Posts Tagged ‘wetlands’

Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, Nikon Speedlight SB400                                                   ISO 400, f16 @ 1/100 sec.

Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, Nikon Speedlight SB400, ISO 400, f16 @ 1/100

Water Tiger is the common name given to the larval stage of the Predacious Diving Beetle. During my forays out to the frog ponds I often encounter bizarre, alien-like waterbugs, so recently I decided to use a small 2.5 gallon aquarium and and photograph a few of these interesting critters. The Water Tiger has a voracious appetite and will often devour tadpoles, salamander larva, other aquatic bugs, and small fish. The large sickle-like jaws allow them to over-power prey larger than themselves. My aquarium set-up was quite productive allowing me to successfully create numerous images of various subjects. I will share in a future post soon exactly what worked best for the set-up and how I processed each of the image files.

Please do click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions.

Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, Nikon Speedlight SB400, ISO 400, f16 @ 1/60

Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, Nikon Speedlight SB400, ISO 400, f16 @ 1/60

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Gray Treefrog_106

Male Gray Treefrog with vocal sac fully inflated while chorusing

Have you ever wondered how loud a frog’s can sing? Well the loudest frog call in the world is that of the Coqui Frog of Puerto Rico, which has been measured at a booming 108 decibels, and that is almost as loud as some jackhammers! The Gray Treefrog of North America has been measured at a range of 88 to 95 decibels. Whenever I have been fortunate enough to be sitting in a wetland at peak chorus with numerous individuals calling all at the same time, the sound can be deafening. In fact the sound level and subsequent ringing in my ears afterwards reminds me of my younger days when I would attend RAMONES concerts :)

In these two photos do note the variation in coloration. The frog in the first image is in a shallow pond with a sandy / clay-like bottom and minimal new growth of cattails, hence the drab colors. While in the photo below the pond is much deeper with a dark, mucky bottom and there was significant new growth of cattails, which is why this fella has a brilliant green coloration.


Male Gray Treefrog at rest between calls - note vocal sac stays partially inflated

Male Gray Treefrog at rest between calls – note vocal sac stays partially inflated

Please click on each of the photos to see the larger, sharper version.

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American Toad_9913

The two images presented here were created a few seconds apart. Often I will take several images from various angles and perspectives when photographing frogs and toads at night, especially when I see the ripple effect. The ripple effect is created when the toad’s vocal sac touches the water’s surface while it is chorusing. The vibration of the vocal sac creates the ripples. In each of these images I was immediately drawn to the way the dead cattail leaves were framing the toad along the bottom portion of the composition and while composing I made certain not to cut-off the ‘V’ created by the break in the leaf at the bottom edge.

American Toad_9915

Please remember to click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions. Which do you prefer?

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Green Frog_168

It always amazes me when I am editing my images of frogs photographed at night the number of other critters that show up in the frame. More often than not these are waterbugs, but tonight when going through photos created several nights ago I was pleasantly surprised to see a tiny fish fry resting in front of the frog. I am uncertain of the actual species of fish, which are inhabiting this new pond I discovered due to the itty-bitty size of the fish but I am going to assume that it may be a baby stickleback. Once you click on the image to view the larger, sharper version the fish will be more visible as will be the two tiny insects on the frog’s left cheek.

When frogs are posed such as this within the pond I will always assume a low perspective, often submerging my arms in the pond to get the camera down low and then place the frog dead center within the composition. As long as there is symmetrical balance within the frame a bulls-eyed subject can be pleasing.

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Gray Treefrog_244

A few nights ago I ventured out into a new pond that I had discovered where Gray Treefrogs are chorusing very loudly. The pond already has a dense growth of cattails so working my way out to the area of the pond where the frogs were located was tricky at best, but I was able to create a few new images that ended up in the keeper file :) Gray Treefrogs are the chameleons of the amphibian world, able to change their colors to blend in to their surrounding environment. Photographing them in the spring when they are at their breeding pools among the green cattails typically produces images of them in their splendid greens.

