On this date 58

Yes, this topic has not died yet, but there’s a special reason for it to occur this time, and we’ll get to that. Right now, let’s see what was happening on this date in history. Pretty recent history, and nothing at all historical. Pretty self-centered, to be blunt. But it’s a blog, which as I’ve said before, is an exercise is thinly-veiled narcissism. If it’s veiled at all.

So back to Florida we go.

Florida stone crab Menippe mercenaria chillin in shallows
In 2004, I was out in the Indian River Lagoon (surprise surprise) making the valiant attempt to get clear photos of aquatic species through a rippling surface, never the best of moves – the water might look quite clear and reasonably calm, but our vision tends to average out the distortion of each little wavelet while the camera will capture the funhouse effect. Nonetheless, I snagged a decent-enough frame of a Florida stone crab (Menippe mercenaria,) a species that I saw quite infrequently. Despite their buff and steroidal appearance, and the fact that their pincers looked easily capable of lopping off a finger joint, stone crabs are incredibly meek and seek shelter at the slightest provocation, at least in my experience – I could just be that intimidating myself. Atlantic blue crabs are something else entirely; they’ll take a shot at you if you’re just in the general neighborhood.

A year later, an entirely different neighborhood.

Moore Cove Falls, NC between two trees
I’d moved back to NC in the interim and realized that I’d never done a dedicated mountain trip in the previous years that I’d lived here, and corrected this oversight that spring. I’d underestimated the advancement of the spring growth, however; while things had been well in bloom for two weeks in the eastern Piedmont where I lived, that flower peak was still about two weeks off in the Blue Ridge mountains, and some of the trees still hadn’t budded out. But I was mostly chasing waterfalls, and had to look this one up again (in Kevin Adams’ excellent guide, North Carolina Waterfalls – Where to Find Them, How to Photograph Them, which I’d had for years at that point.) It’s Moore Cove Falls, not huge or impressive, but it has its possibilities (as I’ve hopefully illustrated.)

I’ve taken a whole lot of photos on May 2nd throughout the years: according to the spreadsheet that I created for this topic 18 months ago, 240 in the stock folders, and those were the ones good enough to retain. I had about nine potential images for this post, but I’m going to jump ahead eight years to 2013 for the next, because I picked those that I liked best.

very young Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis with dewdrops on antennae
Someplace nearby, the undiscovered ootheca of a Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) had hatched out, and there were plenty of newborn mantids scampering about on the azaleas right outside the door. I should need no justification of this particular focus.

Two years later, we’ll feature two, because I couldn’t decide between them.

unidentified Hymenoptera, possibly beewolf Philanthus, on fleabane Erigeron variety
Identification-wise, this photo is quite unspecific, because it’s actually hard to differentiate the two different species, especially when I didn’t take measurements and am going off memory. But this is likely a wasp variety known as a beewolf (genus Philanthus,) because the adults will feed bees to their nymphs, even though they eat nectar themselves. It’s on an aster variety, likely one of the fleabanes (genus Erigeron.) But the focus, on an insect not exceeding 12mm, is bang on, isn’t it? I couldn’t pass this one up for the feature, even though a sequential frame has appeared here before.

That was in the NC Botanical Garden in the morning. That afternoon, I was wandering around the neighborhood pond and came across a treacherous pile of dog crap.

northern water snake Nerodia sipedon sipedon sunning itself before impending molt
… Or at least, that’s what it looked like initially, and it’s possible that others had strolled past it without realizing its true nature. This is a northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon sipedon,) basking on the banks, helping itself dry out for its impending molt – that’s what those opaque eyes mean. It also means that this individual, of a species known for being quick to bite, cannot see well and will be especially prone to defensive measures. However, I took advantage of its obscured vision to lean in close for detail, counting (successfully) on my wraithlike abilities to remain silent and undetected [see above re: narcissism.] And in fact, silence isn’t even necessary, because snakes don’t have any ears, so I just had to keep the vibrations to a minimum.

And finally, the image that provoked all this.

male red-winged blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus photographed through a passing car
One year ago, we were in the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, the one excursion that we took all year long, and we were parked on the side of the trail and trying for a decent frame of a male red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus.) Obviously this isn’t it. It is, instead, evidence of my exquisite timing, as I tripped the shutter right when another visitor drove between us – you’re seeing the bird through two car windows. I had come across the frame again a few weeks back and set it aside for eventual use, then realized that the anniversary was coming soon; that, and finding just how many frames I’ve taken on this date, was the impetus of this post. And where I said above that there were 240 images for this date? That spreadsheet was made before this trip, so there’s a hell of a lot more in the folders now.

I was going to include one from today specifically taken for this post, but it’s 3 AM as I get ready to finalize it and there’s little to shoot. I considered the moon, just as a gimme, but the altitude it’s reached at this point means that it’s obscured by trees; I checked, going out in shorts, T-shirt, and barefoot despite the fact that it’s 9°C out there right now (spring seems to be only here during the day.) That’s dedication to a topic – only, not so much that I actually have a photo to put here.

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