Photographs by Frank

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.

17 June 2022

Chick Vigil (Thursday Edition)

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 9:13 PM

I know that today is Friday… but sometimes things get busy!!

Late Wednesday evening we had multiple reports of a long, loud territorial spat between two loons. Thus, we were a little apprehensive about what we would find when we headed out for a look early Thursday morning.

However, our fears were quickly put to rest as we observed all four loons (two adults and two chicks) on the main part of the lake to the east of the town beach. The birds were behaving normally… adults diving, chicks bobbing and fresh fish served up.

The loon family was too far away for decent photographs, so this post it text only. Sorry about that!

15 June 2022

Chick Vigil (Wednesday Edition)

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , , — Frank @ 6:00 PM

We have two chicks!!!

I arrived at the lake this morning at a few minutes after nine and watched the nest for three hours. It was immediately obvious that there was a chick on the nest. Every so often the adult would lift its right wing and I could see movement under the wing (see the video below, for an example).

At one point the chick moved around in front of the adult and headed into the water. It spent a few minutes in the water (hidden from my view by the emergent vegetation) before climbing back up on the nest and the protection of the adults wing. The adult never left the nest during the three hour I watched.

Two pairs of walkers happened by while I was loon sitting and both mentioned that there was a loon with a chick on the main part of the lake over by the road. The loon, I could believe*, but I was skeptical about the chick. After all, I was watching a chick and an adult sitting on the nest which surely still had the second (unhatched) egg… right?


Shortly after noon, I decided that I had enough excitement for the day and headed for the truck. However, before packing things away, I decided to go see what was up with the second loon. (I had heard it call twice while watching the nest.) Much to my surprise there it was, over by the road, accompanied by a chick!

My guess is that one adult headed out with the firstborn chick while the second adult waits for the newly hatched chick to strengthen a bit at the nest.

I ran back to the truck for the camera to document the pair in the harsh, directly overhead, noontime sun.

I am anxious to see what tomorrow brings.

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Video of loon on nest with chick under wing

* Although one has to be careful, a few years ago (during the summer we had our first loon nest on Gregg Lake in living memory) I had a fellow tell me that there had been nesting loons on the lake for a number of years and he had seen them out on the lake with five or six babies! I am pretty sure he had mistaken Canada geese for Loons.

21 March 2022

Game Camera Fun

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Wildlife — Tags: , , , — Frank @ 8:00 PM

At the very end of 2020, I bought a game camera just for fun. For those who might not know, a game camera is a waterproof, automatic camera designed to make photos of wildlife. When the camera detects movement, it makes four or five photographs. It does this day or night, using an infrared flash at night.

I experimented with the camera around the yard and then in March of 2021 (i.e. about a year ago) I strapped the camera at chest height to a tree “down back”. The lot that our house is situated on slopes back away from the house and ends in a beaver-made wet meadow about a quarter mile from the house. The tree I strapped the camera is located on the edge of the meadow and the camera was pointed out on the meadow.

Our property, which ends about half way across the wet meadow, abuts the roughly 2000 acre NH Audubon sanctuary at Willard Pond. This sanctuary is contiguous with another roughly 5000 acres of forested land, most of which is conserved. There are no public roads (only logging roads) in this area. In other words, there is a lot prime wildlife habitat behind our house. I was interested to see what we could capture with the game camera.

After setting up the camera, I promptly forgot about it, until today! I retrieved the camera this afternoon and was interested in seeing how long the batteries had lasted. The batteries are still just fine, but the memory card ran out of space after seven months (i.e. in November 2021). There were six thousand photos on the camera! Most of the photos were “false positives”… that is pictures of just the vegetation.

However, over the seven months the camera was active, there were forty frames that contained an animal. These documented twenty different “encounters”. Of these encounters, eight were deer, five were moose, four were bear and there was one encounter each of coyote, racoon and turkey.

None of the photos could be considered “art”, but here are seven of the most visually interesting. The monochrome images were made “in the dark” under infrared illumination.

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29 June 2021

Gregg Lake Loons 2021 – Update

Filed under: Birds,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 1:00 AM

Today was hot (90 deg. F plus) and humid. Late this afternoon, I headed down to the lake to see if I could photograph the loons on Gregg Lake. The chicks are about three weeks old.

The loon family moved out the the main part of the lake when the chicks were only two or three days old. This makes photographing them much more difficult as they have a large area in which to roam. Shore-based photography was not going to work. I needed to use a kayak and Big Bertha is too unwieldly to use while afloat.

