Friday, August 31, 2018

The Days of Summer - Day Fifty-nine through Day Sixty-five

Here is installment nine of my Days of Summer photo project - I am trying to catch up, but I have been very busy with scheduling school program  I started this project on the Summer Solstice (21 June 2018) with a photo from a sunrise hike at the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy's Bundy Hill Preserve.  My plan is to photograph something every day until the Fall Equinox (22 September 2018) and share one image from each day.  I am currently in week ten of the project.  To see the previous installments click here.
Day 59 (18 August 2018) - American Robin feathers

This image was photographed at my parent's home in Clinton County.  While searching for something to photograph, I found a dead American Robin lying on the ground on a mowed path through the woods.  This picture shows some of the feathers on its back and wings, with just a tiny bit of orange from its neck at the bottom left of the image.

Day 60 (19 August 2018) - Woodpecker holes in a birch trunk

This picture was taken at the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy's Hall's Lake Natural Area during a stewardship outing.  I noticed this log while searching the woods for Autumn Olive (an invasive species) and went back to photograph it later.  These holes were probably originally created by a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  Now a Hairy Woodpecker was taking advantage of the easy access to search for insects in the rotting trunk.

Day 61 (20 August 2018) - Goldenrod Soldier Beetles on Rosinweed

This image was taken in our home native pollinator garden.  At any given time (especially during late summer) I can find dozens pollinators in our garden.  This year, for the first time, I noticed an influx of Goldenrod Soldier Beetles.  This mating pair was crawling around on one of the Rosinweed plants.  This image has been cropped from a horizontal to a vertical format.

Day 62 (21 August 2018) - Bombus impatiens on Purple Coneflower

I love bees, especially bumble bees!  This image of a Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens) was taken at the Forest Hill Nature Area.  I cropped the image to a square just because I thought it looked best in this format.

Day 63 (22 August 2018) - Storm clouds

This picture was taken at Chipp-A-Waters Park in Mt. Pleasant late in the day.  This image reminds me of the froth created by waves crashing on a beach.

Day 64 (23 August 2018) - Monarch caterpillar

This Monarch (Danaus plexippus) on a Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) was photographed in the field next to the Isabella Conservation District office.  On days that I spend a lot of time in the office, sometimes I just need to go outside for a few minutes.

Day 65 (24 August 2018) - Native Pollinator Garden at Winn Elementary

The Isabella Conservation District planted and currently helps maintain native pollinator gardens at two local schools and the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum.  With school starting, I spent a couple hours pulling weeds and moving "volunteer" plants from pathways at the Winn Elementary School Garden.  The Leopold bench in the picture was one of six constructed with students back in 2013.  They were all recently repainted in the school colors.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Days of Summer - Day Fifty-two through Day Fifty-eight

It's a little late, but here is installment eight of my Days of Summer photo project.  This project started on the Summer Solstice (21 June 2018) and will continue until the Fall Equinox (22 September 2018).  The intent of this project is to get outdoors every day and photograph something in nature.  I am picking one photograph from each day to share as part of this project.  To see the previous installments click here.

On to the photos!

Day 52 (11 August 2018) - My what big ears you have!

This image of a fawn was taken at Forest Hill Nature Area.  While photographing bees and butterflies among the wildflowers of Forest Hill's native grassland restoration I noticed a pair of fawn watching me.  Sometimes, if you move slowly and carefully, you can walk right up to a deer without scaring it away.  Over the course of several minutes i was able to walk to within about 20 yards of this fawn.  This picture was taken when it turned to watch a car pass on nearby Rich Road.  I picked this image because of the pattern created by the veins on the back of the fawn's ears.  They remind me of a butterflies wings.  Check the picture for Day 58 (below) if you don't believe me.

Day 53 (12 August 2018) - Perseid Meteor

On August 12, Shara and I went back to Forest Hill to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower (and hopefully to get a few photos).  We saw several spectacular fireballs crossing the sky, but unfortunately they were no in the direction that my camera was pointed at the time.  I did manage to get several lesser meteors on camera.  To see the meteor in this image click on the photo to enlarge it.  The meteor is just above the band of clouds near the left side of the image.

