Photographs by Frank

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.}

12 June 2020

Loon Chicks Again.

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 8:00 PM

This morning, shortly after nine, Joan and I headed down to watch the loons.

When we arrived one of the adults was with the two chicks and there was no sign of the other adult. All to be expected.

After a while, the second adult appeared with a small fish , fed one of the chicks and headed off to fish some more. This process was repeated twice more while I watched.

The fourth time the second adult appeared with a fish neither chick even wanted to get down into the water off the back of the other adult. After a bit of coaxing one of the chicks dropped into the water but it showed no interest in the offering, Eventually the adult ate the fish itself. I guess that everyone was well fed!

At this point the four birds settled down for some rest with both chick on the back of the adult that they spent the morning with. The chicks did not stay still for long intervals. They would hop down into the water and wander close to the adults. Eventually they would climb up under a wing and onto the back of the same adult each time.

After three and a half hours,I headed home for lunch. (Joan had stayed for only about ninety minutes before heading home for her guitar lesson.)

I made roughly seven hundred exposures. You should be thankful that I show only six below!

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Adult Loon with Two Chicks on Back
Adult Loon with Two Chicks on Back
Adult Loon with Chick in Water
Adult Loon with Chick in Water
Adult Loon with One Chick on Back #1
Adult Loon with One Chick on Back #1
Adult Loon with One Chick on Back #2
Adult Loon with One Chick on Back #2
Sibling Rivalry
Sibling Rivalry
Adult Loon with Two Chicks
Adult Loon with Two Chicks

11 June 2020

Loon Chicks on Gregg Lake!!!

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 8:27 PM

For the first time in living memory, we have loon chicks on Gregg Lake!

After lunch today (Thursday, 11 June 2020) Joan headed down to the lake to check out what was happening with the loons. Only ten or fifteen minutes after she left, I heard sound of gravel flying as Joan roared back up the drive way. I knew immediately that something was up.

There were two fellows fishing at the bridge who told Joan that they had seen two loon chicks leave the nest at about 2 PM. We were back at the lake as quickly as we could move and I made my first photograph at 2:35 PM.

When we arrived we observed the two adult loons over near the Craig Road bridge and no chicks, Not more than a minute or two later, a chick peaked out from under the wing of one of the adults.

For the next ninety minutes we watched the family just hanging out in the area between the nest and the Craig Road bridge. The chicks kept moving from riding on the back on the adults (one chick per adult) to bobbing like corks in the water to sheltering under the wing of an adult. While the chicks were in the water they were rarely more than a couple of feet from one of the adults.

For most of the time we watched the chicks moved freely between and around the two adults, although there was never more than one chick riding on an adult at a time.

Eventually, there was a clear change in behavior. One of the adults began to distance itself from the rest of the family and seemed to actively drive the chick that approached it back towards the other adult. At this point the adult with the two chicks, one on their back and one following in the water headed back towards the nest. (The chicks were surprisingly strong swimmers.)

The other adult clearly headed off to fish. After an interval the second adult showed up at the nest and fed a small fish to one of the chicks. I’m quite sure that that was the chicks first meal. At this point the second chick hopped into the water and pretty clearing began pestering the adult for a meal. After another short interval, the non-hunting adult climbed up onto the nest with the chicks and the other adult head out presumably to look for a meal for the second chick,

It was roughly half past four at this point and we decided to head home.

I made about seven hundred exposures this afternoon. With four individual animals in the frame the best strategy is to fire away and look for the best combination of poses when you get back to the computer. Making a quick run through the photos, I tagged about sixty frames on the first pass. Going back though those sixty or so exposures, I processed the ten shown here.

The two “first meal” photos are quite severe crops and would not make good prints. I present them here because the adrenaline was flowing as I watched in the viewfinder!

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Our First Look At A Loon Chick
Our First Look At A Loon Chick
Loon Family (Two Chicks & Two Adults) $1
Loon Family (Two Chicks & Two Adults) $1
Loon Family (One Chick & Two Adults) #1
Loon Family (One Chick & Two Adults) #1
Loon Family (Two Chicks & Two Adults) $2
Loon Family (Two Chicks & Two Adults) $2
Loon Family (One Chick & Two Adults) #2
Loon Family (One Chick & Two Adults) #2
Loon Family (One Chick & Two Adults) #3
Loon Family (One Chick & Two Adults) #3
Find The Second Chick!
Find The Second Chick!
Loon Family (Two Chicks & Two Adults) $3
Loon Family (Two Chicks & Two Adults) $3
First Meal #1
First Meal #1
First Meal #2
First Meal #2

9 June 2020

Loons At The Nest

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

It has been about 24 days since we first saw eggs in the loons nest on Gregg Lake. Gestation in loons is about 28 days so we are expecting (hoping) to have loon chicks over the weekend. Fingers crossed!

