Photographs by Frank

30 March 2016

Spring Break Road Trip, Part 3

Filed under: Birds,National Wildlife Refuges,Odontates,Spring,Wildlife — Frank @ 4:00 PM

On the 2oth, we pointed the car north and headed for Georgia, specifically the Stephen Foster State Park within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

Arriving in the late afternoon, we were treated to hordes of dragonflies in and around the campground. We had seen small numbers of odes here-and-there in Florida, but they were out in full force in Georgia.

The next morning, we took the boat tour out into the swamp offered by the park. They have kayaks for rent, which we would have done except that Joan’s shoulder was bothering her enough that she was taking regular doses of ibuprofen. Thus, we decided on the boat tour.

We spent the rest of the day out on the boardwalk entertained by all of the widllife.

Okefenokee NWR —

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Okefenokee Odes —

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We continued north on the 22nd, headed to Assateague National Seashore in Maryland, and camping enroute for a night in North Carolina. We spent the afternoon of the 23rd at the Virginia section of the National Seashore before heading to the campground in the Maryland section.

We spent the late afternoon/early evening of the 23rd as well as most of the day on the 24th exploring the various parts of Assateague before heading toward Lewes, Delaware where we were expected for dinner at our friend Sally’s house.

Assateague National Seashore —

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Sally and her boyfriend David showed us around the Lewes area, including stops at Cape Henlopen State Park and Prime Hook NWR.

Lewes, DE area —

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Sunday (the 27th) morning we headed home, arriving about 8 PM; just as it was getting dark.

We were glad to have made the trip and glad to be home!

Photo note: I made roughly 2500 photographs during the trip. I processed about ten percent of them and have presented 111 photos (approximately five percent) in the three blog posts. The large majority of the photographs were made with “Big Bertha” (i.e. my 600 mm lens); my 300 mm lens was used for a small minority. I think that I broke out a shorter lens only once… I guess that I was not “thinking” landscapes this trip!


9 June 2013

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge — Part 2, Odonates

Filed under: National Wildlife Refuges,Odontates,Summer — Tags: , — Frank @ 7:24 PM

Well… At the rate I am working it might take years to get these critters identified. This is clearly not my strong point!

Thus, I am just going to post the photos… check back at some point if you really care about the names.

UPDATE: Last evening, Joan spent some time with Paulson’s book and Odonata Central.  She has IDs for all of the photos… blame her if they are wrong!!! 😉

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7 June 2013

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge — Part 1, Birds & Landscapes

Filed under: Amphibians,Birds,National Wildlife Refuges,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , , — Frank @ 5:00 PM

My parents recently moved to one of those “soup-to-nuts” retirement places in suburban Washington, DC and we spent last weekend visiting them at their new abode.

On Monday we headed for the Blackwater National Wildlife refuge in Cambridge, MD (on the Eastern Shore). We had made a short visit there last summer and put it on our list of spots to return to for some serious exploring and photography.

We arrived in the area mid-afternoon on Monday and dropped off the camper in the campground before hitting the wildlife drive though the refuge in time for the good late afternoon and evening light. On Tuesday we spent nine hours in the kayaks exploring the Blackwater River. On Wednesday morning we did the drive through the refuge again before pointing the car north. We arrived home just after midnight.

On our first visit to Blackwater, we were amazed at the concentration of herons, egrets, osprey and bald eagles. This was not a random event. The same was true this trip. There were spots in the water where six or eight egrets and herons would be lined up in a space of a few dozen feet. At times it seemed that no mater which direction you turned you could spot a bald eagle nest or an osprey nest. The density of the large charismatic birds is quite astounding.

It seems that this trip, we caught fledgling time for the bald eagles. We often saw two adults sitting in the same tree nearby a nest. On a couple of occasions we watched a juvenile land in the same tree.

Of course, there are also many smaller birds around as well as numerous dragonflies and damselflies. I tried to photograph them all!

The odes will have to wait until I get at least some of them identified. They are mostly different from the familiar (to me) ones in New England. But, here is the first installment of photos…birds and landscapes.

Blackwater Birds (all made in the refuge proper)…

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Landscapes (the two black and white photos were made in the refuge; the sunset photos were made from the campground we stayed at in Turners Island)…

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24 November 2012

November Landscapes

November is not the best month of the year for landscapes in New England.

Although we often have nice clear, crisp days… the cloudless skies and grey hillsides can conspire to make for somewhat bland photographs. None-the-less, I keep trying!

On Thursday (Thanksgiving) afternoon, Joan and I walked up the road to Brimstone Corner while the turkey was in the oven. Nick pulled up just as we arrived back at the house and we extended our stroll by heading down to the lake. I had not taken the camera along on the first part of the walk, but the sun was low enough to tempt me as we headed down to the lake.

Yesterday afternoon, the three of us  took a hike up North Pac Monadnock; the trail head in the Wapack NWR is about a 20 minute drive from the house. We finished the hike in the light of the mostly full moon.

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26 May 2012

Maiden Voyage

Having decided that we were too old to sleep on the ground but too young to quit camping, we spent some time mulling the options and decided on a teardrop camper. A teardrop camper is basically a bed (queen-sized in our case) on wheels with a camp kitchen on the back. They are light enough to be pulled behind a small car.

After a bit of research (and some last minute mind-changing), we decided to buy a Silver Shadow model made by Little Guy Campers.  We picked the trailer up at the  “local” dealer (Dan Kearney’s  in Rutland, VT) a couple of weeks ago.

