The Magnolia Warbler is on of the brightest spring warblers to pass through Magee Marsh and northern Ohio during migration. I heard Bill Thompson describe the Magnolia this way: it has one of every field mark. It has an eye-ring, an eyebrow, a mask, a black cap, wing-bars, streaking on the breast, under-tail patches. and white outer tail feathers. One of every field mark…and yet is uniquely and beautifully, unmistakably, itself. Magnolia!
Canon SX50HS. Program with iContrast and Auto Shadow Control. A collage of two shots, both at 1200mm equivalent. Processed in Lightroom. Assembled in PhotoShop Elements.
The Wild Gardens of Acadia at Sieur de Monts Springs is a project of The Wild Gardens of Acadia committee of The Friends of Acadia. It was actually started by a looser group of volunteers before coming under the auspices of the Friends. It has won awards as example of its kind. Within a very small area at the edge of the forest, with a small stream flowing through, volunteers have collected and cultivated most of the native plants of Mt Desert Island and Acadia National Park. The garden is divided by habitat, from stream-side and a mini bog to a mountain top simulation, and covering just about everything in between. From early spring to late fall there is generally something in bloom, and it well enough labeled so that it is certainly a good place to visit if you are interested in being able to identify these plants in the wild.
This is Jack-in-the-pulpit. From the single plants I saw there a few years ago, there is now an impressive stand of these unique and very interesting plants.
Canon SX50HS. Program with iContrast and Auto Shadow Control. 39mm macro plus 1.5x digital tel-converter. f4 @ 1/50th @ ISO 160. Processed in Lightroom for intensity, clarity, and sharpness.
This is one of those shots that is only possible because of the flip out lcd on the Canon SX series. I had to get right down under the plant
It has been a long (snowy) winter and a late spring in southern Maine, but the Odonata are finally returning in numbers and variety to our ponds and streams. A few really (unseasonably) warm days last week warmed the waters to the point that dragon and dameselflies are emerging daily now.
This is an extreme tel-macro shot (2400mm) of an immature male Common Whiteface (Plathemis lydia) from the sunny parking area at Old Falls on the Mousam River.
Canon SX50HS. Program with iContrast and Auto Shadow Control. f6.5 @ 1/1000th @ ISO 400. Processed in Lightroom for intensity, clarity, sharpness, and some noise reduction.
Garter Snakes get very little respect. They are very likely the most common and widespread snake in North America. No one seems to certain just how many species there are, or, if indeed there is only one. Common Garter Snake, one of several recognized species across North America, has been credited with up to 13 regional sub-species. To say that the Garter is highly variable is an understatement. They eat amphibians and earthworms, as well as the occasional rodent, fish or even small bird. Since they are everywhere, from seaside to mountaintop, from deep swamp to surburan backyards and city parks, and they are active by day, they are often seen. No one gives them a second glance. “Ah, just another garter snake.”
But look! They are beautiful. This fresh specimen from along boardwalk between Sieur de Mont Springs and Great Meadow in Acadia National Park is particularly attractive. (“Fresh” in the sense that it appears to have recently shed its skin and still has that “brand new” look.) The delicate greens and browns, the intricate woven look of the scales, the strong, compact body…this snake is a beautiful creature.
Canon SX50HS. Program with iContrast and Auto Shadow Control. -1/3EV exposure compensation. 1200mm and 1800mm equivalent field of view. f6.5 @ 1/400th @ ISO 800.
Processed in Lightroom for intensity, clarity, and sharpness.
You might remember that, when I posted my Pink Lady Slipper shots from Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge last week, I mentioned that I hoped to see a White Lady Slipper when I visited the Wild Gardens of Acadia at Sieur de Mont Springs in Acadia National Park. I remembered seeing one in bloom there previous years, along with the Yellow Lady Slipper. It was not to be…the caged Yellows were no where near to bloom, and there was no White.
Imagine my surprise then, when hiking the Ship’s Harbor Trail, over on the other (southern or eastern, depending on how you look at it) half of the “mitt” that makes up Mt Desert Island, to come on this specimen growing all alone in a bed of trailing juniper and moss. There was no easy access without trampling plants, so the best I could do was a tel-macro shot.
I had always assumed that the White Lady Slipper was its own species, but a little research when I got home showed that it is just a rare form of the Pink Lady Slipper. Same plant. Different color. That makes it, of course, no less unique or beautiful.
Canon SX50HS. Program with iContrast and Auto Shadow Control. -1/3EV exposure compensation. 1251mm and 1200mm.
Rhodoa, a New England relative of the rhododendron family, was in bloom all over Mt Desert Island…in any damp spot with sun, from hollows in the tops of the mountains, to the edges of marshes in the valleys. I caught this bee making the most of it along the shore of Jordan Pond.
Tel-macro. Canon SX50HS. 1200mm equivalent from 5 feet. f6.5 @ 1/1000th @ ISO 640. Program with iContrast and Auto Shadow Control. -1/3EV exposure compensation. Processed in Lightroom for intensity, clarity, and sharpness.
The Ascitou Azalea Gardens in Northeast Harbor on Mt Desert Island, just outside Acadia National Park, can, if you hit it just right when the Azaleas bloom, be all but overwhelming. It is a gentle place, well manicured, with a hint of Japan in the stone and water and Azalea plantings. Very designed. Very beautiful.
Click any of the thumbs to open the image full sized.
Canon SX50HS. A mix to tel-macros at 1200mm equivalent, and wide-macros at 24mm plus 1.5x digital tel-converter. Processed, as always, in Lightroom for intensity, clarity, and sharpness.
And for the Sunday Thought. Man might have had a hand in all the shades and colors of the Azalea, and man certainly had a hand in arranging them in Ascitou Gardens…but the fact is, you can not tame the Azalea. It is a wild plant, full of irresistible vigor and something very close to a will to be. The colors can be bold or delicate, but the live is always vibrant. The spirit in the Azalea will out! And it is, at least for me, the tension between that riot of life, the pure spirit, and our attempts to design and improve upon nature that adds to the wonder of the Azalea. I am always thankful to those patient folks who think they can cage the wonder…because it is so much fun to see the wonder break out!
My on-going lesson in relativity was renewed yesterday when I joined Bill Thompson, the editor of BirdWatcher’sDigest and creator of the “Bill of the Birds” podcast, and local guides for a field trip at Indian Point Nature Conservancy Reserve on Mt Desert Island, ME. It was an afternoon trip so you expect the birding to be somewhat slower, but, really, birding in Maine is hard work…especially compared to my recent “height of migration” visit to Magee Marsh and the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio.
At Magee, on a good day, the warblers drip from the trees, and many, like the Blackburnians, Chestnut-sided, and Black-throated Greens, are feeding at or just above eye-level, often within 10 or 20 feet of the boardwalk. And, of course, there are a lot of each warbler.
Birding Maine on a May/June afternoon is far different. We had Black-throated Green (heard not seen), a single Blackburnian high in the tree tops, and a Magnolia, not quite so high, but still up there! And we had to work for all three. We walked miles, with long gaps between birds, and Bill had to call the warblers we did see in with his iPhone app, after hearing them off in the woods. And the leaves are approaching full out, so we got glimpses of the birds as they worked in and out. It was fun, but it certainly was not Magee Marsh! This second shot is the best I managed of the Blackburnian in Maine.
On the other hand it is my first shot of a Blackburnian in Maine. And I am reminded that all things, and that includes birding, are relative. What we experienced yesterday, with 4 or 5 species of warblers, was a good afternoon of Maine birding. In a way, it is more representative of a good day of birding than an afternoon at Magee when a wave of warblers comes through. It is the good day most birders in the US experience, on most of their good days birding. And it was, and is, good.
Both shots with the Canon SX50HS. Processed in Lightroom for intensity, clarity, and sharpness.
I am in Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, and the environs for a few days for the Acadia Birding Festival. This is the classic view from the top of Cadillac Mountain, out over Bar Harbor, Frenchman’s Bay, and the Porcupine Islands. This is the kind of view that draws millions of visitors a year to Acadia National Park and Mt. Desert Island.
To make the most of not totally clear day, I used a 3 exposure HDR, processed and tone mapped in Dynamic Photo HDR, with final tweaking in Lightroom.
Canon SX50HS. 24mm equivalent.
Each year I have been, there have been a few owls in the mix at Magee Marsh during the Biggest Week in American Birding in May. This year there were three. This Eastern Screech Owl. It, or another like it, have been along the same section of the boardwalk each year. In past years it has been pretty reliable, but this year it was only found once that I am aware of.
We also had Great Horned Owl chicks again this year, though at the extreme far end of the marsh from where they were last year. And we had a surprise visit from a Long-eared Owl. Considering his reception (a crowd of several hundred birders gawking at him over several hours on the boardwalk under him), he is unlikely to return any time soon.
My Screech Owl tested the limits of the Canon SX50HS. It was a ways off, and in poor light. I am happy of have gotten this good a shot. 1800mm equivalent field of view. f6.5 @ 1/200th @ ISO 800. Program with iContrast and Auto Shadow Control. -1/3EV exposure compensation. Processed in Lightroom for Intensity, clarity, and sharpness.