Island View Beach predators!

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Island View Beach was not all bees and high fashion, I also got some cool shots of some awesome predators. First up is this cool robber fly! I think it is in the subfamily Stenopogoninae, but I am by no means an expert.

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Here is how I found it, shot with the 300.

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Dewy on the perch, the sunlight catches its hairs and bristles nicely.

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With some coaxing, I got it to perch on top of the flower.

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Robbers are some of my favourite flies, possibly because of how raptorial they are.

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It takes them some time to warm up for flight, so they are great subjects for a photographer.

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I also saw a couple of juvenile Cooper’s hawks haunting the seaside vegetation. They hunt from perches like robbers, but have a more protracted chase when they spot prey.

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As endotherms, these hawks are more difficult to approach!

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The tidal shallows at dawn is a great place to find Great Blue Herons, looking marvelous as silhouettes.

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Here is what happens when an Ammophila chooses the wrong perch to sleep.

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And this is what can happen if a lacewing hits a black widow web!

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Weekend Expedition 55: Fashion shooting at Island View Beach

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This weekend I went to Victoria, and spent both Saturday and Sunday morning at dawn at Island View Beach. The usual cast of characters was about, so I took the opportunity to do some experimentation with background, lighting, composition and cropping. I am sure you are all getting a bit tired of Coelioxys now, but they make such great models! They are awesome for practicing macro photography with.

If there are any suggestions from other photographers regarding what else I could be doing with these photo ops, please let me know in the comments!

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Here is a wider shot showing the beach behind and the rising sun. I like shooting these kinds of shots, but it is difficult to get great results with the setup I have now.

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These two are shot against the beach grass, with its characteristic pale green.

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The same two shot against the blue sky. and cropped to portrait. 

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Here is a natural-light shot of a Coelioxys. The light has a different quality to it, and it is difficult to get a sharp shot.

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Megachile perihirta against the rising sun.

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Dragging the shutter to make beautiful rim light on the hair.

 

BC Day Long Weekend part 3: at the beaches

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Here is the balance of my weekend shooting, including friendly rabbits and cooperative bees and wasps.

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This rabbit and I made friends. I believe it is s domestic rabbit released in the park.

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It was very tame, and would eat blackberries from my hand.

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here is a huge aggregation of Ammophila on a dead tansy stalk.

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Of course, I have some Coelioxys shots.

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This one is thinks it is super funny.

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Here is a stack I took of a Coelioxys…I may try this again!

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A harvestperson at sunset.

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Beautiful dreamers.

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With lighting from either side, these Coelioxys look like they should be hawking Gatorade or Pennzoil or something.

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Random midge shot. Without a Cognisys, it is just spray and pray.

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The next morning at dawn, I found this sphecid (species ID anyone?) resting. These guys tend to be less gregarious than the Ammophila.

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A syrphid stretching.

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These two neonate garter snakes I found just a couple of metres apart.

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This fledgling sharp shined hawk was sitting on top of an RV, right above the open skylight. I wonder if the occupants saw it.

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Close up of Ammophila.

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A female megachilid on the beach.

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Impressive jaws!

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A newly eclosed cricket.

 

BC Day Long Weekend part 2: Bees in the garden

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A second feature of this past weekend was getting out to various gardens and plantings to see some flower visitors. I first stopped off at the Strathcona community garden, then some gardens near Commercial drive.

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Early morning on Echinacea: often bumblebees don’t make it home in the evening, and I find them dew-wettened, clinging to the flowers they were visiting the previous evening. They are in no mood to fly in this state, and I get the opportunity to experiment with lighting.

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With a diffused flash to the left, and a reflector card on the right, this bee gets the beauty treatment, despite her bad hair day!

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For some reason, this bumblebee looks to me like she is enjoying a belly laugh.

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The advantage of working with immobilized insects cannot be overstated. This shot mixes in the dawn light, hence the sunbeam!

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I found a few other creatures in the garden, such as this awesome sac spider.

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This flower longhorn was one of the few non-bee insects I ended up shooting at Strathcona.

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Here is a dew-wettened honeybee on some kind of mint.

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And a dry honeybee foraging on Echinacea.

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Later, during the heat of the day, I went to Grandview Park near Commercial Drive. This is our native paper wasp, Polistes aurifer.

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There were a whole lot of the introduced wool carder bees (Anthidium manicatum) foraging and stalking on catmint. Here is a male on his lookout perch, where he watches for rivals and females to chase.

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One of the few times they are still is during copulation, wherein the male violently grabs the female while she feeds. I believe the white tuft on the male tibia has something to do with shading part of the female’s eye.

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They seem to be having a good time.

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I do not normally chill insects, but this male I chilled for a short time to see what would happen. they are normally out on such hot days, it stood to reason they would be sensitive to chilling. This procedure allowed about a minute of shooting, and in not such terrible positions either.

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Here he is, looking fierce and about to fly off.

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Booty duty: this natural light shot shows a megachilid with a scopa full of pollen.

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Pretty boy: finding the male of Agapostemon texanus is a wonderful thing. The combination of the striped abdomen and brilliant green is hard to resist. They would steal my heart from Coelioxys if they weren’t so damn fast!

BC Day Long Weekend part 1: Camosun Bog

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This weekend was a long weekend here in BC, and I managed to get out of the house quite a bit (I also completed revisions to my thesis as well as 1 paper). I took so many photos I will have to break them up into several posts. This first set comes from Saturday evening, when Catherine and I visited Camosun Bog, a small bog in Pacific Spirit Park.

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A geometrid caterpillar rearing up in response to being disturbed,

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A female Phrurotimpus borealis, a gorgeous corinnid which we saw previously at Mt. Tolmie in Victoria.

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Some eggs under bark in the forest.

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A linyphiid on her web. I find these some of the most challenging spiders to shoot well.

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Evening was coming on, and as the dark approached, the jumping bristletails started appearing.

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Our coolest find of the evening was a bunch of assassin bug nymphs. These are in the subfamily Emesinae, in the genus Empicoris. Look at the awesome hook-like hairs of this nymph, which will hook on to debris to make a Ghillie suit kind of camouflage.

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Emesines are slow-moving ambush predators, and it is not hard to get them to pose.

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Here is one of the adults we found. While not difficult for photography, it eventually got sick of the shooting and flew away.

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This shot shows the raptorial forelegs to good effect.