Thursday, August 15, 2019

Morning at the Lake

It was hazy, hot and humid early in the morning and the day promised an escalation of all three – UGH! There’s a trail around a nearby lake that, although it has some gentle ups and downs, doesn’t have the climbs found on most of my favorite trails – climbs are to be avoided when it’s hazy, hot and humid. Large portions of the trail are virtually level, being at water level, and provide views across the lake and glimpses of the aquatic ecosystem. So to the lake I went.

It was more than a glimpse that was provided by a huge snapping turtle cruising in the shallows searching for a meal –

Next was a great blue heron also hunting a meal –
And a great egret in deeper water doing the same –

Some sections of the lake have large patches of fragrant water lily with its showy white flowers while on the shore monkeyflower was in bloom –

Also along the shore was an active beaver lodge
And in the tree above that a green heron

The lily leaves were resting spots for several species of dragonfly –

Eastern Amberwing
Blue Dasher

While more dragonflies used other perches –
Common Whitetail
Slaty Skimmer

The real trophy of the morning was a six-spotted fishing spider, a spider that dives beneath the surface to feed on aquatic insects, small tadpoles and tiny fish –

That morning at the lake was the inaugural outing for my new camera.

For years my favorite superzoom camera has been a Canon SX 50 with its 50 power zoom lens (the equivalent of a 24-1200mm zoom lens). Now having taken far in excess of 100,000 photographs the camera’s lens grinds as it extends and retracts and occasionally has a bit of trouble focusing. So, it was time for a new superzoom; unfortunately the SX 50 is no longer made and it’s virtually impossible to find a new one. 

Because of the excellent service the company and its cameras have provided over the years, I’m a Canon fan so a Canon SX 70 was my choice for a new superzoom. The SX 70 has a 65 power zoom lens (21 to 1325mm); it also has a brilliant viewfinder and LCD screen; it both zooms and focuses more rapidly and its controls are easier to use than the SX 50’s; the SX 70 takes the same filter adapter and lens hood as its predecessor; the SX70's minimum shutter speed is as long as 15 seconds which easily permits photographs like this
That said, I have a couple of minor complaints: the SX50 had a small LED that was lighted to let the user know whenever the camera was on, the 70 does not; the SX 70’s battery is a different size than the 50’s so all my old batteries are now useless.

One major gripe – to me the SX 70’s photos don’t appear as sharp as those from the SX 50 when taken at the same focal length and settings. Would I purchase this camera again? Probably, but I'd certainly take a longer look at the superzooms from Nikon, Panasonic and Sony.

All the photos in this post are from the new SX 70.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Fawn and The Turkeys

It was late July and the apple tree was dropping small green apples. Deer and rabbits, fox and coyotes and bear were visiting in the night to eat the fallen apples.

At twilight two hen turkeys and their broods came to pick insects from the grass in a small opening in front of the camera trap. The different sizes of the turkey poults shows that one brood was younger than the other. The turkeys were peacefully going about their business while a white-tail fawn nibbled at leaves on a shrub.

The fawn’s mother came to eat, including some of those little green apples, and the fawn began gamboling through the grass –

Towards the end of the video the doe looks at the fawn chasing the turkeys as if to say “Stop bothering the neighbors.”

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Moths, Moths and More Moths

National Moth Week is over for another year, but moths will go on flying until late fall. The beauty and variety of moths is almost infinite since there are somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000 species in the United States. The moths that are active in late spring are, for the most part, different than those to be seen in September and October.

While many moths may appear to be rather drab, dressed in white, brown or gray, many other species are extremely colorful –

There’s no need to travel to exotic places to see spectacular and interesting moths – just turn on an outside light and, if there are plants nearby, moths will come. No need to travel to wilderness areas either, there are moths in the city, in the suburbs, and in the country.

So turn on an outside light and moths will come to you –

You can see last year’s In Forest and Field posts for National Moth Week, with photographs of entirely different species, here and here.

Hopefully the photos in these posts have aroused your curiosity about these fascinating insects.