Archive for the ‘nature photography’ Category

Butterfly Garden Host Plants

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Richard and I love watching butterflies in our gardens, prairie, and wetland areas—and have documented 70 species at Daybreak Sanctuary.  Most people think it’s because we plant all those pretty nectar plants for the butterflies to feed from.  They’re wrong!

 

A successful butterfly garden requires something for all stages of a butterfly’s life. Here’s a really quick natural history review of butterflies:  After mating, a female butterfly lays eggs which turn into caterpillars. A caterpillar forms a chrysalis that pupates into a butterfly.

Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) mating on host plant -- Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) mating on host plant -- Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) egg on host plant -- Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) egg on host plant -- Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) caterpiller on Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) caterpiller on Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) chrysalis

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) chrysalis

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) emerging from pupa/chrysalis

Monarch (Danaus plexippus) emerging from pupa/chrysalis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterflies lay their eggs on or near a plant where their caterpillars will feed. These plants are very specific to each species and are called host plants. The caterpillar spends all its life munching on this host plant, and these plants are the heart of a successful butterfly garden.

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) egg on parsley

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) egg on parsley

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillars on parsley

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillars on parsley

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) male on Cosmos bud

Black Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) male on Cosmos bud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a good idea to read about the butterfly species that live in your area, learn their host plants, and offer those in your landscape.  You’ll attract more butterflies doing that than by planting colorful flowers for them to nectar from.  Because if truth be known, the butterflies are looking for a place to breed and produce more butterflies—and they can’t do that without the host plants.

Pipevine Swallowtail catepillars on host plant--Dutchman's Pipevine (Aristolochia marophylla)

Pipevine Swallowtail catepillars on host plant--Dutchman's Pipevine (Aristolochia marophylla)

So when making plant selections for your landscape, include more than nectar plants to create a butterfly-friendly habitat.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I can’t live without oodles of flowers in my gardens—so I always include plenty of those for the butterflies too!

Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor) male on Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)

Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor) male on Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)

Host Plants for Caterpillars

Black Swallowtail – anise, carrot, parsley, dill, fennel, rue, yarrow

Buckeye – snapdragons, verbena, toadflax, monkeyflower

Common Wood Nymph – grasses

Giant Swallowtail – prickly ash, rue, citrus trees

Great Spangled Fritillary – violets

Variegated Fritillary – passion vine

Hackberry – hackberry, sugarberry

Monarch – milkweeds

Mourning Cloak – willows, American elm, quaking aspen, paper birch, hackberry

Painted Lady – daisy family, thistle, hollyhock

Pipevine Swallowtail – Dutchman’s Pipevine

Red Admiral — wild cherry, black oaks, aspens, birches

Red Spotted Purple – willow, cherry, oak, hawthorn, apple

Spicebush Swallowtail – spicebush, sassafras

Sulphurs – asters, clovers, alfalfa, pea family

Tiger swallowtail – cherry, ash, birch, cottonwood, willow, spicebush, lilac

Viceroy – poplar, apple, plum, cherry

Zebra Swallowtail – pawpaw

Early Bird Rate on Backyard Bird Photography Workshop!

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Register before May 1, 2011 to receive our Early Bird Rate for the Backyard Bird Photography Workshop scheduled for June 17-19, 2011 at the Daybreak Sanctuary!

Male Indigo Bunting at Daybreak Imagery

Male Indigo Bunting at Daybreak Imagery

 

This is your chance to learn bird photography from a pro! Richard Day, one of the world’s premier bird photographers will lead this workshop at his home in south central Illinois. He and his wife Susan have created a wildlife sanctuary on 63 acres that includes a 3-acre yard landscaped to attract backyard wildlife, a 5-acre native grass and wildflower prairie, and 2 shallow water wetlands. We are backyard wildlife specialists and most of the images we sell are taken on their property – which has attracted nearly 200 species of birds.

 

Male Eastern Bluebird in flower garden at Daybreak Imagery

Male Eastern Bluebird in flower garden at Daybreak Imagery

This workshop will include personal instruction on the basics of bird photography as well as critiques of work done (of digital images) on site.

