Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mantis Love

Persistence pays off....
3 hours in the meadow following a female praying mantis was worth being bitten by ants.
Here is how it took place....
The last few days I have been visiting the meadow in hopes of capturing a mating pair of praying mantis. Today was my lucky day...I spotted this large female on the hunt for food. (See images below) So I carefully set up my tripod at ground level. Every move I made she would stare at me. I moved slowly and was able to get close, but not to close. I started shooting and waiting for an insect to become pray, but nothing happened. I followed her along the ground for over an hour. About two and a half hours into my crawling on the ground. I suddenly started to get bit by ants. I moved away and brushed them off. As I was doing so I noticed a male mantis looking at me from a higher perch. So I slowly moved my tripod and took a few shots. No sooner had I took the shots...then this male flew down to the ground close to the female. I was in luck would I get my wish and witness a mating pair. I was able to get one shot, before he jumped on her and it begun. I moved in as close as I could without disturbing them. Frame after frame I fired away. She moved slowly into the tall thick grasses where I was unable to get anymore shots. I watched them for another 15 minutes and moved on. I was happy...very happy. This male will have a slim chance of surviving. The female will have him for dinner. Pregnant females need protein and since the male is the closest food source she will eat him. There is that slim chance he will get away, but most never make it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


This afternoon I spent a few hours with 5 different praying mantis. Brown ones and green ones...great subjects and they are so much fun to watch. It was windy and with the bright sunshine made it a bit difficult to get some good shots, but I did my best. I have never found them on cloudy days only on warm sunny days in late August and September. Mating takes place in September so I think today they were on the look out for a mate. 2 brown colored males, 2 brown colored females and one green female. 

 I was trying to get some tight close ups of her head and front legs, but she had other plans. She climbed onto the lens...so I gently lifted her up and took a few shots and carefully placed her in the grass.
I found this mantis being attacked by some very small black ants. It's a life or death struggle in the insect world.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Walk in the Woods

Late this afternoon I took a walk in the woods along the pond. I found many subjects to photograph and seen some wood ducks, but was unable to get any shots. I did find one species of fungus that I love to photograph and admire. Coral Fungi is one of my all time favorite fungus species.

I don't find it very often, but when I do I make sure to get some photos. It comes in many colors and sizes. this is the first time I have ever found this color. Mostly I find the white color form. Not only was this fungus growing along the path I was walking, but many other species. A month from now and the trees will be starting to turn color. Summer is winding down...Autumn is not far away.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer is Complete

Well my summer is complete with the photos of one special insect.
The Praying Mantis
Chinese Mantid ( Tenodera aridifolia sinesnsis)
The only ones common in the North are 2 introduced species: the European mantid, Mantis religiosa Linn. (pale green, about 2 inches), and the Chinese Mantid (3-4 Inches) The latter is rather widely distributed and the former is largely restricted to the eastern states. In the West, Litaneutria minor occurs all the way to British Columbia. 
I have been searching for one to photograph for many years and when I do find one I don't have my camera with me. Today I was in luck, but as I started to shoot I realized my battery was low and almost dead. I looked in my bag and my back up was no where to be found. So I shot as many images as I could before my battery went dead. If I would have had my back-up battery (it was on my desk) I would have stayed and followed it around the meadow as it searched for prey. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Scratches, Smoke, Wasps

Been picking blackberries everyday...so my arms are all scratched up, but it is worth it. I was out taking photos near the pond this afternoon and got smoked out. A large prescribe burn was going on and the smoke was drifting over the pond. I did get the shots I wanted plus more. On my way home I stopped by the meadow and found some paper wasps that mad a nest under a milkweed leaf.

I also found a really beautiful wildflower...
Spotted Touch-Me-Not
Not only this wildflower, but the Indian Pipes were really thick. Found 56 flowers growing, but only a couple that were single. I don't mind photographing groups of them, but I like single ones better. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Indian Pipes

These wildflowers are one of my favorites. They are one of the few flowers that don't have any green at all. Some are a light pink or all white. They don't last long once they are up, but they are beautiful. I found a small colony of them growing along the pond. I am planning on going back in a few days to get some more images. They will be  a little taller.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Overnight Camp

Set out yesterday to go camping for two nights, but something came up and ended up staying one night. It was worth the one night. I will be going back that is for sure. Heard loons calling late into the night, coyotes howling, owls hooting and something I have not heard in years...a whip-poor-will. I was able to photograph a few different species and one I have never photographed before. So many butterflies and ground squirrels. these little guys kept me entertained while I ate dinner and one was even begging. He or She would run up to my feet and look up at me and run a few feet away until I gave it a chip. A Mourning Cloak was my camp company all afternoon. I did find a target species I was hoping to photograph. The Cardinal Flower is one of my favorite flowers. I love how red they are and they stand out from the rest. I can't forget the butterflies. Three species where feeding on minerals next to the river. I spotted them as I crossed a small bridge. It was so peaceful laying next to them with the river only a few feet away. Northern crescent, Summer Azure and one Viceroy. I am planning on going back again real soon.
 Cardinal Flower
Lots of Pickerelweed
 Mourning Cloak
Three in One Shot

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Birds or No Birds

I was hoping to get some images of Cedar Waxwings feeding today, but it never happened.
People showed up to fish and scared them away....so I ended up photographing other subjects. Like this beautiful dragonfly.

Halloween Pennant - Celithemis eponina - Male

I also found this Black Spruce seedling growing out of a stump.

I am planing on going back as soon as the weekend is over and trying to photograph the waxwings again.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Hills

After my visit with the doctor today I headed up to the hills. I hiked many miles and ate many berries.
Up and down the hills I hiked...stopping to eat blackberries of course. Been searching out locations for fall color and found some great places. Still a few months away, but you can see the change beginning. The last of the summer wildflowers are starting to fade.
I parked along this road

Deep in a valley

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Back Country

I spent a few hours today exploring some new places. I hiked through many woodland meadows and shaded hardwood forests. I seen many species of butterflies, birds, dragonflies and even caught a glimpse of a badger. Seen two white-tailed deer and one beautiful buck in velvet. The meadows I found were loaded with midsummer wildflowers and many species of butterflies. I was able to take many wonderful images today...even though it was bright and sunny out. I will be going back to these places this fall when the trees are in color.