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.
The Green Metallic Bee clan is among my favorite set of insects. They are mostly tiny. If you know Owl Clover you know that the blossoms are themselves quite small, so you can get a sense of just how small the bee is. I am always delighted to find one. I only found my first one a few years ago, quite by chance, right in our front yard working the flowers. I never “expect” to see them, and certainly did not expect one when I bent down to photograph the Owl Clover. I did a brief search, by the way, on why Owl Clover is called Owl Clover. The consensus seems to be that no one knows. ? Some say the flower heads might look like little owls with the individual blossoms making “owl ears”…but no one seems to be particularly convinced by that solution…and I certainly am not. It shall remain a mystery. Of course there is no doubt about why the Green Metallic Bee is called the Green Metallic Bee. 🙂 Like the Owl Clover, there are many species of Green Metallic Bee…not all of them tiny. I won’t even attempt to hazard a guess as to which one this is, though I am pretty sure it is the only species I have ever seen here in Southern Maine. Sony Rx10iv at about 90mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
The masses of Lupine flowers in the the field where they grow out toward Emmon’s Preserve in Kennebunkport attract all kinds of insects, including this giant bumble bee. I could not begin to say which of the 16 species of bumble bee we have in Maine this is…except that is not the orange-belted. 🙂 Notice, from the pollen collected on the back legs, how red the pollen of the Lupine must be. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
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.
I actually did not see the third bug in this Black-eyed Susan shot until I got it home and was processing it on the computer. The bee is obvious, as is the beetle. I am not certain what beetle it is, though it appears to be in the same family as Milkweed and Asparagus beetles. The spider is a Yellow Orb Weaver. Emmon’s Preserve, in Kennebunkport. The mosquitoes were so bad that my natural repellent was useless against them, and it was all I could do to stand still long enough to get a few shots here. I am very surprised there are not any mosquitoes in the image!
Sony RX10iii at 554mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Lightroom.
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
There are still lots of Wood Lilies in bloom out on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area. I have only explored the Day Brook Pond side this summer so far, but, despite earlier impressions, the Wood Lily bloom is at least as good as last year, and maybe better. (It is about a week late, which contributed to my earlier disappointment.) Yesterday, I found a bunch growing right in among the ripe blueberries and wanted to frame both the blue and the bright red/orange in the same shot, but as I focused I noticed the Green Metallic Bees at work gathering the abundant pollen of the flower. I have shots where I adjusted the camera’s program to get the blueberries in better focus for better color contrast, but for this shot I was after the motion of the bees, so I let the camera choose a high shutter speed. (Photography, like most things in life, is all about choices and balance.) I remember finding my first Green Metallic Bee among the flowers of our yard a few years ago, and being totally amazed that such a creature could exist. In this shot we have two species, one much smaller than the already small Green Metallic, but clearly in the same family.
This shot, to my eye, has captured a vivid slice of life…full of a rich variety of color, form, and texture, and alive with energy. But then, so often, that is what the generous eye sees in the world around us…life both abundant and bright with promise…with the energy of the spirit at work in the world. And there is a unity. The bees are not separate from the flowers. As they gather the pollen of one plant and carry it to another, they are an essential part of the Wood Lilies’ life…there would be no more Wood Lilies without their action. Even the way the Wood Lilies and Blueberries are growing together must serve both…it is always about choices and balance…fulfilling the spirit’s vision of abundant life. If you push back behind the surface of this second, or any second, you become aware of the pure radiant light of creation at the center…expanding, expressing itself in form and color and texture, in all that lives and all that is…expressing itself with intelligence (choice and balance) and with all embracing love. You become aware of God. And God’s light fills you, not from the outside in, but from the inside out, as you realize yourself as another expression of the creative love and light that is all in all. Choice and balance…unity. Generosity.
Happy Sunday! And may your eye be generous.
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
I have been posting images from our trip to Honduras for the past two weeks now. I have been home a week already. Of course I have been out around home a few times too. 🙂 I had to check for dragons and damsels and for the Wood Lilies at Day Brook Pond for one thing. This is Wood Lily season, and this week last year, there were the best stands of Wood Lily out on the Kennebunk Plains that I have ever seen. We have had a long dry spell in Maine this year, and the flowers are much less numerous, and somewhat late to bloom, but there were a few when I visited on Wednesday. It rained yesterday, and it is raining hard at the moment. That may be just what the Wood Lilies need to pop out in full display. We will see tomorrow when I get back to the Kennebunk Plains.
It would take an ungenerous eye indeed not to appreciate the beauty of the Wood Lily. They grow sparsely in open shade along the edges and in the clearings in the forest, and out in full sun on the Plains. They appear to like sandy soil, but with a rich mix of humus. They range from deep red (rare in Maine) to the bright orange caught in this image, always touched with yellow at the base of the petals, and spattered with purple/brown spots. The prominent Stigma and Stamens are tall and graceful, with large velvety Anthers that produce a lot of pollen. They attract many insects, like the little Green Metalic Bee you see on the petal at the right.
