Photographs by Frank

28 July 2022

Mid-week Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , , — Frank @ 10:00 PM

Yesterday afternoon I spent roughly four hours (2-6 PM) looking for odes (ode-ing?). The temperature was in the low 80s F and the skies mostly clear. I visited two sites, spending a bit less than two hours at each.

My first stop was the Harris Center property on Brimstone Corner Road in Antrim (a.k.a. part of the old boy/girl scout camp, depending on how long you have been around!). Here, I walked down the road to its low spot where the beaver pond outlet crosses the road.

I spotted my first odes when I got to the now rapidly regrowing log landing. There were several blue dashers, a few female common pondhawks and a couple of calico pennants present here. There was also a lone yellow dragonfly that cannot identify. (I know I have seen this species before, but it just isn’t coming to me know… a symptom of old age, I guess!)

In the stream just below where it crosses the road there were many (two or three dozen) ebony jewelwings of both sexes and a small number of variable dancers, including two pairs flying in tandem.

Across the road and along the shore of the large beaver pond, I observed a single male slatey skimmer and a couple of spreadwings.

My second stop was the Cilley Family Forest in Greenfield. (This land was once part of the Robertson farm. The Robertsons are Joan’s cousins.) Here, I walked down the road to the field by the river and then over to the railroad bridge across the Contoocook. In the field I observed a single blue dasher, couple of Halloween pennants and a couple of male widow skimmers. Over on the bank adjacent to the rail bridge, I saw a single female common pondhawk.

All-in-all, the total number of odes (except for the Ebony jewelwings) were low has seems to be generally true this summer. However, I did see a nice selection of different species while I was out.

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The first ten of these photos were made at the Harris Center property; the last four at the Cilley Family Forest.

13 July 2022

Wednesday’s Work

This morning dawned bright and clear. After breakfast, I took a stroll about the yard, with scissors in hand, hunting for objects with which to make anthotypes. While the anthotypes were exposing, I worked on hand-coloring another print.

All of these images are small, made on 5×7 inch or smaller paper. The anthotypes are each made on a different paper. #3 is on Strathmore Vision drawing paper (fairly bright white). #4 is on the warm-toned Strathmore Series 400 drawing paper. #5 is on Unica Ivory, also warm but somewhere between the other two papers in tone. I am definitely liking warm-toned paper for paprika anthotypes.

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After lunch, with the skies partly to mostly sunny and the temperature right around 80 deg. F (i.e perfect weather for photographing odes) I headed out to do just that! My goal was the Ashuelot River in Surrey. This is a fast moving, rocky-bottomed smallish river; different from the usual ode habitats I frequent.

I spent just under two hours along the river upstream of the bridge (at the farthest upstream Army Corps of Engineers access site) and was amazed at the paucity of odes. I saw exactly six ebony jewelwings. I did not observe a single dragonfly!

On the way home I made two additional stops along the river on the road between Surrey and Gilsum with similar results… one additional ebony jewelwing.

My luck was only slightly better when I got back to Antrim. I stopped at the field adjacent to the Stone Church on Clinton Road and saw a couple of female Eastern Forktails and, finally two dragonflies. The dragonflies were both out over the small pond in this field and I did not get a good enough view of either to identify them. One of these individuals was making rapid circuits around the circumference of the pond. The other individual was ovipositing; i.e. repeatedly dipping the end of her abdomen into the water.

The lack of odes was quite surprising. Early yesterday evening a line of thunderstorms crossed the region; an inch of rain fell in well less than an hour accompanied by high winds. My guess is that odes do not survive well under these conditions. However, I do not have (and with a quick Google search did not find mention of) any evidence to support this idea.

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28 June 2022

Monhegan Island – Flora and Fauna

Filed under: Birds,Mammals,wildflowers,Wildlife — Tags: , , — Frank @ 11:00 AM

Although our trip to Monhegan Island was mostly about the landscape, I did manage to make a few photographs of the non-human inhabitants of the island even though I did not have a long lens* with me.

There were plenty of birds on the island including, according to Merlin, many nesting warblers along with nesting gulls and cormorants. Common Eiders were also plentiful out past the surf.

The mallards on Ice Pond are clearly habituated to humans. As soon as I showed up on the small beach, every mallard on the pond made a beeline for me expecting a hand out.

There was also a well habituated Herring Gull present atop White Head both times we visited there. I assume that it was used to folks feeding it scraps of their snacks/lunch.

The photos of the seals and the cormorant colony were made when we took an afternoon boat ride around the island… it takes all of thirty minutes to circumnavigate Monhegan Island!

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Late June is also a good time for wildflowers on Monhegan. The beach roses were in full bloom as were many other flowers both large and small.

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* I had my 70-200 mm zoom and a 1.7x teleconverter.

31 May 2022

Yard Odes at the End of May

Early this afternoon, I noticed numerous dragonflies sunning themselves on our deck. Thus stimulated, I headed out with the camera and made a quick circuit of the yard to see what I could find.

The weather was hot (mid 80s F) and the skies mostly sunny.

Whitefaces, probably Hudsonian Whitefaces, were far the most common ode present. There were a few female chalk-fronted corporals present as well. I also observed a single male Beaverpond Baskettail, an uncommon find.

