaller (the flowers are only about an inch long and their stalks rarely rise higher than six inches) rose pagonias were in full bloom. I saw five or six patches containing from a single flower to more than a dozen.

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Sedge Sprite (male)
Sedge Sprite (male)
Sprite
Sprite
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Rose Pagonia
Rose Pagonia

24 July 2019

Odes on a Short Walk

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 11:33 PM

This afternoon, about two o’clock, I headed out for a short walk. My destination was the outlet of “our” wetland. This brook crosses the road across the Harris Center property on Brimstone Corner Rd (in Antrim) roughly a couple of dozen feet below the beaver dam. I spent about two hours total in the field.

The weather was mostly sunny and the temperature was in the upper seventies. A perfect summer afternoon in New Hampshire.

As I hoped there were odes in the sunny patches along the road, in the old log yard and around the brook. The numbers of individuals were small; only three or four individuals maximum of each species were observed This seems to be the rule this summer… small numbers of individuals but a good variety of species.

I observed the following species of dragonflies: blue dashers (both male and female), calico pennants (both male and female), a female meadowhawk and a few male frosted whitefaces. I also saw a few damselflies: a single spreadwing, and few bluets and a lone ebony jewelwing.

I made photographs of all of these species except for the jewelwing.

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Blue Dasher (female)
Blue Dasher (female)
Calico Pennant (male)
Calico Pennant (male)
Spreadwing
Spreadwing
Bluet
Bluet
Calico Pennant (female)
Calico Pennant (female)
Meadowhawk (female)
Meadowhawk (female)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Damselfly
Damselfly
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Blue Dasher (male)
Blue Dasher (male)

16 July 2019

Spangled Skimmers

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

This coming Saturday (20 July 2019), I am co-teaching a workshop on wildlife photography at the Harris Center in Hancock. This afternoon I headed over there to place some perches near the bird feeders and to scout out the odes.

The weather was warm (about 80), muggy and it was overcast. It was not great weather for odes to be out and about. I was disappointed, but not surprised, that I saw not a single ode in a quick trip around the Harris Center field. The weather for Saturday is predicted to be hot (mid-90s’ hopefully not too hot for either workshop participants or odes) and sunny. The fears of every workshop leader… a large crowd of participants shows up but there is no wildlife to be found, or vice versa!

Ever the optimist, I headed to the boat launch on the Contoocook in Greenfield to see what might be flying in the field. There were many deer flies and mosquitoes around but only a few odes… maybe a half dozen female spangled skimmers.

The trip was worth it, I was able to make a photograph of two perched dragonflies in the same frame. Although closely perched damselflies are quite common, this is a very rare event with dragonflies.

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
Spangled Skimmer (female)
Spangled Skimmer (female)
Spangled Skimmers (female)
Spangled Skimmers (female)
Spangled Skimmer (female)
Spangled Skimmer (female)
Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress