This was really a challenge. According to Google maps and my EXIF data, the nest was about 74m away from my camera. I knew this would be a difficult job, but I expected it to be a bit easier.
A few couples of these very rare herons (at least in Germany – and they are listed in the red part of the IUCN list; meaning they are currently not endangered, but the numbers are decreasing) set up their nests at the edge of a small lake, right in the front row of the reed. The nests are visible from a hiking path and the plants have enough natural gaps of several meters each to easily set up your camera and have a quite good sight. So far, so good. I was also told, to bring a binocular.
After a hike of approximately 45 minutes, we reached the lake. Whan a scene: I saw the lake, the water, hundreds of nests of black-headed gulls in the water, and the ocean of reed as a background of the scene. Did you notice a hint of the purple herons? Me, neither! A friend of mine, a local and being our guide on this trip, pointed to the other side of the lake. Over there, they are! I didn’t notice one. There are a few nests, one beside another. I still was staring at the scene without seeing them. “Take your binocular.” Still no success. “OK, set up your camera and I’m pointing it to one of the nests”. Hey, there they were!!!!!
They are smaller than grey herons (only 70-90 cm long and with 107-143 cm wingspan instead of 90-98 cm length and 175-195 cm wingspan) and despite their intense coloring, they are melting into the surroundings. Not visible, when you not know, they were there and where they are standing or sitting. After I got the first nest in sight, it was quite easy to see the other, too. In my opinion, there were about 10 nests. The nests seem to be founded on some buckled reeds between 20 and 70 cm above the waterline. Surprisingly, some were still building the nests, while others already had quite big nestlings, as you can see in the image above.
The above image is already a crop in post-processing. It is taken with an 800mm lens attached to a camera with an APS-C sensor resulting in 1200mm as their 35mm equivalent. The camera was attached to my tripod by a gimbal. The other guy accompanying me also bought an APS-C camera, but only a 150-600mm lens. With that combo, he only got stamp-like herons. Fortunately, his camera matched my lens too, so I loaned it to him.
One of the most beautiful and colorful birds we have natively in Germany. They are quite rare, but coming further north each year. They benefit from global warming. They hunt big insects like butterflies, hornets, dragonflies, bumblebees, and so on in-flight to make their living. They start quite late in their breeding season and leave quite early in mid-August. End of May they were still mating and not yet breeding.
Sometimes you have to think out of the box. Until recently, I won’t have gotten the idea of showing an insect in monochrome. But, I stumbled upon an image a friend of mine posted on FB: a dragonfly. I liked that image very much and tried it with one of my own images.
So, what do you think? I’m curious about getting your opinion. What do you think?
This week it’s Leya‘s turn to challenge us. She asks for something creepy, and she gets something really creepy 🙂
The Pterophoridae or plume moths are a family of Lepidoptera with unusually modified wings. Though they belong to the Apoditrysia like the larger moths and the butterflies, unlike these they are tiny and were formerly included among the assemblage called “microlepidoptera”. – Wikipedia
I stumbled upon this creepy insect a few years ago and already wrote about it. Here you can see another image taken from a different point of view.
A plume moth is a kind of moth, a many-plumed moth. I never saw one before, so it was a very scary moment. The moth is about 2-3 cm long and the spread wings approximately 4-5 cm.
It is pale-white and the legs have thorns. Considering that moths are usually not very pretty, this one looks like it has escaped from a nightmare.
In the past, I stressed the enormous decrease in insects and birds several times. And I’m willing to do it again every now and then, simply to remind you, you’re also responsible to take action against this.
How can you do so? Avoid biocides, pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. Support areas, where local plants are blooming. Don’t call the herbs pest plants. Establish an area in your garden with blooming plants, by spaying seeds to feed bees and other insects. Set up so-called insect hotels. These are special places, where insects can find hides and places to grow their offspring. As a result, many bird species will find food.
It’s not only for the birds. It’s also for our own food. Without insects, many of our food-plants won’t exist. Plants keep the fertile soil in place. They also keep the water in place. Without plants, the wind will erode the soil. Our own future depends on the availability of water and food. Lack of water and food (and work) in certain regions brings people to migrate to other countries. So, if you don’t want more people coming to your country, help them having enough (work), food and water in their own region. Therefore fight against climatic changes. Help, reducing pollution and global warming.
Recently, I showed you an image of an in-flight bee fly. Although it was hard to capture that tiny insect with the long focal-length lens, it was not that hard as capturing this image of an in-flight swallow. Despite, bee flies are very small, their flight is kind of predictable. They are not flight that quick and they are not changing the directions abruptly. They also stay on nearly the same level above the plants.
Barn swallows instead are flying very quickly because they are hunting flying insects and thus changing their flight direction and hight unpredictable. Compared to this, the bee fly simply ‘stands still’ in the air, although she was also constantly moving.
This image is from early April and I was very surprised to see a barn swallow so early. The air was still cold (below 10°C). As far as I know, that’s the minimum temperature for insects to be able to fly.
There were years when swallows came back from the south too early when the air was still cold. The air had temperatures too cold for insects to fly which resulted in hungry swallows. Hunting for flying insects was without results, because of the cold. So they were forced to walk around and pick plant lice from the bushes because they were too weak to fly from all the unsuccessful hunts. A friend of mine, a nature conservationist, reported that year swallows simply falling off the sky. They died of hunger while flying.
I was in that place before and met hundreds of swallows. But, it was June and warm. So I was surprised to see one (two on the next day).
I didn’t see these guys for years. It’s a bee flies or humblefly. They were dancing each spring above the forsythias. But, for years I wasn’t able to see any. The owner of another blog posted about them a few days ago. So, I got reminded to my own experiences with them. It was a really hard job to catch one with my camera.
APS-C, 500mm, f8, ISO 800, 1/1600
Five weeks ago, I introduced you to the European carder wool bee and said, I was surprised by the angry-looking face.
This image is not perfect, but I like it very much.