Photographs by Frank

12 May 2014

The Weekend’s Work

Filed under: Amphibians,Birds,Monadnock Region,Spring,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 9:00 AM

After a wet Friday, Saturday dawned clear and sunny and brought a number of red efts to the yard.  This was the start of a good weekend for photography.

On both Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, I spent some time down by the north end of the lake. There were at least three species of warblers (yellow rumps, common yellow throats and I third that I could not identify or photograph)  present. Chickadees, pheobes, and kingbirds were also present.

I concentrated on the birds which spend time down low in the bushes along the waters edge… mainly the warblers and the chickadees. These birds will be present all summer but the become next to invisible when the shrubs leaf out. Even without the leaves they are difficult to photograph as they spend most of the time in the thicket of branches. Usually one get a single chance to trip the shutter when a bird appears at the “surface” of the thicket.

Late Saturday afternoon, we put kayaks in the water at Eva’s Marsh WMA in Hancock. I don’t think that we visited Eva’s Marsh last year.  Yesterday, we discovered two big changes since our last visit.  There is now a very long (200 feet or more) beaver dam bisecting the marsh. Thus, the mud flats that used to support foraging sandpipers here are now well under water. Additionally, there is now a single great blue heron nest on a snag in the back section which was not present on our last visit.

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Red Eft
Red Eft
Painted Turtle
Painted Turtle
Eastern Pheobe
Eastern Pheobe
Common Yellowthroat #1
Common Yellowthroat #1
Common Yellowthroat #2
Common Yellowthroat #2
Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Great Blue Heron on Its Nest
Great Blue Heron on Its Nest

27 April 2014

First Photographs from My Semi-Permanent Blind

Filed under: Amphibians,Birds,Early Spring,Monadnock Region — Tags: , — Frank @ 2:00 PM

About a month ago, I spent a couple of warm days out in the garage constructing a blind from which to photograph. The blind consists of frame constructed from one inch PVC pipe and cover constructed from burlap cloth crudely sewn together with some twine. It is certainly not fancy but hopefully it can stay outside until late fall at least*.

This past Tuesday, I erected the blind “down back” near the edge of the beaver pond “down back” on our property. We share this pond and its associated wetlands with NH Audubon as the boundary between our lot and the Willard Pond Sanctuary roughly bisects this territory.

As luck would have it, Wednesday turned out to be incredibly blustery so the blind got a good test of its stability immediately… it failed miserably! I went down on Thursday to check things out and found that the blind had collapsed!

I knew enough to stabilize each joint with a small screw between the connector and the pipe. However, when I set up the blind I could not align the holes for the screws in a few of the joints. I plowed ahead anyway, figuring that I would get the last of the screws in another time.

Guess which joints failed in the wind? Every one that was lacking a screw… and none of the others! I went back, got the tools I needed and re-erected the blind securing all of the joints this time.

Early Friday afternoon, I headed down to try out the blind. Conditions were not ideal for photography… the light was harsh and fairly high over head, but I had to try it out. I took a chair and a water bottle along with camera, Big Bertha and tripod and settled in.

The first lesson I learned was how hard it is to stay alert in a  quiet, sunny spot.  After waking from my nap, the first critters I noticed were two painted turtles sunning on a log in the pond. I had suspected that turtles must be present but had never observed them here before… score one for the blind!

I could hear a number of birds (most commonly phoebes)  nearby, but only a very small number came into view. I managed to see and get a photograph of a  single phoebe.

A short time later, I heard the sound of great splashing about in the water. Scanning the environs, I finally found large plumes of water in the air, but the source was out of sight from my vantage point. A short time later a pair of mallards came into view. They swam about and bathed for quite some time.

At one point the pair of birds approached the log upon which the turtles were sunning. The male mallard decided that he wanted to perch on the log and immediately one of the turtles did the expected… it dove into the water. However, the second turtle held its ground and after a minute or so, the bird headed back into the water!

The mallards continued to bathe and preen for another five or ten minutes at which point they both suddenly looked in the same direction (to the north, or camera right). About thirty seconds later they both exploded into the air and were gone. I have no idea what they saw.

A few minutes later, I decided to head back up to the house**.  As soon as I stood up outside the blind the second turtle headed for the water… more evidence of the success of the blind?

Here are the photographs…

*I probably could have bought a commercial “pop-up” hunting blind for less that I spent on the materials for this blind. However, every commercial blind I have seen comes with the warning not to leave it sitting in the sun for long periods of  time. It turns out that the coated nylon they are made from is not stable to UV light and will fall apart with exposure to too much sun. Not very useful in my opinion.

**The blind faces to the west and the sun was getting low. Pointing the camera into the sun does not make for great photographs.  Generally, the blind will be most useful in the morning.


10 December 2010

Massachusetts Wildlife

Back in September, I entered ten images in a photo contest sponsored by Massachusetts Wildlife magazine, a quarterly publication of Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

I had pretty much forgotten about the contest and my entry. However, I was pleasantly reminded about it when I recently received email informing me that four of my photos have been given awards!

According to the email from Peter Mirick,  the editor, there were “1,137 entries received from 183 individuals living in 149 cities and towns, some as far away as Florida and Arizona.”

No large cash prizes! Just a subscription to the magazine and a few extra copies of the  issue in which the images will be published.  However, it is nice to have ones work recognized this way.

Here are the four images that were selected:

And here are the other entries:

Thanks for “wandering by”.


29 May 2010

East Head Pond

Filed under: Birds,Southeastern MA,Wildlife — Tags: , , , , , — Frank @ 12:00 PM

On Sat (22 May 2010) afternoon, we put the kayaks in the water for the first time this season… our destination was East Head Pond in Myles Standish State Forest (Carver and Plymouth, MA). We chose this spot based on its description  in the AMC Quiet Water Guide for Massachusetts. This series of guide books (that cover much of the northeast) is highly recommended. Of course, I took the camera and the long lens and we were off to see what could be found!

We were amply rewarded. Seeing, over the course of a few hours,  painted turtles, frogs and many small birds… no surprise there!  We also caught an osprey fishing… watching it dive five times (at various distances) before it came up with a fish.

We spent some quality time with a mother mallard and her brood as they made their way along the shoreline eating like mad. At one point mom and all of the ducklings stopped and stood at attention. The reason… an owl passing by along the shore at low altitude. One has to imagine that the owl had a ducking dinner in mind!

The only reason I know about the owl, is that Joan told me about it. She watched the scene unfold from twenty or so feet away. Of course, I saw the ducks reaction through the lens. But, I was sitting (with camera to eye) within a dozen feet of both the ducks and the owl and I never heard a thing… the owl went by and never made a sound.

At the very end of the day, as the light was fading, we passed though a boggy area that had a number of pitcher plants growing in it…  some of which were in bloom… not something you see every day!

Here are the day’s photos:


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