We went for a hike one morning in San Diego at Tecolote Canyon Natural Park, an “urban canyon” park with miles of trails just east of Sea World bordering the University of San Diego. It was a dull morning, overcast, but there was some bird activity, including this perky Bewick’s Wren. This is not two birds in one bush…it is one bird photographed twice and laid into the same frame using a blended collage effect in FrameMagic…just to give you a more comprehensive view of the bird 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/640th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Each image was processed in Polarr and cropped to about a 1200mm equivalent field of view before assembling in FrameMagic.
Yesterday’s Day Poem was about waking to a heavy frost. What I did not say is that I got dressed and went out into the yard to capture the event in photos, just as the sun was rising. These four images catch some of the feeling of the frost on the oak leaves and grass.
Sony RX10iii in-camera HDR. Processed in Snapseed to bring out the frost effect, and assembled in PicStich on my Android tablet.
And the poem:
Under the street lights this morning
before dawn, it looked like it had
snowed in the night…the lawn was
white, and the cars looked covered.
I had to go to the back deck and
turn on the light to see that it was
only heavy frost. I have been fooled
before. I am ready for snow…oh
I know, once it comes I will remember
it is always, at best, a mixed blessing.
I could be out there right now with
the snowblower in all my winter gear
clearing the drive. No, I guess I won’t
hurry the season. And there is much to
be admired, after all, in a heavy frost.
My last full, non-travel, morning in South Africa I was at Marc’s Treehouse Lodge, operated by Viva Safaris. It is on a private Game Reserve west of the Orpen Gate at Kruger National Park. I decided to forego the scheduled activity and just spend the morning wandering around the grounds of the Lodge with my camera to see what I could see. I was very thankful to the staff at Marc’s for letting me do that. I stayed fairly close to the cabins and tents at the Lodge, as Marc’s is an unfenced camp and there is always the chance of the wandering Cape Buffalo or even Leopard on the grounds. I was looking mostly for smaller birds, as that is what I was missing from my African experience and all the game drives in high vehicles. As I mentioned in previous posts, South Africa and Kruger in particular, are well into a major drought, and it is the end of a long dry winter there, so birds were scarce, even in the trees along the river below the camp. I did see Pied Kingfisher and Little Bee-eater, both amazing birds, and that would have made my morning, but it was really the Sunbirds I wanted closer looks at. I was able to photograph the White-bellied Sunbird in the collage above several times that morning, and glimpsed at least two others during my walk…Scarlet-breasted and one of the yellow ones. (I got a record shot of the Scarlet-breasted the next morning before boarding the van for Johannesburg.) I love the Sunbirds…colored like a hummingbird and filling much the same niche…but with size, flight, and song of a finch. The Southern Black Tit was working the trees just at the edge of the sandy bed of the river, and the Yellow-breasted Apalis was in the vegetation around the pool just below the lodge where the giraffes come to drink. The Citrus Swallowtail was basking by the same pool. I was happy to ID this as the Citrus Swallowtail of Southern Africa and not the much more common, and closely related, Lemon Swallowtail, which is a problem butterfly in North Africa…invasive as far east as China and some of the South Pacific Islands, and as far west as Central America. I also photograhed a Red-capped Robin-chat, but was not able to get a really sharp image in the dense thicket it preferred. All in all, a very worthwhile morning.
All shots with the Sony RX10iii, at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program Mode. Processed in Lightroom and assembled in Coolage.
I took the new Ford C-Max Hybrid on its maiden photoprowl yesterday…a swing north to Saco Heath, then cross-lots on back roads to Route 1 and eventually to Cascade Falls and back home. I am not sure I have been to the Heath this season at all. I know I missed the early bloom of Rhodora and Sheep Laurel and High-bush Blueberry, and the Grass Pink Orchids. I was surprised to find the Pitcher Plants in full bloom. I had remembered them as early bloomers, but I was happy to be proved wrong. Not only were they in bloom, but there were more than I have ever seen on the Heath.
Saco Heath, if you are just tuning in, is a raised peat bog, where the peat and sphagnum moss have risen above the level of the ground water. It is one of a very few in Maine and the only one in Southern Maine. The environment in a peat bog is highly acidic and very poor in nutrients, so it is populated by a group of rare plants that are specialized to nutrient-poor soils, and by stunted Pitch Pines. There a slightly higher section of the bog that supports one of the only stands of Atlantic White Cedar in Maine. The area is protected by the Nature Conservancy, and by the State of Maine. A boardwalk, renewed over the past several summers by the Civilian Conservation Corps, runs right across the heath to a loop of trail in the Cedar stand.
Pitcher Plants survive in the nutrient poor sphagnum surface by capturing and digesting insects. They are carnivores. The “pitcher”, a tube of adapted leaves, contains a digestive fluid at the bottom. Bugs crawl or fall in and contribute most of the nutrients the plant needs. The flower is very large (3-4 inches across), on a tall stalk, and more “interesting” than “beautiful”. As I say, there were many of them along the more raised sections of the boardwalk in the Pitch Pine hummock, and along the edges of the White Cedar hummock.
