Photographs by Frank

3 September 2011

Ode Season Slows / Fungal Diversity / Another Close Encounter

Filed under: Odontates,Other Insects,The "New" Yard & Environs — Tags: , , , — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Labor Day weekend… the end of summer… the winding down of ode season… alas!

Yesterday, I headed down to “our” beaver swamp hoping to get photos of darners; I was partially successful. The weather was nice and sunny and the temperature was in the mid-70’s.

Darners are large showy dragonflies that are a source of great frustration to this photographer. In late summer/early fall these are often the most abundant odes about. One sees them hunting over open areas (lawns, swamps, hill tops, etc.) in large numbers.

However, one rarely sees them perched and when they do perch it is often ten or twelve feet (or higher) in a tree. Also, when perched they seem to be very skittish. Thus my photographic frustration!

One my way down to the swamp, I was able to photograph a nondescript light brown moth. These moths are fairly common in the woods, but rarely sit still long enough to locate in the viewfinder before fluttering off again. My impression is that this is just their normal behavior, not that they are scared off by my presence. This one sat still long enough to be photographed.

The “situation” at the swamp was as I expected. The water level was very high because of hurricane Irene and there were many darners hunting at grass/sedge height and over the open water. There were still meadowhawks about, although in smaller numbers that earlier in the season. The numbers of spreadwings was very small and I did not see any other damselflies.

I stuck mainly to the edges where I could watch the trees for perching darners. Darners tend to be very well camouflaged when perched but with a careful search one can sometimes espy them on tree trunks or hanging vertically from branches.  I spotted three within photographing height in the couple of hours I was out. I got a decent photograph of one of them… such is the life of a wildlife photographer!

The first one I spotted as a set of wings sticking out on either side of a small dead branch. It flew off before I could maneuver body and equipment through the tall grass and fallen tree trunks hidden therein. I can hear Joan now… “A good photographer…”!

The second individual also flew off before I got close enough.

I did, however,  manage to get a couple of shots of the third individual. It was perched seven or eight feet off the ground. But I managed to stand on a tussock to lessen the angle and got a few shots before it too flew off.

The light on the swamp starts to deteriorate shortly after five these days as there is a tall ridge just to its north and west. As I meandered back up the hill towards the house, I noticed the amazing diversity of fungi in the woods and began photographing these.

Fungi are somewhat easier than odes to photograph as they (fungi)  never fly away! Fungi are somewhat harder to photograph than odes since they (fungi) are small and grow out of the ground. Thus, one needs to pretty much lay flat on the ground to frame them.  At my age, getting down on the ground is not a problem… getting up again, however, is another story!

At one point, while I was laying on the ground near where I encountered the bear a few weeks ago, I heard a rustling noise in the woods coming from the same direction as the bear had come.

This time it was a porcupine! He/she just meandered along maybe  fifty to seventy five feet away and I don’t think here it ever noticed me. I got the extension tube off of the camera and the 70-300 mm lens back on but I never did get a clear shot of him… way too many trees in the way! If he had come close enough though I would have got a perfect eye-level shot, as I was still lying on my belly!

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