Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Crab Spiders

I'm always on the look out for crab spiders. I often spot them on daylilies, although they are on other flowers as well. I hadn't had much success until I spotted this one at Innovation Place on my way home from work.

Crab spider

Crab spider

There are some daylilies in the back alley just near our house where I often find crab spiders. I spotted one the other day that was white so I assume it had just arrived, since they change color to match what they're on. I went back on the weekend with my macro lens. I first spotted this medium sized one on the underside of a flower.

Crab spider

It moved around to the inside of the flower and I got a better shot.

Crab spider

Then I found this larger one (.5cm / .25in body) busy eating a fly. (They inject digestive fluids and then suck out the result.) This one had slightly different markings, but I think they are the same kind (Goldenrod crab spiders)

Crab spider

You can see the eight eyes in this one. Sometimes it looks like they only have six, but there are two that point to the sides.

Crab spider

If you look closely in some of these shots you can see the fly's head is detached. (It's behind in this photo.) I'm not sure if the spider did that deliberately?

Crab spider

I was trying to keep a small aperture (f11 - 16) for depth of focus, but that meant quite slow shutter speeds, even with high ISO. So in the afternoon I went back with my monopod. A tripod would have been even better but it's awkward getting the right angle and following them as they move around. By this point it had finished its meal (I assume it's the same spider since it was in the same flower). I'm guessing they hold their legs like that ready to grab prey. Strangely, the "hairs" on the legs point the wrong direction for holding onto something. The legs end in a single curved "claw".

Crab spider

Crab spider

I ended up taking almost 400 photos. That probably seems excessive but out of a batch of 10 or 20 from the same angle, there might only be one or two decently sharp so you need to take lots. (The benefits of digital!)

See all 20 photos



Running

Sunday morning long run today. I wasn’t too sure how it was going to go. This was the third weekend I’d done the long loop around the bridges (18 km). Two weeks ago I wasn’t sure if I was going to go long for the first time of the summer but when I got to the turn off I felt good, and it was a beautiful sunny but cool morning and it went well. But then last week was a real struggle. It was hotter, 25c by the time I finished, and I probably got a bit dehydrated. It wiped me out for the rest of the day. So this week I wasn’t sure what to expect. I tried to hydrate better before and during, and it wasn’t quite as warm (22c). Happily it went well. Well enough that when I reached home at 18km I felt good enough to keep going for another 2km to make it 20.

Thankfully the IT band knee problems that have plagued me for the last few years seem to have gone away (touch wood). I have no idea why. I’ve been doing stretches for it, but I’ve been doing that all along. I did make a point of running outside this winter instead of retreating from Saskatchewan winter to the treadmill. Who knows. Whatever the reason, I’m grateful!

Of course, other aches and pains have taken their place - a weird pain in my left foot, and issues with my right hip. But luckily neither bothers me while I’m actually running, unlike the knee problems. I want to blame the aches and pains on age. But I suspect it’s got more to do with a personality that basically keeps going until it hurts. Age just means that happens sooner than before. Today was a good example. When I felt good at the end of my planned run did I stop and count my blessings? Of course not! I kept going and ran farther (and at a faster pace than the rest of my run). In some ways that was a struggle, in other ways it felt good. Maybe that’s endorphins, but I think there’s a large psychological aspect as well.

Pretty much every Sunday morning over the summer there is some kind of run/walk event going on. And almost all of them are along the river so I’m running past the crowds. That’s far too social for me. I like to run on my own. Lately I’ve been working on making it a moving meditation, especially my long runs. The benefits of meditation are clear, but I’ll never sit for two hours and do “nothing”. Combining it with my running makes sense to me. Just like you’d do sitting, I focus on my breathing, sometimes counting breaths. When my mind wanders I bring it back to center and concentrate on the breath going in and out of my lungs, on how my body is feeling. Sometimes the thoughts won't stop, other times I succeed in emptying my mind of everything except the motion. When things hurt it’s harder, but that’s when you want to be able to step back and look at those feelings from a distance. I’m not very good at it, but I try. I think it helps.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Photos of the Week

I haven't seen the jackrabbits for a while so I was happy to see this one. It was smaller so I'm assuming it's one of this year's young.

Jackrabbit (juvenile?)

I always like (and even remember the name of) these cornflowers (aka Bachelor's Buttons)

Corn flower (aka Bachelor's Button)

I look for the Wood Frog several times a day - on the way to work, at lunch, and on the way home. Usually one of those times it's in its usual spot. I'm not sure where it is the rest of the time, but there are plenty of places to hide. Humorously, the spot where I find it is within a few feet of the path to Boffins. But I'm sure the restaurant goers don't notice it. They probably wonder what I'm doing crouching beside the path. It's well camouflaged but easier to spot now that I know what to look for.

Wood frog

I think it's getting fatter. Either it's just finding lots to eat or it's preparing to lay eggs. I think there's just one wood frog, but I can't even be sure I'm seeing the same one each time. The eggs are fertilized after they are laid, so presumably the females might grow eggs even if there wasn't a male around.

