animals, bird, insect, photography, wildlife

Throwback Thursday: purple heron

purple heron (Ardea purpurea) / Purpurreiher

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.

Take care!

 

animals, bird, insect, photography, wildlife

Throwback Thursday: European Bee-Eater

APS-C 600mm (= 900mm 35mm-equivalent), monopod, ISO 140, f8, 1/640s

 

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.

Take care!

 

animals, culture, insect, photo-of-the-day, photography, wildlife, world

Monochrome Monday 7-31

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?

 

Take care!

 

abstract, animals, art, insect, landscape, world

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #71 – Creepy

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.

Take care!

animals, bird, insect, photo-of-the-day, photography, seasons, world

Throwback Thursday: may beetle

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.

Take care!

animals, bird, insect, photo-of-the-day, photography, seasons, world

Throwback Thursday: in-flight swallow


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).

 

Take care!

animals, insect, photography, seasons, wildlife, world

Throwback Thursday: bee fly

bee fly or humblefly (Bombylius major) / Wollschweber

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

Take care!

animals, insect, nature, photography, seasons, world

Throwback Thursday: a thirsty wasp

common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) / Gemeine Wespe

At this time (up to mid July)  of the year, wasps are not so disturbing as at the end of the summer. Currently, they are still busy with taking care for the next generation. Some are collecting pollens and some are getting water and the others are building the nest or defending it while the queen produces more and more eggs.

Like hornets or bees, most of the insects in a wasp-state are infertile females. They have a lot of work with collecting pollens for feeding the breed and hunting other insects as food for themselves. They are expanding, repairing and defending the nest. The only purpose of the males is copulating with a female to-become-queen and state-founder at a certain date in the later summer (in my region it’s often at the end of August or early September). After that event the state breaks into pieces: the males leave the nest and die, the fertilized young females also living the nest get inseminated and searching for a safe place to survive winter, even the old queen, the mother of the whole state, usually dies because of exhaustion from laying all the eggs (several thousand up to 50,000 during one summer). And the infertile females? They are now unemployed, because all of their duty was to prepare this one day when all the males and the fertile females are leaving the nest and starting to their wedding flight.

Without their necessities for caring for the state they are bored and have a lot of time to enjoy the rest of their lives. And, … for their entertainment, they are about to annoy the humans by disturbing the barbecues, taste cakes (i.e. plum or apple cake), soft-drinks and many, many more things.

Although, adult wasps eat other insects, they are still interested in everything sweet and in meat.

Take care!

animals, art, flowers, insect, macro, nature, photography, plants, seasons, world

Throwback Thursday: A hover-fly and an Ad

APS-C, f16, 1/1000, ISO 2,800, 105mm (~157mm FX)

Today I have not only an image for you, but also a special offer. Skylum is offering their software Luminar 2018 with a special discount. The offer is starting today and valid until Sunday.

The above macro image shows a hover-fly on an Echinacea blossom. It’s taken by using a 105mm macro lens attached to a camera with an APS-C sized sensor in the early evening hours. Afterwards it’s developed from raw by using Luminar 2018.

Insects are very quickly moving animals. Additionally, their movements are nearly unpredictable. Even when sitting on blossoms for having a meal, they are constantly moving around. So, you have to use very short shutter-speeds when taking photographs beside a quick auto-focus. When using a macro lens for taking photos from small or tiny things like insects, you have to use a small aperture (= high number) to get images that are sharp for more than a tiny area. You know, the size of the field of depth depends on the focal length and the f-stop as well as the distance between your lens and the subject: the smaller the aperture, the bigger the field of depth and the longer the focal length the smaller the field of depth.

Both of these have an impact on the resulting image: a short shutter-speed only lets the light reach the sensor for a very short moment, while the small aperture limits the amount of light. So, what can we do to get properly exposed images? Right, we must increase the ISO, the sensitivity of the sensor. But, increasing the sensitivity also has a con: the digital noise in the image also increases and the fine structures might vanish. You might ask, why do I tell you all this technical stuff.

The reason is, nobody wants to look at noisy images with no structures. So, you have to use a software for developing your images, which is capable of eliminating the noise but preserves the structures.

In this image I still have all the structures: the fine hairs, the structures of the facet-eyes and the pollens. I also got rid of the noise from the background. So, Luminar did a great job again.

You can download a free demo (fully functional for 14 days) and test it on your own computer with you own images.

Take care!

(this post contains affiliate links)

animals, art, flowers, insect, macro, nature, photography, plants, seasons, world

Throwback Thursday: A special guest

hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) / Taubenschwänzchen

When I was out for photographing butterflies, I suddenly recognized a fast-moving subject in the flowers beside me and when I watched it with my eye, I knew at once, that I was seeing a big butterfly. I’ve never seen such a butterfly before. I encountered a for me unknown species. Fortunately, it stayed long enough to fetch my camera and even got a few frames. One of them was pretty good.

During the next two days I saw it again. Always very fast-moving and only for a few moments stopping on some of the blossoms just like the other butterflies. But, instead of sitting down on the blossoms it was ‘standing’ above the blossoms in the air, just like a hummingbird, and putting the trunk inside the blossom to suck some nectar.

My researches resulted in the fact, I was faced by a hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum). The hummingbird hawk-moth is one of the few day-active moths. They are strong flier and wander a lot. So, they come up from the Mediterranean area north to middle Europe and even Scandinavia and Russia during summer. You can find them from Portugal in the West to Japan in the East and also in North-Africa and India. Up to now, it’s not known, that they are able to overwinter in Middle-Europe, Scandinavia or Russia.

Their wingspan is 40–45 millimetres (1.6–1.8 inch) while the moth is 36-50 millimeters (1,4-2 inch) long. Their flying speed is up to 80km/h (50 miles/hour) with 70-90 wing flaps per second. They are know for conquering distances of up to 3,000km (1,875 miles) in less than 14 days.

And the only food they use, is nectar! Fascinating!! How much energy they are able to get from that food.

Take care!

animals, art, flowers, insect, macro, nature, photography, plants, seasons, world

Throwback Thursday: surprise in the blooming field

Starting from last week Wednesday we had a few very summerly days. Blue sky, hot sun and temperatures around 30°C during the days. So, I took my camera and headed to the bloomy areas to chase butterflies. Every now and then, I saw a very angry-looking insect in strong yellow and black colors. It alerted me and caught my attention. I’ve never seen such an insect before. It reminded me to a wasp but it was way bigger: about 2 cm long and much fatter than a wasp. Also the face was broader and rounder then a wasps face. The biggest wasp here is a hornet. But, a hornet is colored very different. After studying several books to find out, what insect I found, I guess, I found it: Anthidium manicatum, commonly called the European wool carder bee (Große Wollbiene). One of the 524 bee species living in Germany.

The bees I know, are more brownish or black and not in such a bright yellow. The only insect I knew before in such an intense yellow is the wasp.

Just in case, someone knows it better, please drop me a line. I also have some more images 🙂

Take care!