MONARCHS ! ! !

Late Friday afternoon I headed to see what might be happening along one of my favourite back roads.  At first, very little.  As I found the first patch of asters I was very pleased to see two monarch butterflies flitting around.  I saw more nectaring in clumps of Joe Pye weed.  One such patch had four monarchs vying for flowers.

In areas of milkweed I found a few caterpillars that looked to be in their last instar before pupating.

MonarchLarva508688

On one milkweed I even found three larvae.  My composition has hidden one on the underside of lower left leaf just out of the frame.

MonarchLarvae2508666

This short video shows the way the larva moves.

This butterfly is nectaring on Joe Pye Weed.

In all I saw about a dozen larvae and brought four home to fatten them up and try to keep them safe.  Weather and parasites are their worst enemies at this time of their development.  I have lots of common milkweed in my garden and more not too far away.

About two weeks ago I brought home six caterpillars.  They pupated soon after and three have emerged.  Two just this morning and they are out drying off in a protected area before they fly off to nectar and produce the final generation before migration.

One of the things that I think helps the monarchs along my favourite road is that the milkweed plants are at several stages.  There was an early summer cut and those plants have regrown.  Some small plants are still producing small tender leaves that the larvae prefer while others already have milkweed pods.  Something to keep in mind if you grow your own milkweed.  Most of mine are now mature plants with tougher top leaves.  Time to plant some Joe Pye Weed too.

I was thrilled to see at least ten adult monarch butterflies in my three hour 0 kmph drive.  That is more than I have seen for the last few years combined.  They move around more quickly than you might think possible so I have made a conservative count.

We can have hope!

MonarchJPWFlutteringBlur508738

I like the motion in this image although I could have posted many perfectly focused ones.  All the images above were taken with a Canon 7D MK  or MK II and a 500 f4 IS lens.

All images are the copyrighted property of Eleanor Kee Wellman, the photographer, and may not be used for any purpose with my written consent.

Advertisements

FOR WORLD ELEPHANT DAY

These are two of my favourite elephant photographs taken of elephants on two separate trips to East Africa years ago.

The portrait was taken in the early morning sun during a dust bath at Samburu and I remember the feeling of peacefulness as the elephant herd fed on the savannah in the Mara.

It is so sad to think about their diminishing numbers.

                                                 ElephantsSavannah

                                                                                       ElephantHead2SepisI just wish I could go again!

All the photographs in these blogs are the sole property of the photographer, Eleanor Kee Wellman, and may not be used for any purpose with my written consent.

SPOTTED SALAMANDER EGGS

I was thrilled to have counted twenty-two salamander egg masses in May In one section of the vernal pool that borders my property.  This is one of the pools nearly destroyed by the construction of a snowmobile trail.  In early June I collected one of those egg masses with the hope of being able to photograph the development of the larvae.

I have relied on the internet to inform me of the parts of the egg.  The developing salamander is the embryo.  The fluid in the egg is the Perevitelline Fluid.  The surface of the sphere surrounding the embryo is the Vitelline Membrane and the surrounding substance is called the Jelly Capsule.

This photograph was taken on June 8th, 2015 and one of the few where my flash set-up actually worked.  This shows the stage of development of one of the eggs within the mass.  None of the others were this advanced and this was the only one seen to move around within the capsule.

SpottedSalamanderEgg503032

The gills have formed as have the front legs.  It has spots and the eye looks to be well developed.

The next afternoon I took more photographs but by this time could not get my flash set-up to work.  The resulting photographs are much duller and it was difficult to see well enough to focus on the larvae within the egg even though I used an LED light.

SpottedSalamanderEgg6273

These photographs were taken with the capsules in a square glass vase.

SpottedSalamanderEggHatching503059

The very next day I got the next two photographs showing the larvae hatching.  The one above shows the wrinkling of the

vitelline membrane.

SpottedSalamanderEgg503061

One minute later this one shows the larvae partly out of the capsule.  In fact I did not see this happening and it was only after when I looked at the images on my computer that I could see the big event.

I can only hope that my images will be more successful next year as it was all very frustrating but rewarding as well.

Next to come will be images of the larvae and my successes and failures photographing them.

The images above were taken on my dining room table in front of a window with my Canon 7D and 7DII, the Canon 180 Macro, a Kenko 36mm extension tube, Manfrotto tripod, two light stands,  Canon 580 and 550 speedlights.

All images in these posts are the sole property of the photographer, Eleanor Kee Wellman, and may not be used for any purpose without my written permission.