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Archive for August, 2013

Do Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) have a sense of humor? What would prompt one to burst out in laughter?

Maybe one of the many turtles surrounding the heron’s feet decided to tickle them. (Click on the photo to get a better look at the turtles).

Perhaps he is preparing for an audition for the reality television show America’s Got Talent. What’s his talent? Judging from his appearance, I’d say this heron might have a future as a stand-up comic. I might have captured hims as he was trying out new material on the turtles, which are notoriously tough as judges—you have to be really funny to be able to penetrate those thick shells.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It’s hard to imagine an odder couple than this dragonfly and this turtle, sunbathing together on a log in the beaver pond. What do they see in each other? How do they communicate? Love seems to find a way to overcome obstacles like these.

One thing is clear—they are happy together, sharing this special moment in the warmth of the sun. If you don’t believe me, check out the smile on the turtle’s face.

fun_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Most dragonflies choose perches high in the air, but this male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) decided to land on a little plant just inches above the surface of the water at my local marsh, creating a photographic challenge for me.

Hanging over the edge of the boardwalk, I tried to get at eye level with the dragonfly and simultaneously sought an uncluttered background.  In the first image, I was successful in shapes of the leafs, achieving a kind of three-dimensional effect. The water turned into an almost even gray, totally lacking in details. The second image gives you a better sense of the context, with the ghostly plants in the background.

The Blue Dasher dragonfly is the most common one that I see and it’s always a challenge to come up with creative new ways to show off its beauty. For this one day, I feel like I successfully met that challenge.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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When drops of rain bead up on the surface of a leaf, the effect is magical—a world of crystal orbs is created. Most of the time the drops appear almost solid, reflecting back the light.

From certain angles, though, the raindrops serve as lenses, offering us a miniature view of the world. Within the drops, the inner world and the world beyond come together and create a beautiful effect.

drops_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I seem to be seeing spiders everywhere recently, so I thought I’d feature photos of three of them to represent the wide diversity of the population that I have observed.

The first one was very small and appeared to be hiding at the bottom of this leaf, waiting for its prey to come along. It did not appear to have made a web.

The second one had a web suspended over the water and is, I believe, a kind of long-jawed orb weaver of the Tetragnathidae family. It has awfully long legs compared to most other spiders. I usually see them making webs late in the day as the sun is beginning to go down.

The final one is a kind of spider that I see pretty regularly, though I don’t know what kind it is. It appears to have captured some prey, perhaps a grasshopper.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Who makes up these crazy names? Freddy Krueger? Jason? Believe it or not, this colorful little caterpillar is called a Smeared Dagger Moth caterpillar (Acronicta oblinita). Someone obviously had been been watching too many slasher or horror films.

Fortunately, it has another name—it is also called a smartweed caterpillar.

colorful_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I probably should have come up with a more creative title for this posting than the name of the featured insect. I mean, really, how many readers will be enticed to read a posting about a Dusky Stink Bug (Euschistus tristigmus)?  I word “stink” is enough to turn off some people.

Stink bugs are pretty much all shaped the same, but they come in different colors and patterns, many of which are similar, so identification is not always easy. In this case, for example, I had to determine if the shoulders were rounded or pointed to distinguish between two brown stink bugs—they look pointed to me.

The stink bug was hanging upside down, feeding on a plant that I can’t identify, when I encountered him. He seemed to be feeding, although I never did get a look at his face in order to verify my assumption. The upside down perspective is a little odd and I thought about rotating the image, but ultimately decided to leave it with its original orientation.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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