Big bug, little bird…

Dragonfly sculpture with Bluebird. Laudholm Farms, Wells National Estuarine Research Center

The Eastern Bluebird is not a small bird by some standards. It is bigger than all except one warbler (and some question whether the Chat should be in the Warbler family at all), and bigger than most sparrows. And, of course, even the largest dragonfly is considerably smaller than either a warbler or a sparrow…unless you are talking about this giant dragonfly sculpture seen on the grounds of Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Center…for now…until Trump’s budget goes through…then very likely just Laudholm Farms since the Trump team has proposed defunding Esuturaine Reserach Centers). Laudholm Farms is hosting a major outdoor sculpture exhibit, opening May 26, and many of the sculptures are already installed…though they have not yet published the catalog so I don’t know who created this particular giant dragonfly…I certainly admire the work. And so, apparently, does the Bluebird. This is not the only sculpture that was serving as a Bluebird perch when I visited. They seemed to like the flat cut steel statue of a fawn down the hill from the dragonfly as well. One can only hope that no matter what Trump and the Republicans do, the Laudholm Trust will find a way to continue to protect the estuaries, the uplands, and the buildings of the farms for all to enjoy. I am pretty sure the Bluebirds (and dragonflies, not mention sculpters and sculpture lovers) would appreciate it. I am certain I would.

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr. 

Wild Turkey


Some of you may know the story of how, when our founding fathers were deciding on the national bird, Ben Franklin lobbied for the Wild Turkey, and argued vigorously against the Bald Eagle. The man knew his birds. He knew that the Eagle, majestic as it is,  is an opportunistic scavenger. He also knew that the Eagle has a habit of stealing prey from smaller raptors, often bullying them into dropping their catch before they can reach a safe perch. Ben did not think a big, aggressive, bullying, scavenger should be the emblem of our new nation. On the other hand, I have never quite understood his affection for the Wild Turkey…jaded as I am by too many Thanksgiving dinners featuring farm raised turkey…boyhood images of the big commercial turkey farm near home, and the gobbler my grandfather always free ranged on his farm…fattening him up for the feast. And then of course there is the cultural stigma attached to the name by now…also based, I am certain, on farm raised turkeys…which are about as mindless as a bird can get. (I put the mindlessness down to generations of interbreeding aimed only at increasing the size of the bird’s breast.) And then I come upon a bird like the one pictured here…and I know exactly what Ben was on about in his defense of the Wild Turkey as our national bird. This is as handsome and industrious a creature as ever walked the earth…and beautiful in the bargain. And peaceful. Willing (and able…note that spur on the leg just into the frame at the bottom) to defend itself and its females and pults…but not aggressive or needlessly assertive in any way. I have to wonder what difference it might have made in our national character if Ben had had his way…and we were the nation of the Wild Turkey and not the Bald Eagle. Ah well…Franklin lost the debate to others more concerned about prestige and far less knowledgeable about birds. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. 1/250th @ ISO 320 @ f4 out the window of a running car. Processed in Polarr. 

Eastern Towhee

The Eastern Towhee used to be Rufous-sided Towhee, and I still have that name stuck in my head. In fact that is what I typed as a title until some vague memory that they might have chanced the name sent me looking in iBird to make sure I did not get it wrong…and I, of course, had. By whatever name, the Towhee is one of the most cheerful of the woodland birds of Soutern Maine, especially in spring when the males sing their loud, bold “drink-yer-tea-tea-tea-tea-tea” song. This fellow even sat for his portrait. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/400th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. 

Eastern American Toad

It is the season for tiny toads in the woods and lawns of southern Maine. I saw several while mowing the lawn for the first time this week…and found this specimen deep in the woods of Emmon’s Preserve. It allowed me to circle around it for better light and a view of its eye. Very cooperative. 🙂

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. 1/320th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. 

Trout Lily

I told the story of these Trout Lilies at Emmon’s Preserve (Kennebunkport Conservation Trust) in a Day Poem a few days ago. They are also sometimes called Adder’s Tongue 

I went to Emmon’s Preserve today
to look for Trout Lilies where I know
they grow, along the trail down to the
little falls on the Bascom River. As
I went down, I thought for sure I was
too late…the blossoms were closed,
well past and drying, and the leaves
already loosing the spots that give
the flower it’s names, whether you
call it Trout Lily or Adder’s Tongue.
Ah well, I have missed them before
and I would like to think this will
not be my last spring…but then
right down by the falls, where the
cold air settles and is further cooled
by the rushing water, holding back the
season, there they were…in full bloom,
poking up out of moss right by the water’s
edge…nodding as they do…bending their
bright yellow faces down until the red veins
on the backs of the petals show like a
blush. I bent low to photograph them,
doing my best not to slip off the bank and
into the the stream. The woods dream
in flowers in the spring. I would not
want to wake them with my thrashing.

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. 1/1000th @ f4.5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. 

Yard Flowers…

Spring is late in Maine, but that does not mean that the yard is not in bloom. I went out yesterday in the early overcast light to capture some of the color. This is a mix of wildflowers that have become established in the yard and plantings. Clearly the Daffodil, Tulip, and Pansy are plantings…as is the Apple, just coming into blossom. The Spring Beauty and Violet are wild. 

Sony Rx10iii at various focal lengths. Program Mode. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic on my iPad Pro. 

Merry Bells

I took a wildflower walk at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge…around the loop at the Headquarters…just to see how spring in Maine is doing. It is, apparently, still early. Expected wildflowers of spring are still just budding, if they are showing at all. I did find a few Merry Bells (Bellwort), a small delicate drooping lily of the woods. This image was taken in what I call telephoto-macro mode…at the long end of the zoom at a closest focus. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program Mode. 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 320. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. 

Whip-poor-will

On a very slow day at Magee Marsh during the Biggest Week in American Birding on the Erie shore of Ohio, the bird of the day, and the only bird to draw a crowd, was this Eastern Whip-poor-will hunkered down 10 yards off the boardwalk. Between the crush of the crowd and the limited sight-lines, I was pleased to get this shot at all. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. ISO 1000 @ 1/1000th @ f5. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. 

Prairie Warbler

This Prairie Warbler caused a bit of excitement at the Magee Marsh Boardwalk on the last, and very birdy, day of the Biggest Week in American Birding on the Erie shore in Ohio. It did not want to sit for a portrait, and had to be tracked through the emerging leaves of the trees and vines…but it was enough to make many birders happy. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. 1/800th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. 

Blackburnian Warbler

The Blackburnian Warbler is, to my mind, another of the most spectacular warblers of the spring migration at Magee Marsh on the Erie shore, during the Biggest Week in American Birding. The bold orange and black pattern makes it look like a spark among the foliage. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. 1/1000th @ ISO 800 @ f6.3. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro.