Desperate for a photo subject today, I ended up chasing this poor oil beetle through the woods with my camera. It was pretty quick. But once it found the shade and the shelter of a leaf, it settled down and allowed me to take a clear photo. Some days I think bringing a camera ruins the walk--it becomes all about looking for things to get, rather than appreciating everything. For example, isn't it enough just to love the bluebird flash? Why do I insist on trying to get a photo (and failing every time). Below, believe it or not, is my best ever.
The main attraction at Ponkapoag (part of the Blue Hills Reservation) is the "Atlantic White Cedar" bog. There is a aging boardwalk that runs through the middle, offering a revealing cross-section of various bog habitats. A mix of dense cedar swamp and lovely marsh clearings. The "stars" of this bog are its carnivorous plants. I didn't spot any sun dews (not knowing exactly to look for) but there were some easy to spot pitcher plants right off the boardwalk. The obligatory look into the mouth reveals... (click on photo to see). On the whole, I wouldn't necessarily recommend the full walk around the pond--especially now that there are significant construction detours near the golf course. You get the occasional good look at the pond but there is significant residential encroachment on the borders of the property and there are many joggers/dog walkers. Of course, if I hadn't made the full circuit, I wouldn't have seen the black and white warbler, acting all nuthatchy, along the trail. (I'm not proud of the photo, but it is a positive ID at least).
Every since the birds stopped singing much, I've stopped bringing my hand-held recorder out on walks. A mistake, it turns out, because of the sporadic sounds of migrants passing through (I've missed a couple of different warblers already), and because of the possible prime cricket encounter. Last night, while on the boardwalk on Cutler, I stopped to listen and heard a LOUD series of cricket calls and responses. I saw some spots moving on a nearby tree trunk, pulled out the camera and here's what I got after cropping and zooming. A red-headed bush cricket, not so pretty to look at (unless you like ant-tick hybrids with really long antennae) but a delightful musician.
Lovely windy day at the CRP. Recovering from a cold, I walked very slowly along the trails. This paid off--I caught a glimpse of a gorgeous mink that has been hanging out in the woods by the river. No photo, alas. But how about this exploding milkweed pod!
Also, my last post's assignment was much too easy. Try to count THESE swallows! It is nice to see tree swallows actually in trees rather than high voltage wires. With each gust of wind there would be an burst of swallows; they would then circle around and come back to the tree--lots of jockeying for perches(not as tough on the wire). And finally, inspired by Birdchick's example, I thought try for a macro goldenrod bee shot with the sky in the background. One of the things I'm enjoying this season is watching the successive waves of goldenrod come and go. It would be a good subject for a time lapse project--watch the patches of yellow move around the meadow...
A marvel of disgustingness. The stinkhorn. The brown slime attracts flies. They spread the spores. And the stinkhorn does indeed stink. But note the delicate lace of the stinkhorn's flesh.
Today's game: Count the swallows. (You'll have to click on the photo to see them--and some of them are probably dragonflies). There are now at least a hundred swallows assembled at the CRP and they can frequently be seen swarming these days (and soon not all).
Count the bobolinks. Novice naturalist asks: is there an adaptive advantage to being shaped like a milkweed pod? I suspect these folks are just passing through. I caught no bobolink singing this past spring or summer at the CRP. I hope they like what they see and will stay longer next year. Does this phoebe look scared enough? Oh, and lest I repeat myself, a great blue heron--this time in a white pine tree. Seriously, this heron must think I'm a great pest--look it's sticking out its tongue at me!
I was walking through the field when I spotted a moth fluttering manically about. I thought I might get a decent photo if it landed so I watched its frantic movements. C'mon, land on me, I thought. Then it landed in the chickweed, unintentionally. Stuck fast to a web, fluttering furiously trying to escape. I pulled out my camera. This is what I got. (I've elected not to embed the image, as it is not at all cute). Here's another, more horrifying angle. And a soothing great blue heron chaser, below. [Heron note: a couple of days ago I spotted a heron standing in Muzi Ford's Japanese garden pond, practically in traffic].
It's September and the colors are changing, starting with the young trees and bushes. Some nice reds and yellows already. [Update: Sorry, not fall. Herbicide. The trustees are trying to keep invasive trees from clogging up the meadow again.] And what do we have here? A bobolink, decked out in winter plumage, getting ready for the trip south.