Joseph V Higbee.com

First and Last Page of my Blogging Attempt


August 8, 2015

I Just Can't Blog Anymore

Mormon Fritillary
   A butterfly goes through stages. So do people. The stages are different; People don't usually become as pretty as a butterfly but they always look like people. People go through physical changes, of course, but just not as radical as the butterfly's. The butterfly's changes are directly related to it's actions. As an egg, it just lies there, it crawls and eats as a caterpillar, it kind of hibernates in the chrysalis stage and flies when mature. People, on the other hand, make changes in what they do based more on thought. If they think they are able, and they desire, they do. Sometimes they don't, even if they have desire and perceived ability, because such ability isn't as perceived but, generally, people know what they can and can't do. Other times they may have the ability but the desire isn't there.
   I am a people. I go through changes even as the butterfly has. But, ultimately, it is desire that changes more than ability. I say more, recognizing that physical capability does change as we age. Even so, I am still capable of writing a blog but, considering the fact that I don't get it done, I apparently no longer have the desire. I still muse about things and still take photos but putting the two together and writing about it no longer seems necessary to my well being. I just can't get it done.
   So, the blog ends here. I will eventually remove the links to it and allow it to just lay here in the background. I will continue to update the home page from time to time. The site is paid for for another three years and I will keep it up until then. Eventually, as I continue to age and slow, I will keep and maintain only the photos on pbase.com/jvhigbee.
   Thank you!

This image made with Canon 7DMkII, Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro lens/1.4xtc, ISO 200, f16 @ 1/200, Canon 270EX II flash.


June 27, 2015

Bugs, Bugs and More Bugs

Leaf-footed Bug (Ceraleptus pacificus) Some bugs are not 'true bugs', they are insects. That is; all bugs are insects but not all insects are bugs or, at least, not 'true' bugs. Spiders are something else. Now that we have that clarified, or not, we note that all of today's photos are insects even though one of them is a bug.
   So, what is an insect? I'm not sure but I'll relate what I do know;
They have six legs.
They have 3 body parts, head, thorax and abdomen.
They have one pair of antennae.
They usually have one pair of compound eyes but some do have simple eyes.
Two pair of wings is the usual but some have one pair and some have none.
   Simply put, most of what we call bugs are really insects and spiders, which are not even insects, are also often called bugs. But 'true bugs' are only a small part of the insect world. They are lumped together by those who do the lumping into a suborder called Heteroptera. If all of this bugs you, pun intended, then just lump them together anyway you like and call them what you wish. They won't care and while they may still bite or sting, it won't be in retaliation. Mountain Leafhopper (Colladonus montanus)
   The first photo here is a Leaf-footed Bug, a 'true bug'. What makes it more of a bug than the Mountain Leafhopper on the right, I don't know. It's an ugly bug compared to the cute little leafhopper, though. Oh and don't get excited, the other two legs on the leafhopper are hidden under the wings. Needs those to be an insect, you know.
   I said 'little' regarding the leafhopper because in real life it is half the length of the other. About 4mm and 8mm respectively. I will try to remember to include sizes in my posts hereafter.
   As with almost all images on this web site, clicking on the photo will open a larger one in an overlay.

Both images made with Canon 6D, Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro lens/1.4xtc, ISO 250, f16 @ 1/160, Canon 270EX II flash.


June 18, 2015

Butterflies

Lorquin's Admiral (Limenitis lorquini) The House Wren seems to have left and all the swallows are busy. I have finally seen a few Cedar Waxwings but don't expect many until the berries start to ripen. The Mock Orange is in bloom and the Western Tiger Swallowtail are at it but I let it grow too tall and now can't get in a position to photograph things on the blooms. As soon as it is mostly through blooming, I will have to do some drastic pruning.
   It's the time of year, earlier than usual though, when the birds start to look a bit fraggled and my attention turns to butterflies, dragonflies and other such critters. As I say, the ones on the Mock Orange are hard to get but this Lorquin's Admiral landed by the water as I was watching out the window. I noticed it seemed to be still drying it's wings, so I hurried outside with the camera. It wasn't completely docile but stayed in a relatively small area, allowing me to get several photos.
   The Lorquin's Admiral is one of the earliest butterflies I see here each year and also perhaps the most plentiful of the larger species. I have quite a few photos from previous years but nothing that comes close to the detail and sharpness of these. Lorquin's Admiral (Limenitis lorquini)
   I am really pleased with the results I am starting to get with the Sigma macro lens using the small flash attachment. There was enough light today to have not used the flash but I think it really helped lower the contrast making the black area more visible than it would otherwise have been. I have some additional photos I posted in the pbase galleries.
   As with almost all images on this web site, clicking on the photo will open a larger one in an overlay.

