April 16, part 1, 2004

The birds and the bees...

In the early morning I watched a wood duck drake land on the water ahead of me. These are one of the most beautiful ducks in the world. I wish that he had stayed with in camera range longer because the images that I captured were too soft and really don't do his beauty justice. Perhaps I'll get it right another time.

In the afternoon I noticed something quite interesting happening on the ground. The gravel below me was alive with bees. With some types of bees the Queens or females will fly in the spring and be pursued by males. These males are not necessarily from her hive or group, basically the fastest males get to catch her. The entire year she will continue to lay eggs as a result of the matings that occur on this single flight.

I was fortunate enough to see this behavior, but very dubious about photographing it. I placed a blanket on the ground, lay on top of it, and slowly inched my way forward. The photograph at the left is really quite remarkable. When doing this type of closeup photography the area that is in focus, called the depth of field, is very narrow, and it is quite challenging to keep things in focus. Luck was really on my side to not only see this but to catch make this image and catch two males in flight and in in focus.

It was also more than a little nerve wracking, because even though I was taking great pains to be patient and slow moving and not disturb the bees while I was lying on the ground taking photos I could feel bees bouncing off my forearm and elbow.

April 13, 2004

April 16, part 2, 2004