Egret Rookery


The egret is a gregarious bird by nature so their nesting sites are often found in large trees or groups of trees. Big trees are a favored communal rookery location, and islands are especially popular for these nesting birds.


These nesting sites are an excellent opportunity for photographers to photograph nests, but it is important to avoid disturbing the birds by keeping one’s distance. That is why my shots are from afar. You can even see a few birds take flight, which I was trying to avoid.


Above and below, a tree is filled with lots of egrets. I only had a small Nikon P510 along on this trip to St. Lucia, so I had no telephoto lens to use. Carolyn and I were standing on a busy road so it was also not a place to set up a shot. In front of us was drainage ditches and marshy land. Egrets do like wetlands, although this is the arid part of the island. Next post I will show you how arid by what is growing.


Egrets also like to hang around horses and are much easier to approach from a photographic standpoint. They are common in fields following the horses and foraging in the manure.


They forage for seed as they follow the horses and cows around waiting for the next meal to drop. I think I have to add a “yuck” to this activity.




Splishing and a Splashing Grackle in St. Lucia


Grackle in the morning light.

Ready for a bath?


Grackle splashing in the bird bath.

Birds take baths the world over and have the same fun doing it. Here in St. Lucia the grackle cools off. The photos were taken with a Nikon P510, f4.5  1/250 sec. ISO 320.


Raining bath water.

Not bad for an entry level camera? Enlarge the photos to show the quality of the camera in getting clear, crisp images. I left the big camera and expensive lenses at home and traveled with the small, lightweight P510.


Grackle having a cool bath.

The bird bath was right outside the room where I was staying. I was outside on the veranda playing bird paparazzi. Poor girl got no privacy.

Grackle splashing up a storm.

Grackle splashing up a storm.

Look at her go, water was flying. What a beautiful morning in the Caribbean.

Grackle contemplating a bath.

Grackle contemplating a bath.

What About Us?

It is always the pretty bees and butterflies that get the glory.


We may not be as pretty, but we have purpose.


Plus, we hang out on the same plants that the bees like.


We pollinate too! Even if it is by accident.


And some of use help with those pests you wish were not in your garden.


Some of us are really tiny, but some of your plants are just the right size for us. And we get places others can’t.


Down the hatch.


All the world is our stage. We like to pose, what do you think?


Maine Fauna


These are some of the animals, insects and birds I saw when I was visiting Maine. I am pretty sure I saw for mere seconds, a Bald Eagle in flight, but could not photograph it. I could not focus the camera that quickly.  I also saw a porpoise, and did get a clear photo, but only of it as it dove underwater. When it surfaced again, it was very far away. So here you will see the animals I did capture, although many were very far away too.


These images were all done in Photoshop to prepare for the web. I created an action to automate the process. Go to Window > Actions to access the panel. Click the folder icon at the bottom of the panel to create and name an action. Then, press the circle at the bottom of the panel to start to record an action. Do everything to the image that you will want on subsequent images. Press the square to stop recording the action. It will be saved in the Actions Panel for future use.

What is a bit unique here is the cinematic sizing of each. The action I created makes each image 12.111 inches wide by 5.388 inches high at 300 ppi, and saves it to a folder named Cinematic Sizing. But the action continues to make a second copy.


Next, the action resizes for the web, which reduces it to 10 inches wide at 72 ppi. Then it is saved again to a different folder named Web Images. I end up with two sizes of an image with the same name.


This way, if I need a large image to print, I still have it. I still have another automated trick up my sleeve that I will save for another post. It is creating a droplet in Photoshop. This allows me to perform an action on a folder of images, not one by one like in this post. Why I did not use it here was all editing, other than cropping, was different. A droplet quickly makes all images have the same actions and saves them to a designated folder, like I explained above.


Come along as I photograph the animals.


One had to be observant and patient to see many of them.


Unfortunately, many were too far away and I was on a rocking boat. This makes photographing difficult for all but seasoned photographers. The seals, seeing us observing them, took to the water immediately. See the ducks? I did not see them at first.


The Osprey above was very far away, and I zoomed in as far as I could with the 300mm lens. This nest had to be at least five feet wide. The bird is rather large too.


Now is this frog not cute poking out through the duckweed?




Here the Osprey returns to the nest.



The seals that were on the beach in a previous image found us very curious. They really kept their distance though.


Many dragonflies were all over in Maine. I had no problem finding them, but again, had a hard time getting in very close.


This is a young buck on Cliff Island below.  I got many photos of him. I believe he thought I could not see him, because when he finally understood I was looking at him, he took off running like they always do. He was not very close either, making me wish I brought the very heavy 400mm lens and tripod.

He has the cutest little antlers and big white tail. A really tall deer, about the size I remember from PA, he stood motionless. I could not believe he stood in the open. This is about where I saw the eagle too, at the narrow end of Cliff Island. The eagle was only passing over the island, carrying its prey of groundhog or rabbit. It was a really large animal and the fur was gray/brown.


Macro World – Look Into My Eyes


In this small world all the insects get along pretty well foraging the same plants, or so it seems. There are a few to stay clear of.

I was using a Nikkor 60mm and 105mm, f2.8 lenses on a Nikon D7000. The setting was mostly consistent at a manual setting of 1/2000s f7.1 at ISO 1000. The speed of the shutter was so the camera could have a greater depth of field at f7.1, but more importantly, to catch some in flight. With the shutter speed so high, I did not have to worry as much on focusing by hand holding the camera.  Is it not a little spooky getting this close to see the eyes up close?


When shooting this close up, a manual setting is pretty necessary for good focus. Focusing on the eyes is where you want to point the camera because often, the rest of the body will blur out if not kept in the same plane as the head. You can see that in the bee on the pumpkin flower. The closer you get to the subject, the less that will stay focused at that distance.

Often multiple shots are taken at varying focal lengths of the lens, then stacked, but when hand holding the camera as I did in this shoot, that is very unlikely they would line up. Any slight movement of subject or photographer will cause blur and misalignment of the stacked images.


This post has a corresponding post on Garden Walk Garden Talk, called Macro Mad. More critters are photographed really close up. With this lens, I can get six inches away from the subject. You can imagine with bees, wasps and hornets, that this is a little dicey.


Mostly, I will use my 300mm telephoto lens on bees and wasps, but occasionally, I will use the lens here in this post. Notice in some of the images, that all eyes are trained on the camera. Insects do not feel very comfortable with a lens right on top of them.


Catching them in flight is a bit tricky, because as I said, they need to be almost in the same plane of view. At f7.1, I have a bit of leeway, better than if I had the camera set to f2.8 anyway.


I don’t use this lens much because of limitations, like no zooming. It is a professional lens and a little harder to use. If I practiced often, I would be much better.


I learned something really interesting from a reader of GWGT, that I want to share with readers here. Emma, at Miss Apis Mellifera has a great bee blog. In her recent post, she explains why bees have terra-cotta pollen in their pollen baskets. Really the post has other more interesting info, but that caught my eye because I keep seeing bees in my garden carrying around pollen of this color. Now I know why. I grow Dahlias. A pollen chart shows what the bees are collecting. Very cool to know. Thank you Emma for sending me to Basil and Bees.


Above is an Ailanthus Webworm. It is actually a moth, even though with closed wings, looks more like a bug. On the GWGT post, I have a photo of them mating.


Also another photo of this bee above. Bees really like pumpkin flowers. And I learned a tidbit about that too, on the blog Lichenwood Rambles. I found out most of my pumpkin flowers are male. Who knew? But six to seven bees can be found in one flower alone.

And another thing I found out by observation of the pumpkin flowers. Bees get trapped inside when the flowers wilt in the sun. I freed quite a few of them. They must get intoxicated or something to get sealed in. The flower closes up in the heat and they are stuck inside until who knows when? Now I am on bee patrol, saving them from getting cooked alive in the heated chamber of closed petals. Maybe I am all wrong and they have some purpose in there, but they seem to be glad to go free. More pumpkin observation over on Garden Walk Garden Talk, Insects and Pumpkins, Not Always a Happy Pair.


The world of insects is such a cool world. Stuff happens all the time that is truly unexpected. Plus, they make really interesting photo subjects. I find them more intriguing than photographing flowers, but they go hand in hand with flowers.


