Today was a glorious day weather-wise. The temperature was in the high 70s F, the humidity was low and the skies mostly clear.
While we ate lunch on the deck, we were entertained by the birds at the feeder and by a couple of male autumn meadowhawks perching on the dead flowers nearby. After watching the odes for some time, I finally gave in and got the camera.
Later in the afternoon, Joan headed out for a kayak ride. She called from the beach parking lot to say that there were “brown headed ducks” down by the bridge but that she did not have her binoculars with her so that she did not get a good look at them. I stashed Big Bertha in the passenger seat, threw the tripod in the bed of the truck and headed down the road the mile to the bridge.
Those “brown-headed”ducks turned out to be a family of mallards. I watched and photographed them for about an hour.
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!
Yesterday afternoon I headed over to the boat launch on the Contoocook in Greenfield just to see what was up “ode-wise”. The river was high and I did not see any odes along the river. However, there were autumn meadowhawks along the edge of the parking lot and in the nearby open field. In addition to the meadowhawks, there were a number of small butterflies flitting about. I also saw a single female spreadwing of some sort.
As I was observing the meadowhawks I began to be a bit confused. There seemed to be three kinds around… bright red males, yellow females (which also have a clearly visible ovipositor at the distal end of their abdomen) and a third duller and not as extensively red form. Upon looking at my photos I noticed that these last individuals also had the triangular ovipositor and thus were clearly female. Hitting the reference books, I discovered that “older” females turn a dull red, especially on top of their abdomen. It is good to learn new things!
Comments Off on Autumn Meadowhawks Redux
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!
Yesterday (18 July) afternoon I headed down back to the beaver-made wetland complex at the back of our property.
As I headed out, I got distracted by the butterflies on the flowers in the beds around the yard. I in the middle of photographing butterflies, I spent some time stalking a small orangeish dragonfly but I was not able to make a photo. After this dragonfly vanished for good, and as I was about to stand up to move on, I noticed that a small robberfly had landed on the perch last used by ode. Of course, I had to photograph it!
Eventually, I did wander down the hill to the natural habitat of the beaver pond and wet meadow.
New, since my last trip down back, was the presence of darners. I am not sure of the exact species. They were patrolling over both the pond and the wet meadow. The numbers were not large; I saw maybe half a dozen.
By far, the most common ode present were frosted whitefaces. They were mostly patrolling over the pond. However, every once in a while one would perch near me and I was able to make a photograph. The numbers were way down compared to my last visit (on 2 July, see this post).
I also observed two sprites (either sphagnum or sedge) deep down among the vegetation along the pond. Neither were able to be photographed.
Out over the meadow there were a small number of calico pennants. As with the frosted whitefaces, the number of pennants are way down from a couple of weeks ago. However the individuals present were all actively feeding. I watched (and photographed) one individual for about fifteen minutes. During that time, I watched it make dozens of hunting forays always returning to the same perch. It was successful on about half of its hunts.
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
The last few days has seen our yard inundated with calico pennants. They spend most of their time down low in the grassy parts of the yard. One can often see a dozen or more in one field of view.
They are all yellow right now…meaning that they are either immature males or females. Some will be changing to the orange-red of mature males over the next week or so. Then they will disappear… back to the water to mate and oviposit.
In addition to the calico pennants, in the past couple of days, I have seen (and photographed) chalk-fronted corporals (very common), American emeralds (a couple of individuals), a single delta-spotted spiketail and lancet clubtails (common). I have also seen (but have not photographed) small numbers of frosted whitefaces.
Damselflies are also present in small numbers but I have not been paying too much attention to them given all of the dragonflies… I guess that I should though!
Comments Off on Inundation of Calico Pennants