The last flower to bloom in the fall is the New England Asters. It is often possible to find bees clinging to the asters on a cold fall morning.
Walking around my Prairie the last few weeks turned up a number of different insects.
I’ve been photographing some of the insects that have been making use of a large patch of Black-eyed Susans that are growing in the front yard.
On several walks along the Red Cedar Trail I’ve been able to photograph a number of insects.
Generally I don’t like goldenrod growing in my prairie area. I view it as a weed and invasive species. However, it does provide substance to a wide variety of insects. Since there hasn’t been much else to photograph lately I’ve been out photographing insects on my Canada Goldenrod plants. This has been a little different year because there have been almost no butterflies. Generally the Monarch Butterflies stop during their fall migration but I didn’t see a single one this year.
Over the past several years I’ve been trying to grow milkweed on the farm. I started with a patch in the garden and now have three large patches of milkweed. The original intent was to provide food and lodging for Monarch Butterflies. Last year I had a bumper crop of Monarch Caterpillars in the various milkweed patches. This summer I’ve seen the results of my labor. Not only do I have Monarch Caterpillars but I have a great variety of butterflies using the blooming milkweed. In addition to the butterflies there are also Ruby-throated Hummingbirds frequenting the patches as well as a variety of bees.
I spent the better part of a morning in my patches photographing butterflies. As I formed the idea for this blog I thought I must have lots of photos of butterflies on my milkweed plants. Later in the day I searched my photos and much to my surprise I don’t have a single photo of a butterfly on a milkweed plant. Either I haven’t been out in the milkweed patches at the right time or this is truly an unusual year. Today I counted 10 different butterflies in my milkweed patch. Here are just a few of the insects I found on my milkweed plants.
We usually think of legumes as forage crops but they also make nice subjects for photography. In the Midwest they mainly consist of alfalfa, clover and vetch. What I like about photographing them is that they start blooming around the first of June and continue to bloom until killed by frost. This year they were blooming by the middle of May. All of the above mentioned legumes are blooming in my prairie area. In order to keep them blooming I mow them periodically so there are always some blooming and always some blooms for the butterflies and bees.
The great thing about alfalfa is that it comes in a wide variety of colors. Almost every plant offers a different opportunity for photography.
Clover really lends itself to some great photography opportunities when there is a heavy dew.
Vetch is a less common legume but it still provides a nice subject for photography.
It’s always hard to pick out a favorite photo but I decided to go through my summer photos and pick out some interesting ones that I liked.
Sunset Photo – Without a doubt this was my favorite photo of the summer. It was taken in Seney National Wildlife Area in the U.P. of Michigan. My wife and I had taken a three day weekend to drive around the U.P.. Our plan was to stop at Seney to photograph the sunset. I didn’t hold out much hope that the sunset would be any good because we had not seen a single cloud all day. In addition, we had doddled along during the day and were late in arriving at Seney. Early in the evening a few clouds appeared in the western sky along with some contrails. The contrails mixed with the clouds to create this fantastic sunset. The image of an eagle in the sky really makes the photo.
Waterfall Photo – This was taken at Amnicon Falls State Park. The park had received some rain so the water levels were fairly high and there was good color in the water from the tannin giving the water a root beer appearance. The water is flowing horizontally and the trees are vertical. The steps tie the two together.
Black and White Photo – My favorite B&W photo was also taken at Amnicon Falls State Park. It is a photo of the base of Now and Then Falls. It gets its name because the falls only flows when the water levels are high. Water from the main stream flows off to the side and down this beautiful falls.
Bird Photo – This photo of a fledgling Tree Swallow was taken on my farm. I had been photographing them on the nest earlier in the week. He unexpectedly turned up at my bird feeder. This was definitely a first. He seemed very confused with all of the birds flying around the feeder and he was getting buzzed by some hummingbirds.
Building Photo – I typically don’t take photos of buildings but this was a shot taken on one of my favorite hikes in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We love to hike along the lake shore to Au Sable Point Lighthouse. Hiking along the shore is a lot more interesting, a lot cooler and fewer bugs than hiking the inland trail.
Insect Photo – This is a macro photo of a Honey Bee on a Milkweed plant. What I like is the fact that the milkweed plant is in two different stages of budding with different colors. The bee provides a transition between the two groups of buds.
Action Photo – Again I typically don’t photograph people but my wife and I decided to drive over to Wausau, Wisconsin to watch the Midwest Freestyle Kayak Championships. The event took place all day and offered various levels of competition. This Kayaker was in the process of doing a vertical roll.
Studio Photo – When the weather is bad, no sun, rain, too much wind etc. I sometimes bring subjects into my studio to photograph them. On this particular day all three conditions existed. I was looking for flowers to photograph when I found this Tiger Moth Caterpillar crossing the road. I decided to borrow him for a short time and brought him into the studio.
Strangest Photo – This is a tree frog shot on my car windshield. It was taken on a drive through the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. This was one of the strangest photography days I’ve ever had. I documented it in an earlier blog. I was driving through the park when something landed on my windshield. It took a few minutes to figure out what it was. I finally found a spot to pull over and remove him from the windshield. I took his photo before I did.
Flower Photo – My favorite flower photo is also my favorite flower to photograph during the spring, summer and fall. It is a common flower in the dairy state and is the alfalfa bloom. As long as you cut the alfalfa you will get blooms from early June into the fall.
More photos can be found on my Website.
In my small prairie on the farm the last wildflower standing is the New England Aster. I don’t have many of them in my small prairie only a couple of bunches. Several years ago I went out to photograph them on a frosty morning and found the blooms covered with bees in suspended animation. I ended up photographing the bees rather than the aster blooms. Every year since I have gone out looking for the bees early in the morning. Unfortunately, conditions have to be just right. The asters need to be in full bloom, there needs to be a nice overnight frost and there can’t be any wind. Here are a few photos from those rare days.
I was going to call this blog slim pickings because most of the summer birds are gone, there are only a few stray butterflies around and most of the fall flowers are done blooming. I’ve been out in the woods this past week cutting firewood and as I looked around it appeared that there was not much worth photographing. This past weekend I finally decided to break out the camera and see if I could find anything to photograph. Turns out I wasn’t looking close enough when I was cutting wood. Once I had the camera out I started finding quite a few things to photograph.
The milkweed bugs are out in full force this time of year. I’m a little surprised to still find some baby milkweed bugs around with the adults. In some places the milkweed is all dried up but around the house it is still green and it is the green plants where I’m finding the bugs.
The woolly bear Caterpillar are also out in large numbers. I started to do some mowing in the prairie areas but decided to hold off because there are so many woolly bears around. I’ve tried to photograph them early in the morning but it is hard because they are usually spending the night under a leaf or a flower.
I found a patch of what I think is Wild Mint. It has gone to seed but the seed head is interesting and I have been trying to get a photo of it covered with a heavy dew or frost.
The grasshoppers are out in large numbers but they don’t seem to be willing to pose for photos most of the time. I have managed to photograph a few of them..
There are still bees around. I like to try and find them early in the morning when they are on a flower and not moving. Unfortunately they are usually hanging under the flower so it is sometimes difficult to photograph them.
I have been see quite a few large dragonflies flitting about the prairie area but they don’t seem to be landing. I think they are migrating through. I happen to find this small one on some grass just before dusk one night.
As noted in an earlier post the Sumac is in full color now. Sumac is the first to turn and a sure sign of fall.