They eyes are an interesting feature on insects. Some of them the eyes are so big. Well at least two of them on bees, the other three simple eyes, the ocelli are small. The compound eyes are made up of thousands of tiny lenses called facets. With a lens attachment, I might be able to see a little of that, but more likely I would need a microscope, like images from the post Snapple Capped the Buzz on Bees.  In that post, I talked about how bees have hair on their eyes. And another blogger, Rose Lynn Fisher did some amazing electron microscope photography.  It is worth a look.


But, a butt view is cool too.


This bee was not missing anything here. Pretty clean of pollen I must say.


This is the same wasp as below. Not sure if it is an Isodontia auripes. I do have photos of it with blue wings. Not sure of this one with reddish wings.


Hope you enjoyed the world of small.


Doe, a Deer, A Female Deer – Photos


Doe, a deer, a female deer…


Erway Farms raises deer and I just showed the boys. The girls were asking for a little face time, so I am much obliged.


They are a kissy bunch.



This is Dottie below, a piebald deer.



More kissing….


And more…


Ray, a drop of golden sun


A pretty morning sun start to the day. The creek is just in the background. Garden Walk Garden Talk will have more photos of Dottie. She is a real ham and camera hound. You will love her expressions.


The Buck Stops Here

At Erway Farms… is he not a beauty? That is if he is not rubbing the bark off your trees and eating your flowers. But, that is nature in progress and living in deer habitat is bound to create some tension. But here at the Farm, these deer live in conditions similar to their brethren out in the wild, but have it even better.


It has been awhile since I posted on GA. I have been very busy working at Erway’s Christmas Tree Adventure in Wilson, New York. I report on the fun and activities on Garden Walk Garden Talk to partially help promote Erway’s Christmas Tree Adventure and, to have their customers read about the what is happening at the Farm. Take a look at the website. I designed it and took many of the photos. You will see other activities and animals at the Farm. I usually have posts on making Christmas wreaths and Kissing Balls, and things like Santa visiting and the tree cutting fun on GWGT.


I took some photos of the deer I would like to share because they are pretty stunning creatures, ones that if they were roaming free, would likely be hanging on a wall by now.


He even gave me a nice pose. This is the walk to the deer pens below. Calling them deer pens seems not accurate because all the deer have large fields filled with trees and grasses. I showed on GWGT how the deer can hide in the brush undetected, just like they can in the wild.

These deer are very tame and the kids can feed them. There are signs that the deer could nip, but I have never had any nipping issues. You can see the white feeding tubes that helps keep little fingers where they belong, on the kid’s hand. I pet and feed the deer when the owners give me fruit for them.


This deer below is on loan to the Farm. He is a real sweetie. He is a small bodied deer with very large antlers. The owner told me that the rack is very heavy and the deer will lay the rack on the ground while resting. Here he is not doing that, but I have seem him lay them down.


The next deer is named Moe. I was walking by while he was way back in his pen. I and all the customers were watching him because he appeared to be in a trance for about ten minutes. He was just staring and his back-end was swaying side to side. He appeared to have his hind legs together, barely balancing himself.


I had to ask why he was doing this and found out that they have tarsal glands in their back legs at the hock area that they rub together.  They may use these glands during rutting season. These glands consist of a tuft of elongated hairs that is underlaid by an area of sebaceous glands. These enlarged glands secrete a fatty substance, lipid, that adheres to the long hairs of the leg.


This image comes from NY Antlers Outdoors website. I showed it so you can see what I am talking about. They also helped me with some of the information I am posting.

All deer – bucks and does, adults and fawns – urinate on the Tarsal Gland in a behavior called rub-urination. The bucks do this to establish dominance over other bucks, it is thought. There are many bucks at Erway Farms and I just never saw this behavior before. As the urine runs over the Tarsal Gland, the fatty material is secreted from the glands to the hairs. The urine that remains on the gland undergoes some kind of reaction with the air outside and with bacteria to produce the gland’s musky smell.

I know that this information does not paint a pretty picture, but I was intrigued when I saw the trance like behavior. So let’s end the post with a photo of a dainty doe eating corn provided by the nice customer. So much more a blog friendly image.