Photographs by Frank

13 August 2017

A Walk at Loveren’s Mill

Yesterday afternoon, Joan and I took a walk at the Nature Conservancy’s Loveren’s Mill property. This site, which lies along the North Branch river and is partly in Antrim, contains a rare white cedar swamp. I brought along the “ode rig” and thus concentrated on photographing small things close up.

There were a smallish number but a good variety of odes present… ebony jewelwings along the fast moving parts of the river and meadow hawks and some unidentified (and unphotographed) damselflies along the woods roads. Oddly, we saw no odes along the boardwalk in the swamp proper.

The most common, by far, insect present was a small (about an inch across), drab tan moth. There were spots along the road where each foot step stirred up a dozen or so individuals.

Botanically, there was an interesting mix of early season spring ephemerals (e.g. painted trillium, clintonia and bunchberry) in fruit and late season wildflowers (e.g. joe pye weed, asters and goldenrod) in bloom. Additionally, the damp summer has been very good for the fungi and I photographed a number of different mushrooms.

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Sorry for the lack of captions/titles.  The last upgrade to the blog software seems to have introduced a small incompatibility with the gallery software. I thought I had figured out a work around for the previous post, but now I can not remember what I did the other day!


 

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)

 

18 July 2016

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

 

15 May 2016

Black Fly Season

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

And the black flies, the little black flies
Always the black fly no matter where you go
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones

The Black Fly Song, by Wade Hemsworth

Those of us who live in the northern woods are “blessed” with black fly season. In this neck of the woods, black fly season is mercifully short, lasting roughly from Mother’s Day to Father’s Day. The farther north one goes, the longer the season lasts.

Black flies hang out in the duff on the ground in the woods. From there, they ascend to attack any warm-blooded creature who dares enter their domain. This behavior makes the wild flower photographer who must lay on the ground in said woods a prime target for these blood-thirsty creatures.

However, properly equipped with a full blown bug jacket, photographs can be made*.

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Purple Trilium
Purple Trilium
Wild Oats
Wild Oats
Fern Furled
Fern Furled
Wildflower (ID needed)
Wildflower (ID needed)
Hobblebush #1
Hobblebush #1
Painted Trillium #1
Painted Trillium #1
Painted Trillium #2
Painted Trillium #2
Painted Trillium #3
Painted Trillium #3
Hobblebush #2
Hobblebush #2

 

* Even though looking into the viewfinder through the no-see-um mesh of a bug jacket is less than desirable.


 

7 September 2015

Brimstone Corner Road

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,wildflowers — Tags: , — Frank @ 12:30 PM

Yesterday afternoon, I made a right at the bottom of our driveway and headed out on a short stroll on the unmaintained section of Brimstone Corner Road. I was expecting to find both meadowhawks and asters. I was not disappointed.

I saw about six meadowhawks in total, including a single red (i.e. male) individual. The others were yellow… i.e. either females or immature males and hard to tell apart without netting them. My guess is that they were autumn meadowhawks but, again without netting them, it is hard to be certain. These were the only odes I saw.

There were many asters along the roadside; mostly the small white type that grows in large clusters. However, there were scattered larger, more deeply colored types mixed in here and there.

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Meadowhawk (female, probably an Autumn) #1
Meadowhawk (female, probably an Autumn) #1
Meadowhawk (male, probably an Autumn)
Meadowhawk (male, probably an Autumn)
Meadowhawk (female, probably an Autumn) #2
Meadowhawk (female, probably an Autumn) #2
Wildflower
Wildflower
Aster
Aster

 

18 July 2015

Zealand Falls

Yesterday (Friday, 17 Jul) Joan had a plant survey scheduled for the northern White Mountains. The forecast was for perfect hiking weather, so I went along and spent the day meandering along the trail to Zealand Falls and the nearby AMC hut.

The bright sunny weather and timing (middle of the day) were not going to make for great landscape photos, but I was hoping for some odes, especially for more northern species. The map showed a number of ponds/wetlands along the upper portion of the trail, so I was expecting good “hunting”.

The first critter I encountered along the trail was a garter snake sunning itself at the trail’s edge. Of course my approach spooked it, but it hung around under the shrubs long enough for me to photograph it.

