Peak Purple

In some of the farm fields around me springs arrival is celebrated by emergence of a purple carpet. Not all fields will have this having been freshly tilled preparing for planting. Likely corn. Other fields were prepared  a month or more ago for grasses or wheat. The fields yet to be worked for crops are far from barren as the Henbit flowers in a pink-purple color. From a distance the sight is very nice:

Soon the field I took a picture of will be prepared for crops and the Henbit will be gone. Thats ok as the flowers don’t last all that long. But while their at peak color the fields have a wonderful color to them.

This is the first of a series of posts. While Earth Day was Sunday April 22nd celebrating the place we live on for only one day seems to short. I’m going to observe Earth week.

Summer Solstice: Solargraphy

Today I took down the solargraphy canister that Phil Anderson provided me in 2012. For six months it captured the path of the sun across my back deck. The image above is from scanning the print paper, inverted in photoshop and contrast enhanced. Click it for a larger version. Pretty cool old school picture.

The Last Transit

The transit of Venus across the Sun today felt different to me. Perhaps knowing its the last one I’ll see was a reminder of my limits. Right from the start, as a planet nearly the same size as Earth appeared but a dot on the face of the Sun, I felt small. As the minutes ticked by the dot slowly made its way across the Sun. As the hours went by the Sun disappeared low in the sky behind my trees. Venus was still crossing the Sun. One was reminded of the immense size of our star.

Awesome Timelapse

Night sky timelapse photography is an area I’ve been really, really wanting to get into. Here is an excellent composition featured today on APOD:

Frankly it should be viewed full-screen. I love how the author incorporated his setup and prep work into the video.

NSP New Image

Picture on left taken Monday night at the Nebraska Star Party, click here or image for larger view. The Milky Way was fantastic that night and I think the picture represents closely what the sky looked like. I noticed a tiny meteor captured in the middle left side. Just recently processed the image, still have another widefield for NSP to finish as well. Amazing how usable ISO 3200 is on the 5D.

Thrown To The Dragons

You never know when an interesting event may happen and if you’re not observant you miss it. This evening was one of them as I noticed a bunch of dragonflies in my backyard. I almost let that fact slip by. But after walking about the yard I returned to realize this was not a normal occurrence. You don’t see this many dragonflies all concentrated in one relatively small area. Just how many are here I wondered?

Counting was very difficult with them flying madly around but I came to the conclusion there was over fifty. Wow, very unusual. I could see no reason for this so I slowly ventured out to the spot that I guessed to be the center of attention.

Walking among the dragons I found they were completely unconcerned at my presence. Standing among them I could sense there was far more than fifty. Completely silent in flight they were all around, some flew within inches of me. Whizzing by from every direction it was mesmerizing. I’m not sure how long I just stood and watched this spectacle. Out among them I could see their prey, a small insect that was a clumsy flier. I reached out and caught one of the bugs and then I knew what was happening, why the dragonflies were here. For I have seen this before when I was younger. At that very moment it was flying ant day, or perhaps it should be called the time of flying ants.

In this one area of my yard ants were taking flight to start new colonies. Evening light was poor when I took the picture above (click the image for a bigger version). It was a weird sight. Down on the ground the normal ants would harass the winged ones until they took off. They flew into near certain death by dragonfly. Fascinating.

I got chewed up by mosquitoes while I was enjoying all of this.

Its The Diversity

A week ago I was at my sisters house and observed that she has a very nice suburban lawn. Freshly cut it was a rich green color from side to side. Contrast that with my yard that is bristling with every variety of weed. I thought of that contrast this morning as I gazed on the ugly wet dandelion heads that seem to resist being mowed down.

For a short period in spring these weeds are actually attractive. Dandelions are colorful when in bloom and en mass. But more importantly they are a food source for birds. Yesterday I observed a Gold Finch pounce on the dandelion stalk to hold it down for a meal. This morning those weeds brought a beautiful sight as five Indigo Buntings were on the ground eating the dandelion seeds. I have never seen that many Indigos together in one spot but they are unmistakable to identify being blue all over as opposed to the smaller Blue birds that have a reddish breast.

A wonderful collection of birds has been on display at my place today. From the bright flame orange chested Orioles to the Eastern Blue birds. I think my natural yard with its diversity of plants and bugs attracts wildlife like no manicured suburban yard can ever hope to.