Both images made with Canon 6D, Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro lens/1.4xtc, ISO 250, f16 @ 1/160, Canon 270EX II flash.

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June 13, 2015

All is Well

Willow Flycatcher The House Wren is still around but the swallows have rebuilt and are doing a good job of protecting it this time. The wren still has no mate and is singing less frequently. I think he is losing hope for this year. The VG Swallows are very active, going out and back from the nest box, so I think they are feeding chicks.
   The weather is unusually good for this time of year in Spanaway. If it continues this dry, we will pay for it later but for now it's great for taking photos. The birds are not as active in the yard when the sun is out but an hour or two in the gazebo will usually give me at least one good photo. Today it was the Willow Flycatcher shown here. I was using the 2X extender on the 7D2 and had to go vertical to fit it comfortably in the frame. I would have cropped to a portrait presentation anyway so that is good. The only problem with shooting vertical is my lack of an accessory grip with shutter button which leaves my hand in an awkward position when shooting. It's my penchant for 'lightening the load' that keeps me from using one. Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle larva (Harmonia axyridis)
   Birds are what I have mostly photographed since I retired in 2002. I have some landscape, a few animals, quite a few dragonflies and, lately, other insects in my galleries. But birds, especially those in my yard, are my greatest joy and relaxation. That said, I am finding the pursuit of insects and the like to be interesting although quite challenging. The larva on the right is a good example of what I mean. In other days, I would have just called it a caterpillar and been done with it. Now, I like to identify it more exactly if I can. In doing the research, I find that caterpillars are larvae of moths and butterflies but this is the larva of a lady bug. A Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis) to be exact. Considering there are 6000 +/- species of lady bug world wide and 450+/- in the US, and apparently there larva differ as do they, that identification boggles my brain. Thank goodness for BugGuide.net!!
   As with almost all images on this web site, clicking on the photo will open a larger one in an overlay.

WIFL image with Canon 7D2, EF300mm f2.8L lens/2X tc, ISO 640, f7.1 @ 1/1250
Larva image made with Canon 6D, Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro lens/1.4xtc, ISO 250, f16 @ 1/160, Canon 270EX II flash.

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June 9, 2015

Bird Update and More Bugs

Syrphid Fly (Eupeodes volucris) The House Wren wasn't able to attract a mate after all that murder, pillaging and bragging, and seems to have moved on. The Tree Swallows have been rebuilding their nest. At least the female has been while 'Fat Boy', as I call her mate, sits around and watches. The VG Swallows are busy going in and out so I think there may be chicks in their nest box. Hopefully the Tree Swallows will continue undisturbed and I will have two kinds of swallow fledglings this year.
   As you can see from the photos here, I have resumed working on getting good photos of the wee things in the yard. I purchased a flash attachment and am learning how best to use it on the 6D with the Sigma 150mm macro lens. The differences in lighting conditions day to day as well as in different locations in the yard gives me a lot to work on. Syrphid Fly (Eupeodes volucris)
   I'm using the 6D so that I don't have to reset everything on the 7D2 when I go from macro to telephoto and visa-versa. I certainly don't need the full frame sensor as everything is a crop but, on the other hand, it is no disadvantage either. It does seem to make it a little easier to locate subject in viewfinder. The flash I'm finding is absolutely essential. In order to have everthing in focus, I need a high f stop (smaller aperture opening). A high ISO setting is needed to keep the crops relatively free of noise. This results in exposure speed settings that would give me a very dark and blurry photo without the flash. What combination of these settings are where the work and learning comes in.
   About the photos; The larger fly (there is a really small one at the very top of flower in second photo) is a Syrphid Fly. I'm fairly certain the scientific identification is 'Eupeodes volucris'. It is about 3/8" in body length and is one of several similar 'Hover Flies" in this area. It is the only one that seems to be flying at this time, however.
   As with almost all images on this web site, clicking on the photo will open a larger one in an overlay.

Both images made with Canon 6D, Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro lens/1.4xtc, ISO 250, f16 @ 1/160, Canon 270EX II flash.

