July 23 – Cicada killer season

Tuesday morning I went to the cicada killer aggregation down the street.  I took a tripod and the 150 mm macro lens.  It makes for crisp shots, but narrow depth of field.  At full resolution you can count the hairs on these guys.  The overcast conditions made for nice, even lighting.  I just need to get a little more depth of field.
 
This one’s floating on a cloud (actually a stonecrop).

Grooming the antennae.

 
The new “Jaws.” 

Artsy close-up of purple coneflower.

 
The Spring Azure, a new species for me.
 
 Common buckeyes are starting to appear.

I rode my bike up for the dog and cat feeding run.  I tried to get the little waterfall that forms on the creek after a good rain (we had an inch during a violent thunderstorm overnight).

It’s hard to get a good angle on this thing.

Later I went over Nancy’s house to pick up a fish. 
 
Nancy has awesome sunflowers.  Bees like ’em too.       Pearl crescent and black-eyed susan.

Wednesday I went out to Lowell’s.  We started off fixing a small dock down by the fish cleaning station.  Lifting and shifting was all that was required to get things back in order.  We fished three rounds of the lake.  I finally caught a bass on the scum frog, but it wasn’t producing a lot of action so I tried other things.  The winner seemed to be a rat-L-trap.  I experimented with one of my baitcasting reels.  If I reduce all the anti-backlash settings I can make some slick underhand casts.  Gotta watch for snarling line, however.  We had lunch at the usual greasy spoon diner, but treated ourselves to a milk shake at the little grocery next door.  It was really good, but we were probably more in the mood for a nap than anything else.  We went back and worked on another dock, this one got stuck on a big pipe when it came down after high water.  The plan was to use a sawzall driven by a generator to cut the pipe off near water level.  I took off my shoes and socks to get out on the dock because of the wet approach.  The boards were so hot I had to soak my feet in the water periodically.  I pried up two of the deck boards to better access the pipe.  Then, just for grins, I stood next to the pipe and pulled straight up.  It came up a few inches fairly easily.  I told Lowell I wasn’t cutting no stinking pipe, and pulled it the rest of the way out.  We were very relieved at having avoided the painful, difficult and dangerous cutting method.  In future, the dock will be stabilized by cables so that it can’t float over its posts again.  We took another round of the lake, but only got halfway before our battery was dangerously low.  We had forgotten to plug it back in to charge during lunch.  I caught a final (6th) bass right before we got back to the dock.  I filleted the fish we had taken earlier and saved the skin.  We went up to the catfish pond and I put a piece of skin on a hook and cast it out into the middle of the pond.  I went back to my tackle box to get a bell and when I returned my rod was already bending.  I reeled in a respectable catfish.  I cast for bass numerous times, but got no bites.  I entertained myself by photographing stuff.

I like the shadows cast by the wings of this eastern amberwing female. 


Another male widow skimmer.


How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could rise from the dead?
Why did the woodchuck cross the road?
I give up.

That night I got some inspiration from somewhere and cleaned out our stand-up freezer.  The timing is designed for trash pick-up on Thursday morning.  I found various game species from 2006, 2005, 2002, 2000, 1999 and, wait for it, 1998.  Yes, 10-year-old dead meat was in my freezer (wood duck, I think).  That means some of this stuff was moved here from Illinois and moved with us 5 times since.  Most was freezer burnt or worse.  Talk about your overdue jobs.  Out it went. 

Thursday it rained all stinkin’ day.  Nonetheless, my friend Leo came over for a garden tour.  First we went to lunch for a good long hour.  The rain let up a little.  I gave him the 50-cent driving tour of Canton, pointing out highlights of the flood and tornado.  I’m sure he thinks this is a great place to live now.  We looked at my prairie and the rest of my yard, then went down the street to Nancy’s and looked at her prairie and yard.  Yeah, it was an assembly of plant freaks.

Friday morning it was still raining.  I did the dog and cats run using the car instead of biking.  On the way out I spotted a Giant Swallowtail puddling in the drive.  I stopped and shot 140 frames.  No kidding.  I tried a couple of different exposure tricks, and the butterfly was very cooperative.  Still, it’s incredibly difficult to produce a perfect photo.

 
Dorsal view.

Lateral view.  Rainwater tastes good, I suppose.

In the afternoon I floated the canal from Fenway Landing to Canton.  Again, this will be the subject of a special entry.

Saturday I judged the car show.  I only had to look at 9 cars.  I chose the categories that were interesting to me, like cars from the 70s and 80s.   I voted for Best of Show a 71 Nova that was very nice: clean, minimalist, and period appropriate.  As usual, I was paid with a T shirt.  At least this year it was in my size and with a unique design (sorry, Mike, you’re not getting this one!).   I was riding my bike home when I saw a Zebra Swallowtail in a flower garden at Culver.  This is a species I have not yet photographed.  I lingered a moment to make sure it was going to stay there, then pedaled hard for home.  I picked up my camera and rode back.  It was still there, but shortly I noticed nearly an entire hindwing was missing.  It was pretty ragged all the way around.  I tried playing angles to minimize noticeable damage.

 

After lunch I rode my bike down to the pool.  Some kids were really impressed with my bike.  I told them it was older than them.  They asked if I had done any marathons.  I said no, given that marathons are usually run on your feet.  They asked how many bugs had bitten me. 
I didn’t know.  I did some diving with them, then practiced snorkeling for awhile.  I want to be real comfortable by the time I get back to Galapagos.

Sunday I took a bike ride along what I call the PCB route.  Not for the chemicals, but because I ride on Routes P, C and B in that order.  It’s 20 miles, and all paved.  It was largely uneventful, except that my sunglasses broke, I got a bug in my eye, and my right cleat went out of alignment.  It was a nice test of the new bicycle computer.  My cruising speed is only 11-12 mph.  It’s incredible what the thing can tell you.  I think I still have in my bike toolbox my old Huret mechanical odometer, which was driven by a big O ring.  What I need is a device that will tell me how many miles I have left in my legs on that day. 

I stopped to feed the dog and cats.  A nice Red-spotted Purple landed on the garage floor. 
 
Dorsal and lateral views.

I had picked up a couple of freshly roadkilled birds and saved them for my vertebrate field biology class next spring.  I also took a fallen dragonfly.  When I got home I set up my studio and played around with a ring flash and extension tubes.  I think I finally got them figured out.

Common whitetail, female.  I want a pair of sunglasses just like that.

Savannah saved this cicada for me, apparently Tibicen pruinosa, the scissors grinder.

It rained all Sunday night, and Monday morning I woke up to a big piece of the whomping willow lying in the back yard.  I spent most of the morning chainsawing it up and loading the brush in the truck.  I was interrupted by a tiger swallowtail basking in the dull, emerging sun.  Looks like butterflies are starting to come back.

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