Photographs by Frank

6 April 2017

2017 Trip South

Filed under: Amphibians,Birds,Odontates,Other Insects — Tags: , — Frank @ 3:30 PM

If two years makes a tradition, we headed south after (a snow-delayed*) town meeting for our “traditional” trip south. Our destination this year was the Florida panhandle.

We spent a week camped at the Wright Lake campground in the Apalachicola National Forest. Each day we headed out to explore from this base. We ranged from the Saint Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in the east to the St. Joseph Peninsula State Park in the west. In addition, we hit a number of Florida Birding Trail sites within the National Forest, the Saint George Island State Park and the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve  (their Unit 4 tract on St. George Island was particularly productive photographically).

Since we had such a good time last year at the Okefenokee NWR/ Foster State Park in SE Georgia, we stopped there for a day on the way back home. This time we were able to kayak some of the swamp on our own. It was quite an experience sitting low to the water with dozens of alligators all around.

Birds (many IDs needed but in the interest of a timely post, they will be added later)

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Osprey with Fish
Osprey with Fish
Gull
Gull
ID Needed 1
ID Needed 1
Clapper Rail
Clapper Rail
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Crow
Crow
Eastern Towhee
Eastern Towhee
Semipalmated Sandpiper (?)
Semipalmated Sandpiper (?)
Tri-colored Heron with Prey
Tri-colored Heron with Prey
Tri-colored Heron
Tri-colored Heron
Little Blue Heron (immature) and Glossy Ibis
Little Blue Heron (immature) and Glossy Ibis
Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe
American Coot
American Coot
Sora
Sora
Common Moorhen
Common Moorhen
Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Brown Pelican (immature)
Brown Pelican (immature)
Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican
Sanderling (?)
Sanderling (?)
Willet (?)
Willet (?)
ID Needed 2
ID Needed 2
ID Needed 3
ID Needed 3
ID Needed 4
ID Needed 4
ID Needed 5
ID Needed 5
ID Needed 6
ID Needed 6
Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican
Mockingbird
Mockingbird
ID Needed 7
ID Needed 7
Double Crested Cormorant #1
Double Crested Cormorant #1
Anhinga
Anhinga
Double Crested Cormorant #2
Double Crested Cormorant #2
Laughing Gull #1
Laughing Gull #1
Willet (?)
Willet (?)
Laughing Gull #2
Laughing Gull #2
Laughing Gull #3
Laughing Gull #3
ID Needed 8
ID Needed 8
ID Needed 9
ID Needed 9
ID Needed 10
ID Needed 10
ID Needed 11
ID Needed 11
Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron

Other Subjects

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Alligator #1
Alligator #1
Softshell Turtle
Softshell Turtle
Green Anole #1
Green Anole #1
Alligator #2
Alligator #2
Cypress Trees with Anhinga (Okefenokee)
Cypress Trees with Anhinga (Okefenokee)
Alligator #3
Alligator #3
Okefenokee Swamp
Okefenokee Swamp
Florida Slider
Florida Slider
Alligator #4
Alligator #4
Dragonfly (ID Needed) 1
Dragonfly (ID Needed) 1
Spider
Spider
Dragonfly (ID Needed) 2
Dragonfly (ID Needed) 2
Butterfly (ID Needed) 1
Butterfly (ID Needed) 1
Burnt Palmetto
Burnt Palmetto
Butterfly (ID Needed) 2
Butterfly (ID Needed) 2
Dragonfly (ID Needed) 3
Dragonfly (ID Needed) 3
Damselfly (ID Needed) 1
Damselfly (ID Needed) 1
Apalachicola Forest Landscape
Apalachicola Forest Landscape
Green Anole #2
Green Anole #2

* Two feet of snow will do that… even in NH! We arrived back home on the evening of 3 April to find a knee high pile of snow at the end of the drive way (the result of another foot of snow dumped a few days previously). It took about 45 minutes of work with snow blower before we could get the car and camper into the driveway.


 

21 September 2016

Two from Today

Filed under: Birds,Early Fall,Monadnock Region,Odontates,Wildlife — Tags: , , — Frank @ 9:30 PM

Today was a glorious day weather-wise.  The temperature was in the high 70s F, the humidity was low and the skies mostly clear.

While we ate lunch on the deck, we were entertained by the birds at the feeder and by a couple of male autumn meadowhawks perching on the dead flowers nearby. After watching the odes for some time, I finally gave in and got the camera.

Later in the afternoon, Joan headed out for a kayak ride. She called from the beach parking lot to say that there were “brown headed ducks” down by the bridge but that she did not have her binoculars with her so that she did not get a good look at them. I stashed Big Bertha in the passenger seat, threw the tripod in the bed of the truck and headed down the road the mile to the bridge.

Those “brown-headed”ducks turned out to be a family of mallards. I watched and photographed them for about an hour.

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Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Mallards - youngster, female, male (l-r)
Mallards - youngster, female, male (l-r)

 

5 September 2016

“Down Back” Again

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,wildflowers,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Yesterday afternoon, I headed “down back” to our beaver-made wetland afternoon just to see what was up. Despite the perfect weather (temperature in the mid-70s F, mostly sunny, a a very light wind), “things” were very quiet. There was no bird activity and very little ode activity. The most numerous animals were grasshoppers in the wet meadow and frogs in the beaver pond.

I observed less that a dozen darners hunting over the meadow and about dozen autumn meadowhawks (all male) in the shrubby margin between wetland and upland. I saw no damselflies at all.

I spent some time photographing the asters (which are not quite peak) and other plants. At one point I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, that the shrubbery along the edge of the meadow moving in an anomalous fashion. I looked up just in time to see a bear pass though a gap in the shrubs that was no wider than he/she was long.

As I headed back towards home I noticed, from a distance, a strange looking stick protruding above the grass in the meadow and changed my path to investigate. As I neared it, I realized that the stick was topped with a twelve-spotted skimmer! I approached cautiously and made my “insurance shot” from a discrete distance. I then took a small sideways step hoping for a better angle and this fellow took off. I watched him land about fifteen feet up in a nearby tree; clearly out of range for a good photograph. Sometimes the “insurance shot” is all you get!

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Autumn Meadowhawk (male) #1
Autumn Meadowhawk (male) #1
Autumn Meadowhawk (male) #2
Autumn Meadowhawk (male) #2
Aster
Aster
Cattail
Cattail
ID Needed
ID Needed
Grasshopper
Grasshopper
Twelve-spotted Skimmer (male)
Twelve-spotted Skimmer (male)

 

2 September 2016

Autumn Meadowhawks Redux

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 1:00 PM

Yesterday afternoon I headed over to the boat launch on the Contoocook in Greenfield just to see what was up “ode-wise”. The river was high and I did not see any odes along the river. However, there were autumn meadowhawks along the edge of the parking lot and in the nearby open field. In addition to the meadowhawks, there were a number of small butterflies flitting about. I also saw a single female spreadwing of some sort.

As I was observing the meadowhawks I began to be a bit confused. There seemed to be three kinds around… bright red males, yellow females (which also have a clearly visible ovipositor at the distal end of their abdomen) and a third duller and not as extensively red form. Upon looking at my photos I noticed that these last individuals also had the triangular ovipositor and thus were clearly female. Hitting the reference books, I discovered that “older” females turn a dull red, especially on top of their abdomen. It is good to learn new things!

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Autumn Meadowhawk ("older" female)
Autumn Meadowhawk (
Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (female)
Autumn Meadowhawk (female)
Autumn Meadowhawk ("older" female)
Autumn Meadowhawk (

 

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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Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (immature male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (immature male)
Autumn Meadowhawk Caught in Spider Web
Autumn Meadowhawk Caught in Spider Web
Spreadwing
Spreadwing

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


 

18 July 2016

Down Back, Again

Yesterday (18 July) afternoon I headed down back to the beaver-made wetland complex at the back of our property.

As I headed out, I got distracted by the butterflies on the flowers in the beds around the yard. I in the middle of photographing butterflies, I  spent some time stalking a small orangeish dragonfly but I was not able to make a photo. After this dragonfly vanished for good, and as I was about to stand up to move on, I noticed that a small robberfly had landed on the perch last used by ode. Of course, I had to photograph it!

Eventually, I did wander down the hill to the natural habitat of the beaver pond and wet meadow.

New, since my last trip down back, was the presence of darners. I am not sure of the exact species. They were patrolling over both the pond and the wet meadow. The numbers were not large; I saw maybe half a dozen.

By far, the most common ode present were frosted whitefaces. They were mostly patrolling over the pond. However, every once in a while one would perch near me and I was able to make a photograph. The numbers were way down compared to my last visit (on 2 July, see this post).

I also observed  two sprites (either sphagnum or sedge) deep down among the vegetation along the pond. Neither were able to be photographed.

Out over the meadow there were a small number of calico pennants. As with the frosted whitefaces, the number of pennants are way down from a couple of weeks ago. However the individuals present were all actively feeding. I watched  (and photographed) one individual for about fifteen minutes. During that time, I watched it make dozens of hunting forays always returning to the same perch. It was successful on about half of its hunts.

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Butterfly (id needed) on Garden Flower
Butterfly (id needed) on Garden Flower
Great Spangled Fritillary on Garden Flower
Great Spangled Fritillary on Garden Flower
Robberfly #1
Robberfly #1
Robberfly #2
Robberfly #2
Frosted Whiteface #1
Frosted Whiteface #1
Frosted Whiteface #2
Frosted Whiteface #2
Calico Pennant with Prey
Calico Pennant with Prey
Calico Pennant #1
Calico Pennant #1
Calico Pennant #2
Calico Pennant #2

 

Loveren’s Mill in the Late Afternoon

Late last Tuesday (12 July) afternoon I headed over to the Nature Conservancy’s Loveren’s Mill preserve. This property contains a rare Atlantic White Cedar swamp and is often good for finding rare odes that prefer this habitat.

Walking along the woods road near the entrance, I spotted a number of butterflies nectaring on the abundant wildflowers. However, there was a complete lack of odes.

This dearth of odes continued as I turned on to the trail and headed to the boardwalk that heads into the swamp proper. I saw two damselflies along the boardwalk and exactly zero dragonflies during the entire time I was out.

