This afternoon, with the temperature around 80 F and partly sunny skies, I headed “down back” to our beaver-made wetland looking for autumn meadowhawks. I was not disappointed.
As a I passed by our brush pile, located in a sunny clearing in the woods near the house, I noted the presence of five or six autumn meadowhawks (mostly yellow ones; females or immature males). They were perched up high in the middle of the large pile so I did not try to photograph them.
When I arrived at the bottom of the hill and the juncture between woods and wetland, I observed another five or six bright red male meadowhawks in flight and a single yellow individual caught in a spiders web. The males spent most of the time I watched them in flight but occasionally one would perch and I got a chance to make a photo.
Moving out into the wet meadow, there were small numbers of darners (presumably males) patrolling territories along the waters edge. I also observed two presumptive females flying low in the vegetation clearly looking for a place to oviposit. None stopped moving long enough to be photographed.
Out in the meadow, I found a single immature male (i.e. orange) meadowhawk that was most cooperative in terms of photography. This individual made repeated hunting forays from the same perch and thus was easy to photograph.
Heading back towards home, I encountered a lone spreadwing at the edge of the woods. It sat still just long enough for me to make three or four photos.
Upon returning to the yard, I saw a feeding swarm consisting of two or three dozen darners. Hot, tired and thirsty*, I watched them for only a few minutes before heading into the house to fetch a large glass of ice water. When I look again, less than ten minutes later, the swarm was gone.
* Spending a couple of hours in the sun while wearing waders will make one hot tired and thirsty!
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.
Comments Off on Loveren’s Mill in the Late Afternoon
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.
Late last Friday (24 Jun) afternoon, I tossed my waders and camera into my truck and took a short drive to the Contookook River near the paper mill in Bennington, NH. I spent a couple of hours wading the shallows on the east bank immediately adjacent to the paper mill’s lawn.
There were three species of damselflies present low in the emergent vegetation. Stream bluets, Eastern forktails and a second Bluet (which I can not positively identify). The stream bluets were, by far, the most abundant and it was clearly mating time for them. I observed two mating wheels and a third pair flying in tandem.
Flying (and occasionally perching) higher up on the back were small numbers of male twelve-spotted skimmers and a lone male common whitetail (which I did not get a photograph of).
Yesterday afternoon I made my first trip of the season “down back”* to see what was up ode-wise.
The weather was near perfect… sunny and warm (low 70’s F). There was a gusty breeze which made the photography a bit difficult at times.
The numbers of chalk-fronted corporals and calico pennants in the yard have started to drop… the corporals are nearly absent, although the pennants are still the most abundant ode in the yard. I now know why… both species are moving back to the water.
Chalk-fronted corporals were by far the most common dragonfly “down back” yesterday; there were dozens flying over the open water of the beaver pond. There were also many calico pennants flying over the marsh. Most were yellow (females or immature males) but there were a few red ones (mature males) and couple of orange ones mixed in. Third in abundance were frosted whitefaces, including the only mating wheel I saw in the two and a half hours I was out.
I also saw small number of damselflies (bluets and sedge sprites), a couple of four-spotter skimmers and a lone lancet clubtail. The last being quite uncommon “down back” but very common at the lake (about a half mile away).
* The back of our property contains a beaver-made wet land complex consisting of a small stream, a beaver pond and a marsh. It is a wonderful place to spend time observing and photographing.
Comments Off on Down Back to Photograph for the First Time This Ode Season
The weather was hot (for NH) and humid last weekend (18 and 19 Jun). We headed down to the lake and our camp for both afternoons. I spent most of the time we were there odeing.
Both days there was lots of evidence of damselfly emergence… teneral bluets were the most common ode I encountered and I even found a few damselfly exuvia.
Interestingly, on Saturday, there were many lancet clubtails present. However, on Sunday, I saw very few despite the conditions and the time of day begin similar. I have no idea why.
Photos from Saturday
Photos from Sunday
In the afternoon, on Monday (30 May, Memorial Day), I spent about three hours (about 1:45 to 4:45) hunting odes. I never got beyond maybe three hundred feet from the yard and was able to photograph nine different species of dragonflies and damselflies… and one grasshopper!
Comments Off on Memorial Day Odes
Small numbers (one or two at a time) of odes have been appearing in the yard for the past couple of week. In the last three or four days the numbers have jumped.
Yesterday afternoon (with the weather overcast and the temperature not reaching 70 deg F) found about a dozen dragonflies (a mix of Hudsonian Whitefaces and Chalk-fronted Corporals) perched on our deck while trying to stay warm.
All of these photos were made within a hundred yards of the house and in the past five days.
Comments Off on 2016 Ode Season Begins
This afternoon, I made the two and a half hour round trip to Athol, Massachusetts to photograph the American Rubyspot.
The section of the Millers River just upstream from where Route 2A crosses the river at the western edge of the downtown business district in Athol is a hot spot for this uncommon damselfly. The southern part of Case Meadow Conservation Area lies along one bank of this stretch of river and parking is available at the Millers River Environmental Center; both make for easy access.
I spent just over an hour from first to last frame exposed. I saw around a dozen and a half rubyspots including two females at two spots along the river bank. I also observed a few large dragonflies (darners most likely) out over the river. I also saw a few darners flying in the meadow on the walk back to the truck.
Yesterday afternoon I headed “down back” to the beaver-made wetland at the back of our property.
I was expecting to find the usual late-season odes… autumn meadowhawks and a number of the spreadwings. Although the numbers of individuals were small, there was a nice variety of species present.
I observed a total of three meadowhawks (all female) and about a dozen (total) of the three species of spreadwings.