Photographs by Frank

29 May 2022

Ashuelot River Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Spring,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 11:55 PM

This afternoon I spent several hours looking for odes (dragonflies and damselflies) along the Ashuelot River in Surry, NH. I parked at the Dort Road access point and when I crossed the foot bridge I headed upstream. Although there were some folks enjoying the sun and the water near the bridge, once I walked a few yards upstream I had the river to myself .

The temperature was in the mid 70s F and the skies were mostly cloudy. I covered about three quarters of a mile of river covering both the back channels of the braided section as well as the main channel.

Joan had spent time in this area about a week ago doing a botanical survey. I was interested in this area because she said that the river was swift flowing with a rocky bottom and that she had seen many odes while looking at the flora.

Swift flowing, rocky bottom rivers are not places (ecological niches) I routinely visit. Thus, I was hoping to find species that I rarely see. I was not disappointed.

The most common ode I saw was the Aurora Damsel. They were distributed all along the section of the river I explored (both along the main channel and the back channels) wherever there were patches of grass in full sunlight. Interestingly, I saw only males.

The next most common species I saw were Superb Jewelwings, a new species for me. These were localized to two widely separated sites along the main channel. I observed between six and twelve individuals at each site. The large majority of individuals were female.

I also saw several male Eastern Forktails and three dragonflies, none of which I was able to photograph or identify. Two of the dragonflies were those frustrating types that are in more-or-less continuous flight patrolling territories along the bank of the river.

The third dragonfly I observed was a newly emerged individual on a rock in the middle of one of the secondary channels. I first noticed this individual by picking up an odd glint of light on a rock. A quick look with my binoculars confirmed that the glint was due to the shiny wings of a teneral dragonfly* and several inches away was an exuvia (the empty larval exoskeleton).

Moving cautiously, I attempted to get in position to photograph this insect. However, this was to no avail. Before I could get close enough for even an “insurance shot” for identification this individual fluttered away in typical teneral flight. Alas, I was left with only the exuvia to photograph.

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* Odes (i.e. dragonflies and damselflies) begin life as eggs deposited in a body of water. The eggs develop into larva which grow and develop as aquatic insects. As the water warms in spring and early summer, the larva crawl from the water and the adult insect emerges from the larva. The newly emerged adult is referred to as teneral. In the teneral state (with wet wings and soft bodies) these insects are very susceptible predation. As soon as their wings are dry enough, a teneral individual flies to a more protected place to continue maturing. This teneral flight, being weak and slow, is very un-dragonfly like.

19 May 2022

Gregg Lake Loons – 2022

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Spring,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 4:04 PM

“Our” loons arrived on Gregg Lake at the end of March (the 28th according to Joan), before ice out.

I suspect, but have no proof, that they arrive in the area earlier and spend time on some other ice-free body of water while make periodic reconnaissance flights to their “home water” looking for a large enough opening in the ice.

For the past several weeks we have seen the pair of birds ‘out and about’ mostly on the main part of the lake but occasionally on the north side of the road where they have nested in the past. We had not observed any nest building behavior. However, we were not looking frequently and systematically.

Yesterday morning, as I headed out to the grocery store, I was excited to see a loon sitting on a nest in the same area they have nested for the past two (successful) years. I am positive that they were not sitting on the nest the day before yesterday.

The skies were cloudless, bluebird blue for most of the morning and early afternoon. I was not even tempted to head down to make the first loon photos of the season. It is difficult to make a good photo of a black and white bird in bright, strong sun light. One can either expose properly for the black or the white but not for both at the same time in bright light.

However, by mid afternoon a few clouds began to appear. By five or so, there was a high, overcast which makes for perfect conditions to photograph black and white birds. As a bonus, it was breezy so the black flies were small in number. I headed out to photograph the loon(s).

As one expects when watching a loon nest, not much happened in the hour and a half I watched. I saw only one bird in that time. It shifted position twice while I was there but I could not confirm that there is an egg or eggs present yet.*

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* Joan made a brief stop to observe the nest early this afternoon on her way back from town. She thought that the bird on the nest may have turned an egg while she watched but was only looking with her binoculars. We’ll have to spend some more time loon watching with the spotting scope soon!

