My friend Stef and I took a loop out through the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area yesterday to take in, among other things, the last of the Northern Blazing Star bloom. Blazing Star is endangered in Maine and the Plains are one of its last strongholds. I was reminded just how important a resource it is. Besides flocks of busy Goldfinches and Pine Warblers, the Blazing Star along Day Brook Pond was full of insects…butterflies and moths and bees and flies. When I first saw this White-lined Sphinx Moth I took it for one of the Clearwings. I have seen both Snowberry and Hummingbird Clearwings working the Blazing Star in the past. A closer look showed that despite similar size and behavior, this was a different moth. No transparent wings. I had to look it up when I got home. The White-lined Sphinx, like many Hawk moths, is mostly nocturnal, and mostly seen early and late, during dawn and dusk, so I can be forgiven for assuming it was a Clearwing. If I remember correctly, my only other sighting was years ago by artificial light on our back deck, feeding on the potted plants we keep there, when I, like many others, called it a Hummingbird Moth because of its size and behavior. (That name actually belongs to the Clearwing.) The White-lined Sphinx Moth occupies a huge range, all of North America and parts of Central America, and there are apparently known populations in Europe, Asia, and Africa. This one was very cooperative, working the same patch of Blazing Star for 15 minutes or more, and coming in close enough for lots of photos, before zooming off in search of a new patch of flowers. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
I posted another in this sequence of images the other day. I was delighted to watch this Coral Hairstreak working a Wood Lily on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area here in Southern Maine. As this panel shows, and I tried to describe in the previous post, the butterfly worked its way across the flower and then back again as I watched. Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical equivalent, plus enough Clear Image Zoom to fill the frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
This shot will justify the largest view you can provide 🙂 It was a cool, dry, sunny day in Southern Maine yesterday so my ebike photoprowl was delightful. And in the midst of the delight, while photographing more Wood Lilies out on the Rt. 99 side of the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area, something caught at the corner of my eye and I turned in time to see this Coral Hairstreak land in another Wood Lily. It proceeded to harvest something from the petals, dragging its proboscis across the surface, working its way down one petal and back up, before moving on to the next petal. Here it is poised for the turn, with its proboscis tightly curled. Coral Hairstreaks are common on the Plains in July, and around the Wood Lilies (this is not the first I have photographed on a Lily), but here the light is perfect and the composition eye-catching. Beautiful flower. Attractive butterfly. What more could you ask for? Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical equivalent, plus enough Clear Image Zoom to fill the frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
Though a single blossom is the norm for Wood Lily plants, a few produce multiple flowers…two is fairly common, three less so, and a plant with four blossoms, like this one, is, in my experience, quite rare. Photographed with the Sony RX10iv on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area off Maguire Road, in Kennebunk, Maine. Top at 600mm equivalent. Bottom at about 85mm. Macro Mode (Scene mode, not focus mode.) Processed in Polarr.
Full disclosure. This is a composite image, an attempt at rudimentary focus stacking. Because of the shallow depth of field working with the RX10iv at 600mm and f4 for this telephoto macro, I could get the anthers and stigma in focus or the spotted surface of the petals in focus, but not both at the same time. Even stopping down for grater depth of field would not have gotten both critically sharp in the same image. So I came back with one of each…one image with the anthers and stigma in focus and one with the petals in focus. After my standard processing in Polarr, being careful to match the two images, I used Pixomatic to combine the two, laying the in focus anthers and stigma from one shot over the in focus petals from the other and then carefully erasing to expose the background image as needed. I am pretty happy with the result. I doubt, if I had not told you, that you would have noticed anything out of the ordinary about the image. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Macro mode (in Scene Modes). And here, just for those who might be interested, are the two shots that I combined. Is that cheating? I will leave that for you to decide.
