Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dogday Harvestfly?

 I'd call it a locust (though they are really of the traditional grasshopper ilk) or even a cicada but my insect book says otherwise: Dogday Harvestfly (Tibicen canicularis). I don't suppose I ever paid close enough attention but the common Periodical Cicada (the one with the 17 year brood hereabouts) has red eyes.

  I was just stepping outside yesterday morning, carrying the garbage in one hand, a sack of trash for the garage in the other and I happened to straddle this insect unseen. He fired up his buzz-saw right at that point and I almost proved that I was capable to reaching the kitchen roof without benefit of a ladder.
 But then I thought: "Photo opportunity!".
 I came back out with the Canon, knelt down on the concrete floor, set the lens to macro and pushed it close to the insect. He stayed there while I took this single shot.
 Later that day I found a spent shell near the rolled garden hose, mere feet awy. It might have been the same. It might not, of course.
 I any case, photography allows for an up close look at the greenish-black body, the black-veined wings, the bulbous eyes with a single central pupil. It is like examining an alien.

Later: Here's a shot taken 08/14/12 of another Harvestfly. He sat there while I took this shot and then, when I tried to take a second shot from above, he fired up that buzz and I stood up just as quickly, sure that he was going to fly up the open leg of my shorts! He became airborne, flew off to the south, while I finished a most peculiar looking dance on the porch.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mushrooms from Above

 After a recent storm I walked out to pick up the batch of small limbs which were scattered about the yard. When I was collecting limbs from the maple by the kitchen I found a true gem, a small section of bark which was covered by tiny mushrooms.

 The individual mushrooms are tiny, perhaps no more than 1/4" across for the largest. This entire section of bark will fit in the palm of my hand. I picked this up and lay it atop our concrete bench for this photo.

 This is my favorite shot of the group. I placed the bark atop the burn barrel, its top deep in standing rainwater. The late day sun was shining. Each gill comes into high relief in this macro shot. The true color of these mushrooms is better seen in the first shot, however. The sun seemed to "warm" the color a bit more than what I was viewing.

This is as close as my camera will allow. The front of the lens was almost touching the nearest mushroom for this photograph.
 Had we not had a storm, had we not had wet weather the day before, had the wind not blown strong enough nor at the perfect angle, this piece of bark might have stayed high in the tree and I'd never have been able to enjoy this sight, dropped from above.
 Just one day later - perhaps no more than a dozen hours, these mushrooms began to whiten and deflate. They quickly dropped to half their initial size and looked bleached. I lay them back beneath the maple.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hotter than H-E-Double-L

 It is a heat wave like none I have known. Day after day into the 100's. Yesterday (07/05/12) was the 21st day this season where we topped 90°. Four of those days have exceeded 100°. It is rare in the Dayton area to reach triple digits.

 If there is anything to be said for this hot, dry weather, it is that the sunsets have been gorgeous. Each evening the sun sets like a fiery ball, scoots down among the corn tops to our west and seems to sizzle before dropping below the horizon.

 These first four pictures were taken on 07/03/12. We hit "just" 96° that day. I love the salmon-sky and the dark, contrasting pines at the rear of our property. This shot couldn't have been taken in the winter. You know instinctively that it is a summer scene.

 The pines seem to offer a filigree frame to the setting sun in this shot.

 The corn is high, even with the lack of rainfall (we've had not a drop in July and in June, we were 51% below normal). Each day, the sun bakes the ground ever drier. By evening the corn has pulled its leaves tight, crinkled them up against the stalk, protecting itself against the heat.

 The atmosphere shows few clouds.

 Last evening (07/05/12) I walked to the field behind Pinehaven to watch the sun set. There had been cumulus build to the north and collapse as the moisture neared the Miami Valley. Again we were left bone dry. The atmosphere took on a humid sheen and the sun was muted late in the day. For the past two days we've topped at 100°.
 Today and tomorrow promise to be hotter.