More from yesterday

So, immediately after finishing this post, I ventured outside to watch for the moonrise, knowing it would be a little sliver of a crescent in the twilight just before dawn. Unfortunately, there was a serious buildup of humidity down on the horizon, producing a haze which wasn’t immediately apparent until after the sun came up and the sky just became white, but it was enough to obscure any indication that there was a moon there at all. Not unexpected, really, but I try when the conditions seem right.

Being out at first light with the headlamp, though, I spotted a subject that I wasn’t after, though wasteful, unfocused me will still get photos of such a thing anyway.

juvenile green treefrog Hyla cinerea in top of Japanese maple
On the top of one of the potted Japanese maples in the yard (we have three in pots right now, and a fourth which came with the house and has served as a backdrop for countless photos,) I found a juvenile green treefrog (Hyla cinerea.) This was notable to me in that, I knew we had a little one hanging around in the general area of the front porch, sometimes perching on the oak-leaf hydrangea by the window – but that one was once again back in its perch thereon, so this was another one roughly the same size. The overnight temperature had dropped a bit and it was chilly, so both were in position to catch the morning sunlight to warm up. I still have a handful of photos of the first one that I haven’t featured yet, so…

juvenile green treefrog Hyla cinerea poised alertly within pot
Here it is in a potted plant near the original maple, a region it remained within for a few days, but very protective of itself – I missed several photos because it never gave me the chance to get into position before it gained cover within the thicket of the maple leaves.

juvenile green treefrog Hyla cinerea peering out from under porch railing
Later on I found it spending the afternoon on the railing of the front porch, a surprisingly public area for something so bashful, and did a representative photo from an angle intended to give a certain impression – I think I succeeded. The next morning, it was out on the hydrangea two meters from this spot, so I’m fairly certain it’s the same one, while the potted maple sits three meters away – not a stretch at all, but if you have a better way of telling them apart, I’m all ears.

When the sun had risen, I did some daylight shots of the first one up there, wide open with the macro lens in natural light, for a different rendering of largely the same scene.

juvenile green treefrog Hyla cinerea hunched down to stay hidden while getting some weak sun
The pupils are capable of lending expressions to the frogs that are entirely inaccurate, since it’s just a response to how much available light there is, but hey, I’ll work with it anyway: this one’s pretending to be an alligator.

At roughly the same time, I moved a brick and exposed a juvenile ground skink (Scincella lateralis.) These are exceptionally furtive little reptiles that I spot every once in a great while, but never in a manner that I can photograph them. I hastened inside and got the macro aquarium as a holding pen, and was pleasantly surprised to find it still in view when I came back out so, bolstered by this cooperation, I set up a shooting session.

ground skink Scincella lateralis on sand
I got out a deeper glass casserole dish as a pen and lined the bottom with sand – not the typical habitat of the skink, but an accurate one of leaf litter and debris would provide too many hiding spots that my subject would immediately disappear into, so I made it impossible for the lizard to hide. I fully expected it to scamper to the sides and try to climb them, dancing anxiously against the glass in a wholly unsuitable composition, but it turned out to be remarkably cooperative, staying within the center of the dish for the most part, not moving a lot, and even taking some gentle nudges to repose.

juvenile ground skink Scincella lateralis in full length
You could put this down to torpor from the cold, which likely assisted, but I had already seen how the skink was capable of bursts of speed, so really, this was more helpful than expected. I was even able to switch lenses and go in very close for more detail.

juvenile ground skink Scincella lateralis in closeup
In fact, I was just missing a little bit of behavior due to the brief duration of it, which was to sample the sand with its tongue to see what was edible, usually having a few sand grains adhering to its tongue – you can see a couple still on its snout. Again, this is ordinary beach sand, to give you some idea of scale, but I managed a better one (since I didn’t have my paper scales handy, but this is better anyway.)

juvenile ground skink Scincella lateralis posed on author's fingertips
As I scooped it up gently to release it in the front garden (not far from the frogs,) it curled up and paused on my fingertips, and I started juggling the camera to see if the shot was possible – I’m actually amazed to have gotten it. This is especially noteworthy in that I had the Mamiya 80mm macro affixed, which requires the aperture to be closed down manually, and it’s spring-loaded so it has to be held down as it won’t stay in place on its own. This resides on the left side of the lens barrel. Meanwhile, the shutter release is on the right – you know, where my occupied right hand would operate it – so I had to cradle the camera and flash rig one-handed in my left, my thumb stretching up to the aperture switch, my forefinger stretched out across the bottom of the battery grip to contact the shutter button on the bottom of that, and still get the focus distance right. There’s no way it should be this sharp, but that just shows you my breathtakingly awesome skills. There was probably even some telekinesis keeping the skink calm during all this as well, so I got that going for me. Which is nice.

Later on that afternoon we did the kayak outing and met the beaver in the previous post, so really, a fairly productive day. I’m good with that.

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