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Orchids of Summer: Leptotes bicolor

Leptotes bicolor, color

Here's another orchid currently in bloom: Leptotes bicolor. It's a miniature, with flowers approx. 2 cm tip to tip, and a native to Brazil, Paraguay, and other areas of South America. I understand that the seed pods of this species have been used in past as a substitute for vanilla (also from the seed pods of another orchid). Many sources say that L. bicolor is fragrant, however so far this has not been the case with my plant. Nonetheless, it does produce handsome flowers imho. I hope you will agree.

Thank you for stopping by,

     Bob

Tillandsia bulbosa

Tillandsia bulbosa, color

A few of my Tillandsia plants, aka air plants, are showing signs of blooming for the first time. The one shown here is Tillandsia bulbosa, or at least that's the best identification I have been able to come up with. I'm not sure how many flowers it will ultimately have or how long they last. So, I thought I'd better spend the time to photograph it. The result is from a 71-image stack, and I hope you like it.

Good day to you,

     Bob

Orchids of Summer: Lc Tropical Pointer Spot

Laeliacattleya "Tropical Pointer Spot", color

Several of my orchids are in bloom, and one of my favorites is this one: Laeliacattleya "Tropical Pointer Spot". It's a very reliable bloomer, July and December each year for the many years I've had it in my collection. Its flowers are rather small, but dainty, with a wonderful spicy fragrance that appears each morning from sunrise to approx. noon. This summer it really let loose with a multitude of blooms on several individual plants. Unfortunately, we're having a heat wave with temperatures nearing 100F, which doesn't bode well for the flowers, as they're already showing signs of an early die-off. Such are the woes of the orchid hobbyist.

I hope your flowers are doing well, and you're enjoying the summer too.

Best wishes,

      Bob

We Interrupt Our Normally Scheduled Broadcast...

Hollofield Trash 1, color

When I started this webpage several years ago, I wanted to keep it focused on photography, nature, and wildlife, leaving statements to others. However, I feel strongly compelled to say something that affects me as well as any lover of nature and wildlife: the wanton dumping of trash in our state parks and wildlife areas. As a hiker and fisherman, I frequent the Patapsco River area and nearby reservoirs and lakes on a weekly basis. At these sites and particularly at the Patapsco River Hollofield area (downstream from the Hollofield bridge), I have witnessed repeated dumping of large amounts of trash often, as seen in the photograph above, directly next to signs clearly stating that doing so is a violation, not to mention an affront to 'common sense'. If this occurred once in a while, I suppose I'd write it off as an aberration, but it doesn't occur occasionally: I see a manifestation of this every time I go out to fish or hike. Fishermen leave their bait containers, plastic water bottles, food wrappers, spent monofilament line, hooks, and lures. Others leave the leftovers from picnics and parties (as witnessed in the photograph). Still other leave religious artifacts and shrines behind. (I learned of the hindu festival of ganesh after wondering why there were clay statues of that hindu god submerged in the Patapsco last year.) I have seen all of these and more littering the streams, banks and areas adjacent to the Patapsco and bodies of water that we use for recreation as well as drinking water supplies, i.e., Liberty and Loch Raven reservoirs. And it disgusts me.

In particular, the Hollofield area of Patapsco State Park is highly trafficked by fishermen, bathers, tubers and kayakers, as well as others seeking a spot for a summertime picnic or other activity. It's wonderful to have such a place as the Patapsco River and the State Park, and to be able to enjoy it and and the natural environment around the area. I think it is reasonable to assume that people who visit Hollofield do so because they enjoy being in this natural setting so close to Baltimore city. So, why would anyone want to diminish the pleasure of communing with nature by leaving their trash behind? Are they under the false belief that their trash is someone else's concern? That it will be picked up and removed by others? What others? Sadly, there are no others, except for a limited number of volunteers and good samaritans who take it upon themselves to remove the trash others leave behind. I thank them for those efforts, and ask everyone to do their part in helping keep these bodies of water free from trash.

Best wishes,

     Bob

 

 

Crocosmia Fireworks

Each year my gardens erupt in a brilliant display of floral fireworks as the Crocosmia bloom. Their small but plentiful red flowers attract hummingbirds and insect pollinators, and are a sure sign that the hot, humid summer weather is here to stay, at least for a while. While I think the flowers are beautiful, the flower buds are equally pretty and interesting. I was out a few evenings ago with my macro setup, and took these photos of some of the buds with their wild reds, greens, and yellows. I hope you enjoy them.

Crocosmia buds 1, color

Crocosmia buds 2, color

Crocosmia buds 3, color

Crocosmia buds 4, color

Crocosmia buds 5, color

Cheers,

     Bob

The Glowing Spider

Glowing Spider 3, color

Glowing spider 1, color

This species of spider is a frequent inhabitant of my gardens where it makes beautiful orb webs. It's a relatively small spider, probably no more than 1 cm from anterior to posterior leg tips. Oddly, I've never seen the spider's dorsal side, as they build their webs close to plants or other surfaces, making observation of their backs difficult at best. But, their ventral abdomen is really neat: it has patches of yellow that simply glow when light hits them.

