Just the other day, in a Day Poem, I was complaining about Tiger Swallowtails. Maybe simplest to quote the poem.
I have seen, over the past week,
at least a hundred Tiger Swallow-
tail butterflies. They are everywhere
I go. But do you think even a single
one will perch and pose for a picture?
Of course not! I will tell you, if I
were in charge of Swallowtails things
would be different by far. But then
I suppose, all things considered, that
it is better that I am not. I do not know
how I would cope with such a serious
obligation and fearsome responsibility.
Well, yesterday, I found this nice fresh Swallowtail, apparently somewhat drunk on the nectar of these lovely pinkish flowers in the overgrown (intentionally) meadow above the Conservation Trust buildings at Emmon’s Preserve in Kennebunkport. I am embarrassed to say I do not know what type of flowers they are. They adorn waist high weedy looking plants with red stems and pale leaves growing in a dense mass along the trail in full sun. They remind me a bit of blueberries, but I don’t think they are. And evidently the Swallowtails really like them. This one was flitting from cluster to cluster and hanging on for 30 seconds or more, before fluttering on to the next cluster. (The plant is not, however, listed in any list of flowers Swallowtails like I could find in a Google search…I did try that.) Whatever the plant is, I appreciate it as a background to my first Swallowtail pictures of the season. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 125. Processed in Polarr.
I went dragonfly hunting yesterday on my eBike. First to Roger’s Pond Park beside the Mousam River, then down along the Bridle Path past the little pans in the Mousam marsh on either side of Rt. 9. Roger’s Pond was still quiet. There was one Green Darner patrolling and a few others that I only caught a glimpse of, but there were both Painted and Four-spotted Skimmers at the pans, as well as a few early Seaside Dragonlets. The Painted Skimmer is a striking dragon. In flight is so orange, and then when it lands you see why. And, unlike Green Darners this time of year, the skimmers do perch for a photo. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode, with program shift for greater depth of field. 1/160th @ f8 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
On our first evening at the Los Gloriales Inn on the slopes of the mountains above Tegucigalpa Honduras, we were treated to some excellent views of Emerald Toucanette, the best I had ever had. The birds came in to feed in a tree at the edge of the lawn by the coffee processing area, and gave us a chance to observe the many postures and attitudes of the Emerald Toucanette. I posted one shot of this bird earlier, but this is a case where one image can not tell the whole story 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 1250. (Getting on toward dark on a rainy evening.) Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
I am not done with Honduras yet, but the dragonflies are finally coming out in our cold water ponds here in Southern Maine, and I could not resist posting this shot of a Chalk-fronted Corporal and a Frosted Whiteface sharing a close perch. They contested this branch along the edge of the pond for 10 minutes as I watched them, and other Odonata in the area. If the Corporal had the perch alone, the Whiteface soon drove him off, and vice-versa, but often they compromised and both used the perch. Generally they were a foot apart…but this once they were practically on top of each other. Makes a good comparison shot of the two species. There were many of each species along the pond edge, as well as few Slaty-Skimmers, Unicorn Clubtails, and Calico Pennants…all early flyers here in Southern Maine. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 125. Processed in Polarr.
Among the many birds that come regularly to the feeders at the coffee shop at Macaw Mountain Bird Center, in the hills above Copan Ruins in far western Honduras, are Collared Aracaris…which I think of (for no good reason) as Toucans’ poor relations. Okay, they are a bit smaller, and not quite so outrageously colored, but they are certainly striking birds. They are perhaps a bit more common…more often seen around the grounds of resorts in Central America, but I don’t know why that should make them any less noteworthy than than their Toucan cousins. Maybe it is just me. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 1000. Processed in Polarr.
