Photographs by Frank

16 July 2019

Spangled Skimmers

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 7:00 PM

This coming Saturday (20 July 2019), I am co-teaching a workshop on wildlife photography at the Harris Center in Hancock. This afternoon I headed over there to place some perches near the bird feeders and to scout out the odes.

The weather was warm (about 80), muggy and it was overcast. It was not great weather for odes to be out and about. I was disappointed, but not surprised, that I saw not a single ode in a quick trip around the Harris Center field. The weather for Saturday is predicted to be hot (mid-90s’ hopefully not too hot for either workshop participants or odes) and sunny. The fears of every workshop leader… a large crowd of participants shows up but there is no wildlife to be found, or vice versa!

Ever the optimist, I headed to the boat launch on the Contoocook in Greenfield to see what might be flying in the field. There were many deer flies and mosquitoes around but only a few odes… maybe a half dozen female spangled skimmers.

The trip was worth it, I was able to make a photograph of two perched dragonflies in the same frame. Although closely perched damselflies are quite common, this is a very rare event with dragonflies.

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Spangled Skimmer (female)
Spangled Skimmer (female)
Spangled Skimmers (female)
Spangled Skimmers (female)
Spangled Skimmer (female)
Spangled Skimmer (female)

Powdermill Pond Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 5:30 PM

Yesterday afternoon (from roughly 4 to 6:30), with the weather mostly sunny and the temperature in the low 80s, I headed to Powermill Pond for some odeing.

I parked the truck at Elmwood Junction and after a quick look around the waters edge and the road there, I headed down the trail (old rail bed) towards the bridge across the river. My ultimate goal was the field at the Cilley Family Forest (formerly the Robertson farmstead) in Greenfield. Google maps indicates the walk is about nine tenths of a mile one way.

I found a single female whiteface near the water where I parked and nothing along the road (which is usually a good spot for odes). On the way out, odes were sparse along the rail bed until I got to the bridge. Here I observed a half dozen or so male common pondhawks and a similar number of slaty skimmers.

At the field , the most common odes were Halloween pennants; I saw somewhere between six and twelve individuals. All of those I got close enough to see well were yellow (i.e. either immature males or females). There, I also observed a single male calico pennant and two stream cruisers (the one I photographed was male).

On the way back to the truck, the odes were a bit more numerous along the rail bed. In addition to the common pondhawks by the bridge, I found a single clubtail, a male chalk-fronted corporal and a male blue dasher.

Nine species of dragonflies on a two mile walk… not bad. Interestingly, I saw no damselflies. However, I did photograph a butterfly!

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Whiteface (female)
Whiteface (female)
Slaty Skimmer (male)
Slaty Skimmer (male)
Butterfly
Butterfly
Halloween Pennant (immature male)
Halloween Pennant (immature male)
Calico Pennant (male)
Calico Pennant (male)
Stream Cruiser (male)
Stream Cruiser (male)
Clubtail
Clubtail
Common Pondhawk (male) with Prey
Common Pondhawk (male) with Prey
Blue Dasher (male)
Blue Dasher (male)

10 July 2019

Contoocook River Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 9:36 PM

Well, the winter’s firewood is finally stacked… all 10 plus cords. Now I have some time and energy to get out and photograph the odes.

This afternoon, I had lunch with my friend Victor at the Common Place in Bennington (NH). After we parted ways, I stopped at the canoe/kayak launch on the Contoocook River by the papermill.

I have never looked for odes here before but I will be stopping there more often going forward.

This site is just downstream from the papermill’s last dam. Just below the dam there is a small falls/rapids and then, after the drop, there is a stretch of fast moving, rocky bottomed river. There are also a number of backwaters with essentially still water and muddy bottoms. A very different habitat than I usually visit.

The weather was mostly sunny and the temperature was in the mid-80s.

I spent about an hour, covered no more than 200 feet of river and observed eight different species of odes.

The damselflies I saw were: powdered dancers (one of each sex, I think; this is a new species for me), a couple of male ebony jewelwings and a single male stream bluet.

As for the dragonflies, the most abundant were male common whitetails; there were many dozens of them, but no females. Next most abundant were spangled skimmers, I saw roughly a dozen of them; all males again.

I also observed single individuals of the following species: dragonhunter, twelve-spotted skimmer and slaty skimmer. Again, these were all males.