I was lucky enough to capture this one while it waited for its next meal by my orchids.

Cheers,

     Bob

Walking On Fire

Walking On Fire, color

'Tis the season of coneflowers and their pollinators. On an evening stroll through my garden, I spied this small fly on top of an opening blossom.

Cheers,

      Bob

Droplets

Droplets, color

You're seeing a highly magnified image of a cluster of tiny water droplets that have adhered to a spider's web in between the leaves of one of my Tillandsia plants. Fascinating, isn't it?

Best wishes,

     Bob

Day lilies

This time of year is so special. Daylight extends from before 6AM to 9PM and beyond. Dusk is long and its light luxurious. I often find myself wandering in my gardens at this time, listening to the cardinals chirping away before nesting, and watching the soft light illuminate the flowers. It's still early for many of my plants, but the day lilies are in full bloom and magnificent.

Here are a couple of black and white photos I recently took as twilight approached. I really like to present flowers in black and white, as it removes the color aspect while emphasizing shape and textures. I hope you agree.

Day lily #1, black and white

Day lily #2, black and white

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment, if you wish.

Cheers,

     Bob

Butterflies

Illuminated butterflies, color

Recently, I have noticed numerous 'swarms' of butterflies, many of which have been clustered on damp ground near trails and streams. In various venues near fishing spots and hiking trails, I have seen swallowtails of various varieties, cabbage butterflies, and those small, light blue butterflies (Cupido amyntula), often in groups of 8 or more sitting in close proximity to one another. The sight near fails to delight me.

I captured these swallowtails with my smartphone while at Liberty Reservoir in Eldersberg. I hope you enjoy the photo.

Best wishes,

     Bob

Wild Roses

Wild Rose, monochrome

I was hiking along the Patapsco River a few days ago, and happened to note a familiar scent in the air. The fragrance brought back memories of similar hikes throughout the years, although for all my efforts I could not place what produced that aroma. With a little investigation, avoiding poison ivy at every step, I discovered that this wonderful smell was coming from wild rose bushes that littered the landscape. They're in prime bloom right now, so take a moment to smell the roses.

Best wishes,

     Bob

Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwing in Mulberry Tree, color

The cedar waxwings have started to gorge on the ripening mulberries in our neck of the woods. Often flocks of 50 or more birds will descend on a tree for a few minutes and then fly off for a momentary roost in the safety of a taller tree. They repeat this cycle until the last ripe berry is eaten. These birds favor the tallest of branches and seldom stay put for very long; they're always a challenge to photograph. The best approach is to listen for their distinctive song and watch for movement and location.

I captured this lovely bird who had just feasted on some berries at a nearby pond that is a birdwatcher's paradise.
 

Please feel free to leave comments, and thanks for stopping by.

Bob

Early Cicadas

Cicada exuviae macro, color

We had an unexpected emergence of 17-year cicadas over the last week. This brood was supposed to stay in the ground as nymphs until 2021 but, for unknown reasons, a portion of these insects has emerged early leaving their exuviae (the remains of the nymph's exoskeleton) on low-lying plants and bushes. (There are hundreds, to give you an idea of their numbers.) I thought it might be interesting to photograph some of these exuviae, and here are early results.
 

Cicada Dance, b/w


If you're interested in these cicadas, the Washington Post has an article at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/05/17/the-giant-bugs-on-the-sidewalks-are-cicadas-that-rose-from-the-dead-4-years-too-early/?utm_term=.2656716a5b9c

Thank you for stopping by. Your comments are, as always, welcomed.

Bob

A Backyard full of birds

Spring is a wonderful time of year for watching birds in my backyard gardens. With the 2017 migration in full swing, I've seen numerous warbler species, grosbeaks, indigo buntings, and plenty of native birds.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak at rest, color

Sunbathing Robin, color

House Wren Takes Off, color

I've seen black and white warblers in my neighbor's holly trees, a sure sign that summer is near.

Best wishes,

    Bob

My Woodland Nemesis

Portrait of Nemesis, black and white

My nemesis: Toxicodendron radicans, known more commonly as poison ivy. I am hyper-allergic to urushiol, the group of chemical compounds found in poison ivy that cause the rash, and have learned from past experiences to pretty much stay out of the woodlands from May to October. If I venture into them, I walk as one treads through a mindfield, look, step, look, step, etc. Judging from what I've seen recently along the Patapsco River and nearby reservoirs, 2017 looks to be a banner year for poison ivy in Maryland. So, to appease the PI gods, I present "Portrait of Nemesis" in the hopes that they leave me alone and I avoid all contact with the plant for this year.

I enjoy reading your comments, and thank you for stopping by.

