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.}

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.

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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)

20 June 2018

Hattie Brown Road

Yesterday afternoon I took a walk up Hattie Brown Road. This old (and now gated) road leads to an old homestead but is used mainly for logging access these days. On its way up to the old foundation (which is roughly a mile from Craig Road) , the road passes a beaver pond and a fairly new (i.e. still grassy, not brushy) log yard. Both are good spots for odes.

The weather was ideal; the temperature was in the low 70s F, the skies were azure blue and there was a bit of a gusty breeze blowing.

At every sunny spot on the road there were chalk-fronted corporals, often a dozen or more in one patch of sunlight. I saw literately hundreds of individuals, in total.

In addition to the corporals, I saw a half dozen Hudsonian whitefaces, mostly maturing (i.e. turning from yellow to red) males, two or three teneral frosted whitefaces (along the edge of the beaver pond), a single four-spotted skimmer (in the woods near the old foundation) and a single spreadwing (in the beaver pond).

I also saw a single darner of some sort. It perched briefly on a stem of grass along the road by the beaver pond. However, the weight of the insect, its sail-like wings and the wind conspired against me making its photo. It was swaying back and forth so vigorously that I could not keep the critter in the viewfinder, much less focus on it!

It was also a good day for seeing non-ode animals. I saw a both tiger swallowtails and pipevine swallowtails; a few of each type. I also found a small (first joint of your thumb-sized) toad at the edge of the road in the woods and a painted turtle (a female wanting to lay eggs?) in the middle of the road a few dozen yards up hill from, and pointed away from, the beaver pond.

I also saw an indigo bunting at the edge of the log yard. It hung around long enough so that I could remove the extension tube from between camera and lens. Although with only 300 mm of magnification available, the resulting photos are merely record shots.

Lastly, I observed a young deer in a small sunny patch on a skid road leading off of the main road. If was maybe fifty feet from me, but it did not hang around long enough for me to even contemplate removing the extension tube this time.

All-in-all are very good few hours of wildlife observation!

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Chalk-fronted Corporal
Chalk-fronted Corporal
Hudsoniam Whiteface (maturing male)
Hudsoniam Whiteface (maturing male)
Very worn Swallowtail
Very worn Swallowtail
Toad
Toad
Frosted Whiteface (teneral)
Frosted Whiteface (teneral)
Painted Turtle
Painted Turtle
Four-spotted Skimmer
Four-spotted Skimmer
Spreadwing
Spreadwing


 

19 May 2018

Ode Season Progression

The ode season progresses.

The hudsonian whitefaces are maturing. Both males and females emerge with yellow and black markings. As the males mature the yellow spots turn red. Yesterday, about one in ten of the hudsonian whitefaces I saw were red or reddish.

Hudsonian whitefaces were still, by far, the most common ode around. However, small numbers of chalk-fronted corporals and brownish-grey damselflies (most probably a bluet of some sort) have appeared in the past few days.

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Hudsonian Whiteface (male)
Hudsonian Whiteface (male)
Bluet (female)
Bluet (female)
Female Bluet with Prey
Female Bluet with Prey
Chalk-fronted Corporal
Chalk-fronted Corporal

While prowling the “neighborhood” with a camera set up to make close up photos of smallish insects, I often find other things to point my lens at… other insects (especially butterflies) and flowers (of both wild and garden ilk) are most common.

Yesterday, while I was kneeling near a stone wall stalking a chalk-fronted corporal, a chipmunk poked its head out from between two stones. He was a very curious “fellow”*. Every time I moved he would duck back into the crevice, but after a few seconds he would reappear. I was close enough to photograph him without taking the extension tube from between my camera and lens.

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Wild Strawberry Flowers
Wild Strawberry Flowers
Butterfly
Butterfly
Tulip with Visitor
Tulip with Visitor
Fancy Daffodils #1
Fancy Daffodils #1
Fancy Daffodils #2
Fancy Daffodils #2
Tulip
Tulip
Curious Chipmunk
Curious Chipmunk


* I say “fellow”, but I did not see enough of this individual to actually determine its sex.

