Photographs by Frank

22 August 2018

A Jaunt in the “Neighborhood”

This afternoon, I headed out on a walk down Hattie Brown Road, just to see what was up. I had not been out that way in probably almost a month. Weather-wise there were broken clouds and the temperature in the mid-70’s. There was also a nice breeze blowing… nice because it kept the mosquitoes down.

As I left the house, I noticed a small (a couple of dozen individuals) feeding swarm of darners over the yard. Feeding swarms are large congregations (dozens to hundreds of individuals) of big dragonflies (usually a mix of darner species) that gather over open spaces to feed on small flying insects. Feeding swarms form most often in late summer and in the late afternoon. I paused only briefly to watch the swarm before driving down to the bridge.

As I walked out Hattie Brown Road, the sun kept peaking out of the clouds and I saw both female autumn meadowhawks and spreadwings in some of the patches of sunlight along the road. I also saw an occasional darner cruising the road well above head height.

When I reached the beaver pond, the birds took noticed. A crow perched high in a nearby tree, being a social bird, began to call loudly announcing my presence to its compatriots. A great blue heron, being a solitary sort, silently took flight from its fishing spot near the road and headed to the other side of the pond.

As I arrived at the pond, I noticed a large dark cloud come over the ridge to the west and within a minute or two it began to rain lightly. Unsurprisingly, there were no odes to be seen.  Since there was only gray sky to the west and the patches of blue to the east were rapidly receding.  I decided to head back towards the truck without dallying. It rained lightly the entire walk back.

Of course, just as I arrived back at the truck the sun began to reappear and after a short interval the rain stopped.

Since the weather was looking better, I stopped at the road into the Harris Center property along Brimstone Corner Road rather than heading directly home. Parking near the gate, I walked down this road as far as the beaver dam and observed small numbers of the same odes as I saw on Hattie Brown Road. There were a couple of darners patrolling the road, a few spreadwings in sunny spots along the road and a couple of female meadowhawks at the log landing. I saw no odes out over the beaver pond itself.

Eventually, I lost the nice light as the sun disappeared over the ridge to the west. Thus, I headed back up the hill to the truck and arrived back home at 6:30, a bit more than two hours after I departed. The feeding swarm in the yard was gone.

As you might expect, I took a few photos while I was out!

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Spreadwing #1
Spreadwing #1
Wildflower
Wildflower
Autumn Meadowhawk (female)
Autumn Meadowhawk (female)
Grass Seedhead
Grass Seedhead
Toadstool
Toadstool
Spreadwing #2
Spreadwing #2

 

18 August 2018

Morning Visitor

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 9:59 AM

One the the large oak trees down by the road has a large dead branch that overlooks Joan’s vegetable garden. Semi-regularly we see birds of prey, usually hawks sitting in this branch.

This morning, while eating breakfast, Joan noticed a hawk perched in “the branch”. I made a few exposures from the driveway before it decided to head off.

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Hawk #1
Hawk #1
Hawk #2
Hawk #2

 

22 July 2018

Down Back on Friday

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

Friday afternoon, I spent a couple hours in the beaver-made wetland “down back” behind our house; we share this wetland with the NH Audubon Willard Pond sanctuary. The weather was warm (about 80 deg. F), very sunny and only a slight breeze.

There were a few darners flying out over the wet meadow; the first I’ve seen this season. The most common dragonfly was the frosted whiteface. There were dozens, mostly patrolling out of the open water of the pond. Additionally, I saw a single male calico pennant, a single male emerald. A Kennedy’s emerald I think, I have seen one other of these a few years back at the mill pond on the Willard Pond sanctuary, about three-quarters of a mile away. I also saw two or three female spangled skimmers.

There were small numbers of damselflies down low in the vegetation. These are always difficult to photograph. Damselflies tend to perch for only short intervals and finding clear “windows” in the vegetation though which to photograph is not easy. The most common damselflies were the sprites, both sphagnum and sedge sprites were present. Additionally, I saw one or two bluets of some sort and a similar number of spreadwings none of which I photographed.

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Sedge Sprite (tandem pair)
Sedge Sprite (tandem pair)
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Calico Pennant (male)
Calico Pennant (male)
Spangled Skimmer (female)
Spangled Skimmer (female)
Emerald, male, probably a Kennedy's)
Emerald, male, probably a Kennedy's)
Spangled Skimmer (female)
Spangled Skimmer (female)

 

15 July 2018

Powdermill Pond Boat Launch (Greenfield) Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer — Tags: , — Frank @ 2:00 PM

Last Thursday (12 July) afternoon, I spent about ninety minutes (beginning at about 4:30) at the boat launch on the Greenfield side of the Contoocook River (near the covered bridge). The temperature was near 80 deg. F,  it was partly cloudy and calm.

There were numerous male slaty skimmers and slightly small numbers of male blue dashers patrolling and skirmishing out over the water in a backwater by the boat ramp. I was quite interesting to watch the smaller dashers challenge the skimmers for the rights to a prime perch at the waters edge. The dashers were only rarely successful in their challenge.

The emergent vegetation contained at least two species of damselflies: a spreadwing and Eastern Forktails. There were also a few variable dancers along the shore.