On Monday, we took off on our maiden voyage in the camper. Our destination was Rangeley Lake State Park in western Maine. We spent two nights at Rangeley Lake,  a third night in Errol, NH and made it back home for a late dinner on Thursday.

We meandered the back roads both going and coming and covered 679 miles total, including a “loop” to Grafton Notch without the trailer (see below). The “rig” (i.e  Joan’s Forrester with two kayaks on top and the trailer) averaged 23.7 mpg for the trip. We averaged 21.9 mpg on the 218 mile return leg. The unburdened Forester gets about 32 mpg.

Here are a couple of photos of “the rig”:

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We arrived at Rangeley Lake around supper time and had our choice of campsites; there were only two other sites in use. Although, the ranger who registered us was anticipating with a bit of dread the crowds on the coming holiday weekend.

After setting up camp and cooking our first meal on the propane stove, we took a walk along the lake. Upon returning to our campsite (which was right on the lake) we were treated with a great sun set:

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Tuesday dawned gray with the forecast of scattered showers (the first of which occurred while we ate breakfast). We decided to take a drive to see (and photograph) the various waterfalls in the Grafton Notch (ME) State Park area. During the day we made five or six short hikes to various falls and encountered a few more light showers but we had fun anyway!

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We arrived back at the campsite at dinner time. After cooking dinner we launched the kayaks from the campsite and set off towards a small bay nearby. I had made an “executive decision” to leave the camera gear in the car as the light was drab and would quickly begin to fade.

The lake was quiet. We encountered a single boat close up shortly after we launched and only saw a couple of others in the distance as we paddled the lake.

As we headed back towards the campsite, we were treated to the sight of a bald eagle passing overhead. Joan watched through her binoculars as the bird cruised across the lake and made two attempts at fish. (I, of course, had forgot my binoculars!) The bird alit in a tree on a small island and after a short interval took flight again carrying a large stick. Again, she (or he) flew directly overhead at an altitude of maybe twenty or thirty feet. The bird was so close (and it was so quiet) that we could hear its wing beats! A short time later the (presumably) same bird made a return tip back across the lake to the same small island. At this point we headed back towards the campsite in the rapidly gathering dark. It was quite the experience and sometimes the experience is all that matters says he who left the camera back in the car!

Wednesday dawned cloudy but the forecast was for clearing weather. We decided to head for the Magalloway River near the headquarters of the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge in Errol, NH. We had camped nearby and explored the lake twice before, but had never headed upriver from the NWR headquarters. We figured that we could have a nice relaxed paddle and then decide whether to head home or camp a third night.

The paddle was nice, although not as isolated as the down river (towards the lake) stretch; we did about 4.5 miles before turning around. We got back to the landing at the NWR building around 4 PM.

As we were carrying Joan’s boat back across the road to the car we both did a double take… there was a three-legged bear standing on the lawn near the NWR building!  Upon seeing us, the critter unhurriedly headed down the bank and swam across the river. Our last sight was of its rear end disappearing into the woods on the far bank!

I do not think that the woman in the NWR office really believed our story, but I can’t say that I blame her! I’m not sure that I would believe such a story but having seen it with my own eyes I guess that it is true!!!!!

We decided to camp one more night and headed to the Clear Stream Campground in Errol. This is a nice quiet, but mosquito-filled private campground; nothing had changed from our previous stay here in July a couple of years ago! We set up camp and, instead fighting the vampires, we headed to the Bull Moose Restaurant for an early dinner.

After dinner, our plan was to head out on route 16 to “hunt” for moose. On our way back towards town after dinner we encountered a small cow moose eating the salt-laden mud at the side of the road. There was already a car stopped when we arrived and by the time a couple of more vehicles went roaring by the moose hightailed back into the woods. A good start to the evening!

We headed south of town along the Androscoggin River without seeing another moose but I made a couple of nice landscapes by a wide part of the river where we turned around and headed back north.

It was still light when we got back to the center of Errol so we decided to try Route 16 north of town. We drove as far as Wentworth Location and found another nice sunset scene to photograph but no moose. As we headed back to town in the near dark, we encountered another moose crossing the road as we drove.

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After breakfast at the campsite (the mosquitoes were not nearly as bad as they had been the previous evening) we packed up with the intention of meandering home through the White Mountains… and meander we did! We stopped at the pull off in Kinsman Notch to photograph but mostly I drove while Joan, with map in hand, “told me where to go”! We both enjoyed the scenery and arrived home about 4 PM.

All-in-all we had a successful maiden voyage.

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16 October 2010

The Butterflies of Sachuest Point

Filed under: National Wildlife Refuges,Other Insects,Uncategorized,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 10:57 AM

Last Monday (the Columbus Day Holiday), Joan and I took a drive to Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Middletown Road Island.

This refuge, which is about a 45 minute drive from the house, is one of my favorite photographic haunts in winter when there are many ducks, including harlequins, in residence.

I suspected that early October would be too early for many overwintering birds and this proved correct. However, we were pleasantly surprised by the abundance of butterflies. We saw dozens of monarchs, presumably on their migration south, as well as smaller numbers of three or four other species.

Flowers for nectaring were few and far between… the most abundant being goldenrod… so I suspect that we were seeing the trailing edge of the migratory wave.

Photographically, I went equipped for birds, taking my Sigma 50-500mm lens. While this is not the ideal equipment for shooting butterflies, it is serviceable with subjects as large as monarchs as long as you are willing to accept some cropping of the final images. Thus, most of these shots represent about half of the full frame.

Here are a half dozen images from the afternoon:

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