Gray Treefrog_260

Gray Treefrog_278

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Green Frog With Vocal Sac Inflated

Green Frog With Vocal Sac Inflated

By far the most productive nights for photographing frogs and toads tend to be those which are humid, rainy, or drizzly. Above is a recent Green Frog photographed with its vocal sac inflated that was created on a wet evening after the rain stopped. Using a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 105mm Micro lens, I knelt down in the shallow pond with my chest waders on and assumed a low and steady perspective¬† by resting my elbows on the pond’s substrate. Green Frog’s vocal sacs are only inflated for a brief period while they are making their loose banjo string-like song, but closely watching their movements you can easily learn when to press the shutter to capture a fully inflated vocal sac.

Please click on the image to see the larger, sharper version.

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Sunrise at Tiny Marsh with early sign of the ice starting to break-up

Sunrise at Tiny Marsh with early sign of the ice starting to break-up

Today I awoke at 4:30 a.m. to start my 45 minute drive to the Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area in Elmvale, Ontario. I have never had a disappointing day at Tiny Marsh and I often am rewarded with something I did not quite expect to capture during each visit. Today would be no exception. As usual I like to arrive with plenty of time to walk out along the main dike that extends out into the marsh, as I often find this to be most productive for sunrise imagery. Spring is getting underway a little slower here as the wetlands are still quite frozen over, a result of the extended, brutal cold we endured this winter which in turn created thick ice on the lakes and wetlands. In the image below you can see that things are starting to open up some now.

Tiny Marsh at sunrise in early spring

Tiny Marsh at sunrise in early spring

It was a cold morning with lightly formed ice on the surfaces of the newly open water sections. Along the edges of the marsh I noticed thousands of dead catfish, a result of winter kill, which is a common occurrence and quite simply a part of mother nature. These dead catfish will provide food for numerous wildlife, including racoons, snapping turtles, and many others. Having never encountered such an abundance of dead fish from winter kill I could not help but create a few images of them frozen beneath the ice.

Brown Bullhead Catfish winter kill

Brown Bullhead Catfish winter kill at Tiny Marsh

Brown Bullhead Catfish winter kill at Tiny Marsh

Brown Bullhead Catfish winter kill at Tiny Marsh

Tiny Marsh also supports a very large breeding population of Canada Geese and during today’s there were a few pairs hanging out in the open water near the main parking lot. In the distance you could hear the loud cackles of the majority of the marsh’s population.

Canada Geese at Tiny Marsh in early spring

Canada Geese at Tiny Marsh in early spring

Lastly, I wanted to scout out the boardwalk trail to see how things were looking for some of my soon to commence frog photography. The ice has receded completely in this area of the marsh but the water levels are very high this year – a result of the significant snowfall this past winter. I slowly made my way along the boardwalk, which was sinking into the water as I walked along it, and by the time I was done my feet were thoroughly soaked.

Tiny Marsh Boardwalk Trail submerged due to high water levels

Tiny Marsh Boardwalk Trail submerged due to high water levels

For folks that have never visited Tiny Marsh before I urge you to add it to your list of must see destinations, as it never disappoints. For private in-the-field photographic instruction please be sure to check out my newly added Workshops page on the blog by clicking here.

Long Point Workshop

For folks that are interested in a photographic workshop / tour to the tip of the Long Point Peninsula on Lake Erie, a destination that is only accessible by boat be sure to follow this link for further information. This workshop will take place on Saturday, May 31st.

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Common Snapping Turtle_7893Common Snapping Turtle at rest on beaver dam, Parry Sound, Ontario

While I was in the Parry Sound region of Ontario last weekend I came upon a very large Common Snapping Turtle floating in a beaver pond while I was out for my daily walk with my dog. Afterwards I decided to return without my dog and this is when I found the turtle basking on the beaver’s dam. Most often in situations similar to this it is difficult to approach the turtles closely, but nonetheless I decided to see if I could make my way in for a turtle-scape with my 24-85 VR lens. I decided to use this lens for its image stabilization feature as I knew I would never be able to get my tripod into position without disturbing the turtle. As it turned out I was able to get quite close and actually sat myself down within 1-2 feet of the turtle. It was so comfortable with my presence that it decided to close its eyes and have a nap, periodically opening its eyes to check me out. Each time the eyes opened I created my turtle-scapes. Above is my favorite.