Out in the the field, the most numerous ode was the widow skimmer; there were dozens present. They were generally perched down low and hard to see unless you stirred them up as you walked. Both males and females were present in roughly equal numbers.

Additionally, there were small numbers of of male eastern forktails, present down low in the vegetation.

I also observed a single yellow (female or immature male) meadowhawk, a single female calico pennant and one female dot-tailed whiteface in the field.

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Variable Dancer (male)
Variable Dancer (male)
Slaty Skimmer (male)
Slaty Skimmer (male)
Spreadwing
Spreadwing
Meadowhawk
Meadowhawk
Eastern Forktail (male)
Eastern Forktail (male)
Widow Skimmer (immature male)
Widow Skimmer (immature male)
Widow Skimmer (male)
Widow Skimmer (male)
Calico Pennant
Calico Pennant
Dot-tailed Whiteface (female)
Dot-tailed Whiteface (female)

 

11 July 2018

Elmwood Junction Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer — Tags: , — Frank @ 11:30 PM

This afternoon I walked the roughly three-quarters of a mile (one way) from the end of the road at Elmwood Junction to the rail bridge over Powder Mill Pond (a dammed section of the Contoocook River) in Hancock. The temperature was right around 80 deg. F and it was partly cloudy. The breeze was slight and intermittent.

The number of odes was small, but the diversity of species was great. I observed eight different species in my roughly ninety minute outing.

When I first arrived, I saw two or three male bluets right at the waters edge near the end of the road where I parked the truck. I also found a single male variable dancer along the edge of the road. At the end of my walk, I saw a couple of male slaty skimmers and a single male blue dasher in the same general area.

Some stretches of the trail (an old rail bed) are quite shady. However, the edges of the trail in sunny areas, especially those close to the water yielded a number of sightings. Common pondhawks (both immature males and females) were the most common species. I saw a total of three or four of each sex. I also observed single individuals (all males) of the following species: frosted whiteface, dot-tailed whiteface and widow skimmer. The catch of the day (for both me and the ode, pun intended!) was a female slaty skimmer eating a male bluet.

I had two interesting avian encounters along the trail. At one point I was standing still scanning the vegetation for odes when a downy woodpecker landed on a tree trunk at the edge of the trail not more that five or six feet from me. It was close enough that a photo was possible with the “ode rig”. However, as soon as I moved, he took off into the woods. A few minutes later, while I was framing  a photograph, a bird (most probably an Eastern Kingbird, there were a number along the trail) flew, at waist height, between my monopod and the dragonfly I was focused on, which was not more than four feet away.

Clearly, it does not take much to amuse me, but I had an entertaining outing!

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Bluet (male)
Bluet (male)
Variable Dancer (male)
Variable Dancer (male)
Common Pondhawk (female)
Common Pondhawk (female)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Slaty Skimmer (female) with Prey (Male Bluet)
Slaty Skimmer (female) with Prey (Male Bluet)
Dot-tailed Whiteface (male)
Dot-tailed Whiteface (male)
Common Pondhawk (immature male)
Common Pondhawk (immature male)
Widow Skimmer (male)
Widow Skimmer (male)
Blue Dasher (male)
Blue Dasher (male)
Slaty Skimmer (male)
Slaty Skimmer (male)

 

8 July 2018

Odeing the Harris Center Property on Brimstone Corner Road

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 10:00 PM

A couple of years ago, the Harris Center purchased a parcel of land along Brimstone Corner Road about a half-mile from our house (down towards the bridge). This parcel contains the north (and downstream) end of the beaver-made wetland complex whose southern end we share with NH Audubon.

Yesterday afternoon, about three o’clock with the temperature in the mid-70s and mostly sunny skies, I walked the roughly four-tenths of a mile down Brimstone Corner road from our house to the road (which closed to vehicles) that passes through this property. About a quarter-mile down this road lies a log yard that was last used about five years ago and another quarter-mile along one comes to a beaver dam and the outlet stream from the wetland complex.

Both sites have good odeing. The old log yard is bright, sunny upland. The outlet area has both vegetated still water habitat (i.e. the beaver pond) and a sandy bottom small stream habitat. The sunny spots along the road also usually contain some odes. All-in-all, lots of good potential odeing in a small area and I was not disappointed yesterday.

Maybe fifty feet after turning off Brimstone Corner Road, I encountered my first ode, a female slaty skimmer. In the quarter-mile down to the log yard, I saw about a half dozen spreadwings down low in the grassy strip at the middle of the road.

When I arrived at the log yard, I immediately saw two large darners having a dog fight over the open area. They flew high and away without a chance for me to photograph them.

The tall grasses covering the log yard are perfect habitat for calico pennants which usually begin to appear in early July around here. As I moved though the grasses, I stirred up a six or eight calico pennants. They were mostly yellow (i.e. females or immature males) but there were also a couple of red (mature) males present.

When I arrived at the water, the first thing I noticed were many (dozens) of male slaty skimmers mostly patrolling and skirmishing out over the open water. In the grassy areas around the dam there were small numbers of both bluets and spreadwings present. (More precise identification requires capturing individuals for examination with a hand lens; not something that I usually do.) I observed one or two female Eastern Forktails here as well.

