To Bee or Not to Bee

Deep into the summer, flowers are blooming everywhere. Flowers attract bugs, and bugs attract my camera. As I do every year, I’ve dug out my macro lens and gone tromping through fields and meadows in search of small flying insects to photograph.

Today’s collection features our bee friends, and some other friends that look similar to bees but aren’t.

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Milkweed Morning

It was a dark and steamy morning…The clouds offered conflicting gifts. Limited light made photography a challenge. On the other hand, with dew points in the 70s, the absence of the blazing sun was a relief. There was a dense layer of mist hovering over the surface of the creek, and the woods were cool. But my destination this morning was the meadows where patches of milkweed could be found. Continue reading

Pollinator Parade

BUZZ BIXBY: Good Morning and Happy Harvest to you! Welcome to Critter Radio’s broadcast of the 73rd Annual Harvest Festival Pollinator Parade, right here on 99.9 KRTR!

I’m Buzz Bixby…

CECILY SWALLOWTAIL: … and I’m Cecily Swallowtail…

BUZZ BIXBY: …and we’re your hosts for this wonderful panorama of floats, performers, balloons and marching bands, all celebrating pollinating insects and their buggy friends. It’s a beautiful day for a parade… Continue reading

Sunflowers and Gourds



161013_pa-sugartown-sunflowers_0983acsFUN FACT: Sunflowers are composite flowers, where all is not what it seems. What look like petals are actually infertile ray flowers that attract vital pollinator species to the plant. The center of the sunflower is made up of hundreds of small flowers, each with five petals, a male stamen and a female stigma, where pollination takes place.


161013_pa-sugartown-sunflowers_1114acsSoybean pods.


161013_pa-sugartown-sunflowers_1322acs161013_pa-sugartown-sunflowers_0949acsWheel Bug, Arilus cristatus.

FUN FACT: One of a group of true bugs known as assassin bugs, in the ambush bug family, Reduviidae. They eat soft-bodied insects, stink bugs and, as we witnessed, bees. A wheel bug injects enzyme-laced saliva into its prey, which paralyzes the victim and liquefies their internal parts, which the wheel bug proceeds to consume. Yuck! Adding to their allure, they inflict a painful bite on humans.

They have their good side, though; many of their preferred prey are pests, so they are welcomed in gardens and on farms. And they just look cool.

161013_pa-sugartown-sunflowers_0873acsThis gourd looked just like a goose to me. I took him home and cleaned him up.

Behold – Gourdon Goose.

161013_pa-sugartown-sunflowers_0880acs161013_pa-sugartown-sunflowers_1092acsLeft behind.


161013_pa-sugartown-sunflowers_0981aLooking back on a fun fall day on the farm.

Where The Wild Things Are

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Little Blue Heron, Juvenile

This time, I did it right. After months of not putting myself in position to make good nature images, of always being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong equipment doing the wrong thing – this time I did it right.



Right time? Early morning when the light is good and the wildlife is active – check.



Right place? The boardwalk at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, where interesting birds like Soras and Virginia Rails and Glossy Ibises have been the talk of the town, and social media, for weeks – check.

A small bug casts a big shadow

A small bug casts a big shadow

Right equipment? Binoculars and Canon 7D Mark II camera with the 100-400mm lens, in my hands and not back in the car – check.

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Marsh Wren, juvenile

Doing the right thing? Two hours of watching and waiting patiently, on my own, instead of rushed by the need to keep up with fast-moving friends – check.



The result? Actual photos of wildlife! Killdeer. Sora.

Green Heron

Green Heron

Little Blue Heron. Green Heron, at the top of a tree, no less!

Bug standoff

Bug standoff

Even a stand-off between two bugs on a leaf.

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This is where the wild things are.

150829_PA HNWR Sora_6132acs

And I think we found the wildlife photographer.