Common Snapping Turtles evolved roughly 40 million years ago and shared the planet with dinosaurs.I am always reminded of the dinosaurs when I find these reptiles and marvel at how they have survived through the years, including the events that led to the mass extinction of dinosaurs. Sadly, after sharing the Earth with humans for a short period of time they are now listed as a “species at risk’ in some parts of their Canadian range.

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Gray Treefrog_7662Gray Treefrog and Caddisfly

Early last week I could here a couple of Gray Treefrogs chorusing near my home, so I decided to try to locate them and I did. It was most difficult to photograph these frogs as the ponds substrate was very mucky. Often with each step my feet would sink about 12 inches into the mud. Once I was able to position myself close enough to the frogs I would kneel down in the mud to allow myself to be able to photograph from a low perspective. As I worked my way into position for the above image I was initially bugged by the bug resting on the frog’s head and then I thought that this may just make a fun image, so I happily captured numerous frames of this male Gray Treefrog chorusing with the Caddisfly atop its head.

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Those of you that have been following along here at the blog know that I have been photographing frogs and toads in vernal ponds found in an abandoned cattle pasture behind my home for a number of years. Vernal ponds are temporary pools of water that are critical habitat relied upon by frogs and toads as breeding sites every spring. Each and every spring chorusing frogs and toads would filled the air with song. Late last fall, the land which was zoned for agriculture was sold to an industrious farmer who promptly cleared every tree that lined the plots of land and then plowed the land. By plowing the land the farmer wiped out much of the frog and toad population in the immediate vicinity of my rural home.

As the temperatures began to warm this spring I would listen intently from my back deck listening for the songs of chorus frogs, which are always the first frogs to emerge from hibernation. A couple of weeks ago I heard the calls of one or two individuals. As the temperatures warmed further, the calls of the chorus frogs should have been incredibly loud, but not so. One or two individuals was all I ever heard. Last week the final nail in the coffin was delivered to this field as a farm drainage company arrived and tiled the field to drain the land, making it suitable for the planting of crops.

No longer will I hear or photograph the seven species of frogs that would breed in these ponds, or the snapping turtle that would come to gorge on the frog’s eggs. No longer will I see the chimney crayfish that would rise from beneath the ground on wet nights, or the bizarre insect larvae that depend on such habitats, and the fairy shrimps will no longer dance through their watery world.

This field had been laying fallow since 1975, but was always zoned for agriculture. I honestly feel that all agricultural lands that are left unattended to for such lengthy periods of time should undergo environmental assessments prior to turning the soil for agricultural purposes again.

Amphibians are the most threatened species on Earth, mostly due to habitat destruction, global warming, and the deadly chytrid fungus. We are responsible for each and every one of these that affect the world’s amphibian population.

Below you will see a selection of photos showing the tile drainage being buried. The field is so wet and soggy that a backhoe was need to pull the tile plow through the muck and frequently it looked as though the backhoe would flip into the soft muck of the field. In the first image below you will see the before and after versions of my favorite pond. The before image was photographed in the spring of 2012 and the after image was taken last night. In both images if you look on the left side you will see the abandoned barn. In the before image the barn is hidden slightly by the tree-line.

Please click on the images to see the larger, sharper versions.

Before and After Frog Pond

Before and After

Habitat Destruction_7167

Backhoe tipping into pond while pulling tile plow through

Habitat Destruction_7125

Tractor driving through pond with weeping tile spool

Habitat Destruction_7209

View of the pond from the road after tiling – the level has dropped significantly

Habitat Destruction_7134

Draining Away

Green Frog_9446


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