It was my incredible good fortune today to find a place where the bumble bees gather. Yesterday I saw a huge one, and today I saw three on one photo shoot, and about four on another outing. I was able to get within inches of them and then I let one crawl on me! What a special treat.
An amazing thing happened when I was photographing one of these beautiful creatures. A wasp, or some strange bee-looking bug, attacked my bumble bee. It was a large bumble bee and the little guy knocked her two feet away from the flower she was sipping. The bumble bee was a bit dazed, but didn't get aggressive or try to fight back. And the attacker went after her again! I didn't think twice before defending the bumble bee. I swiped the air with my arm to knock the attacker down. It worked. I cleared the air of the offending bug and the bumble bee went on merrily sipping nectar.
This was my first time ever holding a bumble bee. It was down by my foot and looked a bit disoriented. I picked it up and it crawled on me. I'm not sure she was okay. I've seen my honey bees like this. She tried to fly but could only buzz her wings and not take flight.
I shot the photos of these beautiful bumble bees
below on June 28, 2011 - my 3rd day with my bees!
Wow....! It was amazing to be around this huge bumble bee. She let me get close and didn't give me a warning buzz. I love these creatures. Her sound is so loud and so powerful. There's something energizing and entirely mesmerizing about it. I stood motionless while she flew a couple of laps around me. She flew off, and and came back, a couple of times. It was truly magnificent.
Check out this fur coat! She also looks like she has an injury doesn't she?
Have you ever noticed that sometimes it’s the mystery in life that breathes excitement into things? Maybe that’s not saying it quite right. Let me try this example. I notice that when I wonder why I get a rush when I’m out with my camera and I’m capturing some creature through my lens, that I start to lose something. The very analysis of why, and the dismantling of my passion into black and white text, leaves me feeling a bit like a balloon losing air.
I’ll be out with my camera beneath the searing heat, crawling around in the tall grass seeking some interesting insect or piece of nature, deep in concentration, and if I begin to ask why I like doing that, the critic in me, whom I have tamed over the years, quips at me something mean such as, “What are you doing? Normal people don’t do this!” My come back is to tell myself that this is my passion – it feeds me. But my critic wants to know why. Why is that my passion? As I think about the why, I start to feel a tiny bit of doubt. If I think too hard, it seems to take away from the magic. And there is magic in passion.
I know this critic well. Everyone has a critic perched on their shoulder. You might think the most successful artists, novelists, or song writers don’t have one shouting or whispering doubts and condemnation, but you’d be wrong. Anyone alive has a critic. How you deal with yours has a lot to do with how you live your life.
I realize that I don’t need to answer to my critic. I don’t need to answer the ‘why’ part of my passion. It’s enough that I simply have it. I don’t need to dissect it. I just need to nurture it, engage it and run with it. The why I have passion will remain a mystery and that’s perfectly fine with me.
'THE EARTH FROM ABOVE' AS CAPTURED THROUGH A CAMERA LENS BY AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHER YANN ARTHUS-BERTRAND
"The Earth From Above" is a fabulous collection of photos from the aerial photographer
Yann Arthus-Bertrand's five-year airborne odyssey across six continents.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand started a non-profit organization called GoodPlanet in 2005. His hope is that each and every one of us becomes a custodian of our planet’s future, and consequently of our own future. He is working on the production of a feature length film on the state of the global environment and the challenges humans face.
About YANN ARTHUS-BERTRAND straight from his website:
This little grasshopper was peering over a cactus on my walk yesterday morning. I posted him on my Insect Photo Journal. If you haven't visited it, you might enjoy some of the images, even if you're not a bug person.
Pictured below was a teeny bug crawling on my hand today. It was about the size of the point of a needle. I adjusted the contrast to accentuate the colors.
Dandelions are my favorite whether they're blooming or after they've gone to seed.
"The dandelion is an excellent barometer, one of the commonest and most reliable. It is when the blooms have seeded and are in the fluffy, feathery condition that its weather prophet facilities come to the fore. In fine weather the ball extends to the full, but when rain approaches, it shuts like an umbrella. If the weather is inclined to be showery it keeps shut all the time, only opening when the danger from the wet is past." Source: "Camping For Boys," by H.W. Gibson
It was one of those days. Grrr!! I just couldn't get it right. What a crummy feeling it is to screw up. The really hard part is to let go and move past it. I don't like making excuses. It doesn't help. It actually makes things worse. I find it's best to fix the mess the best you can, if there's an opportunity to do so, and then try to quickly eat the crow and get on with your day. But darn if it isn't still eating me tonight. So, I found these quotes hoping to sooth my battered ego. It helped a tiny bit, but time will have to do the rest. I'm grateful to work with someone who has patience with me.
QUOTES ON MAKING MISTAKES
Never say, "oops." Always say, "Ah, interesting." ~Author Unknown
If you don't make mistakes, you're not working on hard enough problems. And that's a big mistake. ~F. Wikzek
Mistakes are the usual bridge between inexperience and wisdom. ~Phyllis Theroux, Night Lights
While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior. ~Henry C. Link
It is very easy to forgive others their mistakes; it takes more grit to forgive them for having witnessed your own. ~Jessamyn West
An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field. ~Niels Bohr
If a mistake is not a stepping stone, it is a mistake. ~Eli Siegel
This porcupine has been coming around my cabin every summer for about four years. I typically see her in the evenings not long before the sun goes down.
This evening was my first time seeing her since last summer. She started to waddle away from me and showed me her quills, but she got sidetracked by some willows and instead of making her escape, she decided to eat! I used her distraction as an opportunity to show her I wasn't a predator.
I kept taking photos and talking to her. She would start to wander away, but I would back off just enough for her to feel safe and she would start eating grass and leaves again. Eventually, she let me stay very close to her and she stopped showing her quills. She confidently allowed me to be near her while she ate. Several times she stopped to scratch. I spent a half an hour with her and left her munching on leaves.
When I drove into the yard a few days ago, Chippy was sitting on a rock. I hadn't seen her since last September when she went into hibernation. She came running up to me as soon as she saw me. I was fully prepared with peanuts in my pockets. I sat down on the ground and she jumped into my lap and took a nut from me. It's wonderful to know she's alive and thriving for another summer. This makes summer number 6!
By the next morning, all my wild critters came to me. I saw Albert & Alberta, Half-Tail, Little One (all chipmunks), my birds, and Jasper, Chippy's offspring, a golden mantled ground squirrel.
Below: Albert & Alberta
My birds go on hikes with me sometimes. I always carry some treats for them in case they show up. On my first hike, two of them (mates) followed me. They usually go half way and then catch me on my return to the cabin and fly back from tree to tree alongside me as I walk.
I ran across one of my older blog postings from 2009 where I talked about perspective. I think it's a concept worth revisiting every now and then, so I'm reposting part of it below.
From MY BLOG
September 4, 2009
The other day I was feeling overwhelmed with some stuff going on in my life that redefines injustice and then a wave of relief washed over me when I brought some perspective to the situation. I thought about what a tiny spec I am in relation to the whole universe. I thought about how most people have such a tendency to get wrapped up in so many “man made” problems and issues and worries.
In the grand scheme of things, whatever that is, I don’t need to focus so intently on the things that tend to unravel me. It’s unhealthy to get entirely stressed out on all this stuff. I can choose to let go of what I cannot control, and choose to let go of thoughts that do little besides just bog me down. Right now there’s a lot I cannot control in my life. Sometimes I let the pain of injustice (or whatever is causing the grief) to seep in, and other than for the purpose of working through things, it's best to just let it go.
I am not someone who needs, or believes in vengeance to settle an unfair score, so I don't ever devote time/energy/thought to that end. I believe in karma, for a lack of better wording.
When I view myself as just a tiny part of such vastness -- and I don't mean tiny as in insignificant - it brings calm feelings and feeds the inner peace I work at keeping. And, as always, it helps to be surrounded by nature with its purity and beauty.
I love this quote by Lincoln. It's perfect to remember
when stress is abundant and worry has you buried ...
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men
to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which
should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They
presented him the words: "And this, too, shall pass away."
If you've ever spent any time around prairie dogs, you've no doubt heard their 'bark'. You also probably noticed that once the barking started, all the other prairie dogs disappeared from their mound of dirt. They were heeding the warning calls of their fellow sentinel that a potential predator was fast approaching. In response to these warning barks, an entire community of prairie dogs, which are ground dwelling squirrels, will typically seek safety in their underground labyrinth of tunnels.
US-based academic Professor Con Slobodchikoff, postulates that prairie dogs have a complex communication system that borders on language. On his website it says, "They have different alarm calls for humans, coyotes, domestic dogs, and red-tailed hawks. In addition, the prairie dogs can describe the size and shape of an individual predator. This is the most sophisticated animal language system that has been described to date."
"Individual prairie dogs have different tonal qualities, just as human voices differ, but different rodents use the same words to describe the same predators, allowing the alarm call to be understood by the rest of the colony." source: http://news.bbc.co.uk
Professor Slobodchikoff has long studied the vocal repertoire of Gunnison's prairie dog.
With a single bark, he says, a prairie dog may warn about the type and direction of an encroaching predator, and even describe its colour.
If confirmed, that means the chattering rodents communicate in a more complex way than even monkeys or dolphins. LISTEN TO THE SOUNDS where you can also read the full article.
