Monday, May 30, 2011

Not So Lazy Sunday

I managed to be pretty active with the camera today, either side of a trip to the very posh Chesapeake City Park playground with Banished Junior. That has to the the biggest and best play area I ever saw. Junior loved it despite the fact it was pushing 90 again. Thank goodness for a lot of shady trees.

I got out and about for an hour at around noon before we set out and took my long lense down to the pond looking for some dragonfly action. The pond has developed really well over the years with a lot of marginal plants and its great for dragonflies. Alas the increasing vegetation makes it harder to get to the dragonflies. It great for spotting but its tough to get so close these days. More Eastern Pondhawks again, this one is a maturing male and has that great mix of green and blue compared to yesterdays solid blue from the garden.  

Also tried to catch a female egg laying but didnt get the dipping action I was looking to show. You can see the ovipositor pointing downward at the tip of the abdomen though.

Also saw the first Needhams Skimmers today, together with Common White Tails (below) Blue Dashers and various Darners. All of these are going to turn up as photos in the next few weeks, well not neccessarily the darners unless they are especially cooperative and I'm exceptionally lucky.

I think I caught sight of a momentarily perched Spangled Skimmer but couldn't get a shot of it.

Other lunchtime finds included this True Bug as yet unID'ed on one of the newly opened yellow day lilies. This is pretty small, its sitting in the centre of the pistil of the lily

Update June 1st. It seems that its a Tarnished Plant Bug (Lygus lineolaris)

Also found this great piece of camouflage when checking out a spider web in the big rosemary. The  web turned out to be uninhabited but as I got down into the shrub I caught a movement and found this little mantis stalking. The disguise is particularly effective in the rosemary, its leaves are around 3/4 inch long, mid green and narrow... just like the mantis. I took my eye off it after getting the shot and when I turned back I actually couldn't find it again.

After our afternoon out I popped back out to see what was still around and got a couple of nice Orange Sulphurs (Colias eurytheme)
. I paid for these though. Its was getting later and so I returned from the ponds edge with half a dozen pics and an equal number of mosquito bites.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What to do...and not to do... with a macro lens.

Its hot now, around 90 every day for the last 3 and looking like holding there all the long weekend.  But still its a macro photographer's nightmare with a stiff breeze blowing seemingly not stop. The late afternoon rains are welcome in the garden though.

Friday afternoon I went out right after work to see what I could see before Mrs. Banished got home with Banished Junior. I took my regular lense and my macro just to see whats what. And of course if you don't take your long lens... you need your long lens.  

One of two Woodchucks or Groundhogs, please yourself which,  spotted in the park across the street. It would have been so much better with the long lens.

We've had another good year for nests in the garden. We didnt have bluebirds in the bluebird house this year but then we had two broods out of there last spring. This year it's been occupied first by Chickadees and now by Carolina Wrens. The wrens have fortified the place with a fantastic construction of seriously chunky twigs. Its like an avian panic room in there.

There have been a number of Robins as ever and there are always lots of Redwing Blackbirds in the cat-tails round the pond. There were a pair of Cardinals somewhere up in the oaktree and Kingbirds and Mourning Doves in the pine. And last but not least there are the Brown Thrashers in the wisteria on the fence.
Female sitting on the eggs beginning of last week.

And a peek Friday at one of the 3 who hatched the beginning of this week.

Oh yes, the macrolens. It is Banished's Bugs after all. As I said, the wind is being a pain still but this Eastern Pondhawk was hunkered down in the middle of our corner bed getting a little shelter. This is a mature male. The immatures and the females are green and black.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Great Stuff

Just a lovely piece of cricket writing from The Old Batsman.

"If John Le Measurier had played Test cricket, he would have played it like Chris Tavare."

Though he looks quite action packed here do not be deceived. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Busy Busy

Its getting warmer this weekend and there is ever more about. I took time when Junior was napping to wander down to the pond edge and across the street to the little park area. Amongst other beasts was the first large tick of the year crawling on my pants when I was done. There will be more and they, with the mosquitoes, are the bane of my life. Every time I go off into the longer grass chasing whatever exciting bug catches my eye I have to spent the next hour checking for unwanted passengers. I didnt photograph the tick because this is a family blog and the caption wouldn't have been suitable for a family audience. Nasty little buggers !

Other, more welcome additions Saturday were...