At one point, while chasing whitefaces, I got briefly distracted by the dozen or so Lady Slippers that are blooming at the edge of our yard. I could not resist adding to the already large number of photos of these show flowers that I have made over the years!

MId-afternoon, Joan called my attention to a damselfly acting strangely on our front steps. It was moving about weakly but clearly could not fly. The photo I made clearly shows why. It was injured. Its head was at a very odd angle to its torso. I made a couple of exposures and then watched for another minute or two until it fell off the steps and into the flower bed.

Late afternoon, while puttering around the yard, I noticed a few damselflies in the patch of ferns on the slope below the garden. Always willing to be distracted by odes, I went a got my camera. There were small numbers of Eastern Forktails (of both sexes) and Sedge Sprites (between my eye and the dim light, it was had to discern sexes) present. Females of both species posed nicely for me.

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9 May 2022


Filed under: Monadnock Region,Spring,wildflowers — Tags: — Frank @ 9:45 PM

Spring is coming on rapidly… just like it does every year at this time!

The daffodils around the yard are in full bloom. We ate a few leaves of lettuce from the garden this evening. And… the trees are leafing out.

This afternoon I mounted the macro lens on my camera and went for a walk in the woods. The purple trillium have been out for some time as have the violets. Today was the first time this season I saw painted trillium in bloom.

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24 July 2020

Cilly Family Forest Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,wildflowers,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 10:45 PM

The Cilly Family Forest is a parcel of conserved land along the Contoocook River in Greenfield. It was once part of Joan’s cousin Stevie’s farm. The parcel is mostly wooded but there is a large field abutting the river that is kept open. There are often good numbers of dragonflies in the field.

I spent about ninety minutes there later this afternoon. The temperature was in the upper 70s and it was mostly sunny. There were relatively small numbers of odes present. The most numerous were female widow skimmers; I saw roughly ten individuals. In addition to the species I was able to photograph (i.e. slaty skimmer, widow skimmer and blue dasher) I also observed a single calico pennant and one other dragonfly that I was not able to get a good enough view of to identify, but it flashed green as it sped by.

I also saw (but did not photograph) roughly half a dozen damselflies total. Additionally, there were good numbers of a small (maybe an inch and a half across) orange butterfly.

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30 May 2020

May — The Explosion

May is a month of explosive change here in New England.

We begin the month wondering if we will ever be able to stop feeding the stove and end the month ready for a swim many afternoons. The woods are drab and gray at the beginning of May and fully leafed out a couple of weeks later. The summer breeding birds, the earliest of which begin arriving in April , are sitting on nests by the end of May. Additionally, there are waves of both migrating birds and ephemeral wildflowers which come and go all within the month.

And… most importantly, to me anyway, the dragonflies reappear! I saw my first ode of the season, a lone Hudsonian whiteface in the woods on May second. Their population in the uplands around the house peaked a week or ten days ago… most have headed back to a wetland to breed, but there were still a few stragglers in the yard this afternoon.

The past few days have seen an explosion of chalk-fronted corporals in the uplands. Walking along the unmaintained section of Brimstone Corner Road this morning, in every sunny spot, I stirred up a dozen or more chalk-fronted corporals. The large majority were brown (either female or immature males).

There are also a few individuals of another, larger species also present… I have to find where I stashed the ode books for the winter in order to identify these!

And then there are the chipmunks… remember when, a few seasons ago, we were all concerned about the lack of chipmunks? Well… thanks to the remarkable reproductive capacity of rodents, I can report that they are back in numbers which seem larger than ever. The current generation also seems much bolder than those of the past. I have had chipmunks trying to steal seed as I was filling the bird feeders! The photo of the chipmunk which accompanies this post was made with my camera set up for odes… in this mode it can not focus beyond about four or five feet!

All of these photos were made over the course of an hour or so this afternoon.

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6 September 2019

Late Season Odes (and Wild Flowers)

Filed under: Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 11:00 AM

Yesterday afternoon, I took a walk on the Harris Center Brimstone Corner Road property just down the road from our house. My goal was to see what odes were still out and about. I was expecting to find autumn meadowhawks and some darners.

As I expected the most common dragonfly I observed was the autumn meadowhawk. I saw more than a dozen; mostly in the old log yard. However, there were also a few, including a mating pair, by the outlet of the beaver pond. Here, I also observed a single variable dancer; the only damselfly I saw yesterday.

There were a few large darners flying out over the water of the beaver pond. However, the most common dragonfly here was the slaty skimmer. There were at least a dozen, mostly males, patrolling the edge of the pond defending territories.

In addition to the odes, my eye was attracted to all of the late season flowers.

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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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8 July 2018

(Mostly) Wildflowers at Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center

Filed under: Other Insects,wildflowers — Tags: , — Frank @ 9:49 PM

In preparation for my workshop titled “Photography of Dragonflies and Damselflies“, I have (twice in the past couple of weeks) spent some time at the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center (in West Brattleboro, VT). Alas, the odes have been sparse both visits, but there are numerous wildflowers (IDs by Joan) in their meadows. They also have numerous day lilies blooming around their buildings at the moment.

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