However, I did have some fun photographing the wildflowers.

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Butterfly (id needed)
Butterfly (id needed)
Great Spangled Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Damselfly #1 (id needed)
Damselfly #1 (id needed)
Damselfly #2 (id needed)
Damselfly #2 (id needed)
Wildflower #1
Wildflower #1
Aster
Aster
Wildflower #2
Wildflower #2
Asters
Asters
Black-eyes Susans
Black-eyes Susans

 

5 July 2016

A Perfect Day for Odes, Except…

Saturday (2 July) was warm (temperature in the low 70’s) and mostly sunny. Perfect weather for odes, except… for the strong gusty winds!!

I decided to head “down back” in spite of the wind. My instinct, which said that there would be few odes flying because of the wind, proved true.

There were a couple (one each male and female) of calico pennants still hanging around the yard (low in the grass). I watched the male calico pennant for some time. Each time the sun came out from behind a cloud, this individual assumed the classic obelisking pose with abdomen held almost perpendicular to the ground. When the sun “disappeared” it quickly lowered its abdomen and resumed the pennant pose (with the abdomen parallel to the ground) for which it is named.

Obelisking is a thermoregulation strategy where the dragonfly orients its body to minimize its exposure to the sun and thus minimize solar heat gain.

Down by the beaver pond there were frosted whitefaces and slaty skimmers patrolling territories out over the water. As I moved about in the wet meadow, I stirred up a half-dozen or so damselflies which quickly settled back down away from the wind and deep in the vegetation

Botanically, the blue-flag irises are completely done for the year, the rose pogonia are near their peak and the swamp candlesticks are just beginning to bloom.

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Calico Pennant (male) Grooming
Calico Pennant (male) Grooming
Calico Pennant (male) Oblisking
Calico Pennant (male) Oblisking
Calico Pennant (female)
Calico Pennant (female)
Damselfly (ID Needed(
Damselfly (ID Needed(
Bluet (male)
Bluet (male)
Rose Pogonia
Rose Pogonia

 

26 June 2016

Contookook River Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates — Tags: , — Frank @ 3:00 PM

Late last Friday (24 Jun) afternoon, I tossed my waders and camera into my truck and took a short drive to the Contookook River near the paper mill in Bennington, NH. I spent a couple of hours wading the shallows on the east bank immediately adjacent to the paper mill’s lawn.

There were three species of damselflies present low in the emergent vegetation. Stream bluets, Eastern forktails and a second Bluet (which I can not positively identify). The stream bluets were, by far, the most abundant and it was clearly mating time for them. I observed two mating wheels and a third pair flying in tandem.

Flying (and occasionally perching) higher up on the back were small numbers of male twelve-spotted skimmers and a lone male common whitetail (which I did not get a photograph of).

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Spreadwing (male)
Spreadwing (male)
Stream Bluet (pair)
Stream Bluet (pair)
Stream Bluet (male)
Stream Bluet (male)
Twelve-spotted Skimmer (male)
Twelve-spotted Skimmer (male)
Stream Bluet (mating wheel)
Stream Bluet (mating wheel)
Eastern Forktail (male)
Eastern Forktail (male)
Eastern Forktail (female) ?
Eastern Forktail (female) ?
Bluet (male)
Bluet (male)

 

22 June 2016

Down Back to Photograph for the First Time This Ode Season

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

Yesterday afternoon I made my first trip of the season “down back”* to see what was up ode-wise.

The weather was near perfect… sunny and warm (low 70’s F). There was a gusty breeze which made the photography a bit difficult at times.

The numbers of chalk-fronted corporals and calico pennants in the yard have started to drop… the corporals are nearly absent, although the pennants are still the most abundant ode in the yard.  I now know why… both species are moving back to the water.

Chalk-fronted corporals were by far the most common dragonfly “down back” yesterday; there were dozens flying over the open water of the beaver pond. There were also many calico pennants flying over the marsh. Most were yellow (females or immature males) but there were a few red ones (mature males) and couple of orange ones mixed in. Third in abundance were frosted whitefaces, including the only mating wheel I saw in the two and a half hours I was out.

I also saw small number of damselflies (bluets and sedge sprites), a couple of four-spotter skimmers and a lone lancet clubtail. The last being quite uncommon “down back” but very common at the lake (about a half mile away).

 

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Bluet sp. (female)
Bluet sp. (female)
Calico Pennant (maturing male)
Calico Pennant (maturing male)
Bluet sp (male)
Bluet sp (male)
Frosted Whiteface (mating wheel)
Frosted Whiteface (mating wheel)
Frosted Whiteface
Frosted Whiteface
ID Needed
ID Needed
Four-spotted Skimmer #1
Four-spotted Skimmer #1
Four-spotted Skimmer #2
Four-spotted Skimmer #2
Sedge Sprite (male)
Sedge Sprite (male)
Lancet Clubtail (male)
Lancet Clubtail (male)

 

* The back of our property contains a beaver-made wet land complex consisting of a small stream, a beaver pond and a marsh. It is a wonderful place to spend time observing and photographing.


 

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