Wood Lilies are the essence of a wild flower. They don’t do well in cultivation, so they have rarely been tamed to ornament our yards and grounds. They grow where they will, and boom only to suit themselves, briefly. You have to go out into the woods and uncultivated fields at just the right time to see them. I had never seen one until about 5 years ago when I found two growing along the Kennebunk Bridle Path. I had no idea they bloomed in such numbers on the Kennebunk Plains until 3 years ago when that bright flash of orange drew me out away from the road. Now I go look for them every year. While they are apparently doing well in Maine, they are threatened or endangered in many states, as true wild-lands grow more rare. To me, they will always be a celebration of God’s generosity of spirit and sense of wild beauty. One more reason to be thankful and happy on this Sunday. May you find the Wood Lilies in bloom, and always be filled with light.
It rained off and on most of yesterday, but about 3 pm I decided to go for a photoprowl on my bike anyway. I pushed through what turned out to be a thin band of light rain and got to the marsh behind the beach in time for the sun to come out. I had some fun chasing bees in the Beach Rose along the road (among other things). The wet flowers, and the freshly washed bees, made for vivid images. I did some tele-macro, and then switched to actual macro as the bees were so busy feeding that they did not seem to mind a close approach. This one was captured at about 80mm equivalent field of view in Close Up Mode.
Nikon P900. 1/320th @ ISO 100 @ f3.5. Processed in Lightroom.
I was delighted to find the overgrown meadows at Emmons Preserve in Kennebunkport full of Honey Bees yesterday. I have lamented, several times here, the small numbers of Honey Bees I have been seeing this summer…I had seen perhaps two until yesterday. At Emmons that is particularly odd since they have an active hive in the meadow just down the Batson River Trail from the Conservation Trust building. There have been lots of bees at Emmons all summer, but they were all Bumble and Wood Bees. Yesterday they were mostly Honey. I am not privy to the workings at the Conservation Trust. I don’t know if they replaced the hive, or if the bees were dormant until now…or what happened, but the difference a week made was remarkable.
Sony HX400V at 124mm equivalent field of view. ISO 80 @ 1/1000th @ f4. Processed in Lightroom on my Surface Pro 3 tablet.
And for the Sunday Thought. Honey Bee populations are threatened in many ways right now. Besides all the known disorders a hive can fall prey to, there is Colony Collapse Disorder, where the worker bees suddenly abandon an apparently healthy hive…living queen, honey, and all…during the winter when they should be resting. No one knows why. Some recent studies are pointing to the effects of a common class of fungicides used on a wide variety of crops, from soy beans to apples, and in many lawn products. There is still a lot of work to be done before we really know what is going on, but no one disputes that Honey Bees are in trouble…which means, in fact, that we are in trouble. Honey Bees are the primary pollinator for an amazing variety of crops we depend on. Can you imagine a world without apples, almonds, fennel? Trucking hives of bees to where they are needed for intensive agriculture is a big business today. The fields of North Dakota are pollinated by bees from Texas. Take a look at the list of crops pollinated by bees on Wiki. Those marked essential are at risk if the populations of Honey Bees continue to decline.
Which is one of the reasons I pay attention to the number of Honey Bees I encounter in my time in the field. Not that there is anything I can do about it, or at least, not yet. It could be this is one of those “problems” caused by our attempt to maximize yields in our fields. Actually, I find the whole practice to trucking in bees to where the crops are so concentrated that the native bees can’t handle the pollination load to already be somewhat troublesome. Asking for trouble. When you combine that with the chemicals used on intensive crops…well…you just might get Colony Collapse Disorder.
I believe, as I have said before, that it is our job, a part of our essential spiritual nature, to care for all that lives on this earth. The way I read the Bible story and my experience of the Spirit both tell me that we were made to be the keepers. We can not deny that our attempts to keep ourselves fed have transformed much of the surface of the earth into crop factories. And that our attempts to keep the crop factories at maximum yield have effected more of the web of life than we currently in know in ways we do not know or do not understand. Yet. And that is an important _yet_. It is easy to feel both guilt and despair when confronted with a problem like Colony Collapse Disorder and the decline of Honey Bees. But, we are the keepers, and though we do not know enough to always foresee the consequences of our actions, we do learn. We adapt. We change. We solve problems when we see them.
Colony Collapse Disorder and the decline of Honey Bee populations is a problem. It is a spiritual problem. One that should engage our spiritual nature as keepers until we find a solution. It might be as simple as a change in the chemicals we use…or as complex as reinventing agriculture to eliminate the kind of crop factories that we currently rely on…but, where there is a will, there is a way. And the will is spiritual. Has to spiritual.
I could recommend that, today, as part of our Spiritual Sunday, we all go out and try to find a Honey Bee to admire. You have to start somewhere, and, in the spirit, that feels right
I posted a shot yesterday on my Facebook and Google+ accounts from this series. I went out yesterday afternoon to cover my bicycle as a storm was about to hit us and found the newly blossomed Sunflowers by the back deck full of Bumblebees. Back in for the camera!
I am loving the macro ability of the Sony HX400V. I can get to 6cm at 85mm equivalent and to 3cm at 50mm equivalent. That makes for some very effective macros! This shot is at about 75mm equivalent. It gave me enough distance to work the Bee and the scale I wanted. 🙂 The Sony also makes Program shift just about as easy as it can be. There is a control wheel under your thumb which, in Program, controls the shift. That allows me to fine tune the aperture for depth of field in my macros and landscapes.
ISO 80 @ 1/250th @ f4. Processed in Handy Photo on my tablet.