Photographs by Frank

16 June 2014

Food & Sex

How is that for an attention-getting post title!

It might be attention-getting, but it is a good description of the ode activity in our yard yesterday.  There were dozens of whitefaces, at altitudes ranging from one to twelve feet constantly on the move and feeding.  There were also smaller numbers of other species both hunting and mating.

In addition to the odes there were also decent numbers of butterflies around… small orange butterflies down low in the vegetation, many swallowtails nectaring (especially on the blackberries) and a single black butterfly on the edge of the road looking for salt. (The last two butterfly photos as of the same individual.)

There were often groups of three or four swallowtails doing their in flight dances… is this mating behavior or is it about territory? More stuff to learn!

Through it all, the chipmunks living in our stone walls would chatter at me. I guess that they want the yard to themselves.

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26 August 2013

Pitcher Mountain

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Other Insects — Tags: , , , — Frank @ 10:00 PM

Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon found us (myself, Joan, Katrina, Suzy and Lyle) atop Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard, NH.

Pitcher Mountain is the site of some world-class wild blueberry picking; there are acres and acres of terrain specially maintained to promote blueberry bush growth. The blueberry season is winding to a close, but the hike to the top of the mountain is usually rewarded with spectacular views in all directions. I did not bother with landscape photos this trip… harsh mid-day light, a cloudless sky and a bit of haze don’t do justice to the scene.

Rather, as one might expect, I concentrated on the insects! There were dozens of darners patrolling territories and hunting on the summit but rarely landing… the one frame of a darner I show here is the only one I made. Darn those darners!

I saw one other dragonfly on the summit… a female Eastern Amberwing. A new species for me. She was quite cooperative and hung around for maybe five minutes or so.

In between hunting darners, I was able to keep myself entertained with the grasshoppers. The butterfly was spotted at the trail head as we arrived back a the road.

We stopped for ice cream at the new place on Route 10 (in Marlow) before heading home. It was delicious and well worth the short drive in the “wrong” direction. Dinner was not needed last night!

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19 August 2013

Another Trip “Down Back”

About 4 this afternoon, I donned my waders and spent about an hour and three quarters near the beaver pond “down back”.

I was surprised by the lack of meadowhawks… I saw only two or three along the margin of the beaver swamp. There were small numbers of darners out of the meadow… I saw maybe a dozen total while I was out. I also saw a single sedge sprite.  The most numerous ode present were the spreadwings (I don’t know what species). I saw roughly three dozen.

When I arrived at the edge of the beaver pond I found a convenient spot of open water and knelt down keeping the sun off my shoulder. I was happily watching and photographing spreadwings when I noticed a small (first joint of the thumb-sized) frog not more than I foot from my knee. I don’t know if he was there when I knelt down or if he appeared after I settled in. He was too close to photograph with the ode rig, so I backed up slowly. He was completely unconcerned and I was able to photograph him (see Green Frog #1).

A short while later I noticed two more similar sized frogs near by. One was too close to photograph and partly covered by some grass. The other made for a nice photograph (see Green Frog #2). I decided to try a different angle on the second frog and, as I went to move my position, I almost put my knee on a much larger (fist-sized) green frog. I was able to back off without disturbing him and made Green Frog #3. The big guy was more wary than the smaller fellows and fairly quickly jumped out of sight. I went back to photographing the second frog head on (see Green Frog #4; note the blood-sucking flies, one on each eye!).

The sedge sprite made a brief  appearance while I was photographing the frogs and I was able to get two frames before it disappeared again.

Eventually, I stood up and moved off a short distance. While I was moving I found the orange butterfly and was able to get a clear view for just a single frame.

I was entertaining myself with the spreadwings at the second spot when I heard the clatter of dragonfly wings. The sound of dragonfly wings hitting vegetation or each other is quite unmistakable.

I quickly located the source, a female darner down low in the grasses ovipositing. I was able to get two frames before she moved off to another spot without a clear line of sight. After short interval she moved again, this time to a spot about a foot in front of me but she only stayed for a second or two before flying off out of sight. I went back to photographing spreadwings.

After a few more minutes, I decided that it was time to make supper so I headed back up the hill to the house.

That’s my story for today and I am sticking to it!

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15 August 2013

A Week Off (from Photographing)

Looking at the calendar, I realize that it has been a week since my last post; this after a string of daily posts the week before.

All I can say is that I have been busy. This photo explains much of that busyness:

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We had six cords of fire wood delivered in the late afternoon last Saturday. I had it all stacked before lunchtime yesterday (i.e. Wednesday). The stack is roughly eighteen feet by eighteen feet by four and a half feet… about eight cords total.

Every time I went out to work on the stack, I had to ignore the many odes, mainly meadowhawks of both sexes, that were around the yard. After finishing yesterday, we ate lunch on the deck and as soon as we finished eating, I picked up the camera. I made all of these photos within about twenty five feet of the deck. The band-winded meadowhawk is another new species for me.

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4 August 2013

The First Two Days of August

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

These photos were made around the yard on Thursday. It was quite unusual to see large darners hanging around the yard.

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On Friday evening we put the kayaks in Gregg Lake and explored the wetlands at the north end.

Joan dragged her boat over the beaver dam and explored a bit on the upper side. The water on the upper side is roughly two feet higher than the lower side. On the return trip Joan fell in while trying to get back into her boat! I found enough to photograph without getting out of my kayak.

