Category Archives: wildlife

Wasp Hunting Grilled Chicken

I was listening to an episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage that was discussing wasps versus bees.  As part of the conversation, one of the contributors mentioned that wasps like sweet things early in the season when they are feeding their young but, later in the year, they are only feeding themselves and they want protein (or the other way around if I have remembered incorrectly). I didn’t know anything about this before but then, shortly afterwards, we were sitting out on the deck after dinner and a wasp landed on a plate and then flew off with a chunk of chicken.  This chunk was almost as big as it was.

A week later, we were back out on the deck and, with dinner done, a wasp came back to check out the leftovers.  This time I was ready with my phone.  Sure enough, it landed on my plate, checked out a piece of corn and then homed in on some chicken.  A few bites later, it had extracted its meal and got airborne and away.  I had my video proof, so I was happy.  It came back for a second piece a little while later, so I guess it was storing food for later.

Why Am I Struggling with the Butterflies?

The flowers in our back yard are very popular with butterflies and, with nice evening light in the garden, I was bound to drag out the macro lens.  However, when I tried getting some shots, the camera was having a really hard time focusing.  I often ended up using the manual focus ring to get something close when the camera kept focusing on the background.  I had struggled with a couple of other subjects previously and I was beginning to get really annoyed.  This was not a cheap lens, and the camera certainly isn’t cheap but why wouldn’t it focus on a butterfly?  I was using animal mode so thought it would cope.

I ended up trying different focus area modes.  Narrowing it down to the small focus spot and moving that around by hand rather than using the subject detection modes was my next effort.  I seemed to have some better luck, but it still was unreliable and was giving me a red box around the focus area.  Why wouldn’t it work.  I took a look in the menus to see if there was something in there which was going to be an issue but nothing there either.  I was beginning to be fearful I had a dud.  Then I noticed something.  The focus limit switch had moved from the full range to having a minimum focus distance of 0.5m.  That would certainly be an issue.  Put it back to where it should have been and suddenly the focus was working perfectly.  What a dope.  Not sure when I had knocked that switch but it might have been a while back.  Doh!

Deer Foraging in Juanita Bay Park

Much of the wildlife I end up photographing in Juanita Bay Park is the birds or the aquatic life.  However, I do occasionally come across some other creatures as I stroll through and one afternoon it was some deer.  I have seen deer in the park before.  They tend to stay away from the more heavily trafficked areas, but they do cross the paths when getting from one spot to another.  That was what happened in this instance.  They jumped out of the bushes ahead of where I was heading and across to more foliage.  I thought they would be gone but they stopped and munched on some of the leaves for a while.  Not clearly in sight but not avoiding me either!

Bloody Great Bee!

The plants in our backyard attract a lot of insects and we get plenty of bees hanging out on sunny days.  One of our hanging baskets gets a reasonable amount of attention but not a lot.  However, one bee showed up on a Sunday afternoon and got our attention.  First, it stayed on the basket for ages climbing over the same flowers repeatedly unlike the usual bee behavior or constantly moving from flower to flower.  The other reason for our attention was the size of the thing.  It was huge compared to our average bees.  I wonder if it got so large by removing every morsel of nutrient from each flower!

Crabs Getting Feisty

Nancy and I were walking along the shore on Lopez Island one Sunday on a trail alongside some marshy areas.  We were discussing whether the water was connected to the sea all of the time or only at high tide when I noticed something moving in the shallow water.  When I looked closer, I realized that, not only was it a crab, but that there were tons of them.  The water was full of them, and they were pretty aggravated.

It didn’t seem to matter what size they were; they were all picking fights with each other.  Some of these were brief hit and run type efforts but others seemed to be engaged in battles that were going on for a while.  Most were in the water but occasionally they would come out onto the land.  One walked right up to my shoe.  Spaces under rocks or wood seemed like prime spots with smaller crabs trying to get under there while the larger inhabitants fended them off.  It was hilarious to watch once you could see that they were there.  I could have spent ages watching them but that wasn’t the purpose of visiting the island, so I left them to their battles.

