Monday, July 23, 2012

A Successful Failed Outing

Our local baseball team has blown the lead in so many games this year that I accuse them of a new tactic- snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  It is supposed to go the other way in order to reward persistence.  So, it was for me today.  

I went out for birds this morning.  The first place was a zero. Best to forget it.  Then I went to Cornell's Arnot Teaching and Research Forest.  I spent about 1-1/2 hours along the creek that parallels the entrance road. It was frustrating. There were several Red-eyed Vireos but all too distant. One inquisitive Dark-eyed Junco lifted my spirits with its song and feeding behavior along the creek bank.

I usually see these Juncos mostly in the winter, so I am newly appreciating their summer song. Still, I was frustrated.  Packed up and drove up the road hoping to find birds I could photograph from the car.  Reached the top and not even a Goldfinch. It was turning out to be pretty much a failed outing. Then, I came upon the the foundations of some long gone farm buildings with a large bed of naturalized Day Lilies and Pink Phlox.  A second look spied Tiger Swallowtails.  So, today was now about butterflies, not birds.  Maybe I could get something out of this.

I noted that the swallowtails were all getting pretty tattered.  Still, the combination of hot  colored Pink Phlox plus the feeding swallowtails was a lift to my spirits. I ignored the fact I have these in my house garden.

What more could I expect?  As I was concentrating on a pair of swallowtails some 12 feet away, I gave no attention to what was happening on the flowers very nearby.  After all, these blooms would be too close to focus on.  But, some movement did catch my attention, and I had something to surpass the butterflies.  Have you ever seen these?  Hope so.

It is a Hummingbird Moth, technically a clearwing moth.  They hover to feed  just like their namesake Hummingbird. We discovered them on our pink phlox some years ago, and eagerly await them each year.  They are about 1-1/4 inches long typically.  You can see in the next photo the clearwing.

They are an extreme challenge to photograph. They never stay on a bloom for very long and are erratic in their flight. You have to be fast and have a quick-focusing camera.   The image above has a shutter speed of 1/3200 second in order to stop the motion. No flash can help at this brief shutter opening.

Oh yes, I did see a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird on the phlox, but she was quick to see me and exit. Too bad.

So, somehow this failed outing did turn out to be successful. With that in mind, I passed on a ball game tonight to edit the photos and share them with you.  Hope you enjoyed them.

Paul Schmitt

No comments:

Post a Comment