Another very common dragonfly all over southern Maine, but especially at the ponds on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area: Slaty Skimmer. Not the most attractive dragon, and very similar to the much more showy (at least in flight) Spangled Skimmer with which it shares habitat. Still, it has an understated elegance all its own. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
Lots of busyness yesterday (involving my daughter buying a car) so I did not get out for my ebike ride / photoprowl until late afternoon. I had to go by the pond with the Wild Iris, and, of course, stopped to catch the late sun on the flowers and the pond. So this is the same flowers, same pond, but a very different day. Again, an ultra wide perspective using the Sony 16mm f2.8 with the UWA converter for 18mm equivalent. In-camera HDR on the Sony a6500. Processed in Polarr and cropped a bit on the left to eliminate an out of focus iris. Just a touch of Apple Photos magic Light tool to finish up.
I enjoy the perspective of an ultra wide lens enough to carry a second camera fitted with one for my landscape work…and the occasional ultra wide close-up. They don’t always work, but sometimes the effect is striking. My Sony a6500 allows me to use touch focus to put the focus exactly where it needs to go…and the in-camera HDR often renders the scene much as the human eye would see it. This Wild Iris on the edge of one of the small ponds along Rt 9 a few miles from my home is a case in point. Cloudy, overcast, just a bit misty, day, but the Iris pops out of the wet greenery in a unique way. Taken at about 8 inches from the flower…as close as I can focus. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
More shots of the acrobatic Red-winged Blackbird from a few days ago at the drainage pond at Southern Maine Medical Center in Kennebunk. Endlessly entertaining…unless they are at your feeder :). (And maybe even then, depending on your tolerance.) Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr. Assembled in Framemagic.
On my ebike photoprowl to the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area on Sunday, though I was looking mainly for Odonata and wildflowers, I did see a few birds around what I call Day Brook Pond. The pond has no name on the maps, and there are two ponds on the Plains. The other pond, slightly larger, is generally called Kennebunk Plains Pond on maps, though it is perhaps more properly Cold Brook Pond, so I call this pond “Day Brook” pond. It is an active beaver pond that has had a man-made dam added near the headwaters of what becomes Day Brook. But the birds: Two warblers and two sparrows. In the panel we have a Pine Warbler and the best shot I could get of a Canada Warbler that was skulking along the immediate shore of the pond. And then an American Tree Sparrow from the pines along the pond and a Vesper Sparrow from further out in the plains. Both Tree and Vesper were part of small flocks. (There were also Tree Swallows and Robins around, but I did not bet photos.) I rarely see either the Pine or the Canada Warbler around Kennebunk (in fact the Canada may be a first in Maine for me), and I have only seen Tree and Vesper Sparrows on the Kennebunk Plains. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed and cropped in Polarr.
I apologize to those of you who don’t like snakes…but I think this is the largest Northern Water Snake I have ever seen and deserves some celebration. I was looking for Odonata and wildflowers along the edge of the pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area in West Kennebunk when I spotting this snake swimming along the edge of a little peninsula-like extension of the shore about 10 yards from me. It proceeded to turn and swim right toward me, across the shallow little bay full of vegetation, passing in front of me at a about 10 feet. It had to be 6 feet long and maybe 4 inches through its thickest section. A big water snake. I was busy zooming in and out to frame the snake and I shifted my feet on the spongy moss underfoot. It disappeared in a sudden dive under the vegetation…so I am pretty sure it had not been aware of me until just that moment. Sony RX10iv at 600mm and 244mm equivalents. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
After seeing a few dragonflies in Florida when I visited Key West and the Dry Tortugas, and one dragonfly when in Ohio, I have been eagerly checking my local ponds for my first Maine dragon of the season. Earlier in the week I stopped by the Southern Maine Medical Center drainage ponds here in town, one of my most productive dragonfly spots over the years. Nothing happening. Yesterday, only a few days later, there were at least a dozen Common Green Darners hunting over the water and the adjacent parking lot. Green Darners are highly migrant and these are probably last year’s darners returning from a winter spent further south, and they were mostly males, but I caught at least one pair in the act of depositing eggs in the reeds at the edge of the pond. Things are looking up! Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
It got up to 47 degrees yesterday, on January 11th, after night of rain. The combination had every creek in flood, ponds melting, and the tide, already a King tide, running abnormally high. They were practicing hockey here on the little pond by Rt 9 in Kennebunk only the day before. You can see the mounds of snow that marked the edge of the shoveled area in two different storms. I like the light and shadows here, and the reflections.
Sony Rx10iii in-camera HDR. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. My own shadow removed from right center at the bottom with TouchRetouch.
If you follow my work at all, you will recognize this pond as one of my favorite locations around home…in any and all seasons. Here, at the beginning of winter, with first ice. It was a difficult exposure, with the sky too bright and the landscape in shadow, but worth the effort.
Sony RX10iii in-camera HDR. Nominal exposure: 1/500th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed for a somewhat high key effect in Snapseed on my Android tablet.
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
I am pretty sure this Black-crowned Night Heron has nested at Factory to Pasture Pond for at least four years. At the very least, I have seen it (or another BCNH) there, spring and summer, for each of those years. Now Factory to Pasture Pond is my own name for the place, and it makes it sound much grander than it is. It is actually just a little wetland caught between Factory to Pasture Road and two paved parking lots…the remnant, perhaps of a more extensive wetland that was bisected by the road and contained by pavement years ago. I visit it regularly for dragonflies in the summer. There are turtles, and, at least arguably, Black-crowned Night Herons, and a variety of other common nesting birds…but it is surrounded by factory buildings on 3 sides. By August, in a hot dry summer, it can shrink by a third, but it is a year round pond. And it is only a few blocks from Main Street Kennebunk…definitely “in-town”…not exactly urban, since we are talking a village of 5612 here, but pretty close. 5612 humans and at least two Black-crowned Night Herons. 🙂
I am always amazed at how resilient the creation is. We can pave it. We can cover it over with factory buildings and our houses. We can till it and plant all manner of intensive crops. We can ditch and drain wetlands. We can channelize rivers. We can rearrange and manage the landscape to meet our needs and purposes. But creation, what we call nature, always finds a way back in. Roots crack pavement. Water seeps under roads. Silt fills channels and willows and cattails grow. Great Horned Owls nest in cemeteries. Black-crowned Night Herons nest in parks and on golf courses…and in tiny remnant wetlands right in town. The generous eye sees all this reclaiming of the space we think of as our own, as human space, as a good thing. Creation refusing to take no for an answer. Creation reminding us, always, that we a part and parcel of all that lives, and that all that lives is essential to our being…to our being filled with light and life and hope.
So, seeing the Black-crowned Night Heron at Factory to Pasture Pond in down-town Kennebunk delights me. It is what the generous eye delights to see. Happy Sunday!