Ode Opener – 2022

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

I noticed the first dragonflies around the yard four or five days ago. However, yesterday afternoon after lunch was the first opportunity I had to “go hunting” (with my camera). The numbers of odes had increased dramatically during that interval.

The weather was breezy and the temperature in the high 60s F. The skies were fair when I went out but it got progressively cloudier as the afternoon progressed.

The most common dragonflies were the whitefaces (there were dozens), mostly Hudsonian but possible a few Frosted in the mix. I even observed three whiteface mating wheels. Chalk-fronted corporals were also common.

Damselflies are a bit harder to see casually, so I don’t know when they first appeared on the yard. However, yesterday I observed at least two species of damselflies and possible a third (for which I don’t have a photo. There were small numbers of both bluets (exact species unknown) and Aurora damsels. I saw only females and maybe a dozen of each species.

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9 May 2022


Filed under: Monadnock Region,Spring,wildflowers — Tags: — Frank @ 9:45 PM

Spring is coming on rapidly… just like it does every year at this time!

The daffodils around the yard are in full bloom. We ate a few leaves of lettuce from the garden this evening. And… the trees are leafing out.

This afternoon I mounted the macro lens on my camera and went for a walk in the woods. The purple trillium have been out for some time as have the violets. Today was the first time this season I saw painted trillium in bloom.

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5 May 2022

Weathersfield Center (again) and Baltimore, Vermont

Filed under: Landscapes,Misc.,Spring — Frank @ 11:17 PM

Back at the end of March, I visited Weathersfield Center, VT for the first time and discovered the wonderful meeting house there. After this excursion, I looked at a map of the general area and noticed the nearby town of Baltimore. Joan was born in Baltimore, Maryland and our daughter, Katrina, has lived there for the last fifteen or so years. Thus, I decided that when I next visited this part of Vermont I would go see Baltimore. Today was the day!

This morning, I taught an introduction to photography tutorial for the Vermont Center for Photography in Brattleboro. After I was done teaching, I pointed my truck north. The weather was pleasantly warm and the skies were partly cloudy.

I stopped first in Weathersfield Center. My first visit there was on a cold, damp day and I used my camera obscura exclusively that day. Today, the light was much more conducive to photography. I made photographs with both the camera obscura and my ‘regular’ camera. I left the images from the latter as color since I like the contrast between the warm orange bricks, the cool azure sky and the green spring grass. I also noticed (and photographed) the nearby town pound* with an interesting iron gate. I had completely missed the pound on my first visit.

After photographing the meetinghouse, I attempted to head towards Baltimore. Notice I said “attempted”… I had either one of those “you can’t get there from here” (use a thick New England accent when you read that!) moments or my map was broken.

Eventually, I got out my phone, fired up its GPS application and, without further drama, found the westernmost end of Baltimore Rd (on VT10 just to the west of the junction with VT106 in North Springfield). Baltimore Road, which is not paved, makes a six mile loop through town. The other end intersects VT106 just north of the junction with VT10. The two ends of Baltimore Road are less than a mile apart!

Roughly half way along this loop one comes to the Baltimore Town Hall (see the last photo below). The (rather nondescript) town hall is the only public building in Baltimore. There is nary church, etc.

Upon arriving home, I learned a bit more about Baltimore by Googling, of course, as any modern guy would do! It turns out that the current population of the town is roughly 230 people, about what it was two hundred years ago (i.e. in the early 1800s) and quite a bit higher than the low of about fifty in the early 1900s**.

The town has a total of 7.2 miles of roads, all of which are unpaved. Just out of the frame on the right of my photo of town hall sits a road grader; my guess is this is only significant asset the town owns other than the town hall.

The town hall was built in 1894 as a one room school house and was used as such until 1988!

In summary, Baltimore is a bit out of the way and on the quiet side, but I am glad that I made the trip. Maybe, I will go back some day and drive the other twenty percent of the the town roads that I missed this time thorough!

