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.
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.
A second shot from the sequence of the Red-tailed Hawk at Laudholm Farms on Thursday. Such a handsome bird! Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
Despite my still healing bruised tailbone, I am getting out for photoprowls on my ebike most days when it does not rain all day. Yesterday, after the rain stopped, I rode down to the Bridal Path to check for dragonflies (not yet) and to Rachel Carson to see if the huge Jack-in-the-pulpits were opened out (not yet), and then to finish the circuit rode into the Laudholm Farms parking area before looping back around on Rt. 1 to home (just over 10 miles). I was headed out of the Laudholm parking lot when I caught the hawk on the bluebird boxes behind the hedge at corner. I was able to get off the bike, get my camera out of the rear rack pack, and approach as close as the hedge would allow without the hawk taking alarm, so I got a whole series of photos. It turned out to be an immature Red-tailed Hawk, perhaps drying from the rains in the sun on its handy perch and not in any hurry to go anywhere. Though it might look like it is about to take flight here, anyone who has watched sitting hawks very long knows what comes next…and I have a great photo of the white-wash stream to prove it. They do often fly right after, but this one settled down and remained on the perch until I decided it was time to finish my ride. Sony RX10iv at 840mm equivalent (1.4x Smart Zoom…in-camera crop). Processed in Polarr.
I shared my best single shot of this courting pair of Cedar Waxwings offering an apple petal to each other…but I took more than 50 shots at 3 frames per second as they passed the petals back and forth several times while I watched. This is one sequence. (It reads left to right then down and left to right again.) I am not sure why the female is “puffed out” but it seems to be part of the ritual. Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve) in Wells, Maine. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
I rode my ebike down to Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve) yesterday to see if I could find any Jack-in-the-pulpit in bloom. I did not, not there, though they are in bloom near the headquarters buildings at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge just up the road. While hiking the boardwalk loop at Laudholm I encountered my first Cedar Waxwings of the season for southern Maine…just a few, in the very tops of the trees…but as I hiked on and turned to come up through the old apple orchards…full of blossoming apple and crab-apple trees…I found more and more waxwings. I had to keep revising my estimate up, but I am convinced there were at least 100, maybe 150, Cedar Waxwings feeding in the apple blossoms. They were all around me, sometimes two dozen or more in a single tree.
I was not far into the Cedar Waxwing experience when a pair landed right in front of me on a low branch. Each had an apple blossom in its beak, and I got to watch as they apparently passed the petals back and forth for several moments. At the very least they were offering the petals to each other. I had never seen that behavior, obviously courting behavior between a pair, before, and found it fascinating. I took a lot of photos, and came home feeling totally blessed to been in the right place at the right time.
When I showed this photo to Carol, she immediately remembered seeing another like it on Facebook already within the past 24 hours. Some searching around found not one, but three other recent photos all taken…from Maine to Michigan…of Cedar Waxwings offering petals…Dogwood and Apple…to each other. A forth appeared in my stream shortly after my search. And who knows how many were posted by people I don’t know. Cleary this behavior is synchronized with the bloom of large white showy flowering trees, and evidently they are, at least this year, all in bloom at the same time across the north east quadrant of the country.
So, as it turns out, this is just my contribution to the courting, petal passing, Cedar Waxwing show. I still feel privileged to have seen it…to have been in the right place at the right time…but I now know myself to only one a small select group of people all across the country to have this experience on the same day. How special is that!
This is not a great photo as photo go. The birds were too far away across the Little River Marsh from the overlook on the Laird-Norton Trail at Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve)…so far away that it took 2x Clear Image (digital) zoom to identify them. And then a heavy crop to make the birds big enough so that you can identify them in the photo. But they are Red-breasted Mergansers, and they were actively displaying and courting, and on the theory that any photo is better than none 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). 1/1000th @ f5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
Three trees obviously. Pine, Maple, and Birch. Two at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and one just down the road at Laudholm Farms. I don’t know if you can call it a “good” use of an ultra wide frame of view, but I like to try it on occasion. 🙂 Sony a5100 in-camera HDR at 18mm equivalent. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic. The trick of course is to be really close to the tree…but then trees are not that shy.
If you read yesterday’s post, you know that I got more than the one shot I shared of the Red-tailed Hawk at Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at…). And as I mentioned, it allowed me to approach much closer than I expected. This shot is at 1200mm equivalent field of view, but still… Such a magnificent bird!
Sony RX10iii at 1200mm equivalent field of view (2x Clear Image Zoom). 1/500th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Polarr on my Android tablet.