Photographs by Frank

13 August 2017

A Walk at Loveren’s Mill

Yesterday afternoon, Joan and I took a walk at the Nature Conservancy’s Loveren’s Mill property. This site, which lies along the North Branch river and is partly in Antrim, contains a rare white cedar swamp. I brought along the “ode rig” and thus concentrated on photographing small things close up.

There were a smallish number but a good variety of odes present… ebony jewelwings along the fast moving parts of the river and meadow hawks and some unidentified (and unphotographed) damselflies along the woods roads. Oddly, we saw no odes along the boardwalk in the swamp proper.

The most common, by far, insect present was a small (about an inch across), drab tan moth. There were spots along the road where each foot step stirred up a dozen or so individuals.

Botanically, there was an interesting mix of early season spring ephemerals (e.g. painted trillium, clintonia and bunchberry) in fruit and late season wildflowers (e.g. joe pye weed, asters and goldenrod) in bloom. Additionally, the damp summer has been very good for the fungi and I photographed a number of different mushrooms.

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Sorry for the lack of captions/titles.  The last upgrade to the blog software seems to have introduced a small incompatibility with the gallery software. I thought I had figured out a work around for the previous post, but now I can not remember what I did the other day!


18 June 2015

Up North

Filed under: Amphibians,Mammals,Odontates,Other Insects,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , , , , — Frank @ 5:00 PM

Monday afternoon, we strapped the kayaks to the roof of the car, hitched up the camper, and headed north. We arrived at Lake Francis State Park (in Pittsburg, NH) at supper time.

Pittsburg is as far north as you can go in New Hampshire… it is so far north that Canada lies to the west as well to the north!

On Tuesday morning we put the kayaks in the water at the East Inlet (to the Second Connecticut Lake) and paddled as far up this watershed as we could go. We were finally stopped by the willow thicket overhanging the narrow and fast moving channel.

About a noon time the predicted rain showers began. We were soaked to the skin by the time we got back to the landing and the car. We had a good time anyway!

We saw a loon as we got out of the car and a second one while we were out in the boats. There were other birds about as well, along with lots of frogs and a lone moose.

The frogs were calling from the marshy areas but hard as I tried, I could not espy a single one. I was beginning to despair every getting a photo when I finally noticed the bright yellow throat sac of one sitting just at the edge of the open water. After finding the first specimen, I began to see yellow throat sacs from the proverbial mile a way… they were, in fact, rather numerous!

As for the moose… I was peacefully and slowing paddling along when, as I rounded a bend in the shore line, I heard a great splashing sound. I am not sure if the bull moose or I was more surprised. The moose quickly made for the shore and the first photograph I made of him contained mainly his posterior as he headed up into the marsh. Once out of the water, he did turn to look at me  and I was able to make an adequate (but not spectacular) portrait.

Joan missed the entire show as she was botanizing some distance behind.

The rain was just letting up as we got back to the East Inlet boat launch… figures! We changed into dry clothes and decided to drive up to Scott Bog; another kayaking/wildlife hot spot.

Along the way we scared another smallish moose off the road.  Scott Bog will be our target next time we are in the area with our boats!

After an early dinner, we took a drive up Indian Stream Road. We turned around at the parking area for the Indian Stream Gorge trail head. We’ve put this on our “to do” list as well.

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Wednesday morning we were on the road south by 7:30. Joan was meeting another NEWFS PCV* in Northumberland to do a rare plant survey. While they were botanizing, I headed to the nearby Eames Wayside.

This piece of public land along the Connecticut River looked promising on the map, but I could not find much information about it. It turns out to be essentially undeveloped, there is small parking area on Route 3, but that is it. I tried to bushwhack down to the river but was turned back by the willow thickets.

As I headed back to the car somewhat dejected, I noticed a dragonfly in a sunny spot along the rail bed. Thus all was not lost!

I spent the next couple of hours photographing damselflies and other insects, along about fifty feet of rail bed near a small stream flowing under the rails in a culvert. I did not see another dragonfly the entire time I was there but the damsels were plentiful!

