I have been looking forward to going back to the Botanical Gardens to see the butterfly exhibit. Unfortunately I had not realised how busy it would be during Spring Break! Coaches and coaches of kids descended on the gardens and havoc ensued! I still managed to get some reasonable shots, but nearly lost my kit twice thanks to pesky kids knocking into my tripod! So I left the pavillion and walked the gardens to get some tranquility (some hope!). I did manage to see a couple of bull snakes (4 feet and 5 feet long), a bunch of lizards and 5 or 6 hummingbirds.
I think I will have to go back once Spring Break is over and I can shoot in a more relaxed state of mind!
There is nothing like messing about with Google Earth and discovering interesting geographical features around the globe. Imagine my surprise when I was googling the Buckeye area and found a small pond – very close to where I go birding, then panning out slightly I saw a huge lake about a mile further east that is owned by a local mining company. Knowing that I would be in trouble if I was found trespassing in the quarry I decided that I could safely explore the smaller pond. So I left the house shortly after sunrise and headed off. The pond was not quite the bird extravaganza I was expecting – small and smelly, and almost impossible to reach because of a wall of 8 foot tall reeds. I had made so much noise in my effort to get to the bank of the pond that anything that was not totally deaf had long departed. It was a little like forging a path through virgin rainforest and I was expecting to meet up with Sid James (Carry On up the Jungle) or Harrison Ford running away from a tribe of pigmy head hunters! Anyway, I gave it up as a bad job and left the area. Not wanting to head back home I took a stroll down towards the quarry and kept to the bushes so that I would not be seen. The bird life was incredible! Egrets, cranes, herons and ducks were all there! Unfortunately I was approaching the lake from the west – which meant I was facing the sun, which is no good for the type of photography I wanted. So, I turned around and made my way back to the car… however, to my benefit I took the wrong fork in a path and stumbled across a stream. I was fairly certain that I knew where the stream led – because I had parked my care at the other end of it! I thought it was a small irrigation canal, so had never thought of investigating it before – now I could follow it straight back to the car. It was one of the best birding experiences I have had – and definately one I will repeat again, although next time I will take a tripod instead of a monopod, and I will utilise some of the tracking techniques that Arthur Morris describes in “The Art of Bird Photography” – a book that has not been more than a few feet from me whatever I have been doing in the last few weeks.
Anyway, enough of the waffle… here are the shots:
I recently bought a couple of books covering the subject of close-up photography. One that I have been really enjoying is “Close-Up Photography in Nature” by Tim Fitzharris which describes the use of dedicated macro lenses at close range and telephoto lenses at much further distances. So last week I set about using both methods to capture some images and improve my insect techniques. These shots were either taken with a 60mm Nikkor Micro lens with extension tubes or a 300mm Nikkor telephoto lens.
The pink flower that is in the image with the fly is a new addition to my back garden. In the last few weeks I have been cultivating a corner of the garden that will hopefully attract butterflies and hummingbirds – I have had quite a few visitors from the fly and wasp families so far. Although fairly new, the plants look like they have established themselves and are starting to flourish – the fact that the pink bloom in this photo is looking healthy is testament to that, plants that are not properly tended have a rapid life span in this desert heat. I was pleased with all of these, but especially pleased with the spider – because I didn’t have to get too close!