Brokenbacked Bug

Sunday, May 31st, 2009
From Nix Nature Center, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, 2009-05-24

Brokenbacked Bug (Taylorilygus apicalis) on California Bush Sunflower

Just a Honeybee

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

But still the best shot I’ve managed with the new DSLR setup so I thought it was worth posting. Setting the aperture to f/8.0 and using a flash helps a lot.

honeybee close-up

The advantage to shooting honeybees is that they’re common, easy-to-find, and not especially nervous around people or cameras. In fact, in most locations they seem to easily outnumber all other bees combined. In the Americas and Australia, they are an introduced species that weren’t present at all until a few hundred years ago. Possibly they have displaced native bees and pollinators, though the evidence is unclear. (Alien Species in North America and Hawaii, George W. Cox, p. 48.) If they did, it likely happened several hundred years ago, before most folks noticed and now they just seem like a native part of the fauna. Possibly reduction of honeybee populations in non-agricultural areas might have a cascading effect on many non-native plant species that depend on honeybees for pollination.

Fun with a Macro Lens

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Probably some sort of blow fly:


More pictures on my Picasa page.

Star Trek Has Jumped the Shark

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

OK. I can’t hold my mouth any longer. Star Trek is dead and J.J. Abrams killed it. The latest movie has finally put Star Trek in the ground far more effectively than Star Trek V ever did. Although technically a good movie (unlike Star Trek V)–well plotted, well shot, and adequately acted–it has destroyed the franchise. More seriously, it has destroyed the entire Star Trek universe.

Lots of folks and critics seem to have liked this movie, and indeed liked it more than almost any other Star Trek movie/episode; and that’s the key point. The people who never liked or cared about Star Trek before, didn’t really notice or care what Abrams just did to the characters and universe they grew up with. They just admired the modern special effects, the well-plotted action, and the better-than-the-original-series acting. But those of us who did love Star Trek since 1966 because we had been able to see beyond the bad makeup and the occasionally corny dialog to the real heart of the show? We walked out of the movie with a very bad taste in our mouths that for once didn’t come from the popcorn. Spoilers follow.

Where does the EOS50D Hide JPEGs?

Friday, May 8th, 2009

I know the EOS50D is saving a JPEG with each raw file because Lightroom finds and displays them before switching to the raw image. However after mounting the memory card in the Mac Finder, all I see are raw images:


Costa’s or Anna’s?

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Yesterday at the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary in Modjeska Canyon, I spent a lot of time looking at this hummingbird:

Male Calypte Hummingbird

The classic distinction between a male Anna’s and a male Costa’s is that the Anna’s has a red gorget while the Costa’s has a purple gorget. The problem is that the much more common (around here at least) Anna’s male can also seem purple depending on angle and light. More than once I’ve sat and watched a hummingbird’s gorget switch from purple to red to purple to red to black to purple to red as it moved its head around. At this point I am extremely cautious about calling any Orange County hummingbird a Costa’s without an expert standing next to me to confirm the ID.

However this hummingbird shows purple in all my photographs and in the field. It never really looked red to me at all. Its gorget did, surprisingly, sometimes look copper, which is a color I’ve never seen on an Anna’s. I’m almost ready to stick my gorget out and call it a Costa’s except that according to Sibley, another distinguishing mark is that the wingtips of the Costa’s extend all the way to the tail tip, while on the Anna’s they’re a bit short. Damn. These wingtips clearly don’t extend all the way to the tail tip, though perhaps that’s a function of the angle or how the bird holds its wings at any given moment?

On the other hand, the more I look at this bird the more it looks violet and Costa’s like and the less Anna’s like it looks. I’m stumped. Anyone want to call this one?