Posts in Category: wildflower

An Abundance of Asters

There is a poem for this.

It is the season of the Aster in
southern Maine. We must have
a half dozen species in flower
just now, everywhere from road-
side to deep woods. Of course
it begins with the big showy
New England Aster…purple petals
radiating from a bright yellow center,
but we also have the Tall White Aster,
which is (you guessed it) tall and white
with those same yellow centers,
and the then the spidery petaled
Large Leafed Wood Aster, the tiny
flowered White Wood Aster, and
the low growing Blue Wood Aster,
very like the white, but colored
like the New England. And then
we have at least two species of
Goldenrod, the Seaside and the
Zigzag (and yes that is its name),
So an abundance of Asters here
in southern Maine, getting on for
late September, to keep us company
as the leaves turn red and we slip,
as gracefully as we can, into fall.

Sony Rx10iv and Sony HX90V. Various focal lengths. Program with my standard wildlife modifications, and the HX90V shots in intelligent auto. Processed in Apple Photos.

Bee in Asters

White Wood Aster, Kennebunk Barrens Nature Conservancy, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — September in southern Maine is certainly the season for Asters. There are at least 6 different Aster species in bloom right now…and they are all over, in every kind of habitat. These are, I am pretty sure, White Wood Asters from the Kennebunk Plains, and what looks to be a Honey Bee. You can see that the Bee is harvesting pollen and is already heavy laden just by looking at those bright yellow leggings. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Apple Photos.

New England Aster

New England Aster, Laudholm Farms, Wells, Maine — Sometimes things just work out…right place, right time, and ready…and you bring back a satisfying image from one of your photoprowls. This is pretty simple, just the single flower head in Maine September afternoon light, against a dark background…but the effect, at least to my eye, is memorable. Sony Rx10iv at 513mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Monarchs and Northern Blazing Star

Kennebunk Barrens Nature Conservancy, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I had been disappointed in the crop of Northern Blazing Star on the Kennebunk Plains (now known, after the most recent changes in management, as the “Kennebunk Barrens Nature Conservancy”) after the prescribed burn of last September. Northern Blazing Star is an endangered flower, with a very limited range, and the Kennebunk Plains is one of its last strongholds. It is a fire dependent plant, and needs periodic fires to maintain a healthy population. I will admit, I did not know exactly what to expect after the fire, but I was hoping for a bumper crop this year…and we did not see that…at least until the last few days in August. It might be that the bloom was just later than usual due to the fire, or that it was late due to an abnormally dry July and August, but it was certainly late. We had some tropical storm remnants come through the last days of August, with some significant rain, and suddenly there are a lot of Blazing Star in bloom on the plains. Not the best crop I have seen, but better that it looked like it was going to be this year. We also had a sudden influx of Monarch butterflies. This has happened other years, but I am always surprised. This year I have seen, until last week, maybe a half dozen individual Monarchs…few enough to be somewhat worried. Even when the Milkweed was in bloom, there were very few Monarchs to be seen. However, when the Blazing Star finally bloomed, I saw more individuals in one day than in the rest of the summer. It was hard to get a count as they were actively feeding on the Blazing Star and moving from patch to patch, but first impression was that they were every where…and maybe about 20 individuals in the few acres along the shore of the pond there. It makes me wonder were they have been all summer…or if they are newly emerged to match the timing of the Blazing Star bloom?? They were certainly “fresh” looking butterflies. Sony Rx10iv at 24mm equivalent in HDR mode for the landscape, and at 600mm equivalent in Program with my custom birds and wildlife modifications for the butterfly. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Blazing Star pollinators…

Northern Blazing Star, Kennebunk Barrons Nature Conservancy, Kennebunk, Maine — Though the Blazing Star crop this year is not what I expected after a controlled burn, there are clearly enough blossoms to attract a wide variety of pollinators. Many different insects are attracted to this endangered plant, which is good, as it gives the plant its best chance at survival within its highly restricted range. It’s a good deal for the insects as well. 🙂 Left to right and down, Cabbage White butterfly, Clouded Sulphur butterfly, Cuckoo Leaf-cutter Bee (sp?), Green Metallic Sweat Bee (sp?), Leonard’s (?) Skipper, and Monarch butterfly. I am sure if I had spent more time there I could have found others as well. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Great Spangled Fritillary

Great Spangled Fritillary, Emmon’s Preserve, Kennebunkport, Maine — Here is a creature to inspire dreams…in this photo it looks like a fantastically winged horse…actually the Great Spangled Fritillary (great name!) is one of the larger butterflies in New England and always a treat to see. There don’t seem to be as many this year, even at Emmon’s Preserve where they are generally common in August. There also does not seem to be as much Joe Pie Weed…which seems to be a favored feeding plant for the Fritillaries. I found this plant and butterfly in the ditch along the hay field just as you emerge from the woods at Emmon’s. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Jewelweed

It is Jewelweed season in Southern Maine. I found these growing along the Eastern Trail in Arundel yesterday, but there is generally a bunch of them in the ditch along Brown Street, just down from my house. I have not looked the past few days. Jewelweed is called “touch-me-not”…not because it is toxic to the skin, but because it has exploding seed-pods…in fact it is used in a soothing salve for skin irritations, including poison ivy. It is a member of the Impatience’s family, as you might guess from the shape of the flower. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm (tel-macro). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Pink Water Lily

Besides being Eastern Amberwing season at Roger’s Pond Park here in Kennebunk, Maine (see yesterday’s post), it is also Water Lily season. The pond has both white and pink lilies. This is an HDR shot, processed in Polarr and Apple Photos for the best balance of light and shadow. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Nominal exposure ISO 125 @ f4 @ 1/500th. -1EV. (I say nominal since the camera took three exposures and combined them into this one HDR.)

Calico Skimmer on Blazing Star

We have been having one of our southern Maine spells of hot summer weather and I have not, honestly, been inspired to push through the heat to do much photography. It is all I can do to get my exercise bike ride in. 🙂 I was determined to get out yesterday and, as I got my camera ready and got myself on the bike, I was thinking that a dragonfly or a butterfly on Blazing Star would make the trip worth-while, and was perhaps a reasonable expectation out on the Kennebunk Plains these early days of August. The Blazing Star was not as far along as I had though it might be, based on early blooms in late July, but I was still rewarded with my shot…just as I had foreseen it. The Calico Pennants are getting smaller and darker as the season progresses, but still put on a good show, and the Blazing Star is just barely beginning to open, but still…it is undeniably a dragonfly on Blazing Star. 🙂 High, gusty, winds keep the Calico Pennant in constant motion. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Blazing Star just opening

When the flower head of Northern Blazing Star is fully open it is difficult to see the structure of the actual flowers. This head is just open enough to see individual blossoms. Northern Blazing Star, as I remind you every year at this time, is a plant with a very limited and rapidly shrinking range. Here in Maine, it is mostly found on the Kennebunk Plains, a remnant sand plain kept open by wildfire in the past, and now maintained by the Nature Conservancy. It is often called “the Blueberry Plains” because of the wild blueberries that grow there. They did a prescribed burn of the section where I go most often last September, and the Blazing Star, which is fire dependent, is coming back strong this year. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.