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*NEWFS… New England Wildflower Society; PCV… Plant Conservation Volunteer


29 July 2014

Wildflowers of the North Country

Filed under: Other Insects,Summer,wildflowers — Tags: , , — Frank @ 10:00 PM

Please note: Thanks to Allan, Al and Joan for getting the plants identified. 

The New England Wildflower Society (“NEWFS”) occasionally sponsors field trips for their “PCVs” (i.e. plant conservation volunteers).  This past weekend was was the occasion of the most recent of these.

Nine folks total… staff, PCVs and two husbands gathered in Pittsburg, NH for a weekend of botanizing. I (one of the husbands, obviously?) tagged along for the adventure in general and the hope of some “interesting” odes.

The far north of NH is interesting ecologically since it represents the southern limit of the range for some species found mainly in Canada (plants and odes included) so we were all hoping to see new “stuff”.

Joan and I left the house mid-morning on Friday with camper in tow. We meandered north up the center of NH (staying west of I-93 until Franconia) studiously avoiding the highways. We passed through Kinsman Notch (the second nicest of the notches*)  in the White Mountains and arrived at the Mountain View Cabins and Campground in Pittsburg by the late afternoon.

After a home-cooked dinner with much great food, we spent the evening observing the neighborhood moths as one of the participants had set up white sheets and  lights to attract these critters. I had heard about this activity before but this was my first time experiencing it. Very interesting!

On Saturday morning, after a breakfast of homemade blueberry pancakes, we headed out to the South Bay Bog (part of the Connecticut Lakes Natural Area) and spent the day slogging through the bog in search of rare plants (especially orchids) and odes. The search for plants was a rousing success. The search for odes was less successful as the weather was not ideal (temperature in the low 70’s and cloudy).  I did observed a couple of emeralds, a few sphagnum sprites and a couple of  unidentified dragonflies but did not make any photographs of them.

Rather, I figured “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” and concentrated on photographing the vegetation.

Wild Flowers in and around South Bay Bog

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On the way back to the campground, we stopped at a spot where there was a large concentration of butterflies nectaring on the roadside flowers. (Also included in this set  are other “miscellaneous” photos.)

Mostly Insects

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Sunday morning we awoke to scattered rain showers, but we headed out again for a second morning of botanizing in the East Inlet area**. The group was successful in finding a number of the rare plants they were looking for. I saw a single ode (a female meadowhawk) during one of the lulls in the rain and, again, entertained myself photographing the flora.

Wild Flowers Near East Inlet

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As the weather continued to be iffy, the group broke up around lunch time. After a quick sandwich at the Lake Francis boat launch with a few of the others, Joan and I pointed the car and camper south. We took an western route home, hugging the Connecticut River as much as possible until we hit the Hanover area where we followed NH 10 (which veers east there) to NH 31. We arrived home about 7 PM.

A good time was had by all!

* The nicest notch… that would be Jefferson… the one driven by hardly anyone!

** We’ will definitely be headed back to East Inlet as it looks like spectacular canoeing/kayaking territory.


30 June 2014

Coastal Maine Trip, Part IV (Hog Island Olio)

Filed under: Other Insects,Wildlife — Tags: , , , , — Frank @ 8:00 PM

Part III  is here.

It rained prodigiously overnight but things were beginning to dry up by the time we arose on Thursday. After breakfast, I took a hike around the island with another one of the campers rather than participating in the sessions with the instructors. After lunch there was, again, free time to work on personal projects. I spent some more time staking out the merlins again in hopes of catching another prey transfer. No prey was transferred during my watch, but I did get to watch a very wet female merlin preen for about 10 minutes.

The evening program was a very entertaining celebration of 2014 International Guillemot Appreciation Day (iGAD). There were songs, skits, poems, and much glee all around all in honor of under-appreciated guillemot. Joan wrote a song (to the tune of “Those Were the Days”) in honor of the guillemont. She performed the song accompanied by the ukulele and, with the help of another camper, the concertina. A good time was had by all!