There are always a few “clusters” of Grass Pink Orchids (when there are Grass Pink Orchids at all), and it is common for one plant to have several blossoms, but this year in the remnant bog at Laudholm Farms the orchids seemed uncommonly clustery and particularly prolific. And who can object to such a display, especially when dealing with a beautiful flower that, due to lack of habit, is becoming rare? Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent (top panel) and 62mm (bottom panel). Macro mode (in the Scene Modes). Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
With a backlog of bog orchids and other wildflowers from Laudholm Farms this week, I was certainly not thinking about Wood Lilies when I took an ebike photoprowl out to the back side of the Kennebunk Plains yesterday. I was thinking of skies and landscapes, but as soon as I turned down the fire road that goes to the back of Day Brook Pond, I found the Plain covered with one of the most impressive displays of Wood Lilies that I have seen. I have never photographed Wood Lilies on that side of the pond…I always find them on either side of Rt. 99 where it crosses the Plains on the other side, so maybe this is a typical display for the area off Maguire Road, and I have just missed it all these years. Lots of lilies and lots of tall lilies, and many clumps of lilies. Checking last year’s photos of Wood Lilies, my first shots are from July 16th, on the other side of the pond, so the timing is right…I was just not expecting to see them yet. Nice surprise. So now I have a lot of Wood Lily images on top of my Grass Pink and Rose Pagonia orchid images from earlier in the week. Such abundance…but that is July in Maine for you! If you are into wildflowers, at least.
On this image of a double blossom, you will see, if you look closely, that there is a tiny Green Metallic Bee in flight above the lower flower. The Green Metallic Bees were all over the Wood Lilies, and I have to suspect that they are a major pollinator, at least out on the Kennebunk Plains.
Sony RX10iv at 326mm equivalent. Macro mode (in Scene Modes). Processed in Polarr.
Oh yes, I am going to inflict another Grass Pink Orchid from the bog at Laudholm Farms on you this morning…this one with a visitor. The visitor is, I think, one of the Hover Flies. The wiki on Grass Pink Orchids, which I will warn you has no supporting citations, says, among other things, that the Grass Pink Orchid is all show and no go when it comes to insect pollinators. It makes no nectar and very little pollen to attract insects. It just looks good, and those little yellow/white filaments are obviously insect bait. It is often found in association with other pink flowers that do reward pollinators, and therefore might get a free ride. The wiki also says that the flower “snaps shut” around the insect, forcing it to crawl out between the reproductive parts and hopefully pollinate the flower. I will admit I have never seen that happen, and the flower showed no signs of snapping shut on this hover fly…so, unless confirmed by someone who knows better, I am somewhat doubtful of the snapping shut bit. In looking back through my photos I do see some blossoms folded in on themselves, but I have always assumed they were just opening…not that they had bugs trapped inside. Who knows? (No really, if you know, let me know!). Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical with enough Clear Image Zoom to fill the frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
I apologize in advance, but you are probably going to have to endure several days of Grass Pink Orchid posts (with maybe a few Rose Pagonias thrown in. 🙂 I rode down to Laudholm Farms yesterday, on a somewhat foggy, misty morning, as a front came through bringing rain, to see if the Orchids were in bloom in the little remnant bog they have preserved in the lower fields at Laudholm. They were…both Rose Pagonia and Grass Pink. And, I have not seen a bloom like this year’s in all the years I have been watching this little bog. There were many clusters of both orchids…half a dozen to a cluster…and the total number of blooming plants had to be above 50…and that is just what I could easily see from the boardwalk. Last year I found only a few Rose Pagonias and only 2 Grass Pinks. What a difference a year can make. The Grass Pinks were fresh, so very purple pink, and the subdued light helped to bring out the intensity of the color. I probably said this last year (and maybe the year before) but they really need to come up with a better name for this orchid than “Grass Pink.” The Greek generic name is “Beautiful Beard”, but this is not, upon reflection, much better. It is, I think, one of the most beautiful bog orchids I have seen. It is also relatively unique in the orchid world because the stem twists to present the flower upside down, with the tongue at the top. There is more of interest here…but I don’t want to tell you everything today, as I have more pics for tomorrow. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical equivalent with enough Clear Image Zoom to fill the frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
Rugosa Rose, or Beach Rose, grows on the backsides of our ocean dunes and long access roads all along the coast. I see as hedges in people’s yards within a mile or so of the sea as well. It is not native. It comes from the coastal areas of Northern China, Korea, and Japan, and was introduced in Connecticut and on Nantucket Island in the 1840s. From there it as spread all up and down the New England coast.
This is an ultra wide close up, taken with an 18mm equivalent lens on the Sony a5100 from about 8 inches. I like the ultra wide perspective on the occasional close up. Program mode. Landscape Creative Style with -1 Saturation. Processed in Polarr.