Wood frog

I spotted this butterfly and followed it hoping it would land so I could photograph it. It did land, but about 10 feet up in a tree! I held the camera over my head and managed to get this shot. After some research I thought it was an Admiral but I wasn't sure. I submitted it on iNaturalist and it was identified as a Red-spotted Admiral. I adjusted the camera settings since I was shooting against a bright sky, but not enough. It came out pretty much a black silhouette, but luckily the ZS100 has a good enough sensor that I could boost the exposure afterwards.

Red-spotted Admiral

It's hard to appreciate on this small version, but this is one of my sharpest images of a fishing spider. Impressive results from the little ZS100. This is two handheld shots focus stacked.

Fishing spider

It was on a floating piece of bark and I managed to nudge it around with a twig without the spider disappearing underwater. It did get a little disturbed at one point and I managed a little different angle.

Fishing spider

I had the macro lens out today so I took a few shots of nearby flowers.

flower detail

daisy

flowers

See 17 photos

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Common Mergansers

Common Mergansers

As I approached this pond through the trees I saw this pair on the water. I was able to stay hidden and get some decent shots without spooking them. (Even got some nice reflections on the water :-)

Common Mergansers

Usually with birds it's the males that are fancier, but in this case the red headed female (especially when her crest is up) is just as colorful as the male. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Few Reflections

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.
- Pablo Picasso
watercolors

A few more from Vancouver Island. Near a B+B I stayed at (Farm Table Inn - recommended) there was a small lake / pond. I stopped briefly to check it out and took a few reflection shots as I'm prone to do. The above one reminds me of a watercolor. The next one is a bit like a Rorschach ink blot.

reflections

reflections

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Photos of the Week

I think this is a Cherry-faced Meadowhawk. There are a number of similar red meadowhawk dragonflies that are almost impossible to tell apart. I'm guessing this one because it seems to be the one that is observed in Saskatchewan. One thing that helps with photographing dragonflies is that even if they fly away when you approach, if you stay still they will often return to the same perch where they hunt from.

Cherry-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly

I keep looking for the wood frog but most days I can't find it. I spotted it one other time but it immediately dove down and hid in the mud and leaves on the bottom. This time it didn't seem to mind me photographing it.

Wood frog

Most days if I spend a few minutes searching I can find one of the fishing spiders. They don't look all that well camouflaged in the photos, but they can be hard to spot. One day I spotted one and went to get my camera. When I came back I couldn't find it, even though I knew where it should be. I had just about decided it was gone, when I spotted it again. It hadn't moved!

Fishing spider

They seem to be getting fatter. I assume the ones I'm spotting are the larger females and that they are busy growing batches of eggs.

The flowers are also growing around Innovation Place. I think this is a kind of Clematis.

Clematis (?)

I should know what these next ones are, but I can't get motivated with flower identification the way I do with birds or even insects.

flowers

Irises are one of the few that I manage to remember. One of my favorites.

Iris

This next one was growing wild by the river. I'm guessing it's native, but I'm not sure.

flowers

It was a challenge photographing the flower because it was very windy and it kept blowing around. As I was waiting for a pause in the wind, this small butterfly landed, first on the flowers, and then on the leaves. It looks a bit like the Spring Azures I saw in BC. At first I thought it might be a Summer Azure, but the markings aren't quite right. I posted it on iNaturalist but no one has identified it yet. [Update: It was identified as a Silvery Blue]

butterfly

As I was walking, a momentary shadow passed over me. I looked up to see this Swainson's hawk and managed to grab a few shots of it, although not very sharp.

Swainson's hawk

This morning on my run I saw some magpies in a tree - no big deal. Then I saw one of them was not like the others. Maybe a hawk? I stopped and walked around the tree to get a better angle. Then I realized its claws held a baby gopher draped over the branch. I think it might have been a Northern Goshawk but I didn't get a good look and sadly didn't have a camera. I wonder if the magpies were hoping to steal its food?

From a distance these three looked black but based on the photos I think they are Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Brown-headed Cowbird

Of course, there were the usual suspects as well:

Pelicans

Robin

Canada goose & goslings

Canada geese molt during breeding season and can't fly till about the time when their goslings are ready to take flight. But they still seem to be flying around so I guess they haven't molted yet?

Canada geese in flight

The baby gophers are out (as that hawk found). They seem more curious and less nervous than the adults. These three were quite funny to watch, pushing and shoving as they alternated between hiding in their hole, and looking around curiously. I nicknamed them the three stooges.

gophers (Richardsons ground squirrels)



Saturday, June 09, 2018

Print of the Week

flower

Another one from along the Trans Canada Trail on Vancouver Island. (Sorry, but I can't bring myself to use the re-branded "Great Trail" name.)

I have no idea what kind of flower this is - anyone know? I like the contrast of the yellow/green foliage and the colorful (fuschia?) flower. The depth of focus worked out well with the flower and a few leaves in focus with the background nicely out of focus.