Day 54 (13 August 2018) - Lunch

This picture of a Black-and-Yellow Argiope spider (Argiope aurentia) was photographed in its web at Mill Pond Park in Mt. Pleasant.  I was actually photographing a different Argiope when I glanced to the right and spotted this lady less than a meter away.  This picture shows the underside of the spider as she perches on her web near a silk-wrapped insect that she will make a meal of later.  Again, this picture is best viewed by clicking on it.  If you look close you can see a line of silk emerging from her spinnerets.

Day 55 (14 August 2018) - A Different Kind of Grasshopper

This is my second grasshopper image that I have shared as part of this project.  I photographed a Carolina Locust at Chipp-A-Waters Park on Day 41.  This grasshopper was also photographed at Chipp-A-Waters park, but this grasshopper belongs to a different species.  This is a Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis).  This grasshopper allowed me to creep very close and photograph it with my longest lens from just under a meter away (the minimum focusing distance for this lens).

Day 56 (15 August 2018) - Gotcha!

While working on this project, there have been days when I have had a difficult time selecting a picture to share.  Sometimes I don't like any of the pictures all that much; other times I have too many photos that I like.  On other occasions, I have known right away which photo was going to be the "winner" for the day.  This picture of a Jagged Ambush Bug with a European Honeybee was an easy choice.  I captured this image at Forest Hill Nature Area late in the day.  The sun was almost on the horizon and I was heading back to my truck to meet Shara when I glanced at this Lance-leaf Goldenrod as I was passing it by.

Day 57 (16 August 2018) - Rainy Day Boxelder

This picture was also taken at Forest Hill Nature Area.  It is easy to stop here on my way home from Mt. Pleasant.  August 16th was kind of a "blah" day for photography.  It was cloudy all day and threatened rain while I was at Forest Hill.  I probably would have been better off photographing something up close rather than landscapes, but I thought this image of a Boxelder (Acer negundo) against the gray sky best represented the day.

Day 58 (17 August 2018) -  Monarch on Rosinweed

The final image in this set was taken in our home native pollinator garden.  It seems to be a very good year for Monarch butterflies here in Mid-Michigan.  We have repeatedly had one visiting our plants.  In the past we have noticed maybe one or two Monarchs in our garden each year.  This year they are an almost daily visitor.  We do have some milkweed plants (the Monarch's only larval host plant), but right now the main attraction is nectar especially from Cup Plant and Rosinweed.  These two plant species are attracting dozens of bumble bees and hundreds of honey bees in addition to the butterfly visitors.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Days of Summer - Day Forty-five through Day Fifty-one

This is part seven of my Days of Summer photography project.   Beginning with the Summer Solstice (21 June 2018) and ending with the Fall Equinox (22 September 2018), I am making it a point to get outdoors and photograph something every single day.  One photograph from each day is being selected for this project and shared here.

The previous installments of this project can be found at the links below:

Part Six
Part Five
Part Four
Part Three
Part Two
Part One

I hope you enjoy the photos from this past week - one of them might be quite a surprise.

Day 45 (04 August 2018) - A Banded Bird

The first image of the week was taken at Forest Hill Nature Area.  If you look closely at This female Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) you might notice that her left leg sports a band.  Between this picture and several others of this bird I was able to make out a couple numbers on the band.  With that information, I contacted Mike Bishop at Alma College - he is running a banding project at Forest Hill.  With the numbers I gave him, Mike was able to narrow it down to one of two birds that he banded on June 28th of this year.  We both thought this was pretty cool.

This photograph has been cropped into a landscape format - taking some off the top and bottom of the image.  I just thought it was the most appealing of all the different crops that I tried.  I like how the bird looks like she is about the launch herself at the goldenrod to the left of the image.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

The Days of Summer - Day Thirty-eight through Day Forty-four

This is part six of my current photography project - The Days of Summer.

In the past, I have had times where I have gone days or even weeks without taking photographs.  This summer I set out to change that tendency.  I gave myself the task of recording images every single day between the Summer Solstice and the Fall Equinox.  Not only do I need to photograph something every day, but I am also sharing a single photo from each day on this blog.