Best wishes,

       Bob

Spring is here (Hiking on the No.9 Trolley Trail)

Our weather has finally and decidedly turned spring-like, and none too soon. A few days ago, I went for a hike on the No. 9 Trolley Trail and the nearby woods around Banneker Park in Oella, MD. The woods had come alive over the last week. The trees had small leaves. The forest floor was covered in green, and the birds were singing. Pine warblers and blue-gray gnatcatchers were flitting about the branches, as were many other species. One species made a spectacular appearance: a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers! Check out this photograph:

Pileated Woodpeckers, color

I was delighted to see quite a large number and variety of butterflies, such as this swallowtail.

Swallowtail on apple blossoms, color

Lucky for me, the poison ivy has yet to emerge, and I was able to walk uninhibited in the glades, giving me an opportunity to photograph nature as it awakens from its winter rest.

Spring leaves, color

If you are a resident of Catonsville or the surrounding towns, you really deserve to treat yourself to a (very easy) walk on the No. 9 Trolley Trail, especially in springtime.

Best wishes,

        Bob

New Cathedral Cemetery

New Cathedral Cemetery, located on the western edge of Baltimore City, was founded in 1871, and combines three old cemeteries: St. Peter’s Kirkyard, opened in 1770, the Cathedral Cemetery (1816), and St. Patrick's cemetery (1936). The headstones and markers from all three old cemeteries were moved from their original locations within the city proper and installed at New Cathedral Cemetery. Many of these headstones are marble and have been severely weathered; however, there is much beauty and magnificence to be found in the old headstones and statues, and the magnificent view of Baltimore City one witnesses from the Cemetery's grounds.

New Cathedral Vista #1, monochrome

Edward Reilley, monochrome

Wm. Connaughton, monochrome

John Nunan, monochrome

George J. Kern, monochrome

Not all the grave markers are so elaborate and ornate. Simple often is sufficient, as these three so eloquently demonstrate. Something about their simplicity tugs at my heartstrings even now as I view the photograph for the upteenth time.

Mama, monochrome

I hope you enjoyed these photographs, and equally hope they inspired you to take a trip to New Cathedral Cemetery.

All my best,

     Bob

Orchid Cattleya aclandiae

Cattleya aclandiae, color

We're in the midst of a late winter snow storm, the perfect time to show off an orchid. This one is a Brazilian species, Cattleya aclandiae, named in honor of Lady Lydia Elizabeth Ackland, who was the first European to grow the plant successfully. Besides the beautiful colors, these flowers produce an aroma that can best be described as reminiscent of a middle east spice bazaar. Just the thing to lift one's spirits while the snow is falling. This is the first bloom for this plant, so it's a bit smaller than what I'd expect from this species being ca. 2.5 inches across. Another flower spike is on the way, so that flower may be larger.

I hope you enjoy this photo, and please feel free to leave your comments.

Thanks for viewing,

Bob

Ruins of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church (Patapsco State Park)

Alberton Road in Patapsco State Park (Maryland, US) at one time led to the town of Daniels. The town and the road were destroyed when hurricane Agnes flooded the Patapsco River valley in 1972. Along the trail is much evidence of the community that once thrived in this old mill town. One of the ruins is the St. Stanislaus Kostka Roman Catholic Church that was built in the 1800s and stood until a fire destroyed it in 1926. The remains of the church and its cemetery now lie in the forest that is slowly taking over the site. If you're interested in a bit more information, old photos of the church can be seen here: http://www.thefirering.com/ROP_Stanislaus.php.

I recently hiked to the church to photograph the remain. As I approached the site, my first views were of the cemetery and some of its grave stones.

St. Stanislaus Cemetery, monochrome

St. Stanislaus Graves, monochrome

Mary Smith's Grave, monochrome

St. Stanislaus Stones, monochrome

Walking west through the cemetery one enters the remains of the church. A few stone walls, along with their arched entries, are visible, but most have crumbled leaving the individual construction stones scattered on the ground. Even though it is the middle of winter, there is abundant evidence that the forest is reclaiming this land.

St Stanislaus Arch 1, monochrome

St Stanislaus Arch 2, monochrome

St Stanislaus Entry 1, monochrome

St Stanislaus Entry 2, monochrome

The woods are reclaiming the land, but St.Stan's is a wonderful site to visit when hiking in Patapsco State Park.

Best wishes,

       Bob

The Dead Of Winter

The Dead Of Winter, b/w

I had an opportunity for a late afternoon hike in the Hilton area of Patapsco State Park on superbowl Sunday. The area was devoid of people and dry as a bone. We haven't had a decent rain or snowfall this year, and things are dry. All in all, the area was desolate: brown, dessicated leaves covered the forest floor, leaving only leafless trees and the ever-present schist and gneiss rocks and boulders as prominent landmarks. These large rocks, however, had a majesty all their own, and were extremely worthy subjects for photographs. I took multiple images, and think this one is a great example of that day and time.

I hope you enjoy my photography. Please feel free to drop me a comment.

Best wishes,

     Bob