Surprisingly, the beaver ponds were not the ode “hot spot” that I thought they might be. Maybe they are too high (between roughly 3000 and 3500 feet) for water warm enough to support many species.

I did see small numbers of larger dragonflies (probably darners of some sort) patrolling out over the water. Along the shore of one of the ponds, I also found (and was able to photograph) some bluets (either Boreal or Northern) and a few male chalk-fronted corporals.

I observed a single female bluet and roughly a dozen males. When I first spotted the female she was already flying in tandem with a male. As I watched, the pair were harassed by a number of males trying to break up them up (and thus have their own chance of mating with her). The harassment was for naught, as the pair finally formed a mating wheel.

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Garter Snake #1
Garter Snake #1
Garter Snake #2
Garter Snake #2
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Bluet Mating Wheel (either Boreal or Northern)
Bluet Mating Wheel (either Boreal or Northern)
Zealand Pond
Zealand Pond
Zealand Falls
Zealand Falls
Golden Thread
Golden Thread

 

6 July 2015

Campbell Pond Odes

Last Thursday (2 July) afternoon I spent a couple of hours looking for odes at Campbell Pond. I arrived at about 3 PM. This pond was once the public water supply for the Town of Antrim. It is now set aside as conservation land and has a completely undeveloped shore line. This was my first “odeing” trip to the pond.

There is no vehicular access to the pond but it is a short walk along a well maintained woods road into the pond. I saw my first ode, a calico pennant, maybe twenty five feet down the road. I continued to see small numbers (one or two individuals) of a variety of species all along the road.

When I got to the stream flowing out of the pond things changed. There were dozens of ebony jewelwings of both sexes around the stream where it flows over the road.

Out over the pond proper there were many odes, probably calico pennants, flying and (I think) ovipositing.  There were also smaller numbers of chalk-fronted corporals present.

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Calico Pennant
Calico Pennant
Calico Pennant with Prey
Calico Pennant with Prey
Lancet Clubtail (male)
Lancet Clubtail (male)
Swamp Spreadwing (male)
Swamp Spreadwing (male)
Variable Dancer (female)
Variable Dancer (female)
Ebony Jewelwing (female)
Ebony Jewelwing (female)
Ebony Jewelwing (male)
Ebony Jewelwing (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Fly
Fly
Wildflower
Wildflower

 

24 June 2015

You Can Observe A Lot By Watching

The title of this post is a quote attributed to Yogi Berra and how true it is!

When one is low to the ground with a camera set up to take photos of small things (such as odes) one finds oneself attuned to a world that is hidden in plain sight. There is a lot of “stuff” going on between the ground and six inches of elevation!

Much of the “stuff” one sees are insects, but I often observe other types of critters as well. The immature wood frog is one of those.

I had just stood up from photographing a damselfly and had taken a step or two when I heard a faint rustle in the old leaves underfoot. I quickly dropped to my knees to investigate and after searching for a few minutes, I finally found the source of said rustle… a wood frog the size of my thumbnail, unmoving and doing its best impression of a dried leaf!

I moved a bit trying to find a “window” in the detritus on the ground without scaring away the frog. I successfully found an angle with a clear view of the frog and was rewarded with a nice photo of this fairly common but seldom seen animal.

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Grasshopper
Grasshopper
Insecta Fantastica
Insecta Fantastica
Immature Woodfrog
Immature Woodfrog

Another good subject for a camera set up to photograph odes are small wildflowers. One can easily make nice photos of the flowers nicely isolated against out of focus backgrounds.

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Wildflower
Wildflower
Hawkweed
Hawkweed
Yarrow
Yarrow
Fern
Fern

 

16 May 2015

Spring Olio

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Spring,wildflowers — Frank @ 4:00 PM

Joan and I took a walk yesterday to assess the state of the neighborhood wildflowers, especially the lady slippers.

We were a bit early for the annual lady slipper spectacular, but there was much else to keep us entertained.

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Early Lady Slipper #1
Early Lady Slipper #1
Early Lady Slipper #2
Early Lady Slipper #2
Maple
Maple
Dogwood
Dogwood
Bunchberry
Bunchberry
Basswood
Basswood
Maple #2
Maple #2

 

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