Instead, I headed out my 300 mm lens and both a 1.4x and a 1.7x teleconverter. I am able to hand-hold the camera with the 300 mm lens attached. Big Bertha requires a tripod.

The converters gives me roughly 400 mm and 500 mm of magnification, respectively. This turned out to be plenty. I used the 1.4x converter for most of the photos but did try out the 1.7x near the end of my outing just to see how it would work.

Adjusting the ISO so that I could keep the shutter speed at or above 1/1000 second allowed me to get adequately sharp photographs while hand-holding the camera in a bobbing kayak.

The loons are not bothered by the presence of the kayak but I tried to keep my distance and did not approach them closer than roughly 150 feet. For the most part an adult and the two chicks just hung out in one area and the adult spent some time fishing.. Thrice the adult brought a small fish to the chicks but I did not get a good photograph of feeding behavior today. The chicks spent significant amounts of time with their heads in the water as the adults do when fishing, but I only saw two or three short dives by the chicks,

Eventually the adult made a series of calls and the family headed off around the edge of the lake at a decent clip. I followed them for a bit but then thought better of chasing them as they moved along so I headed to camp. The loons eventually headed out into the middle of the lake.

As I headed back across the lake on the way home, I encountered the adult and two chicks again and watched as the second adult met up with them. By then it was almost 7:30, so I did not watch them for long before continuing on home.

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9 June 2021

Gregg Lake Loon Chicks in 2021!!!

Filed under: Birds,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 7:36 PM

Yesterday (Tuesday, 8 June 2021) evening we received a report that a loon chick had been sighted… right on schedule! Joan had estimated that the chick were due around the 10th.

This morning we headed down to the bridge to see what was up for ourselves. We arrived at about 9:15; the temperature was in the mid-70s and there was a high, thin overcast. We did not have to work very hard to find loons. There was an adult with two chicks hanging out in the area between the two bridges. The distance was pretty much ideal for photography.

After a short interval the second adult arrived, with fish in beak, to feed the chicks. We observed feeding three more times in the two hours we watched. One adult and the chicks stayed within a small area between the bridges the entire time we watched. The other adult made forays into the main part of the lake to hunt.

As the morning progressed it became sunnier and warmer. Eventually we decided that we had spent long enough and headed home. It was about 11:15 and 85 degrees when we packed up.

If things follow the same pattern as last year, there will be a short window of easy photographic opportunity while the chicks and one adult stay on the north side of the road, near the nest site. Eventually, when the chicks are big enough, the whole family will move to the main part of the lake for the remainder of the summer*. At that point they will be ranging widely and one will need a to photograph from a kayak. I did not try this last year, but I just might try this year.

I made 788 exposures in the two hours! Many are what we photographers call ‘similars’. With up to four critters (in this case) all doing their things and not taking direction from the photographer (to say the least!), the best strategy is to make lots of exposures and to sort out the best frames later.

I processed about 10% of the frames but will only show you eleven. As I said, the rest are ‘similar!

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This sequence of one of the feedings deserves its own gallery! And yes… that fish did slide right down the gullet of that tiny bird!

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* UPDATE on Thursday (10 June) afternoon: The loon family has been spotted on the main part of the lake already.

12 June 2020

Loon Chicks Again.

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 8:00 PM

This morning, shortly after nine, Joan and I headed down to watch the loons.

When we arrived one of the adults was with the two chicks and there was no sign of the other adult. All to be expected.

After a while, the second adult appeared with a small fish , fed one of the chicks and headed off to fish some more. This process was repeated twice more while I watched.

The fourth time the second adult appeared with a fish neither chick even wanted to get down into the water off the back of the other adult. After a bit of coaxing one of the chicks dropped into the water but it showed no interest in the offering, Eventually the adult ate the fish itself. I guess that everyone was well fed!

At this point the four birds settled down for some rest with both chick on the back of the adult that they spent the morning with. The chicks did not stay still for long intervals. They would hop down into the water and wander close to the adults. Eventually they would climb up under a wing and onto the back of the same adult each time.

After three and a half hours,I headed home for lunch. (Joan had stayed for only about ninety minutes before heading home for her guitar lesson.)

I made roughly seven hundred exposures. You should be thankful that I show only six below!

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11 June 2020

Loon Chicks on Gregg Lake!!!

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 8:27 PM

For the first time in living memory, we have loon chicks on Gregg Lake!