Spider on My Car Means Macro Time

I was waiting for a friend to arrive at SEA and was parked up in Burien.  I noticed a couple of small jumping spiders on the car and, since I had the macro lens in the trunk, decided to try and get a few shots of them.  The problem with spiders and mirrorless cameras is that the focusing logic hasn’t been trained to deal with their multiple eyes.  The body tends to be what the camera focuses on.  Still, I was able to get a few reasonable shots as they scurried across my car.

Deer Invading the Office

One morning I drove up to the office and, as I pulled into the spot I usually use, I saw a bunch of deer on the grass in front of me.  This area may be popular with wildlife, but I have never seen anything near the office other than crows!  I was going to stay in the car to avoid spooking them but, there was a guy from a contractor loading up his truck and they didn’t seem bothered by him so I figured I could go indoors without them worrying.  Sure enough, as I walked by, they looked at me but were unimpressed.

Once I was upstairs, I looked down on them chomping on some of the bushes and then they headed across the parking lot and away.  I thought that would be it but, when I headed home, they were back and in the same place.  I guess they found our shrubberies tasty.  I have seen them once more since but they are clearly not a regular feature yet.  I could imagine that this was a thing when the office was closed for the pandemic but to have them around now when things are busy again was a surprise.

Dancing Gull Looking for Food

As we were walking through Brandon Park, we saw this gull on the grass by the path.  I don’t know for sure what it was up to, but I wondered whether its steps were designed to sound like rain falling to worms beneath the surface to encourage them to come up and then get eaten.  Maybe it is something else but, whatever it is, it was pretty funny to watch.  Needless to say, I thought it was worth getting some video.

Finally, the Foxes Are Easy to Find

Having got back to the car and seen the fox hanging around in the parking lot, I at least had now got a shot of a fox.  Nancy and I decided to head to South Beach to see if there were more foxes over there.  As we turned on to the road to the beach, there was a dark shape sitting in the middle of the road.  As we got closer, it was clear it was another fox.  It hopped across the fence and into the field.  I jumped out and got some shots of it as it rummaged through the ground in the field.  There were tons of rabbits in the field and they were watching the fox intently, but it seemed interested in whatever was below the surface – presumably some rodents.

As it headed further away, we went down to the beach to park up and have lunch.  I strolled around down there and saw more foxes in the distance but nothing to get images of.  We then retraced our route back up the hill and saw more fox activity on one side of the road.  I was getting some shots when I noticed another person looking up the hill on the other side of the road.  I decided to see if he had spotted something and sure enough, he had.

A fox was coming down the hill and ended up walking alongside the road just over the fence.  I was able to skip ahead and get shots as it came towards me and then repeat the process.  It really didn’t seem to car about us.  Eventually, it decided it wanted to be on the other side of the road.  It hopped over the fence a short distance from me and crossed the road.  It was so close, I couldn’t do anything with a long lens on the camera so I just watched it go.  It hopped the next fence and then went on its way.

We moved on up the hill in the direction that another of the foxes seemed to have taken and it looked like it might come to us but then it just vanished, so we had nothing.  We instead went back to Cattle Point and, as we got close to the parking lot, saw another fox in the field beside the road.  I jumped out and was able to watch it drift across the field so close to me.  It seemed so uninterested in my presence which was really cool.  It is probably a problem how habituated to humans that they now are.

As it moved away, we completed our trip to the parking lot at Cattle Point and found another fox there.  It was hanging around watching everyone and then it too headed off to the beach.  At this point, it was really time for us to head back to the ferry, so we called it a day.  The good news was that Nancy got to see all of the cool fox activity without ever having to leave the car.

Turtles Are Back and Stacked Up

The arrival of warmer weather encourages the turtles to show themselves in Juanita Bay Park.  I am used to seeing a lot of them but, one weekend, I wandered out to the water and there were more turtles than I had ever seen before.  There was not enough space for them on their regular logs so they were climbing up on each other to get a spot to sunbathe.  Seeing them stacked up like that was really funny to me and it certainly amused many of the other visitors.  Plenty of shots were taken that day, I think.