This has been an unusual autumn in Michigan. Just last week I could stand in some of my favorite places and look out to see not a single turning leaf. It was as hot and humid and green – above all, green – as any day in July or August.
But things have changed. Now bare trees, brown trees, a few changing trees, and still a few green trees occupy the landscape.
The tulip poplar that I planted almost two decades ago has always been bright yellow on Halloween – and then loses its leaves the week after. Last week it was green – 100% green – and so I thought it would break with tradition. But in the past few days it has turned rapidly yellow – leaves are half yellow in the morning, and all yellow by sundown. It will keep to its customary Halloween costume.
I’ve made several trips into the Allegan Forest this last week - toting the much neglected Pentax 6x7 medium format camera for autumn scenic shots. I finally shot out the last of my 220 and 120 format color print film – though I’ve already bought a new cache for next week’s shooting. I’ve just starting working with the first batch of shots, back from the lab, and hope to have some colorful fall landscapes in the next few days.
While in the forest I kept an eye out for straggling insects, and managed a couple of interesting insect shots.
At one stop I found the remnants of a large hornets’ nest shattered on the ground. Hornets abandon their nests in late fall and overwinter alone. This nest has fallen to the ground and split open, leaving the hexagonal structures laid out in the open.
I shot some close-ups of the nest structures with the K10D, DA-F 100mm macro – tripod mounted – and some help from my wildflower reflectors. A tiny fly (I think it’s a fly) was nestled in one cell on the honeycomb, and soon became my interest for a shooting at just over 1:1 magnification with the help of an extension tube. Most of the shots didn’t come out – the wind was blowing like crazy and the fly is all fluttery and motion blurred – but the one shot above did work out, and I think makes for an interesting end of season insect composition.
Buckeye Butterflies – a rare treat during the summer months – were fairly common in most locations. I found them by the Swan Creek Dam as well as in the fields along 115th Avenue and also 48th street. These butterflies have bright, stunning, almost psychedelic eyespot patterns on their upper wings == but unfortunately were not too interested in perching and posing.
At the Trout Creek Dam the pool downriver of the dam was full of trout – trapped and doomed to die without getting upstream, I suppose. To my surprise dragonflies were buzzing around. I initially thought these were Saffron Winged Meadowhawks – but after checking things more carefully it looks like these are Yellow Legged Meadowhawks. I later found a few of these in the old farmstead off 48th street.
One dragon landed on my black vest in one of the few moments when the sun was shining warmly. I took it into my hand, and it seemed to cling closely to soak up the warmth from my skin. It clung tightly for a while and then flew off – just a short distance, after which it landed in the grass on the open trail.
This may be my last insect photography post for the year. Sooner or later the frost and true autumn weather will set in. So these may be the last insect photos for a while - or at least close to the last.
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