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Part V is here.

28 July 2013

One Extraordinary July Afternoon in the Beaver Meadow

Filed under: Odontates,Other Insects,Summer — Tags: , , , — Frank @ 3:25 PM

Yesterday afternoon, I headed down to the wetland behind our house. I had not been down there for a couple of weeks… first it was too hot for me, more recently it has been too cool and gray for much ode activity.

Yesterday the conditions were ideal for both human and ode… the temperature was in the mid-70’s and it was mostly sunny.

On my way down through the woods, I noticed three or four very small (pinky nail-sized) light brown frogs… probably wood frogs. I did not get any photos, they were very skittish and the ode rig would not have provided enough magnification anyway.

A little further along I noticed another bit of movement on the forest floor… it took me about five minutes of searching, but I finally noticed the critter…a small, well camouflaged moth (see the first photo).

As I reached the beaver meadow, I saw a few early bright red male meadow hawks in the shrubs along the margin and a number of large dragonflies (darners) out over meadow. I did not stop to photograph the meadow hawks (there will be plenty more to come).

Rather headed out to the edges of the open water. As expected, there was much activity here. A number of different species of both dragonflies and damselflies going about their business, mostly feeding, but also mating and ovipositing.

As I was watching and photographing the damselflies among the grasses and sedges along a small spot of open water, I turned to my right and noticed the extraordinary scene shown in the second photograph. I don’t know the details of the story, but visually it is quite a story… the title might be “How Did the Darner Lose Its Abdomen?”! I am unsure if the exuvia in the background is part of the story or not.

When I stood up from photographing this scene, I noticed a bit of movement a few feet away. The source of this movement is shown in the two photos made less than a meter from the half-darner. It took me a while to sort out what was going on in my viewfinder… it is very rare to see one damselfly preying on another. I see dragonflies preying on damsels infrequently but regularly. I do not remember ever seeing one damselfly eating another before.

Along with these unusual events, I made photos of the more typical events… these was much mating and ovipositing going on!

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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.

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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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5 June 2011

Three Days in June

Filed under: Odontates,Other Insects — Tags: , — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Late afternoon, say 4:30 or 5:00, is a good time to stalk dragonflies… the critters are active and the light is good (coming at fairly low angle). Thus, each of the the past two afternoons, I’ve headed out to photograph — Friday afternoon found me at the beaver swamp at the back of our property and Saturday afternoon found me at an old log yard about a quarter mile up the road from the house. On both days, I stayed out until the mosquitoes got too bad. This was also about the same time that the light began to deteriorate as the sun started to dip below the trees… roughly 6: 30.

The beaver swamp was teeming with common baskettails actively feeding; there were dozens out over the grassy areas of the swamp. They spend most of their time in flight but as the sun began to go down and things cooled off, they began to settle down some. There were also a few chalk-fronted corporals present.

At the log yard, I prowled the edge of the opening which is usually the most productive area of a clearing in the woods. The most common, by far, species present was the chalk-fronted corporal with numerous individuals of both sexes present. There were also a few clubtails as well as a small number of female common whitetails present.

This series of photos begins with a couple of shots of  a Rosy Maple Moth that was hanging around on a bush in the yard on Thursday… a very odd looking critter! The next image is moth which I noticed in the woods on my way down to the beaver swamp.

The photo (which is about half the original frame) of the chipmunk was taken as I was headed to the log yard. I had stopped to photograph a dragonfly on the stone wall along the road when I noticed this “fellow” watching me from the top of the wall a few yards away. I was able to get the extension tube off the camera and the lens back on in time to get two shots before he decided that he had seen enough!

Warning… photography talk! For those that are interested an extension tube is placed between the camera and the lens to allow one to focus at the closer distance than the “bare” lens does. The downside is that you lose the ability to focus on distant objects. Thus when I am set up to shoot dragonflies (see this post for the details) the camera is pretty much useless for anything else.

Anyway, here are the images:

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