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June 5, 2015

Be Careful What You Wish For

House Wren
   The photo is a House Wren. I took it last year about this time and it was the first House Wren I ever had seen in the yard. They are soo cute and they sing and sing 'till you almost want to sing along. How I wanted it to stay but it didn't. So, over the winter I put up a wren house at the time when I built new chickadee and swallow boxes. Very carefully I planned for location that would work for each one. I carefully sized the small bird entry holes and made a special diamond shape entry for the swallows, all to thwart the efforts of those nasty, nest robbing House Sparrows and Starlings.
   Spring came and all was well, the chickadees set up in one box the nuthatches in another, in time the Violet-green Swallows took possession of their box under the eaves. Finally, late in May, the Tree Swallows came and after much to-do over the box opening, they made their nest and started laying eggs. Still two swallow boxes open on the pole and no wren in the small box under the eaves on the far side from the VG swallow box.
   Then, right on time the cute little wren showed up. And then it got ugly! I was sitting in the living room when my wife sitting next to me cried out "What's going on"? I followed her gaze out the window where the feathers were flying at the Tree Swallow box. The next thing I see is this 'cute' little devil throwing nesting material out of the box. I don't remember all the details or sequence after that but when the smoke cleared, as they say, and I checked, I found most of the nesting material pushed out of the box with one broken egg left with the remainder inside.
   About this time I realized I hadn't seen the chickadee return to it's box for a while and when I checked, I found two dead chicks. When the 'cute' wren headed for the VG box, I sent some birdshot it's way hoping to scare it away. That lasted one night and it was back carrying twigs into the lower box on the swallow pole and sitting on top singing. But I did observe the Tree Swallows chase it some and decided to let it take it's course as long as it stayed away from the VG box.
   Today, as I was sitting in the gazebo watching birds, (what else) I heard the wren singing and looked up to see him wiping his beak alongside the box with the nuthatches. As I watched, it went into the box and came out spitting out some gray feathers. I got out the ladder and checked and sure enough, there was one dead chick inside.
   At this time the Tree Swallows have begun to rebuild but I did see the wren on the boxes on the pole just this evening. I don't know how this will end but I hope the wren has heart failure before I do. I intend to work to that end. Starlings and House Sparrows are good guys next to this despicable character.

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June 3, 2015

New Name Same Idea

Yellow Warbler When is a blog a more appropriate name than some other? The answer, at least for me, is when everyone else calls it a blog. So it is that what I referred to as 'Photos and Musings' will now continue in much the same format as before, which is indeed much the same format as everyone else, only now it will be a blog. It will still mainly be about the photos but with comments on just about anything.
   Currently, my main interests are centered around my yard. I am tired of traveling and am working at taking advantage of any and all photo opportunities the yard presents. To that end, I am planting some things specifically to attract insects. I tried in years past to attract dragonflies but couldn't maintain the pond and had to give it up, settling for the occasional stray. Now I will try for butterflies, moths, bees and other nectar seeking insects. I will not do anything to attract, but will watch for and photograph, any spiders, beetles, flies and such that come along. Probably I will also do some images of the plants used to attract all the critters. Of course, I will still be paying attention to the birds and animals that have made my yard enjoyable for several years now. Wolf Spider with hatch
   If I do go on safari, or a short trip into the wild, I will report it here along with a photo or more. I am planning on at least one foray into the forest this summer to visit a couple of dragonfly locations. Otherwise nothing specific is planned but I will go if the mood strikes me.
   Also, expect to see any thoughts I have about photographic equipment. I don't intend to add much, if any, more to what I have but I am enticed when new things happen. Technology is advancing rapidly and I have always hated to be left behind. This also applies to computers, tablets, phones, etc., so who knows what may interest me and warrant a comment.
   I haven't learned how to program the exif information from the photos into the web page so I will usually add a short note like the one at the bottom of this post. I saw this on another blog and really appreciated the info so I borrowed the idea.
   As with almost all images on this web site, clicking on the photo will open a larger one in an overlay.

Yellow Warbler image made with a Canon 7D2, EF300mm f2.8L lens/1.4xtc, ISO 640, f5.6 @ 1/4000
Wolf Spider image made with Canon 7D2, Sigma 150mm f2.8 macro lens/1.4xtc, ISO 640, f14 @ 1/250, pop-up flash

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