Sony RX10iii. The first shot is a telephoto macro and the bottom side-view is a wide angle macro. Exposure varied. I was shooting in Program and shutter speeds were from 1/60th for the pitcher shot to 1/320th for the telephoto. ISO ranged from 100 to 250. All shots at f4. Processed in Lightroom and assembled in Coolage.
Piping Plovers are endangered in Maine, largely because the beaches they prefer for nesting are also the beaches both Mainers and tourists prefer for sunbathing, jogging, walking dogs, and general recreating. Add in the population of cats that inhabit beach houses all along the coast, and the native foxes, raccoons, snakes, and gulls…all of whom prey of the eggs and chicks of the Piping Plover, and, if the nest does not get stepped on by a tourist, it is likely to be raided before the chicks hatch or fledge. The State of Maine and the Federal Government have set aside “Protected Areas” for the last nesting colonies of Piping Plovers on our beaches, but dogs, cats, and natural predators can’t read the signs or “see” the stakes and orange ropes that are supposed to keep the areas safe. Neither can, apparently, some tourists. It especially irritates me to see people running their dogs on beaches with nesting colonies, contrary to the clear posted signs. Maine Audubon has a volunteer/paid program that puts people on the beaches to monitor the nesting areas and keep as many predators (human, canine, feline, and other) away from the birds…but they are only there during daylight hours. And of course, the Piping Plovers themselves pay no attention to the protected areas either. They might or might not nest behind the barrier, but they certainly do not feed there. This Plover was way down the beach from the posted signs, running along the little line of green stuff deposited by the receding tide. Back up at the nest area, the State has erected a wire mesh enclosure around a cluster of nests, but while out feeding, the Plovers are on their own. The number of chicks fledged each year in Maine is counted in low double digits, and that is on a good year.
And they are such cute little birds. Full of attitude! This is a panel of 4 shots of the same bird (one of only two I saw that day on the beach). Sony RX10iii at 840mm equivalent. 1/1000th @ ISO 100 @ f5.6. Processed in Lightroom and assembled in Coolage.
Back to Ohio and Magee Marsh today for this 4 shot collage of Blackburnian Warbler…certainly one of my favorite warblers. Like a live spark. 🙂
Nikon P900 at 1600mm equivalent field of view. 1/500th @ ISO 280 @ f6.3. Processed in Lightroom and assembled in Coolage.
I already posed one pic of this FOY (first of year) Palm Warbler with yesteday’s Day Poem…it was a real treat to find it along the shore of Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management area. Such a lot of attitude for such a small bird 🙂
Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/500th @ ISO 320 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom and assembled in Coolage.
On the first day of 2016 I went to look for the Kennebunk eagles at Roger’s Pond. No show. But while I was there I saw a largish bird fly low and into a dead tree just where the creek joins the river, at the turn of the loop around the pond. A while later I heard a knock. Knock! Pileated Woodpecker! This is only my third photo op in Maine, and I have not seen them much more often than that either. They are around…even around my house…and I hear them occasionally, but a good sighting is rare. Rare enough to make this an auspicious first bird for 2016!
This image is not what you might think at first glance. I used Coolage to assemble two images of the same bird, at different points as it circled the trunk, into a single image. Since Coolage blends edges and the trunk is an ideal object for a blend, it certainly looks like two Pileateds. It is not, trust me. I just wanted to give you two views of the bird. 🙂 And it does make a striking image. Or that is what I think.
Nikon P900 at 2000mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 400 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom and assembled in Coolage.
Sometimes it is nice to have multiple views of a bird. This Hermit Thrush, which we walked up on along the Maple Swamp boardwalk at Laudholm Farm (Wells National Estuarine Research Center), was fairly busy in the bush, and gave us front, back, and center views over the few seconds it took to take a series of photos. Then it was away, across the boardwalk and into deeper brush under the trees. This collage shows off all the recognition triggers for the species. The general Robin-like fat oval thrush shape and distinctive beak shape, the speckled upper breast, and the “tells” for this species…the rusty tail and wing tips and the fairly bold eye-ring. The mid-afternoon October light was great.
Nikon P610 at 1440mm equivalent field of view. 1/160th @ ISO 400 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom and assembled in Coolage.
I believe this amazing creature, only a little over a half inch long, might be a Blue-green Cricket Hunter Wasp. It could also be a Blue-green Mud Wasp. I have not been able to find any images via a Google search that have the white spot between the wings or the white section in the particularly long antenna. If it is not one of the species mentioned above, it is certainly a close relative. I found it while photographing Bittersweet at the Wells National Estuarine Research Center at Laudholm Farms a few days ago. This is a collage of three shots.
Sony Alpha NEX 5T with 16-50mm zoom @ 140mm equivalent field of view (2x Clear Image Zoom). Processed in Lightroom and assembled in Coolage.