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Ongoing projects

Posts from the ‘natural history’ category


I’ve been photographing the frogs in my garden for years. They are very cooperative subjects….they sit still for ages and don’t mind the camera…. But the puzzle to solve in photographing them is to make the image interesting, so that the viewers response is more than ‘yes that’s a frog, so?’.

These are my most successful efforts to date, as usual it’s all in the lighting.

Sparkles, yeah….

This one almost feels like a studio shoot, draped backdrop and dramatic lighting….

I like the drama of this one, both the lighting and composition.
Every time I do ‘wildlife’ photography I am more in awe of the skill and patience of professional wildlife photographers.

Birds of Prey….part 1

This is my first attempt at photographing owls and hawks. The set up was a little awkward, bright sun, a canopy, and a fixed point of view. The effort was further complicated by the fact that I turn into a total fan girl when I get that close to birds of prey…..ah well. 

Barred Owl, it’s blind in one eye and is now used for educational outreach. 

Eastern Screech-Owls. They are variable in color and quite small, only 6 oz. it took me an absurd amount of time to realize only one of these were fake.

A Red Tail Hawk with a wing injury. It’s hoped that it will heal enough to fly and possibly be released.

I think this is a Sharp-shinned Hawk, but it might be a Broad-winged Hawk. They are both much smaller than I realized and there was too much lag time between the event and downloading the images….ah well. This image illustrates the lighting problems I had. The birds were kept in the shade due to the heat, but lack of space forced the handlers into the sun, creating a huge range of lighting conditions. Digital photography makes it much easier to correct a bad exposure, but it’s very easy to over adjust making the pictures oddly unbalanced.

Wildlife rehabilitators amaze me. The amount of time and work they invest in helping these animals is truly staggering……

Frogs and the naming of….

I have really enjoyed watching the frogs at my water feature this year, happily assuming I knew what they were – Green frogs (Rana clamitans melanota). However as the summer went on it became obvious one was not like the others. Turns out she’s a Bullfrog (Rana catasbeiana). By the way, Scientific Latin + auto spell check = nightmare. There is a trick to telling them apart, besides the size difference, which is only helpful when you can compare them. Green frogs have a dorsal lateral ridge a raised line that begins at their eye and runs down their back. Don’t be confused by the black markings which go around his eye (I believe these markings vary from frog to frog).

The Bullfrog not so much ridge, you can see her’s starts at her eye and goes around her ear (tympanum).

20131013-185432.jpgI refer to the Bullfrog as female because the male of both species has a yellow throat and the one above has a whitish one. The photo below shows the color difference in Green frogs.

Male Green frogs reach sexual maturity at one year of age and females at two or three, seems a bit unfair to me. Bullfrogs don’t reach sexual maturity until four or five and take two to three years to develop from egg to frog – that’s a long time as a tadpole.
Here are some photos that clarify the size difference.

The bars are 3.5 inches apart and the cedar plank is 6 inches wide, essentially Green frogs are as long as Bullfrogs are wide. Well, at least are/were.

More fun facts can be found at Rhode Island Vernal Pools. All the information in this post should be credited to them, any mistakes to me. It’s a very neat site, lots of cool ecology info.