Saturday, June 4, 2016

May's Many Faces: May 20th

As usual I've been out and about amassing photos and getting behind on doing much of anything with processing or sharing them. I'm struggling this spring to capture sharp photos. It first began with faulty repairs to my Canon 100-400 mm zoom lens resulting in some misalignment and blurry images. Canon supposedly corrected this issue, but now I'm struggling to achieve sharp results with my fool proof 100mm macro lens. I'm left wondering if the image stabilization works on either lens or am I just failing miserably at keeping a steady hand when capturing images. I'm feeling rather frustrated by my results especially my recent efforts with tiger beetle photography. I thought I nailed it being face to face with a few specimens the other day, only to discover the sharpness of my images considerably lacking.

Oblique-lined Tiger Beetle, Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, Sauk Co 3June2016
Despite feeling braced and steady during capture, I had to process with shake reduction due to shitty results.
Adding to my photography struggles, the end of May left me down approximately $300 worth of gear with the loss of my Blue Mikey Condenser Microphone ($100) on May 20th at Quincy Bluff State Natural Area and the loss of my 430 ii Canon Speedlite flash at Spring Green Preserve four days later ($200). I'm having one helluva spring!

Quincy Bluff SNA, July 2015
 Anyway, back to May 20th as I play catch up. I ventured to Quincy Bluff and Wetlands State Natural Area in Adams county for my first effort at tiger-beetling this year. I discovered this site late in the season last year when I looking for areas to find lifer tiger beetles.

Quincy Bluff SNA, July 2015
The birds, rock formations and insects were intriguing enough to inspire my return. In fact with Adams County being quite sandy, I want to focus more of my tiger-beetling efforts here this year. I feel I have a greater chance of adding a new species to my list from this more northern county versus Sauk or Jefferson Counties where I have focused my past efforts. Plus with the rise in popularity of Spring Green Preserve, a favorite haunt of mine for herps, insects and plants, I feel it's time to explore elsewhere. Though admittedly, the lure of that place keeps calling me.

Adams County Sand Blow

Adams County Sand Blow
I was hoping for the Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle which the Wisconsin DNR reports are found here. This state natural area is quite expansive. I may be looking in the wrong area or at the wrong time as I have yet to find this species. In fact Festive Tiger Beetle was the only species I found. From my visit last year, I know Punctured and Big Sand occur here as well.

Festive Tiger Beetle digging
Lyre-leaved Rock-cress, Lupine, Bird's Foot Violet and Puccoon were all in bloom. So I had plenty to keep me busy with trying to capture the various butterflies using these plants.

Juvenile's Duskywing
Rock-cress is a primary host plant for Olympia Marbles, so it's no wonder a fair number of these were flying in the area.

Lyre-leaved Rock Cress
They were much easier to capture toward dark when they were found roosting on the as opposed to frenetically nectaring and in near constant flight.

Olympia Marble
Where I had found the roadsides covered with more Prairie Fame-flower than I've ever seen before last summer, I now discovered roadsides covered with more Birds-foot Violet than I've seen.

Prairie Fame-flower, Quincy Bluff and Wetlands, July 2015
Bird's foot Violet, Quincy Bluff and Wetlands, 20May2016
I was tipped off to the uncommon Ringed Boghaunter occurring at this location. I am not much of an odonatologist and struggle with dragonfly identification, but this species was fairly easy to pick out.

Ringed Boghaunter
I found a few other dragonflies which I claim no accuray on identity.

Since I arrived in the heat of the afternoon, bird activity was not remarkable. However I did observe copulating Red-headed Woodpeckers, found a nesting Hairy Woodpecker and found one of our later migrating warblers, a male Blackpoll.

Despite my trials with lost equipment, camera and lens woes, and self-doubt about my ability to capture sharp images, it's been a good spring with many more cool observations to share!

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