It was rather late in the day for odes, so I did not take the “ode rig”. Rather I took the little V1 and looked for other subjects.

There were a lot of vesper bluets out and about, so I’ll have to head out again soon with the ode rig. I did not even try photographing them with the V1 as it simply does not have anywhere near the magnification needed.

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21 July 2013

Along the Sweet Trail

Filed under: Odontates,Other Insects,Summer,wildflowers — Tags: , , — Frank @ 9:30 PM

Today, Joan had some botanizing to do over in Durham so I went along for the drive… err… to do the driving!

While she, and two partners, were  looking for plants that had not been seen since 1943*, I explored the Sweet Trail which runs for four miles starting in Durham and ending at Great Bay in Newmarket (or vice versa, I guess!).

I did not walk the whole trail. Rather, I explored only the southern most bit (from the Lubberland Creek trail head to the water) and the area around the Great Bay WMA trailhead in the middle.

At Lubberland Creek, there is a large meadow at the water’s edge that was filled with insects. There was also one very angry osprey circling overhead. Nearby, there was an nest on a platform at the waters edge with a second adult on it… I did not see any young birds, but I did not stay nearby for very long. Rather, I headed towards the upper edge of the meadow and stalked butterflies and dragonflies well away from the nest.

I managed only one butterfly photo as none of these critters would sit still long enough to for me to find them in the viewfinder. However, there were a number of seaside dragonlets and blue dashers about and I also spotted two male widow skimmers.

A short walk from the second trailhead brought me to a good sized pond. There, I happened upon a single female Common Pondhawk. There were also small numbers male blue dashers and meadowhawks (of both sexes, but unknown species) present as well. Out over the water, there were a number of large dragonflies (probably darners) that I could not see well, much less photograph.

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* This situation was unchanged by today’s activities!

20 July 2013

Flies… Butter and Dragon, No Damsel!

Filed under: Odontates,Other Insects,Summer,The "New" Yard & Environs — Tags: , — Frank @ 2:00 PM

Since the weather was not quite as oppressive as it has been the past few days, I braved the heat and humidity and headed outside this morning. I wandered the yard with camera in hand for about forty five minutes and almost filled a memory card.

There was much going on. There were many different insects nectaring on the flowers Joan’ garden. There were also a number of different dragonflies going about their business, including a couple exhibiting oblisking behavior.

Oblisking is when an individual points its abdomen more-or-less straight up in the air. This behavior is thought to be involved in thermoregulation. By minimizing the surface exposed to the sun, an individual will stay a bit cooler that it would otherwise.

When I got too hot, I headed into the house for a drink of iced tea and to process these photographs!

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14 September 2012

Three from Yesterday

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

Yesterday was a perfect mid-September day weather-wise. Thus, when I got home from work, the urge to meander the neighborhood was irresistible.

There were not many odes about. I saw a couple of spreadwings, a couple of darners and a half a dozen or so Autumn Meadowhawks while meandering.

I also encountered three or four very small (thumbnail-size) toads or frogs. Fun to watch but impossible to photograph well… I tried without success.  These critters are rarely in the open, preferring instead to hide in the grass or under small pieces of wood. They are very wary. Once you have located one, you can easily watch one for minutes… if you stand very still. However, any small movement and they take one or two hops which leaves you search again  for a very well hidden amphibian on the forest floor. I know… excuses, excuses!

There were, however, dozens of wasps on the goldenrod and eight or ten monarchs on the flowers around the perimeter of Joan’s vegetable garden. None of these seemed to mind my making photographs while they went about their business.

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28 August 2012

Around the Garden Over the Weekend

Filed under: Amphibians,Odontates,Other Insects,Wildlife — Tags: , , , — Frank @ 8:34 AM

Both kids were here for a visit over the weekend; a rare treat for us. Thus, I did not get  time for any photographic “expeditions”. There were, however,  a number of interesting visitors to Joan’s garden and its immediate surroundings which I did manage to photograph.

The black swallowtail caterpillars (there are three or four of them) have been hanging around the garden for a week or more. They have more-or-less wiped out the dill (apparently well known as a favorite of theirs) and have moved on to the parsley.

The painted ladies were abundant on Saturday; sometimes I could see five or six from a single vantage point. They were actively nectaring on the flowers that encircle the garden.

The gray tree frog, which was sitting on the Swiss chard,  is a rare visitor; neither Joan nor I had ever seen one before. Apparently they are not particularly rare; see:

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Note the new method of displaying photographs in this post. Any opinions on this “style” compared to the usual one?

18 June 2012

A Stretch of Perfect Days

Filed under: Odontates,Other Insects — Tags: , , — Frank @ 8:00 AM

Today dawned overcast, but the past few days have been sunny and right around seventy degrees… perfect weather for odonates!

I was able to get out and hunt odes for four days straight. Thursday, I headed for the Contoocook River and the Lovern’s Mill cedar swamp. I was almost shut out… I finally saw a few odes (the third and fourth photos) in the small meadow next to the road where I had parked the truck at Lovern’s Mill.

All of the rest of the photos were taken within a short walk of the house or at camp. The butterfly visited the flower box hanging from the deck railing while I was eating lunch on Thursday. I am learning to keep the camera ready at all times!

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