To see the previous installment (part four) check out this link.

Day 38 (28 July 2018) - Lights! Camera! Moths...

The week of 21 - 29 July was National Moth Week.  In celebration, I hosted two mothing events on the nights of 27 July (for the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy) and 28 July (for the Chippewa Valley Audubon Club).  This image is from the latter event at Mission Creek Woodland Park in Mt. Pleasant.  This image was taken shortly after the sun went down as the moths had barely started to come in.  Lots of moths were drawn to the lights, but this image was my favorite of the night.

Day 39 (29 July 2018) - Woodpecker Feather

This picture of a woodpecker flight feather was taken during a hike to the top of Bundy Hill.  This feather belongs to either a Downy Woodpecker or a Hairy Woodpecker.  Although these two species look very much alike, they are not closely related.  The current theory is that the Downy evolved to look more like the Hairy so it wouldn't be harassed by the larger bird.

My general philosophy in regards to photo editing is that "Less is More."  This picture is probably the most heavily edited image I have ever posted on this blog.  It has been rotated 180 degrees from the original - I liked the quill better in the lower left of the image than in the upper right.  The image has also been cropped to better focus on the feather.  Even though I prefer to "crop with my feet" (move closer to the subject), I am usually okay with cropping an image down to better focus on the main subject.   I have also adjusted the brightness of this image.  The picture was taken in direct sunlight and the colors were rather washed out in the original.

Day 40 (30 July 2018) - Oh, Hello!

This picture of a Goldenrod Soldier Beetle (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus) on a Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) was photographed at Forest Hill Nature Area.  The beetle was feeding on pollen and nectar on the small individual flowers.  To highlight the beetle against the sky, I lay on my back in the middle of a trail, leaned against my camera bag for support and, and aimed the camera upward.  I probably shot two dozen images of this beetle as it crawled around the flower, but the pose in this picture made it my favorite.  This image has been cropped slightly to reduce the amount of open space at the top and left of the picture.

 Day 41 (31 July 2018) - Carolina Locust

Unlike the previous two pictures.  This image has not been edited at all.  I photographed this Carolina Locust (Dissosteira carolina) at Chipp-A-Waters Park in Mt. Pleasant.  To get this picture I lay on a slab of limestone along the edge of the Chippewa River and focused tightly on the grasshopper.  I was at the minimum focus distance for the lens on my camera.  By working so close, I lost a little bit of detail on the legs, but check out the veining on the wings and the pattern on the head, thorax, and abdomen!

Day 42 (01 August 2018) - Halloween Pennant

This image was also photographed at Chipp-A-Waters Park.  After photographing the Carolina Locust on the 31st, I noticed a Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina) hunting in a grassy area along the riverbank.  Despite repeated attempts, I was never able to get a picture that I made me happy.  I went back the next morning to try again.  I actually arrived too early and had to wait for insects to begin flying.  Eventually this Pennant showed up and I was able to get several photos.  I cropped this from a horizontal to a vertical image.  I liked the original, but I liked the vertical crop just a little bit more.

Day 43 (02 August 2018)

This picture was taken at North Higgins Lake State Park.  I spent the day doing a pair of activities for a summer camp being held by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.  Due to stormy weather, we adjusted the schedule a little bit.  This left me with some time before my morning activity.  Although this is not the greatest image, I like the repetition of the spherical water droplets throughout the picture.

Day 44 (03 August 2018)

My final photo for the week was taken at Mission Creek Woodland Park.  Although sometimes I have a plan I go out to take photos (like with the Halloween Pennant pictured above), at other times it pays to just wander and see what happens.  I found these Crown Coral (Clavicorona pyxidata or Artomyces pyxidatus) growing on a rotten log in the middle of the woods.  If I hadn't wandered away from the trail I never would have discovered them.  Coral fungi are some of the coolest looking fungi that grow in Mid-Michigan, but I sometimes find them a challenge to photograph because they are such a start contrast to the dark wood.  I decided to crop this picture as a square eliminating another clump of fungus to the left of the picture.