Flowers and Flies

Exploring the world of insects is an excellent example of how digital photography has opened a door into a world most folks don’t give much thought to much less appreciate. A passion for bugs may start out innocently enough when one decides to photograph a flower and finds that it’s occupied by many creatures not noticed before. A closer look reveals some to be beautiful and fascinating in their own right and others downright scary. This may prompt one to make an effort to identify the bug just photographed which in turn often leads to an awareness of how much there is yet to learn about this small world. 

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Fortunately it doesn’t take an expensive camera to get a reasonable picture of a insect the size of the common house fly. We’re not talking macro-photography here, where one focuses on the dragonfly’s eye, but instead about a picture that will allow you to identify the insect and be good enough to share on social media. Our favorite of the small sensor “bridge cameras” is the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 or 300. With their fast lens and close focus capability they are a great all round camera for anyone starting out in nature photography. When one moves up from there to larger APS-C sensor DSLR’s you are looking at more money and bulk which may limit their appeal on long hikes. In the world of DSLR’s just about any lens similar to the Canon 18-135 mm will allow you to focus close enough to get a reasonably good shot. Longer lenses such as the Tamron 100-400 mm (more money still) will allow you to focus on subjects that won’t let you get close enough with a shorter lens. With it’s close focus capability perhaps the best all round bird/bug nature camera setup I’ve seen is the micro four thirds Panasonic G7 with the 100-400 mm Panasonic/Leica lens that my wife uses. It employs an excellent but smaller sensor than my Canon APS-C which is part of the reason for it’s admirable close focus performance. That being said I’m sure there are excellent camera setups that I’ve not had experience with.

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Unless stated otherwise the below pictures have all been taken close to home at Griggs Reservoir Park so the adventure doesn’t necessarily mean hours of driving to some exotic location. Almost all insect images have been significantly cropped.

(click on the image for a better view)

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A Bumble Bee enjoys Foxglove Beardtongue.

An nice illustration of the difference in size between a sweat bee and bumble bee, (Donna).

If you think this is an innocent little Bumble Bee you would be wrong in fact it’s a Bumble Bee Mimic Robber Fly no less ferocious than the one below, (Donna).

A more typical looking robber fly a little over an inch long. If you’re a small insect it will be a bad day if you run into one of these, (Donna).

Four lined Plant Bug, (Donna).

Eight-spotted Forester Moth, (Donna).

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Thimbleweed.

Moth Mullein, (Donna).

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A very small but beautiful Long-legged Fly.

It’s a rough world for bugs. A long legged fly falls prey to a robber fly.

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Water Willow at waters edge. Deer are known to browse the leaves and beaver and muskrat will consume the plant rhizomes. The submerged portion is home to many micro and macro invertebrates, (Donna).

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Little Wood Satyr.

Painted Lady, one of the most common butterflies found on every continent accept Antarctica and Australia, their favorite food plant on which to lay their eggs is thistle, they do not overwinter and they can have long migrations up to 9,320 miles long, (Donna)

Hackberry Emperor, a butterfly not usually seen on flowers but on a warm day may land on exposed skin, (Donna).

Question Mark, (Donna).

Red Admiral, (Donna).

Silver-spotted Skipper, one of the larger skippers, (Donna)

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The beautiful flowers of the Milkweed. A very import plant for many insects most notably the Monarch Butterfly.

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Milkweed Beetles, (Donna).

Great Golden Digger Wasp, (Donna).

Perhaps some type of wood wasp, (Donna).

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Black-eyed Susan’s.

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Golden-backed Snipe Fly, they can be found throughout Ohio, and are most often observed resting on low vegetation. They appear in the late spring and early summer, and have been observed mating in late May and early June, although timing likely varies across their range. Little is known about their life cycle.

Small hoverflies on fleabane.

Hoverfly profile.

Two Marked Tree Hopper. Click here to learn more about this fascinating insect.

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Common Mullein.

Northern Catalpa.

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Syrphid Fly Yellowjacket Mimic. The syrphid fly often mimics wasps or bees to gain protection from predators, (Donna).

The Green Bottle Fly is usually observed around less savory food items.

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Black-eyed Susan’s, (Donna).

Depford Pink, (Donna).

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Mating Candy-striped Leafhoppers, (Donna).

Mirid Plant Bug, (Donna).

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Butterfly Weed.

A field of clover.

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A Mayfly falls prey to a jumping spider. Normally slow moving jumping spiders are capable of very agile jumps, when hunting, in response to sudden threats, or to navigate obstacles. They all have four pairs of eyes, with the pair positioned closer together being larger.

Another view, (Donna).

A small moth on Canada Thistle.

If it’s real lucky this Orange Dog caterpillar may become a Giant Swallowtail.