Participants will have access to specially designed photo blinds that will be set in several different locations. You’ll rotate to each location so everyone has the maximum time with different bird species in various habitats.  All birds are wild and free flying but are accustomed to the blinds.  Birds common in our yard in June include Baltimore Orioles, Northern Cardinals, Eastern Bluebirds, Indigo Buntings, American Goldfinches, several woodpeckers, and more.  Early summer butterflies, dragonflies, and flowers in our numerous gardens provide a bonus for this well-rounded backyard habitat.

Richard and Susan’s yard is certified with the National Wildlife Federation and Illinois Audubon Society Backyard Habitat Programs.  This one-of-a-kind workshop is limited to 4 participants.

Male Baltimore Oriole in Pale Purple Coneflowers at Daybreak Imagery

Male Baltimore Oriole in Pale Purple Coneflowers at Daybreak Imagery

Cost:  $650 (Early Bird Rate is $599 if you register before May 1)
for 2 full days Friday and Saturday plus 1/2 day Sunday

General Schedule:
7-10am photograph
11-1 break
1-4pm  programs,instruction, and critiques
4-7pm photograph in blinds

This schedule is subject to change depending on weather and bird activity–and what the group wants to do.  Some groups like to photograph all day, and others want more classroom-type instruction which is done in our house or in the yard, depending on topic.
Programs and instruction will include how to photograph birds, Photoshop tips for bird photography, workflow, editing images, and any type of camera or equipment questions people want/need.

This will be customized according to what the group wants to learn.
Call or Email for more info and to register.  Check out bird photos taken during our bird workshops

 

No Tripod, No Problem: How to photograph from windows

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

When I photograph birds, most of the time I used a tripod to steady my camera and lens, but sometimes –such as photographing from a vehicle—that is not possible.  People have asked what I use for other photography situations, so in this blog post, I’ll share what works best for me. 

Tripods are not practical for photographing out of windows so I use a bean bag, panning plate, and window mount.  Keeping your camera stable is very important for in-focus photos—an image stabilization lens will improve your results dramatically.

This is the setup I use when photographing polar bears on my tours to Churchill, Manitoba each October and November. 

Richard Day on tundra buggy using bean bag, panning plate, & window mount

Richard Day on tundra buggy using bean bag, panning plate, & window mount

Here are a few suppliers of some of these hard-to-find items:

 

Bean Bags:        Vertex Photographic—www.vertexphoto.com  This is the one I use.  

                             Kinesis Photo Gear—www. kgear.com—Naturescapes SkimmerSack

                            In England—www.photobeanbags.com

 Panning Plate for Bean Bag:  This sturdy but light-weight metal plate is fitted with a swivel mount for panning and an Arca-Swissäclamp. Simply take your lens off the tripod and insert it into the clamp, tighten and shoot!  The smooth flow of the pivot makes panning a breezeFound at Visual Echoes—847-438-3587  visualechoes@worldnet.att.net 

Window Mounts:  Kirk Enterprises  www.kirkphoto.com 

                                 Len Rue Enterprises   www.rue.com  

I use the same system on my SUV window when I photograph birds in refuges or along the country roads near my home.  This Short-eared Owl was taken from my car window at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area in Marion County, just a few miles from my home.

Short-eared Owl in flight at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area, Marion Co., IL

Short-eared Owl in flight at Prairie Ridge State Natural Area, Marion Co., IL

 

Dreaming of spring

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

I’m dreaming of spring and wanting to see something green!  Found a few images that we took last April at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St Louis, Missouri that perked up my gray day mood.

Sycamore tree in spring

Something green and something pink….

Pink Flowering Dogwood Tree in spring

Pink Flowering Dogwood Tree in spring

And something pinker…

Pink flowering dogwood in spring

Pink flowering dogwood in spring

Victor Hugo said, “Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.”  I’m an eternal optimist who’s rather impatient at the moment!