Prof Slobodchikoff believes the prairie dogs may have evolved such complex language because they live in a complex, social society housed in a highly engineered and complex burrow system. source: http://news.bbc.co.uk
Five species of prairie dogs are native to the
grasslands and prairies of North America.
Prairie dogs have specific activities to perform. A typical day is divided between foraging, interacting with others, maintaining burrows, and scouting for predators. Typically within each coterie -- a ward -- one prairie dog acts as the sentinel, standing on the mound and watching for predators. source: http://nationalzoo.si.edu
Prairie dogs play a very important role in sustaining other prairie life. Biologists count more than 170 vertebrate species that are affected by the prairie dogs' existence.
Lewis and Clark, while on their famous 1804 journey across North America, noted that this "wild dog of the prairie...appears here in infinite numbers." At that time, an estimated five billion prairie dogs lived throughout the continent's vast prairie! source: http://nationalzoo.si.edu
The loss of open prairie has dramatically reduced the prairie dog population. Since the arrival of European settlers, North America's prairie dog population has plummeted by 98 percent. Prairie dogs have been exterminated because of the perceived competition with grazing cattle and bison for grasses. New studies indicate that prairie dogs do not drastically affect the amount of vegetation available for cattle. source: http://nationalzoo.si.edu
Here's another good link for more information:
I'm still out photographing insects. The challenge is ever present to get better shots. Each day offers new chances and new opportunities. I did more research about ladybugs, too, and posted on my Insect Photo Journal page. I learned how these little creatures got their name.
"In Europe, during the Middle Ages, insects were destroying the crops, so the Catholic farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help. Soon the Ladybugs came, ate the plant-destroying pests and saved the crops! The farmers began calling the ladybugs "The Beetles of Our Lady", and they eventually became known as "Lady Beetles"! The red wings represented the Virgin's cloak and the black spots represented her joys and sorrows. They didn't differentiate between males and females." source: http://www.ladybuglady.com
"How far you go in life depends on you being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these."
~ George Washington Carver
I like starting off a blog with a good quote. Sometimes the quotes are a segue into what I'm writing about, but just as often they aren't. So if you're looking for a common thread weaving from Carver's words above, to mine that follow, there isn't one.
I was reading about damselflies because they were the focus of my photoshoot this morning, when a knock came at my window behind me. I turned and saw four birds. Two were brownish and small, maybe babies, and two were larger, with yellow and gray.
I grabbed my camera and snapped these two photos
through my window before they flew away.
This is closing in on the damselfly, but it's still hard to see.
Back to the damselfly. I've not had a more challenging subject to shoot than this damselfly! It was my first attempt today. I didn't even know what kind of insect they were until I looked them up. They are very hard to see except for the blue on the upper body and tip of their body. My macro lens has a very small focus area, and I have to get very close to get a decent shot, much less a good one. Below is so-so shot, but it taught me how to improve for my next try.
Getting close enough is one challenge. But that comes after first finding them and then tracking them. They don't land on vegetation very long and they spook easily. They have incredible eyesight and can even see colors beyond human capacity.
I would keep my eye on the flitter of color as best I could and watch the little guy fly from grass blade to grass blade. If he stopped, I would try to find him through my camera lens, which wasn't easy. Once I had him in my sights, I would move in closer crawling on my knees. The quieter, the better. But usually he was flying off before I got near enough and if he flew off while I was looking through my lens, I would almost always lose sight of him.
This is a photography outing that takes a lot of concentration, focus and patience - bucket loads of patience. It's not something to do if you're looking for a stress-free, easy shoot. But it's exciting in its own way and the challenge can be very rewarding.
With each new subject I choose to photograph, I always learn new things. I don't want to just capture an image of a damselfly. I want to capture its character - its essence. I also want to capture the "art form of the life form". That's the real challenge I ask of myself. I have a long way to go .... but the really cool thing is that I love the whole process.
I'm an artist, writer, photographer, private investigator and an activist in small ways.
"Turning indifference into making a difference."
A labor of love website devoted to animal and human rights, and better living. A place to be inspired ...
My LADYBUG book is filled with beautiful images & inspiring quotes. Click here for more info.
I visited the Tiger Temple in Thailand & later found out it is under investigation for tiger trafficking and animal abuse. Read full story. In 2015 it was raided. More than 100 tigers and protected bird species in Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua, popularly known as the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province were impounded by authorities following complaints that the temple was alleged to engage in illegal wildlife trading.
"The moment one gives close attention to anything,
even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious,
awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."
~ Henry Miller
DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS helps people worldwide where the need is greatest, delivering emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters or exclusion from healthcare.
Read about life in the woods with Chippy & the crew...