This afternoon, right at lunch time, Joan answered the phone and received a report that there was a loon acting strangely on the main part of the lake. We put lunch on hold, gathered up binos, spotting scope, camera, etc. and headed down to the lake.

In talking with the fellow who had seen the loon acting oddly, we decided that what he had seen was really grooming behavior and our concern abated. None-the-less, we were glad that Jeremy cared enough to make a report.

As we were chatting we got a glimpse of the loon headed in the direction of the bridge and the nest on the far side of said bridge.

We hie-tailed it over to the road where we could see the nest. Shortly after we arrived loon #2 appeared at the nest where loon #1 was sitting (The numbers are arbitrary.) The incoming loon (#1) hung around the nest for a few minutes before #2 slid into the water. #1 quickly climbed up on the nest, examined the eggs and sat down. A short while later #1 stood up, turned the eggs and resettled on the nest in the opposite direction from how it had settled the first time.

Meanwhile, #2 spent a few minutes near the nest halfheartedly tossing nest building material towards the nest. Eventually #2 motored away, dove and headed under the bridge.

As #1 settled in for the long wait, we headed home for our lunch, roughly half an hour after we arrived.

I ran some errands after lunch and arrived back at the lake about 5 PM. I spent an hour and a quarter watching the nest but there was little action, just a single loon sitting on the nest.

Every time the sun came out, the loon would open its mouth and “pant”. Birds don’t sweat. Thus to cool their bodies they evaporate water from the membranes in their mouth… More-or-less as a dog does on at hot day, but without the drool!

The first eight photos shown here are from lunchtime today; the last two from the late afternoon.

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Loon Pair at Nest #1
Loon Pair at Nest #1
"Couples" (Loons and Red-winged Blackbirds)
The Switch
The Switch
Nest Keeping
Nest Keeping
Loon Pair at Nest #2
Loon Pair at Nest #2
Turning the Eggs
Turning the Eggs
Loon Pair at Nest #3
Loon Pair at Nest #3
Heading Out
Heading Out
Loon on Nest
Loon on Nest
Loon on Nest with Red-winged Blackbird
Loon on Nest with Red-winged Blackbird
Loon on Nest Panting #1
Loon on Nest Panting #1
Loon on Nest Panting #2
Loon on Nest Panting #2

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.

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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.

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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.

20 June 2019

A Walk and Backyard Birds

Can you tell it is a rainy day here in Antrim? Must be, it is a three blog post day!

Yesterday was a hot (for NH) and sticky day. The temperature was in the upper seventies and it was mostly cloudy. The rain held off until early evening.

I took a walk up Brimstone Corner Road with the camera rigged for odes. There was not much activity and the only species I saw were chalk-fronted corporals. I saw roughly two dozen individuals in the roughly three miles I walked.

In one old log yard, I found three different wildflowers all within about a six foot radius. I barely had to move between photographs!

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Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (female)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (female)
Wildflower #1
Wildflower #1
Wildflower #2
Wildflower #2
Wildflower #3
Wildflower #3

When I got home from the walk, I decided to set up the camera rigged for birds on the deck. It was pointed towards the feeders. All the usual suspects were present. Finches both gold and purple as well as downy woodpeckers have been most abundant recently.

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are also common. On other days I have seen as many as three individuals on the feeders simultaneously. They were present yesterday, but I did not get any photos as they have the annoying habit of flying directly to the feeders with out stopping at one of the abundant perches available. And, as I am wont to say one should not make photos of birds on bird feeders unless one is trying to sell bird feeders!

Every once in a while, a we get other woodpeckers. Hairy woodpeckers being next most common and very occasionally a red-bellied. We hear pileated woodpeckers in the woods regularly but have never seen one on or even near the feeders.

Red-winged blackbirds are also infrequent visitors to our feeders. They are common in the wetland “down back” (about a quarter mile away) but are rare in our yard tucked away in the woods.

