Azaleas and Rhododendrons 

Azaleas and Rhododendrons, Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, Boothbay, Maine

Several years in the past Carol and I have celebrated our wedding anniversary with a day out at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Maine. It is a lovely place to spend a July morning, among the flowers, and often dragonflies of the variety of gardens they have on the grounds. But July is too late for one of the main gardens: the Giles Rhododendron Garden, which has over 100 varieties of Rhododendron and Azalea terraced up a hillside under tall pines. So this year we went early…but the earlies time and weather allowed was this past Thursday. We were still just about a week too late. The garden was in bloom on the 15th, according to the CMBG blog, but heavy rains several days between then and our visit put and end to the bloom. We found plants in odd corners still showing…but the main event, with the hillside full of pastel color, was past. These are a few of the remaining blossoms. 

Sony Rx10iii at various focal lengths. Program mode. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic. 

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe with prey, Laudholm Farms, Wells Maine

I have been blessed with several close birds recently. This Eastern Phoebe was hunting around the observation deck off the boardwalk at Laudholm Farms when I visited last. Clearly with some success. I saw it take at least two of these bettles.  Quite a mouthful for a little bird 🙂

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr. 

Bees aboard…

Green Metallic and Honey Bee in Hawkweed, Laudholm Farms, Wells Maine

The tall Hawkweed is in bloom at Laudholm Farms in Wells Maine (Wells National Estuarine Reserve). Hawkweed is an interesting plant in that each clump shares a genetic identity…which is subtly different than any other clump, even though they might only be separated by a few yards. Here we have two busy bees collecting pollen in the Hawkweed…obviously with some success. The top specimen is one of the largest Green Metallic Bees (there are several species in the family) that I have ever seen, and the bottom bee, if I am not mistaken, is a Common Honey Bee. I have made the flowers roughly the same size in each panel so that you can see the difference in size between the bees. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. -.7 EV. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic. 

Purple Finch

Purple Finch, Kennebunk Plains WMA, Maine

The other day when I was at Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area there was a small flock of Purple Finches…at least 2 males and half a dozen females. Their singing caught my ear from half way around the pond, and I tracked them down and even got a few pics…not great pics…but Purple Finch is actually a good bird for York County. Range maps show the Purple Finch as a breeding species in all of Maine, but ebird has no sightings at all for Southern Maine. The nearest are down in Massachusetts at Plum Island (Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, and well north of Portland. So…a good bird. I suspect it is actally just under-reported, as opposed to absent, since I have seen them at least a few times at my feeders as well. I will certainly be looking for them this summer around the pond.

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. +1 EV to overcome backlight. Processed in Polarr. 

Over the shoulder. Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing, Day Brook Pond, Kennebunk Plains WMA

I called this bird an immature yesterday because of the lack of red tips on the wings, but several readers thought it might be more adult. Apparently juvenile is a specific plumage phase and this bird is beyond that…but it might be impossible, actually, to age it otherwise. At any rate this is the same bird as I posted yesterday in another pose. If one super-sharp Cedar Waxwing is good…two should certainly be better 🙂

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. f4 @ 1/250th @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr. 

Gift outright! Immature Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing, Day Brook Pond, Kennebunk Plains WMA

Sometimes you just get a gift. I was hunting dragonflies along the shore of Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area here in southern Maine, when this immature Cedar Waxwing flew in and landed less than 8 feet from me. I suspect the bird was doing exactly the same thing I was…but with more lethal intent. 🙂 I got the camera up, figuring it was going to fly on at any second, but it sat there and let me take a dozen exposures. I tried to take one step closer, and, of course, it was gone. Still, what a treat. 

The setting is ideal. The bird contrasts nicely with the rough patterned white of the birch bark and the background is far enough out of focus to be a lovely buttery green.   

You almost never get close enough to resolve the feathers on this bird…in most photos it appears as though carved from wood and with the plumage painted on. It has about the finest feathers over much of its body of any bird out there. The combination of the close approach and the excellent ZEISS len on the Sony Rx10iii make for an exceptional portrait of this bird. The lack of red tips on the wings tells me it is this year’s hatchling, just hunting its first dragonflies on its own. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. F4 at 1/250th, and for some reason the camera did not record the ISO setting. I suspect it was ISO 100. Processed in Polarr. 

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Sheep Laurel, Kennebunk Plains. Maine

It is the season of the tiger again in Southern Maine…the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail that is. I have seen 2 in our yard, and at least one on every outing further afield this past week. This one was along the shore of Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area in West Kennebunk…and it is the first photographically cooperative Swallowtail I have seen this season. As you see, the Sheep Laurel is just coming into bloom, and the Swallowtail was making a feast of it. What a lovely contrast between the yellow butterfly and the deep pink laurel. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. f4 @ 1/250, and for some reason the camera did not record the ISO or it got lost in import?? Probably ISO 100. Processed in Polarr. 


Yellow Warbler, the beach, Kennebunk Maine

There are always Yellow Warblers nesting in the Beach Rose on the dune behind our local beach…and this time of year they are singing lustily…or as lustily as a Yellow Warbler can sing. I caught this one in the evening, an hour before sunset. The evenings in Maine now are long…and sunset is not until after 8 PM. Though I have lived here more than 20 years, the late light always takes me by surprise, every summer. I try to be like the warblers and make the most of it. 🙂

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. 1/1000th @ f5.6 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr and TouchRetouch (an offending out of focus branch on the right removed). 

Long Dash Skippers ?

Long Dash Skippers, Day Brook Pond, KPWMA, Kennebunk Maine

It is not only dragonflies that flying here in Southern Maine in mid-June. There are a few early butterflies. I have seen several Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Northern Checkers, some Hairstreaks, lots of Skippers, and a single Mourning Cloak. These two, if I am not mistaken, are Long Dash Skippers, (though they also might be Black-dash Skippers??) from the area around Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with -.7EV. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic. 

Frosted Whiteface vs Chalk-fronted Corporal

Frosted Whiteface, Chalk-fronted Corporal Dragonflies

At Day Brook Pond the other day, I caught this Frosted Whiteface dragonfly, and a Chalk-fronted Corporal alternating between two perches on the same Birch twigs over the water. I wanted to get them in the same image, as the comparison is interesting…especially the size comparison. I think of the Corporal as being a small dragonfly, but it is huge when compared to the delicate Whiteface. 

While it would have made an excellent shot, the Whiteface’s twig was maybe 6 inches in front of the Corporal’s twig, and, though I attempted it, there was no way to get them in focus at the same time. So I took two shots, one focused on the Whiteface and the second on the Corporal, thinking that maybe I could merge them when I got home. I am working on the iPad and I used three apps for this composition. First I processed the shots identically for light and detail in Polarr, using my “birds” preset. Then I took both shots into Adobe PhotoShop Mix as layers, and cut out the blurred Whiteface to expose the sharp one on the layer behind. That left a visible margin between the two images where the background did not match perfectly, so I saved the combined image and reopened it in Polarr. There I was able to smooth the edges of the join using the Brush and the Blur control. I saved that. In looking at it however, I decided that I had cropped the Whitetail a little too close to the edge. I opened the image in HandyPhoto which has a Magic Uncrop tool, and used it to add some real estate to the left of the Whiteface. In HandyPhoto is just a matter of extending the frame and the program fills it in with cloned background. 

And there you have it. A digitally created, true to life, comparison of a Frosted Whiteface and a Chalk-fronted Corporal dragonfly. 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program mode at -.7 EV. 1/125th @ ISO 125 @ f5.6. Processed as above. 🙂