1 October 2017

2017 Road Trip — Wildlife

Filed under: Autumn,Birds,Mammals,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 10:30 PM

On Labor Day (4 Sept) we headed out on the road. Our immediate destination was western Montana and a nephews wedding on the 9th.

After the wedding festivities were over, we began the meat of the trip. Our first destination was Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), just to the west of Yellowstone National Park, our second destination. We spent five nights in Yellowstone and then wildlife refuge hopped back east.

We visited C.M Russell NWR, Bowdoin NWR, and Medicine Lake NWR all in Montana, Lostwood NWR, Des Lacs NWR and Upper Souris NWR in North Dakota and Agassiz NWR in Minnesota. We also visited the International Crane Foundation and the Aldo Leopold Foundation in  Baraboo, Wisconsin before heading home.

We arrived home yesterday (Saturday, 30 Sept) having driven just over 7,400 miles in total.

Of course, I made one or two photographs along the way! Here is the first installment… wildlife photographs.

More to follow over the next few days.

Birds

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White-crowned Sparrow, Male (Red Rock Lakes NWR)
White-crowned Sparrow, Male (Red Rock Lakes NWR)
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dsc3046
White-crowned Sparrows, Pair (Red Rock Lakes NWR)
White-crowned Sparrows, Pair (Red Rock Lakes NWR)
Mountain Bluebird ((Yellowstone NP))
Mountain Bluebird ((Yellowstone NP))
Mountain Bluebird #2 (Yellowstone NP)
Mountain Bluebird #2 (Yellowstone NP)
Greater Yellow Legs (Bowdoin NWR)
Greater Yellow Legs (Bowdoin NWR)
Plover (Bowdoin NWR)
Plover (Bowdoin NWR)
Killdeer (Bowdoin NWR)
Killdeer (Bowdoin NWR)
American Avocet #1 (Bowdoin NWR)
American Avocet #1 (Bowdoin NWR)
American Avocet #2 (Bowdoin NWR)
American Avocet #2 (Bowdoin NWR)
While Pelicans
While Pelicans
Perigrine Falcon
Perigrine Falcon
White Pelican Taking Flight
White Pelican Taking Flight

Mammals

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Pronghorn Antelope (Red Rock Lake NWR)
Pronghorn Antelope (Red Rock Lake NWR)
Bison Herd (Yellowstone NP)
Bison Herd (Yellowstone NP)
Bison Rut ((Yellowstone NP))
Bison Rut ((Yellowstone NP))
Grazing Bison #1 (Yellowstone NP)
Grazing Bison #1 (Yellowstone NP)
Grazing Bison #2 (Yellowstone NP)
Grazing Bison #2 (Yellowstone NP)
Grazing Bison #3 (Yellowstone NP)
Grazing Bison #3 (Yellowstone NP)
Bison (Yellowstone NP)
Bison (Yellowstone NP)
Rutting Bison #2 (Yellowstone NP)
Rutting Bison #2 (Yellowstone NP)
Rutting Bison #3 (Yellowstone NP)
Rutting Bison #3 (Yellowstone NP)
Elk Doe (Yellowstone NP)
Elk Doe (Yellowstone NP)
Elk Doe #2(Yellowstone NP)
Elk Doe #2(Yellowstone NP)
Bugeling Elk Bull (Yellowstone NP)
Bugeling Elk Bull (Yellowstone NP)
Elk Bull (Yellowstone NP)
Elk Bull (Yellowstone NP)
Elk Bull #1 (CM Russell NWR)
Elk Bull #1 (CM Russell NWR)
Elk Bull #2 (CM Russell NWR)
Elk Bull #2 (CM Russell NWR)
Party Animal Elk (CM Russell NWR)
Party Animal Elk (CM Russell NWR)
Bugeling Elk Bull with Harem (CM Russell NWR)
Bugeling Elk Bull with Harem (CM Russell NWR)


 

30 July 2017

Vandal!

Filed under: Mammals,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Thursday afternoon, shortly after lunch, I was wandering by the doors that open onto our deck. As is my habit, I looked out to see what birds were present at our feeders. To my great surprise, not only were there no birds present, but there were no feeders in view!

I headed out the doors to investigate. I found empty feeders strewn about and the steel pole upon which the feeders were once mounted bent over at a right angle at ground level.

I knew at once that we had been visited by a bear… in broad daylight no less!

This conclusion was confirmed, maybe an hour later, when Joan summoned me to the deck doors. The vandal had returned! She/he was looking to see if they had missed any seeds during their first visit. I took two quick photos through the kitchen window before heading outside to chase the miscreant away.

As soon as I opened the doors to the deck the critter looked up and as I put a foot out of the door she/he headed into the woods at top speed. A good response!

Joan was sitting out on the deck later that afternoon and thought that she heard the bear in the woods, but we have seen neither hide nor hair since.

Alas, in the interests of not habituating a wild creature to humans, our bird feeding is over at least until December when the bears begin their hibernation.

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12 June 2016

A Cool and Cloudy Afternoon

Filed under: Amphibians,Birds,Mammals,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 1:58 PM

Yesterday was cool (it never reached 60 deg. F), cloudy and damp (there were sporadic showers in the morning)… in other words the odes were not flying. Thus, I turned my attention (and lens) to birds and I staked out the feeders for a few hours in the afternoon.

The damp weather brings out the red efts and yesterday was no exception. There were half a dozen in the small patch of lawn behind the house.  As usual there were chipmunks and squirrels scavenging what they could from the bird feeders.

The usual feeder birds were present, among them were a female rose-breasted grosbeak, a male goldfinch and a number of tufted titmice. None of which presented themselves well for photography.

Also present (and photographed) were what seem to be a pair of downy woodpeckers, a hairy woodpecker, at least one male ruby-throated hummingbird and a lone turkey.

The turkey has been a regular visitor to our yard for the past few weeks. I’m no expert, but I would hazard a guess that it is either a female that did not nest or a immature male looking for a territory.

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Red Eft
Red Eft
Eastern Chipmunck
Eastern Chipmunck
Downy Woodpecker (female)
Downy Woodpecker (female)
Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey
Downy Woodpecker (male)
Downy Woodpecker (male)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (male)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (male)


 

18 June 2015

Up North

Filed under: Amphibians,Mammals,Odontates,Other Insects,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , , , , — Frank @ 5:00 PM

Monday afternoon, we strapped the kayaks to the roof of the car, hitched up the camper, and headed north. We arrived at Lake Francis State Park (in Pittsburg, NH) at supper time.

Pittsburg is as far north as you can go in New Hampshire… it is so far north that Canada lies to the west as well to the north!

On Tuesday morning we put the kayaks in the water at the East Inlet (to the Second Connecticut Lake) and paddled as far up this watershed as we could go. We were finally stopped by the willow thicket overhanging the narrow and fast moving channel.

About a noon time the predicted rain showers began. We were soaked to the skin by the time we got back to the landing and the car. We had a good time anyway!

We saw a loon as we got out of the car and a second one while we were out in the boats. There were other birds about as well, along with lots of frogs and a lone moose.

The frogs were calling from the marshy areas but hard as I tried, I could not espy a single one. I was beginning to despair every getting a photo when I finally noticed the bright yellow throat sac of one sitting just at the edge of the open water. After finding the first specimen, I began to see yellow throat sacs from the proverbial mile a way… they were, in fact, rather numerous!

As for the moose… I was peacefully and slowing paddling along when, as I rounded a bend in the shore line, I heard a great splashing sound. I am not sure if the bull moose or I was more surprised. The moose quickly made for the shore and the first photograph I made of him contained mainly his posterior as he headed up into the marsh. Once out of the water, he did turn to look at me  and I was able to make an adequate (but not spectacular) portrait.

