Friday, August 20, 2010

Small Wonders

Since acquiring the new macro lens, I have been viewing my surroundings in a very different manner. My walking gait has become slower in order to get a good look at the tiny wonders around me. A few of my senses seem to be keener, more intensified. I concentrate on small areas, rather than viewing a scene as a whole. I now focus in, as if my eyes are camera lenses. I peer at the undersides of leaves, the scaly bark of trees, the intricate centers of wildflowers, the bristly stems of plants, and the hollowed out crevices in old wooden fence posts. There is so much to see! I find myself listening with a sharpened ear to the interesting and varied sounds of insects that flutter clumsily amongst the leaves, or click, gurgle and burp noisily, calling for a mate. There is so much to hear! Below are some of the small wonders I have delighted in observing lately. All photos were taken on our country property. ~ Identification corrections  are welcome ~

A stunning Acmon Blue Butterfly explores leafy ground cover

A vibrant red Nine-spotted Ladybug Beetle in a luscious sea of green

A pollen dusted Virescent Green Metallic Bee delights in a pretty Ironweed flower

This blooming goldenrod plant attracts a most radiant American Copper Butterfly

A boldly patterned Locust Borer scales a goldenrod plant

A Shamrock Orb Weaver Spider repairs its intricate web

The richly colored wings of a Question Mark Butterfly

This Yellow Woolly Bear Moth reminds me of a diva donning a luxurious white cape

To my naked eye, this Clavate Tortoise Beetle looked like a shred of forest debris ~ Upon focusing in with my macro lens, I saw it was an odd alien-like insect

Friday, August 13, 2010

Focusing In

My interest in photography all began with birds ... beautiful Eastern Bluebirds. In early spring 2009 we put up our first nestbox after spotting a bluebird pair searching for a suitable nesting site. To our delight, the couple took up residence in the bird house. The handsome pair fascinated me with their interesting courtship and nesting behaviors. I snapped a few pictures with my Konica Minolta Z2 camera. After viewing the photos, I was hooked. I longed to get a clearer, closer view and borrowed Bruce's DSL Canon Rebel XT camera (a birthday gift from me back in 2007). The borrowed camera soon had a new owner (me!), as I could not get enough of watching and documenting the busy bluebird pair building a nest, laying pretty pastel blue eggs, feeding hungry nestlings and tending to fledglings. Eastern Bluebirds were not the only birds that captured my attention. I could not help but be distracted and mesmerized by the death defying aerial displays of diminutive Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. A new lens was ordered.

I spent spring and summer snapping photos of the busy-bodied, curious Black-capped Chickadees, beeping White-breasted Nuthatches, doe-eyed Tufted Titmice, striking Indigo Buntings, stunning Blue-winged Warblers and noisy Red-bellied Woodpeckers. On our acreage, playful deer fawns romped, slithery Blue Racer Snakes scaled trees, Eastern Box Turtles laid eggs, Wild Turkeys took dust baths and Great Horned Owls hooted hauntingly. A telephoto zoom lens was ordered.

During fall and spring bird migration, I disappeared for hours with my camera on our country property or at local nature preserves. A new camera body was ordered.

Summer 2010 arrived and along with it came lush, green foliage. Leaf growth so dense bird sightings became more difficult. My eyes turned downward. Dazzling butterflies fluttered from bloom to bloom, caterpillars inched ever so slowly along leaf edges, pollen dusted bees buzzed amongst fragrant, brilliant colored flowers and exquisite dragonflies alighted on the tips of tall grasses. A macro lens was ordered.

A whole new world appeared before my wide open eyes. We are all surrounded by the beauty of nature. Sometimes one has to look a little harder to find it. A plant might appear as just a weed, but if you take a moment, peer closer and focus in a bit, you might be surprised at what you see. ~ I welcome identification corrections ~

The rich colors of a Orange Mint Moth adorn a Wild Bergamont wildflower

A fuzzy Hickory Tussock Caterpillar makes a meal of a groundcover leaf

A stunning Low-flying Amber-wing rests atop a dried flower in our fruit orchard

A beautifully patterned Buckeye Butterfly momentarily pauses on a blade of grass

A Green Stink Bug performs the perfect balancing act on a burgundy berry

A vibrant Common Blue Damselfly basks in the morning sunlight

A Silver-spotted Skipper samples the purpley bloom of an Ironweed plant

Seen amongst our apple trees, a Praying Mantis turns its head and looks curiously at my camera lens

A striking Silvery Checkerspot Caterpillar scales a weed stalk

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Magical Milkweed

Milkweeds are host plants for Monarch Butterflies, fritillaries, red admirals, swallowtails, hairstreaks and many other insects. The milkweed plant is essential for the survival of Monarch Butterflies, as it is the only plant material that the larvae can eat.

On our beautiful country property, clusters of milkweed (common and butterfly weed) have popped up along the roadside and in the open meadow areas. During the summer months, when strolling the acreage, I make sure to stop by each plant a few times a day in hope of viewing some interesting activity.
A striking Spicebush Swallowtail samples the flowers of a vibrant Butterfly Weed plant

Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars munch and lunch at the Common Milkweed Cafe

A closer look at the shaggy Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillars from the leaf underside

The bright orange flowers of this Butterfly Weed plant attracts a tiny American Copper Butterfly

The coloring of this woolly Unexpected Cycnia blends in well with the golden flowers

Triple orange delight! Lovely Pearl Crescent Butterflies flutter about on the appropriately named Butterfly Weed plant

One of many Monarch Caterpillars I have observed inching up the thick stalks of milkweed plants

A stunning adult Monarch Butterfly feeds on nectar from a Common Milkweed plant

A Red Milkweed Beetle explores the topside of a Common Milkweed leaf

This pretty Orange Holomelina Moth perched on a milkweed leaf looks as if it has plump blueberries for eyes