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A field of fleabane.

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A rarely seen Orange Bluet, (Donna).

Female Twelve-spotted Skimmer, (Donna).

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Hairy Wild Petunia.

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It’s hard to believe what’s out there in that small incredible world that goes largely unnoticed by most as we pursue our daily lives. In the hierarchy of human affection warm cuddly animals seem to be at the top with insects being at the other end of the spectrum and usually not considered a welcome intrusion. But as with most things the more you know and understand the more you grow to love.

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A casual glance will not do. To discover wonder and beauty one must look closely with intention.

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Thanks for stopping by.

 

A Late Spring Celebration of Nature

Whether paddling or walking our explorations in the last week or so have been very close to home in Griggs Park and the reservoir. We hardly feel deprived. As the pictures below will attest, especially in the case of my wife, the closer you look the more you see.

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Some of the flowers we are now seeing will continue to bloom for most of the summer. Others will not. Part of the ever changing scene.

Donna (13)

Ox-eye Daises, (Donna), FZ200.

Donna (26)

Hairy Ruellia, (Donna), FZ200.

Donna (35)

Rough-fruited Cinquefoil, (Donna) FZ200

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Northern Catalpa, Griggs Park, FZ200.

 

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Along the shore of Griggs Reservoir the Blue Flag Iris continues to enchant, (Donna), FZ200.

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Goats Beard, (Donna), FZ200.

Donna (29)

Mushrooms, (Donna), FZ200.

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Some things seen have been unusual. Many thanks to New Hampshire Garden Solutions for help in identifying what was going on in the following pic, Elm Pouch Galls.

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Produced by aphids, Elm Pouch Galls rise from the upper leaf surface, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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While we are still hearing them, many birds choose to peer at us from behind the leaf cover so my wife has directed more of her attention to more cooperative subjects.

 

Donna (7)

Peck’s Skipper, (Donna), FZ200.

Donna (14)

Zebulon Skipper, (Donna), FZ200

 

Donna (25)

Bronze Copper, (Donna), FZ200

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Top view.

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Clouded Sulfur with a friend, (Donna), FZ200.

 

Donna (21)

Black Swallowtail, Griggs Park, (Donna), FZ200.

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A busy bee, Griggs Park, Canon 3ti, 18-135.

Donna (17)

Eastern Pondhawk (F), (Donna), FZ200.

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Widow Skimmer (F), (Donna), FZ200.

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Look even closer and you’ll see tiny insects with jewel like qualities.

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Stream Bluet, (Donna), FZ200.

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Stream Bluet (F)?, (Donna), FZ200.

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Powdered Dancer (M), (Donna), FZ200.

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Very small gold fly, (Donna), FZ200.

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Thankfully not all of our feathered friends were in hiding.

 

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Male Bluebird, Griggs Park, FZ200.

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Kingbird, Griggs Park, FZ200.

 

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Robin, Griggs Park, ZS50.

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We haven’t had much luck getting a close pic so far this year but we did catch the male Baltimore Oriole along the Scioto below Griggs Dam,  ZS50.

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What were these White-breasted Nuthatches doing? ZS50.

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Fledglings! along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam.

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With so many beautiful Great Blue Herons along the reservoir so it hard to resist taking a picture, Canon 60D sigma 150-500.

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We watched this Great Blue Heron for some time as he struggled and went through all kinds of contortions but never did see him swallow the poor fish which by heron standards wasn’t all that large, ZS50.

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As we walk along park path, just overhead a Turkey Vulture sizes us up, “Still Moving, @?%#!!!”, ZS50

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Mother Mallard with baby along Griggs Reservoir, FZ200.

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An Osprey watches as we paddle by, north end of Griggs Reservoir, Canon 60D, sigma 150-500.

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A Red-tailed Hawk does likewise, Canon 60D, sigma 150-500.

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And a few other creatures too.

 

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Sunfish, sometimes what a fish lacks in size it makes up for in beauty. This little fella went swimming right after the pic, Griggs Reservoir, Canon SD850.

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A turtle convention along the Scioto River below Griggs Dam, ZS50.

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Looking like somewhere in northern Michigan a deer crosses the Scioto north of Griggs Reservoir, (Donna), FZ200.

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Not seen as often as Map Turtles and Red-eared Sliders, we were excited to see two Painted Turtles enjoying the sun along the Griggs Reservoir shore, (Donna), FZ200.

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Sometimes it’s good to just step back and admire it all from a distance.

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North end of Griggs reservoir, FZ200

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Thanks for stopping by.

What’s a Hawk Supposed To Do?

A 8:30 AM start to our paddle on Griggs Reservoir a few days ago meant we weren’t expecting to see much wildlife, but a sunny day with little wind meant a good day for a paddle.

