Today was not a particular good day for ode-ing… it was overcast and cool.
Not that I minded… I spent four or five hours over the previous two days swamp stomping in my new summer-weight (i.e. non-neoprene) waders. Previously, I had made do with “green wellies” which often got flooded if I ventured a little too deep or if I squatted down in the water. Chest-waders have neither problem and therefore make the life of a swamp stomper much nicer!
Here are the results (including a few “non-ode” species):
As summer draws rapidly to a close, I feel the urge to wander in wetlands more strongly than earlier in the season. Yesterday Joan and I both headed down to the beaver swamp. She to work on her skills at identifying and documenting wildflowers and I to do my usual thing!
Joan is on a hunt for New England Asters… don’t ask why! Thus far I have lead her to White Wood Asters (a few days ago) and New York Asters (yesterday)… so the hunt continues!
We headed out a bit earlier that I usually do (around 2:30 instead of more toward 4:00). I was hoping that maybe there would be a bit more activity earlier in the afternoon than there had been on my previous excursions. I was willing to sacrifice good light for photographic opportunity. I was not disappointed! Of course we’ll never know if it was the hour or the luck of the draw!
The green frog was sitting in the middle of the beaver pond maybe five or six feet from where I sat on the bank when I noticed it; I had been sitting in the same spot for five or ten minutes when I noticed it. I do not know if had been there all of the time or if had appeared just before I saw it…. so much for the observant nature photographer! Any way, wWe watched each other for fifteen or twenty minutes. It was very unconcerned about my presence.
Presumably, it was hoping to catch a passing insect. Of course, I was hoping to photograph it catching an insect. It was much more patient that I as it was still sitting there when I arose and moved on.
The toad on the other hand was rather jumpy! It is quite amazing that a 1.5 inch long creature can end up two or three feet away in a single bound. I stalked this “fellow” for a couple of leaps, at which point it must have decided to try relying on its camouflage. When I finally found it again, it kept still and I was able to shoot a number of frames.
The highlight of the afternoon was a very brief glimpse of a large darner ovipositing. Dragonflies are very wary when laying eggs. After I spied this individual, I turned slowly and carefully to get the two frames I did. As soon as I made a larger movement in an attempt to get a better angle off she went! The same was true for the tandem pair of meadow hawks… I made just two exposures before they were off again.
Hunting meadowhawks are another story… both of these females kept making brief hunting forays returning to the same perch after each foray. As usual they were very unconcerned by my presence and I was able to slowly move closer and get the best angle possible. Whatever they were hunting must have been small as I never either of them with prey… or maybe they were not very successful hunters!
Yesterday was another prototypical New Hampshire summer day… low humidity and the temperature was just about 70 degrees. We spent the afternoon hiking up Skatutakee and Thumb Mountains on trails maintained by the Harris Center in Hancock. The summits of both peaks afford nice views of the north face of Mount Monadnock.
We encountered two different species of damselflies in the woods on the way up and the usual darners which frequent the peaks were found on both summits. We also watched two hawks soaring over the summit of Skatutakee while we ate our lunch.
Near the bottom of the Thumbs Down trail we encountered a porcupine on the ground in a lumbered area and a short time later we flushed a grouse-like bird from the underbrush along the edge of the same clearing. No photos of either animal though; both were quicker than yours truly!
We also encountered a rather large toad at the edge of an old skid road just before the Thumbs Down Trail becomes a real trail again. This “fellow” was well hidden under some ferns but I managed to find “windows” that afforded shots of both his left and right profiles. That done, I’m not sure that one could say that he has a “good side”!
Well… here it is, the end of August and we are back home trying to get our heads wrapped around the idea of going back to work! (I know we won’t get much sympathy from those who did work all or most of the summer!)
I quipped to a number of people over the last few weeks that we we spent the summer practicing for retirement. Of course, I also had to say that we seemed to be getting pretty good at it and thus maybe we should try the real thing. Alas, the reality of finances won’t allow for that quite yet.
Peak time for odontates is the month of July… by the time the end of August rolls around the numbers of dragonflies and damselflies are way down from the peak. Also, having spent the past six or seven weeks actively photographing the critters adds a feeling that there is not much too see.
These factors, and having the weather a bit cooler, lead us to spend a few days taking some hikes around the area… we revisited places that we had not seen in some years and saw some new spots that were not lake-side habitat. We also found some new photographic subjects.
We spent time in the area between Gregg Lake and Willard Pond on two days and visited the McCabe Forest (a Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests reservation along the Contoocook River in Antrim.) I also spent an hour or so one afternoon in the fields at the Bass Farm found a couple of cooperative butterflies to photograph.
On the ledges atop Goodhue Hill, one sunny early afternoon, we watched dozens of darners (one family of large dragonflies) feasting on insects that we could not see. They were in constant flight… which explains why I have no photographs! (Note to Joan: I can get photos of dragonflies in flight… it will just require a bit of new equipment!!!)
Anyway, here are a half dozen photos from these hikes: