"The earth laughs in flowers."
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
It's July! How about a little breathtaking color courtesy of Mother Nature for Independence Day? Although I generally show the whole flower in my photography, using my macro lens at its highest magnification can render a whole new level of appreciation. I think it's particularly true in Nature that the common and extraordinary can come down to a matter of scale; a sense familiarity is lost and something altogether new is observed. Even so, in the progression from quarks to the enormity of the Universe, we've not traveled very far along that scale. But of forms and color, Nature's palette and power to create is unbounded.
In The Wizard of Oz Dorothy said: "If I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard." This has become something of a mantra for my visits to Pheasant Branch Conservancy. It's not that I ever thought the travel I have done hasn't been worthwhile, it's just that there is so much we can be mindful of and discover within a few feet of where we are. I find truth and fascination in the smallest of things.
No matter where we stand, the Universe essentially displays the same window to us all. With a telescope, ageless photons of light from galaxies millions of light years away have entered my eyes. It's rumored that eye-witnesses said Beethoven shook his first at the heavens right before his death. How much time do we each get to peer through that window? I will try to make my peace with the stars flower by flower, critter by critter, and bird by bird.
Great St. John's-wort
Spiny Plumeless Thistle
Same perch same bird? Perhaps, but there were two other Indigo Buntings countersinging in the vicinity. I positioned my spotting scope on this favored perch predicting one of them would eventually move to it. I waited them out by surveying for macro photography subjects along the trail. It didn't take very long, though. The background is a brighter green and the sun angle slightly changed from the images I took late May, but the song was the same.
The prairie is full of insects and that's good for the birds. Several Cedar Waxwings were foraging through the grasses and plants and a Common Yellowthroat looked pretty proud of his catch. In truth, however, he wasn't going to deliver the meal to his nestlings while I was watching. I kept my visit brief and moved further back to the north edge of the prairie where I found several butterflies.
Scudderia Katydid (nymph)
There's an entirely different cast of insect characters along the creek corridor. Various flies perch on plants, logs, and even the bridge railings. Sneaking up on them can be tricky, but when you train with tiger beetles, other insects and creepy-crawlies are comparatively easy to photograph!
Picture-winged Fly (Delphinia picta)
Laphria Robber Fly
Thin-legged Wolf Spider
Pheasant Branch, Dane, Wisconsin, US
Jul 3, 2015 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl
Great Crested Flycatcher
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
All images © 2015 Mike McDowell