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The first order of business was to check out the cove, not far from our launch site, usually good for birds, to see what might be lurking. After a few minutes of quiet waiting, we were excited to see our first Black-crowned Night Heron of the year. It had apparently decided to hang around a little later into the day just for us.

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Black-crowned Night Heron, Griggs Reservoir

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Black-crowned Night Heron’s can be found in a few isolated locations around Columbus. Griggs Reservoir is one of them. A real treat!

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Leaving the heron we hugged the west shore as we headed north.

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Catalpa Flowers, (Donna)

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The west shore of the reservoir.

Purple Thistle flower 1 060515 Griggs paddle cp1

Thistle? (Donna)

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We hadn’t paddled long when we saw a Red-tailed Hawk posed majestically in the top of a tall pine right along the shore.

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Red-tailed Hawk

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I took a few pictures but it was hard not to notice the orange streaks in the viewfinder, so I kept shooting.

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The attack begins . . .

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From all angles.

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Reinforcements arrive.

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The attack continues . . .

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After more attacks than the number of pictures indicates, the hawk decides to take flight. Leaving the area to the orioles.

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A little further on we see the reason of the orioles aggressive behavior. They were nesting.

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Male Baltimore Oriole at nest.

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We reached the Hayden Run Bridge and decided a break was in order. Once out of the canoe it wasn’t long before Donna was finding interesting things to look at and photograph.

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Time for a break, Hayden Run Falls Park.

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Hayden Run

butter Eastern Comma 3 full out best 1 060515 Griggs paddle   cp1

Eastern Comma, (Donna)

Fragile Forktail 1 060515 Griggs paddle cp1

Fragile Forktail, (Donna)

Hairy Beardtongue 2 whole plant best 1 060515 Griggs   paddle cp1

Hairy Beardtongue, (Donna)

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Along with the beauty of Ohio’s waterways and natural areas there’s always the other stuff, predominately beverage containers, but also other associated trash. Based on observations paddling in states that have beverage container deposit laws, most of the trash seen in Ohio reservoirs is due to the lack of such a law. The trash either gets in them directly or via the storm sewers. Below is an example of some of the trash we were able to retrieve during our 3 hour 5 mile paddle.

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By the time we got back to our launch site we had accumulated quite a bit more.

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The return trip was pleasant but relatively uneventful with few photo opportunities, but it had been a good day for a paddle. To end on a high note, I thought I’d dress up the end of this post with a few more nice butterfly photos taken by my wife.

butter Cabbage white 3 solo one 060715 Griggs south cp1

Cabbage White, (Donna)

butter Cabbage white 2  pair 2 0607 15 Griggs cp1

Cabbage White, (Donna)

butter Red Admiral 3 full out 1 060715 Griggs south cp1

Red Admiral, (Donna)

butter Hackberry Emperor 6 wing backlit 1 best 1 060715 Griggs   south cp1

Hackberry Emperor, (Donna)

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Thanks for stopping by.

While I Was Out Fishing

I’ve been drawn away from my pursuit of pictures in nature by an interest in wetting a line to see what fish might decide to cooperate. Actually, as those who’ve read this blog for awhile have already guessed, for me fishing is more about just being outdoors and messing around in a small boat.

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My wife has graciously offered to take up the slack. Below are some of her photos taken along Griggs Reservoir over the last few days.

Milkweed budding 1 053015 Griggs N. solo walk csb1

Milkweed budding, (Donna)

Hairy Beardtongue 2 closer 1 053015 Griggs N. solo walk   csb1

Hairy Beardtongue, (Donna)

Canada Anemone 2 whole plant 1 053015 Griggs N. solo walk    cp1

Canada Anemone, (Donna)

Blue-eyed Grass 2 053015 Griggs N. solo walk cp1

Blue-eyed Grass, (Donna)

Bee on clover 2 better 1 053015 Griggs N. solo walk   cp1

Bumble Bee on clover, (Donna)

Wild Garlic or Onion 1 053015 Griggs N. solo walk cp1

Wild Garlic, (Donna)

Spiderwort 4 close-up 1 side view 2 053015 Griggs N. solo   walk cp1

Spiderwort, (Donna)

Northern Catalpa flower 2 closer 1 053015 Griggs N. solo   walk cp1

Northern Catalpa, (Donna)

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Sometimes nature decides to come to you, as did this Northern Flicker yesterday morning just as we were getting to head out on a bike ride. It left us scrabbling for our cameras as it’s a rare visitor to our city yard.

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Northern Flicker

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Northern Flicker, (take 2)

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Northern Flicker, (take 3)

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The beautiful markings deserve a closer look.

 

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Thanks for stopping by.

Photos by Donna

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