It was a very slow day for birds in the Rio Grande Valley. We went to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Lots of butterflies and dragonflies…more than I have seen there in years, but practically no bird activity. Very strange. After Santa Ana we went to Fronteria Audubon in Weslaco, Texas where the buzz of the day was a intermittently visible Golden-winged Warbler. We missed the warbler by minutes on several occasions, but again the butterflies did not disappoint. This Clouded Sulphur on Turk’s Cap was one of the last photos I took there before heading back to the hotel to cool off before evening activities. Sometimes nature provides light you would be hard pressed to duplicate in the studio. I should add a disclaimer here. I am not a butterfly expert and if someone were to tell me this is an Orange Sulphur and not a Clouded, I would not be totally surprised and in no way offended. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
Fall has produced an abundant crop of interesting scale fungi on the fallen limbs at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. There is a beauty in the patterns and the shapes, at least to my eye. Sony RX10iv at 489mm equivalent. In-camera HDR. Processed in Polarr.
There is an interesting story behind this image of British Soldier Lichen, taken on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area in West Kennebunk Maine. I was feeling the itch in my shutter button yesterday. It was a strange winter day, with temperatures in the low 50s and snow still on the ground and I thought it would be a waste to stay inside, so I drove out to the Kennebunk Plains to see what I could see. I thought that with the warm weather and light snow coat, others would have been into the parking areas already and made a way for my non-four-wheel-drive hybrid. When I got there, the parking area was completely flooded. I had not counted on the snow melt, which was in high gear. The parking lot was not only flooded over and ice pack, but it actually had a good sized stream flowing through it…much deeper then I though when I turned in. By then I was committed, and I thought, oh well, I will just drive all the way to the other side to dry ground so I can get out of the car (I only had my winter crocks on, which have air holes and are only 3 inches high anyway). Good plan until, right in the middle of the stream, my front driver-side wheel went through the ice that was under water and the car sloped down until the water was right up to the lower sill of the door. And, of course, there I was, well and truly stuck. There was no way my little hybrid was going to climb back up out of that hole in the ice…and I was still in my crocks, but now surrounded by a minimum of 4 inches of water, and that was on the high side of the car. So I pulled out my phone and called AAA. It took a while to explain the situation, but about 40 minutes later a big flatbed tow truck arrived. By then I had climbed across to the passenger seat and out of the car and waded on tiptoes to solid ground at the edge of the parking lot. Of course I took some photos while I waited for the tow truck. This one, of the British Soldier Lichen (in case you have forgotten), is one of them.
The tow truck driver knew his stuff, and despite almost getting stuck when his back tires also went through the ice, he got the chain on a tow point on the frame and winched the car back to solid ground (or ice at least). From there I was able to back around and get out of the parking lot. No harm done. All part of the adventure. And I can not say enough good about the skill of that AAA tow truck driver!
The Lichen shot is at 1/80th @ ISO 100 @ f5 at 86mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Polarr on my Android tablet.
Sometimes a Dragonfly is just too freshly emerged to id…which, at least at my level of experience, is the case here. I think it is one of the Meadowhawks, but it was on its maiden flight and I just can’t be sure which one, or even that it is a meadowhawk. It was very patient with me as I worked my way closer and fiddled with the Program Shift for this macro. I hope it woke up and moved on before the hunting Cedar Waxwings found it. 🙂
Sony RX10iii at 1200mm equivalent field of view (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program shift for greater depth of field. f9 @ 1/60th @ ISO 100. I could not really stop down any more, as there was some wind, and the position was awkward to hold the camera steady. Processed in Lightroom.
It has been a while since I had a camera that does really good macros…or at least the kind of macros that I like. My new Sony RX10iii focuses to 28 inches at 600mm. Add the in-camera crop to 5mp and you have 1200mm equivalent at 28 inches for some impressive macros. This Hawkweed flower is just over 1/2 inch in diameter.
I think Hawkweed is an under-appreciated flower…maybe because it is classed as a weed…and, of course, lest we forget, has weed in its name. I think it is beautiful in both its yellow and orange forms…or I should say…yellow and orange species. Some experts, wiki informs me, count thousands of species of Hawkweed. Others group them into a few hundred “species” on grounds that may strain the definition of species. It is a matter, apparently, of some debate. Most would agree however that Orange Hawkweed is a separate species from any of its yellow cousins. I found this cluster of Orange growing only about 10 yards from a large cluster of Yellow. Though they reproduce by seeds, they do not hybridize as reproduction is asexual. All the flowers in any one cluster, orange or yellow, are genetically identical. But that is not why I find them interesting. I just think it is a beautiful flower.
Sony RX10iii at 1200mm equivalent from about 3 feet. 1/1000th @ ISO 100 @ f5. Processed in Lightroom.
