Down By The River

That would be the Contootook River!

Late yesterday afternoon I spent about two and a half hours odeing on the Contoocook River by the paper mill in Bennington, New Hampshire… the other Bennington. Not to be confused with Bennington, Vermont! The temperature was right around 80 degrees F and the skies were partly to mostly sunny.

I parked near the canoe/kayak launch at the back corner of the paper mill’s parking lot, donned my waders and headed into the river there. This site is roughly 1200 feet downstream of the dam and maybe half that distance from the end of the steep rocky section just below the dam. Here the river flattens out but is still moving fairly swiftly. The bottom is mostly sand and gravel with some mucky spots at places along the edge.

I spent the bulk of my time within a hundred feet or so on either side of the place where I entered the river. Twelve-spotted skimmers (mostly male) were the most common dragonfly present but there were smaller numbers of common whitetails and slaty skimmers, all males for both species, present.

As for damselflies, I observed (and photographed) powdered dancers, familiar bluets and Eastern forktails, all males. These species were present in roughly equal numbers. I also saw (and photographed) a single spreadwing which I think was a male amber-winged spreadwing.

Eventually, I headed another five or six hundred feet down river by walking the road and across the paper mill’s lawn. There were many dozen Halloween pennants (mostly males) frequenting the vegetation at the top of the riverbank and making hunting forays out over the lawn. From the relative ease of the lawn all of these great subjects were heavily backlit and although I made a few photographs, I knew that I would have to get back in the river to get the light in my favor.

The ground along this stretch of riverbank is steep and hard to see because of all of the plants. Not wanting to tumble head and camera first into the river, I chose my spot carefully and re-entered the river just upstream from the bridge. I explored the river upstream for a couple of hundred feet. In addition to the numerous Halloween pennants which I did photograph, I saw a couple of slaty skimmers and a few bluets; none of which I photographed.

As I headed back to the truck, I decided that I might as well take a quick look at the steep rocky section of river just below the dam. This was for naught. The hour was late (for odes) and the area mostly in shade. I did not see a single ode there but I did not linger long because there sure were plenty of mosquitoes!

1 thought on “Down By The River

  1. Joe Kennedy says:

    The “Man and his Odes” strikes again. Another fabulous series of incredible shots of these very delicate critters. I am impressed with your ability to identify them as well. Got your “wadders” of shots.

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