After lunch today (Thursday, 11 June 2020) Joan headed down to the lake to check out what was happening with the loons. Only ten or fifteen minutes after she left, I heard sound of gravel flying as Joan roared back up the drive way. I knew immediately that something was up.

There were two fellows fishing at the bridge who told Joan that they had seen two loon chicks leave the nest at about 2 PM. We were back at the lake as quickly as we could move and I made my first photograph at 2:35 PM.

When we arrived we observed the two adult loons over near the Craig Road bridge and no chicks, Not more than a minute or two later, a chick peaked out from under the wing of one of the adults.

For the next ninety minutes we watched the family just hanging out in the area between the nest and the Craig Road bridge. The chicks kept moving from riding on the back on the adults (one chick per adult) to bobbing like corks in the water to sheltering under the wing of an adult. While the chicks were in the water they were rarely more than a couple of feet from one of the adults.

For most of the time we watched the chicks moved freely between and around the two adults, although there was never more than one chick riding on an adult at a time.

Eventually, there was a clear change in behavior. One of the adults began to distance itself from the rest of the family and seemed to actively drive the chick that approached it back towards the other adult. At this point the adult with the two chicks, one on their back and one following in the water headed back towards the nest. (The chicks were surprisingly strong swimmers.)

The other adult clearly headed off to fish. After an interval the second adult showed up at the nest and fed a small fish to one of the chicks. I’m quite sure that that was the chicks first meal. At this point the second chick hopped into the water and pretty clearing began pestering the adult for a meal. After another short interval, the non-hunting adult climbed up onto the nest with the chicks and the other adult head out presumably to look for a meal for the second chick,

It was roughly half past four at this point and we decided to head home.

I made about seven hundred exposures this afternoon. With four individual animals in the frame the best strategy is to fire away and look for the best combination of poses when you get back to the computer. Making a quick run through the photos, I tagged about sixty frames on the first pass. Going back though those sixty or so exposures, I processed the ten shown here.

The two “first meal” photos are quite severe crops and would not make good prints. I present them here because the adrenaline was flowing as I watched in the viewfinder!

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9 June 2020

Loons At The Nest

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

It has been about 24 days since we first saw eggs in the loons nest on Gregg Lake. Gestation in loons is about 28 days so we are expecting (hoping) to have loon chicks over the weekend. Fingers crossed!

This afternoon, right at lunch time, Joan answered the phone and received a report that there was a loon acting strangely on the main part of the lake. We put lunch on hold, gathered up binos, spotting scope, camera, etc. and headed down to the lake.

In talking with the fellow who had seen the loon acting oddly, we decided that what he had seen was really grooming behavior and our concern abated. None-the-less, we were glad that Jeremy cared enough to make a report.

As we were chatting we got a glimpse of the loon headed in the direction of the bridge and the nest on the far side of said bridge.

We hie-tailed it over to the road where we could see the nest. Shortly after we arrived loon #2 appeared at the nest where loon #1 was sitting (The numbers are arbitrary.) The incoming loon (#1) hung around the nest for a few minutes before #2 slid into the water. #1 quickly climbed up on the nest, examined the eggs and sat down. A short while later #1 stood up, turned the eggs and resettled on the nest in the opposite direction from how it had settled the first time.

Meanwhile, #2 spent a few minutes near the nest halfheartedly tossing nest building material towards the nest. Eventually #2 motored away, dove and headed under the bridge.

As #1 settled in for the long wait, we headed home for our lunch, roughly half an hour after we arrived.

I ran some errands after lunch and arrived back at the lake about 5 PM. I spent an hour and a quarter watching the nest but there was little action, just a single loon sitting on the nest.

Every time the sun came out, the loon would open its mouth and “pant”. Birds don’t sweat. Thus to cool their bodies they evaporate water from the membranes in their mouth… More-or-less as a dog does on at hot day, but without the drool!

The first eight photos shown here are from lunchtime today; the last two from the late afternoon.

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1 October 2016

Barrington Library Exhibit

Filed under: Exhibitions — Tags: , — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Yesterday, I hung an exhibit of twenty four landscape and wildlife photographs at the Barrington public library. Thanks to Traci Bisson (whom I met at the NH Coverts training last spring) and Amy Inglis (the library director) for this opportunity to display some of my photographs.

Barrington, NH  is located between Concord and Dover and the library is just off Route 9. Please stop in if you happen to be in the area during their open hours.

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