An immature male Callico Pennant. His yellow colouration will change to red as he matures. Right now the only way to tell him from the female is the pattern of spots on the wings. Females dont have the big spots at the wing tips. Not one we see in huge numbers and I only got off the one shot before he was off. I saw quite a few species without getting a decent shot, Eastern Pondhawks, Carolina Saddlebags and a couple of unidentified Darners possibly Swamp Darners.

Skippers have started appearing in numbers at last. This one I think is a female Sachem Skipper but I still await a confirmation from experts at BugGuide. Too many species and so many of them too similar to be sure. I've 9 species recorded in the garden alone. There are dozens recorded for Virginia.

The Eastern Comma Polygonia comma  is quite similar to the Comma I knew back in the UK. The coloration and the distinctive white mark on the under hind wing are very much the same. But the commas here arent so strikingly 'ragged' in the wing shape.

There will be many more and better Eastern Tailed Blues this year but this female was the first one I managed to get close enough to. A female as the upper wings are brown,. the male's are deep blue  Hands and knees job as ever, possibly where I picked up the tick. Very skittish and the size of my little finger nail it turned out that this one had a tear in the hind wing but its here anyway. If I have good pictures of a species I tend to get very picky. Scruffy bugs need not apply.

A tiny little spider I havent identified. I might be able to with some help, but it wasnt an ideal angle. I love the hairs on the legs in the shot though. I guess she's going to grow into them.

This one had already grown. The green thing is a giant bubble wand and its 2 1/2 inches across, so that a pretty sizeable Nursury Web Spider Pisaurina mira . I found her in the garage while looking for tent pegs.

Last but not least and not from yesterday is this close-up of the Black Swallowtail caterpillar featured last week. I went to take a final pic before it went to pupate but I was a little late. Its off somewhere in the yard as a pupa and in about a week from now there will be a new Black Swallowtail. There will be lots more chances to shoot larva, pupa and adult as the summer goes on. Last year we 'raised' something like 50 in the herbs on the deck. I'll keep you posted. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Things are heating up

The weather isn't as warm as it might be at this time of year (thank goodness) and theres a pleasant scattering of showers keeping things green.
And here come the bugs!

We have our first Black Swallowtail caterpillar on the parsley. There will be many many more come July and we won't have any parsley, dill or fennel left. But this is the first of the year and when I took this it had just had its second moult. Its going to get a whole lot greener. Watch this space.

From the baby Swallowtail to the baby grashopper. I can't put a species to this, its just too small yet, it's about 4mm in length. I'm more impressed by the grasshoppers and katydids every year. There is so much variety of size and colour that they are rapidly becoming my second favourite group after the dragonflies and damselflies.

Like the Familiar Bluet

And the Fragile Forktail. Its often hard to tell the difference between all of these blue damsels. The Fragile at least has those broken 'shoulder' stripes, the ! is very distinctive.

And last for tonight,

An assassin bug, Zelus Luridus. This is the adult, that I really don't see that often  I see the nymphs more frequently, usually on the screens with the back end of the abdomen curled up and over. They look a lot like a little mantis.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Listen To This

Its only the single edit. But this band  opened for the Pogues in DC in March and they were the best new band I've seen in years...and years... and years

You need the album The Monitor.

And epic is over used but yes the epic, Battle of Hampton Roads

Can't help but think, for all you old Brits out there, that Peely would have loved these guys.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Messy Eaters

The best time to catch damselflies and dragonflies  is when they've bitten off more than they can chew and rest to savour those juicy morsels.

Both of these are Bluets, spreadwing damsels of some species, but there are so many  and they aren't mature yet. Its very difficult to tell. I may well post these at BugGuide to see if the experts can put a name to these. I just love snapping them like this. You never really know quite what you've got until they're down loaded and on the big screen.

A Great Day For Feeling Old

Everything here isn't going to be about bug's as you have already been warned.

Some splendid cricketing news today. I'm still a Yorkshireman born and bred and this performance is really very fine indeed.

The only downside is that I grew up seeing headlines about Bairstow and Sidebottom. But that was David Bairstow and Arnie Sidebottom... these chap's dads!

I feel so old but what a cracking performance lads! 

Jonny Bairstow leaves the field with a double hundred

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Grand Day Out

A quick snap from our afternoon at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens.
Palamedes Swallowtail - Papilio palamedes
Looks initially like the Black Swallowtail that we see in the garden every year and whose caterpillars eat our fennel, parsley and dill.  But its a little browner and now I can see better it has white lines down the abdomen as opposed to the lines of dots on the Black Swallowtail. What I hadn't noticed on previous occassions were the red antennae. This area is the Northernmost edge of  the species range.