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* Town pounds are small, generally stone wall enclosed areas where wayward livestock were penned up until their owners could ransom them. Loose livestock were a serious matter when most folks depended on their gardens and fields for the bulk of their sustenance and the ‘fuel’ for their horses and oxen. Stray livestock could quickly decimate a garden and thus were rapidly escorted to the town pound before (hopefully) they could do much damage. The owner of the strays would then have to pay a fine in order to retrieve their animals from the pound.

** This pattern is typical for many small towns in New Hampshire and Vermont. Populations peaked in the first half of the nineteenth century when sheep farming was at its peak and declined thereafter as farmers moved to more fertile territory as the mid-west (then “the west”) was ‘settled’. Populations generally reached their lows in the first quarter of the twentieth century and slowly rebounded thereafter. The current population of many small northern New England towns is roughly the same as it was two centuries ago.

30 April 2022

Nasami Farm

Filed under: Landscapes,Spring — Frank @ 11:32 PM

Joan was in need of some plants for the yard. So, today we made a trip to Nasami Farm, the Native Plant Trust’s nursery in the Connecticut River valley village of Whately, Massachusetts.

While Joan selected plants, I wandered the grounds looking for photographs.

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24 May 2021

Ode Progression

It is hard to believe that it has been more than a week since my last ode post… where does the time go?!

A week ago, the predominate ode in our yard was the Hudsonian Whiteface. There were also small numbers of chalk-fronted corporals present. This afternoon, with the temperature about 70 deg. F, the skies mostly sunny and a bit of a breeze blowing, the most common odes in the yard were the chalk-fronted corporals (there were dozens, of both sexes), next most common were frosted whitefaces (again, dozens, of both sexes, were present).

Hudsonian whitefaces were essentially absent. I saw one or two. Presumably they have headed back to water where they will mate and lay eggs. I’ll have to find the time to go look!

Additionally, there a single individual of another species present (see the third photograph, below). I know that I have seen this species before, but even with a quick look through the book, I could not identify it… I’m rusty, I guess!

I have yet to see a damselfly this season. Although Joan says that she has see a few while she has been working in the garden.

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18 May 2021

More IR Landscapes

Filed under: Landscapes,Monadnock Region,Spring — Tags: , — Frank @ 9:30 PM

This morning, while running errands, I stopped at a few of my favorite ‘photo spots’ and made some infrared (IR) photos.

IR is a good way to keep photographers entertained. One can make interesting IR landscapes at mid-day on bright sunny days. That is, at times and under conditions where ‘normal’ photos are generally uninteresting.

These photographs were made in the hour surrounding noon under partly sunny skies. I was thoroughly entertained. I hope you are too!

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16 May 2021

First Odes of the Season (2021)

Yesterday, I saw my first dragonfly of the season; a Hudsonian Whiteface perched on the outside of our kitchen window. I actually made a photograph of it, but I’ll spare you having to see it!

This afternoon (with the temperature around 70 deg. F and partly cloudy skies), Hudsonian Whitefaces were common in the yard. Both females (yellow, thick abdomens) and immature males (yellow, relatively thin abdomens; the yellow will turn red as they mature) were present. The were more than a dozen individuals, all actively feeding and perching low to the ground for short periods while they devoured their prey. I also saw (and photographed a single immature male Chalk-fronted Corporal.

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15 May 2021

Landscapes in Infrared

Filed under: Landscapes,Monadnock Region,Spring — Tags: — Frank @ 10:15 PM

A bright sunny day, harsh light… what is a landscape photographer to do?

Make infrared (IR) photos of course!

Warning… photo talk ahead!

These photos are made by placing a filter* on the camera that blocks all but the longest wavelengths of light from getting to the sensor. Straight out of the camera the photos have a deep red color and very low contrast. Processing the files on the computer gives the results you see here.

Green foliage is very reflective in the IR and so it appears bright white in these photos. Water, on the other hand, efficiently absorbs IR light and thus can appear very dark.

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* Specifically, I used an ‘R72’ filter which blocks all light below 720 nm (a deep red color). The filter looks black. If you hold it up to the sky, you can barely make out the disk of the sun.

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