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
I have been watching the patches of Pink Lady Slipper at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and along the Kennebunk Bridle Trail in Wells and Kennebunk for weeks now. There is one patch off a deck at the back at Rachel Carson, overlooking Branch Brook, where the sun comes in all day. Lady Slipper orchids bloom there at least a few days, sometimes a week, before they bloom anywhere else in our area. Yesterday the first blossoms opened fully. I can go back through my archives on my WideEyedInWonder site and find images of this plant going back at least 7 or 8 years, maybe more. I don’t mean this plant as in Lady Slipper, I mean this plant as in this Lady Slipper. It always produces at least two blossoms, sometimes as many as 6. There is a delicacy, a rare beauty in these strange blooms, and I do my best to catch it year by year.
My yearly Lady Slipper vigil is part of what keeps me aware of the constant renewal of the beauty of creation…the cycle of change…no two years the same…but each year with its beauty…that is God’s creative love at work, day by day. It is not that Genesis has it wrong when it says that after God created the heavens and the earth God rested…it is that we have the wrong idea of rest. Rest, in the divine sense has to be creative, radiant…an ongoing action producing peace…an continual outflowing and outworking of love. Rest is not a pause in the dance, or a silence in the music…it is the moment of perfect balance within the motion of the dance…it is the moment when the notes of the music echo in the room…echo in our hearts and minds…and fulfill their beauty. That is a little, a very little, like the rest of God.
When I see the Lady Slippers bloom, in the quiet beauty, I sense the active rest of God, and the notes of God’s love echo and swell in my life to fill it. This is reason enough to love the Lady Slipper, reason enough to watch for its coming, and to celebrate its bloom year by year. Happy Sunday!
As I mentioned in yesterday’s poem, I found myself unexpectedly wandering Bucks County Pennsylvania yesterday afternoon. We visited Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve. Though the season is well advanced compared to southern Maine, it is still early for Pennsylvania wildflowers. Sill, there were a dozen species or more in bloom, especially along the several streams that wander though the wooded property. These are Bluebells…more properly Virginia Bluebells. They nod, and this shot is low looking slightly up.
Sony HX90V at 24mm equivalent field of view. 1/320th @ISO 80 @ f3.5. Processed in Lightroom.
We had a day of freezing rain late last week. Every elevated surface was coated with a thin shell of ice. Fortunately the ground and roads were warm enough so that ice did not form underfoot and under tire. I went out to the grocery and was caught by a tangle of brush across the road, bordering the drive and parking lot of a bank. There were some birches in the classic “bent down by ice” posture, and lots of ice-bound buds along the branches in the tangle.
In-camera HDR. Sony HX90V at 24mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Lightroom.
I always look forward to the first Calico Pennant of the season. I found some teneral (newly emerged) Calicos at Day Brook Pond a week ago, but did not find any adults until yesterday. There were hundreds around the pond…males outnumbering females about 6 to one…but then the females had probably already dispersed for the day to feeding grounds further from the water. I did find a mating wheel. Calicos are relatively easy to photograph as they settle out frequently on perches that are predictable, once you know what to look for…and sometimes sit sunning themselves for 60 seconds at a time.
This shot is a tele-macro shot, taken handheld at 4000mm equivalent using Digital Fine Zoom on the Nikon P900. I had to back off to the minimum focus distance of 16.5 feet to get the bug in focus. 1/500th @ ISO 140 @ f6.5. Processed in Lightroom.
I took a photoprowl around the meadow loop at Emmons Preserve (Kennebunk Land Conservancy) yesterday morning. I was looking mostly for dragonflies, and on a somewhat tight schedule as I had to have the car back. One of the first dragonflies I saw was what I thought was a female Ebony Jewelwing, and up at the top of the meadow I photographed several…enough to inspire me to make a quick mile hike through the forest to the little set of falls on the Batson River where the males hang out. And there were males, hovering, dancing, and darting right over the rapids where the fall enters the pool, where I have seen them every year. I was a bit bemused though, as it is at least a month earlier than I have ever seen Ebony Jewelwings at Emmons Preserve…and this in a spring that is running late, even as we approach summer. Of course when I got back to the computer and processed the images I realized that they were not Ebony Jewelwings at all…they were River Jewelwings…a species I have never seen at Emmons, or anywhere else! The difference is that the Ebony Jewelwing has a completely back wing (bright black in the male, if that is a possible construction, and dull black in the female), River Jewelwings have black only at the tips of the males wings, and the female wings are smoky overall with perhaps a bit of darkening at the tips…though I could not observe any darkening at all. River Jewelwings! On my patch!
Nikon P900 at 550mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 100 @ f5. Processed and cropped for scale in Lightroom.