Joan missed the entire show as she was botanizing some distance behind.

The rain was just letting up as we got back to the East Inlet boat launch… figures! We changed into dry clothes and decided to drive up to Scott Bog; another kayaking/wildlife hot spot.

Along the way we scared another smallish moose off the road.  Scott Bog will be our target next time we are in the area with our boats!

After an early dinner, we took a drive up Indian Stream Road. We turned around at the parking area for the Indian Stream Gorge trail head. We’ve put this on our “to do” list as well.

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East Inlet
East Inlet
Frog #1
Frog #1
Frog #2
Frog #2
Moose
Moose
Scott Bog
Scott Bog

Wednesday morning we were on the road south by 7:30. Joan was meeting another NEWFS PCV* in Northumberland to do a rare plant survey. While they were botanizing, I headed to the nearby Eames Wayside.

This piece of public land along the Connecticut River looked promising on the map, but I could not find much information about it. It turns out to be essentially undeveloped, there is small parking area on Route 3, but that is it. I tried to bushwhack down to the river but was turned back by the willow thickets.

As I headed back to the car somewhat dejected, I noticed a dragonfly in a sunny spot along the rail bed. Thus all was not lost!

I spent the next couple of hours photographing damselflies and other insects, along about fifty feet of rail bed near a small stream flowing under the rails in a culvert. I did not see another dragonfly the entire time I was there but the damsels were plentiful!

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Eastern Forktail (male)
Eastern Forktail (male)
Fly
Fly
Moth
Moth
Tule Bluet (male) ?
Tule Bluet (male) ?
Tule Bluet (female) ?
Tule Bluet (female) ?
Insect
Insect
Familiar Bluet (female) ?
Familiar Bluet (female) ?

*NEWFS… New England Wildflower Society; PCV… Plant Conservation Volunteer


 

16 May 2015

Seed Thieves!

Filed under: Mammals,Monadnock Region,Spring — Tags: — Frank @ 1:00 PM

We keep a few bird feeders out by the greenhouse, just off the deck in back of the house. Watching (and occasionally photographing) the birds the feeders attract is a source of great pleasure in our lives.

However, the feeders are also the cause of great consternation… the neighborhood chipmunks seed thieves have decided that the sunflower seeds in the main feeder have been put there for them.

I keep telling them that the devices are called bird feeders for a reason but they do not seem to listen at all!

The best I have been able to manage is to train the critters who live under our shed to run for their lives when I open the doors leading out to the deck.

The individuals who live in the woods (judging from the direction they run when I chase them off) are still very brave… I have to walk up to the feeder and give it a whack to get them to jump off!

The “fellow” in the photo below sat atop the big rock by the deck and vocalized for some minutes last evening. I am not sure what it was saying (my ability to communicate in chipmunk-ese  is poor; see above), but I imagine that s/he was warning all of the other chipmunks to stay away from the feeder.

Eastern Chipmunck


 

28 April 2015

Suppertime Visitor

Filed under: Early Spring,Mammals,Monadnock Region — Frank @ 11:00 AM

I arose from the dinner table last evening, took a look out the front door and noticed that we had a suppertime visitor.

This “fellow” was rooting around for supper in the leaves on the inside of the stone wall down by the road; I am unsure as to what it is eating.

Of course, I took the camera and headed out the door. Porcupines are pretty easy to photograph. Their sight is not particularly keen so if one moves slowly on can get pretty close. I stopped and set up the camera/tripod about twenty or thirty feet away.

I made eleven exposures before I was noticed. At this point the critter ambled down across the road and into the woods.

I do not believe that concept of “hurry” exists in the porcupine universe!

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Porcupine #1
Porcupine #1
Porcupine #2
Porcupine #2
Porcupine #3
Porcupine #3


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