Los Gloriales Inn is up on the mountain slopes above the City of Tegucigalpa Honduras, on a ridge facing the ridge that runs up to La Tigra National Park. Built of local stone, it has a rustic beauty that makes it the ideal lodging for birders and naturalists visiting La Tigra. It also sits in the middle of a working coffee plantation and if you walk across the road to the coffee processing area, you have a wonderful view across the sharp valley to the ridges of La Tigra. The trees along the edge of the drop into the valley attract a wide variety of birds, depending on the season. Squirrel Cuckoos were there both times we visited. They are called Squirrel Cuckoos because of the way they move through the trees, running along branches very much like a squirrel. Though they are a common bird, and do not have the brightest plumage, they are certainly beautiful if you take a close look. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1?500th @ f4 @ ISO 1000. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
EcoFinca del Puente is a small lodge with camping in foothills of the Blue Mountains of Honduras between Santa Cruz de Yojoa and Panacam Lodge. Last time we went there, on a trip a few years ago with Alex Alvarado of Hondura Birds, it was because they had a Great Pootoo with a chick in their garden. This time there was no Pootoo, so we went back on one the trails to look for the Tody Motmot. The Tody Motmot is the smallest Motmot in Honduras, and the one without the fancy bobbed tail. It is also one of the hardest to see. It sticks, in my experience, to deep thickets along stream beds where it is 1) very dark under triple canopy, and 2) very hard to see thorough the thick vegetation. Several times we stood with it calling right in front of us, and neither Alex or I could find it. Actually I spotted it first, but before I could get a pic, it dove deeper into the thicket. This is the best I could do…pushing the camera to the max at ISO 6400. Repeated attempts to find a bird in better light and better view produced no results, even though we got much more intimate with the thickets of EcoFinca del Puente than I ever expected or hoped to. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/80th @ f4 @ ISO 6400. Processed in Polarr. (By the way, the Tody Motmot is the Motmot that most resembles the true Todys, a closely related group of birds of the Caribbean Islands.)
I always have my eye out for interesting butterflies when traveling (and even around home, of course). These are a few of the many I was able to photograph during my 10 day tour of the Honduran Highlands with Alex Alvarado and Honduran Birds. I am not an expert on tropical butterflies…I am not even much of an amateur…but I think I have, left to right and down, a Gray Cracker (Macaw Mountain Bird Center, Copan Ruins), one of the Tiger Heliconians, though I am not sure which one (Los Naranjos Park on Lake Yojoa), Zebra Heliconian, Common Lenmark, (both also at Los Naranjos), a Glass-wing, though again I am not sure which species (the Opatoro Highlands), and a Red Postman (Los Naranjos). Perhaps someone who knows better can pin down the ids. 🙂 All taken with the Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. Processed in Polarr, and assembled in FrameMagic.
Taking a break from my pics from Honduras, though there is no end to them (in sight). It is not every day you encounter such a cooperative Red-tailed Hawk. It flew over me and beside me while I rode my eBike along the final unpaved section as you come to Alwive Road, and perched in tree right at the edge of the cutting, in plain sight. I thought for sure it would be gone before I could get off the bike (so close to the bird), get the camera unpacked, and get a few pics…but in fact, it sat there longer than I needed to stay. It was very aware of me, and gave me “the look” several times as I shot and even repositioned myself down the trail for a better angle and light, but it was not in hurry to go anywhere, and it was not impressed enough with me to do anything about it. All for the good, as I got several classic shots of the bird posing in the sun. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 160. Processed in Polarr.
Snail Kite was not the only bird we saw along the shore of Lake Yojoa in Honduras. Lake Yojoa is the largest natural body of water in Honduras, with extensive marshes along the shore, and it attracts all kinds of birds…from the mundane Red-winged Blackbird and Grove-billed Ani, to the more exotic Bare-throated Tiger-Heron. Reading top to bottom and left to right. Grove-billed Ani, Limpkin (after the same snails as the Snail Kite), Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Purple Gallinule, Red-winged Blackbird, and Great Egret…all taken from the same dock that reached out 30 yards into the lake. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.