The downstream side of the road is the beginning of a short stretch of the outlet stream with a nice sandy bottom and rapidly flowing water; perfect habitat for ebony jewelwings. There were a couple of dozen individuals of both sexes present along eight or ten feet of this stream. It seemed that every sunny spot in the area contained a perched jewelwing or was begin fought over by a pair.

On my way back home, I stopped again at the log yard and observed only calico pennants. As before, they were mostly yellow with one or two mature males present. I arrived home a bit after six o’clock. All-in-all a very nice way to spend  part of a nice summer afternoon.

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Spreadwing #1
Spreadwing #1
Calico Pennant #1
Calico Pennant #1
Calico Pennant #2
Calico Pennant #2
Slaty Skimmer (male)
Slaty Skimmer (male)
Ebony Jewelwing (male)
Ebony Jewelwing (male)
Ebony Jewelwing (female)
Ebony Jewelwing (female)
Bluet
Bluet
Spreadwing #2
Spreadwing #2
Eastern Forktail (female)
Eastern Forktail (female)
Slaty Skimmer (female)
Slaty Skimmer (female)
Calico Pennant (male)
Calico Pennant (male)

 

22 June 2018

McCabe Forest

Filed under: Forest Society Properties,Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer — Tags: — Frank @ 10:00 PM

This afternoon, I headed to the Forest Society’s McCabe Forest to see what might be up ode-wise along the Contoocook River. My usual haunts are all still water ponds or lakes. It is good to try a new habitat every once in a while! The temperature was in the mid-70’s F, it was mostly sunny and essentially calm.

What was lacking in terms of variety at this site was made up in terms of quantity. Early on in my walk a observed a single teneral drab brown damselfly down low in a sunny patch of grass. As I neared the river, I began to see ebony jewelwings. There were dozens of them. both males and females were present. They were in the sunny patches along the trail which stays in the uplands immediately adjacent to the river. Some were right along the river’s edge. Some were flying out over the river and perching on the floating vegetation. Interestingly, there I saw no odes in the tall grasses of the flood plain (which is quite dry given our lack of rain in recent weeks) between the uplands and the water.

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Ebony Jewelwing (female) #1
Ebony Jewelwing (female) #1
Ebony Jewelwing (male) #1
Ebony Jewelwing (male) #1
Ebony Jewelwing (female) #2
Ebony Jewelwing (female) #2
Ebony Jewelwing (male) #2
Ebony Jewelwing (male) #2

 

Slow Day at Loverens Mill

Yesterday I headed to the Nature Conservancy’s Loverens Mill preserve. Joan had been there earlier in the week and said that she had seen ebony jewelwings and “green-eyed dragonflies” (emeralds, perhaps?) there. The temperature was in the mid-70’s F, it was partly cloudy and essentially calm.

It was a slow ode day. I saw exactly four damselflies (and no dragonflies) in the first couple of hours I was there: two ebony jewelwings and two drab brown teneral damsels (probably bluets of some sort). The drab brown individuals were the only odes I saw during my three trips along the boardwalk in the swamp proper.

Things picked up a little bit when I walked the road. There were a few more brown damsels and, about three hours after I left the truck, I saw a single dragonfly, an immature male slaty skimmer.

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Damselfly #1
Damselfly #1
Atlantic White Cedar Bark (detail)
Atlantic White Cedar Bark (detail)
Wildflower (Indian Cucumber Root)
Wildflower (Indian Cucumber Root)
Slaty Skimmer (immature male)
Slaty Skimmer (immature male)
Ebony Jewelwing (female)
Ebony Jewelwing (female)
Damselfly #2
Damselfly #2

 

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

 

18 June 2018

First Time “Down Back” This Season

Sunday afternoon I donned my waders and headed down to the beaver-made pond and wet meadow at the back of our property. I spent three hours (from about 3 PM to 6 PM) there photographing odes. The temperature was in the mid 80’s F, it was mostly sunny and calm.

The most abundant odes, by far, were frosted whitefaces of both sexes; there were dozens of individuals present. They were flying over both the open water of the pond and over the meadow, I also observed two mating wheels of this species.

There were also small numbers of hudsonian whitefaces (males only) and four-spotted skimmers. I watched (and photographed) a skimmer make a dozen or more hunting forays over about 10 minutes. It always returned to the same perch between flights and it was quite successful, catching prey about two-thirds of the time.

The most abundant damselfly was the sedge sprite (mostly males). I observed roughly a dozen individuals, a few down low in the wet meadow, but most in the tall grass where the meadow meets the woods. I also saw a couple of bluets (at different times and locations); one male and one female.

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Frosted Whiteface Entangled in Spider Web
Frosted Whiteface Entangled in Spider Web
Frosted Whiteface
Frosted Whiteface
Four-spotted Skimmer with Prey
Four-spotted Skimmer with Prey
Frosted Whiteface Mating Wheel
Frosted Whiteface Mating Wheel
Sedge Sprite (male)
Sedge Sprite (male)
Hudsonian Whileface (male)
Hudsonian Whileface (male)

 

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