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Powdered Dancer (male) ?
Powdered Dancer (male) ?
Powdered Dancer (female) ???
Powdered Dancer (female) ???
Dragonhunter (male)
Dragonhunter (male)
Ebony Jewelwing (male)
Ebony Jewelwing (male)
Stream Bluet (male)
Stream Bluet (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Common Whitetail (male)
Common Whitetail (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Twelve-spotted Skimmer (male)
Twelve-spotted Skimmer (male)
Slaty Skimmer (male)
Slaty Skimmer (male)

20 June 2019

One Hour, Two Hundred Feet — Five Species

Monday (17 May) afternoon, I spent about an hour roaming the neighborhood with the camera rigged for odes (300 mm lens and an extension tube). I never went farther than about 200 feet from the house.

Odes were abundant on this warm sunny afternoon. I found five species… four dragonflies and a single damselfly.

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Hudsonian Whiteface (male)
Hudsonian Whiteface (male)
Clubtail
Clubtail
ID Needed
ID Needed
Chalk-fronted Corporal (maturing male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (maturing male)
ID Needed
ID Needed
ID Needed
ID Needed
Hudsonian Whiteface (male)
Hudsonian Whiteface (male)
Damselfly
Damselfly

27 May 2019

Ode Onset

Filed under: Odontates,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 9:30 PM

About a week ago small numbers of dragonflies began to appear in the neighborhood. The numbers gradually increased all week and in the past few days there have been dozens of immature chalk-fronted corporals and Hudsonian whitefaces around. Both species are typically the first of the season in the neighborhood.

Alas, the most common insects around are still the black flies along with the first mosquitoes of the season. The old double whammy!

This afternoon, I finally yielded to temptation and headed out to make some photographs. In addition to the above mentioned species, I also found and photographed a single immature frosted whiteface.

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Frosted Whiteface (immature)
Frosted Whiteface (immature)
Hudsonian Whiteface (immature) #1
Hudsonian Whiteface (immature) #1
Chalk-fronted Corporal (immature) #1
Chalk-fronted Corporal (immature) #1
Chalk-fronted Corporal (immature) #2
Chalk-fronted Corporal (immature) #2
Hudsonian Whiteface (immature) #2
Hudsonian Whiteface (immature) #2
Hudsonian Whiteface (immature) #3
Hudsonian Whiteface (immature) #3

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


 

22 July 2018

Bonnyvale Odes

Filed under: Odontates,Summer — Tags: , — Frank @ 1:00 PM

In a couple of weeks (4 August to be exact) I will be teaching a workshop titled “Photography of Dragonflies and Damselflies” and cosponsored by the Vermont Center for Photography and the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center (BEEC).

Yesterday afternoon, I made a trip to the BEEC to scout out the odes there ahead of the workshop. The temperature was in the mid-70’s F, there were a few very scattered clouds and a slight breeze blowing, just enough to add challenge to photographing insects perched on tall grasses!

There were a couple of immature (i.e. orange-ish) meadowhawks flying over the fields. While walking in a field of tall grasses, one often flushes small birds. Yesterday, was no exception.  However, yesterday I also flushed a large deer. It jumped up from where it had been laying not more that twenty five feet from me and I nearly jumped out of my skin!

There is a very small (maybe twelve feet in diameter) pond in the lower field which contained dozens of bluets of two different species, including a number of ovipositing pairs. There was also a single male common whitetail that spent most of its time cruising the perimeter of the pond and only rarely perching and then for only a short interval. Very frustrating for photographers!

Across the road from the BEEC buildings and a short walk away, is another small pond. There were a number (maybe six or eight) of what I think were blue dashers out over the pond and perching on the cattails out in the middle. Having donned my rubber boots, I began to venture out into the shallow pond to photograph them. However, I quickly turned around. There was no solid bottom only that semi-solid, boot-grabbing muck that one often finds in small ponds. In the vegetation around the margin of this pond I found two male meadowhawks and a single teneral spreadwing.

I think that there will be enough ode activity for our workshop but I will be looking (with help from the BEEC staff) for another nearby site as backup.

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Bluet (male, probably a Northern)
Bluet (male, probably a Northern)
Slender Bluet (male)
Slender Bluet (male)
Bluet (male, probably a Northern)
Bluet (male, probably a Northern)
Common Whitetail (male)
Common Whitetail (male)
Slender Bluet (male)
Slender Bluet (male)
Slender Bluet (male)
Slender Bluet (male)
Meadowhawk (immature male)
Meadowhawk (immature male)


 

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)


 

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