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Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Purple Finch #1
Purple Finch #1
Purple Finch #2
Purple Finch #2
Goldfinch (male)
Goldfinch (male)
Downy Woodpecker (female)
Downy Woodpecker (female)
Downy Woodpecker (male)
Downy Woodpecker (male)

20 May 2019

Star Island — Spring 2019 Birds

Filed under: Birds,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 9:30 PM

This past weekend Joan and I made another trip to Star Island to experience the vernal migration of birds. This is my third spring trip; previous trips were in May 2014 and May 2017, We also visited in the fall of 2015.

Star Island is one of the Isles of Shoals off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine. As such, the island is a classic migrant trap that concentrates migrating birds in a small geographic area each day. That concentration, combined with the generally low vegetation (with sparse leaves in mid-May) makes for wonderful birding and bird photography.

The most charismatic of the migrating birds are the warblers in breeding plumage this time of year. However, there are other migrants present in addition to the warblers. There are also species that live and breed on the island. All are represented in the photos shown here.

The set of thirty photos* below begins with an image of a magnolia warbler in the chain-link fence with surrounds the island’s tennis court. I begin with this photo to show the size of the warblers… they are tiny birds! Their size, coupled with their near constant movement and their preference for thickets of vegetation make for challenging (and thus fun) photography.

I have sorted the set so that the warblers appear first followed by the other birds. I apologize for the large number of photos but there was an incredible variety of birds present on the island in the roughly forty-eight hours we were there. I tried not to show more than one photo of a species, but failed most egregiously in the case of both the yellow warbler (which breeds on the island and is thus one of the more common warblers) and the black and white warbler (which is one of the easier warblers to photograph as it tends to move a bit more slowly that most of the rest). Sometimes it is simply too difficult to choose a favorite “child”.

Lastly, there are still some photos titled “ID needed”. Hunting through bird books is not my idea of a fun time and in the interest of a timely post, they remain unidentified by me. If you care to help “fill in” those missing IDs, please leave a comment or send me an email. Corrections to the IDs I have made are also appreciated. I am hoping that Joan will do most of the “work” when she sees this post!

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Magnolia Warbler (in chain link fence)
Magnolia Warbler (in chain link fence)
Northern Parula #1
Northern Parula #1
Common Yellow-throat
Common Yellow-throat
Magnolia Warbler #1
Magnolia Warbler #1
Magnolia Warbler #2
Magnolia Warbler #2
ID Needed #1
ID Needed #1
ID Needed #2
ID Needed #2
ID Needed #3
ID Needed #3
Black and White Warbler #1
Black and White Warbler #1
American Redstart
American Redstart
Cape May Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Northern Parula #2
Northern Parula #2
Black and White Warbler #2
Black and White Warbler #2
ID Needed #4
ID Needed #4
Blackpoll Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Yellow Warbler #1
Yellow Warbler #1
Yellow Warbler Singing
Yellow Warbler Singing
ID Needed #5
ID Needed #5
Yellow Warbler #2
Yellow Warbler #2
Mallard
Mallard
Sparrow Singing #1
Sparrow Singing #1
Catbird
Catbird
Common Eider Pair
Common Eider Pair
Cedar Waxwing
Cedar Waxwing
American Robin with Worm
American Robin with Worm
Sparrow Singing #2
Sparrow Singing #2
Least Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
White-throated Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Common Grackle Calling
Common Grackle Calling
Red-winged Blackbird Calling
Red-winged Blackbird Calling

* For those that are interested in such things, I made roughly 800 exposures (most but not all, of birds) while we were on the island. I processed 125 (~15%) of those exposures and present 30 of them (~4%) here.

28 April 2019

Showing Off For The Girls

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Spring,Wildlife — Frank @ 7:17 PM

Shortly after lunch today, I noticed a tom turkey and five hens meandering around our “front forty”.

The females were quite drab and practical. They spent ninety percent of the time foraging and pretty much ignored the tom.

The male on the other hand was splendid in his spring finery and strutted his stuff ninety percent of the time.

Of course, I spent ninety percent of the time with the camera focused on the male!

All of these photos were made through the glass of our storm door. These birds are way too wary to do anything else.

After about a half hour, they wandered around the garden, down the hill and out of sight.

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Showing Off #1
Showing Off #1
Showing Off #2
Showing Off #2
Showing Off #3
Showing Off #3
Showing Off #4
Showing Off #4
Showing Off #5
Showing Off #5
Showing Off #6
Showing Off #6
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