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Mallard Drove the Neon but It Didn’t Give Me Butterflies

August 5, 2012
Mallards

© jmillerphoto.com- Mallards

I had an outstanding weekend of photography, though not without its share of disappointments.  Two days of shooting will get two days worth of blogs this week.

Saturday I traveled up to Fredericksburg, Texas.  There were three specific agenda items:  Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park (LBJMP), Wildseed Farms, and some good German food for lunch.

The stop at LBJMP was very good.  Great spot for dragonflies, butterflies, and birds.  I had to do some shooting off of monopod because the trails were narrow, reminding me how much I really love shooting off of tripod.  I also had problems with my tripod collar on the 300mm f/4 IS USM L lens which led to problems with exposure compensation.  But the images were good, even if a bit overexposed (thank you Lightroom) and I added the Neon Skimmer (Libellula croceipennis) to my life list.

Next was lunch at a Friedhelms Bavarian Restaurant on the northwest end of town.  Outstanding meal.  Was shooting 2 for 2 for positive aspects of the trip.

Neon Skimmer

© jmillerphoto.com – Neon Skimmer

So then we wandered out to Wildseed Farms.  This was always a highlight of a trip to Fredericksburg because of their Butterfly Haus.  Spending 30 minutes in the Butterfly Haus was often the best 30 minutes of my photographic year.  So special that it was the one place I wanted to go to make images when I was home for my birthday in 2010.  Yes, it was that good.

Butterfly Haus was a reasonably small, enclosed space (maybe 1000 sq ft) with butterflies flying all about.  Light New Age music.  Air conditioning. Peaceful.  Serene.  And a hundred sets of colored wings filling the air.  A little peace of heaven.

But not any more.

The Butterfly Haus is now a completely outdoor affair–nothing more than a oversized, wilting set of flowerbeds.  The flower beds in the area where the Butterfly Haus once stood were poorly maintained and quickly dying.  There are additional flower beds behind where the Butterfly Haus was, but these too were poorly maintained, starting to die, and honestly not that attractive.

It was very disappointing and perhaps a symptom of other things.  Normally Wildseed Farms would be crawling with activity on a Saturday afternoon.  But it was noticeably quiet.  The parking lot was nearly empty.  The few employees we saw were uniformly uninterested in being helpful (and no, I didn’t complain once about the Butterfly Haus being gone).

When made our evey summer trek to Wildseed Farms we had a routine:   We would hit the Butterfly Haus.  We’d then enjoy the overpriced but yummy Ice Cream.  We might stop in and taste some wine and bring home a bottle or two.  And usually buy some plants.  But after wandering back to the former Butterfly Haus area and receiving poor customer service when trying to get some help with some items in the plants, we finally just walked out and went home without making a single purchase.  But I do know now that we need to pick up some Blue Mist flowers next year to attract butterflies and I’ll be picking those up locally.

I love Fredericksburg, but now with only one awesome nature-related thing to see I’m not sure when we’re going to return.  Maybe for Wings over the Hills next year.  Or then again, maybe not.

All in all it was a good day.  2 out of 3 stars on the happiness scale.  Sad about Wildseed Farms in general.  But there was still Sunday.  And Monday for that matter, too…

Crimson Patch

© jmillerphoto.com – Crimson Patch

About the Images:
The lead image is a pair of Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) that were sitting beside the river at LBJMP.  Standard gear utilized.  Bunch of shots utilized as well to get the focus point on the right spot and the level of DOF to my liking.  Final stats were ISO 400, 1/250 at f/11 but I needed Lightroom to get me back to the right exposure.  No flash.

The middle image is my life list add for the day.  It also marks meeting my goal for adding odonata to the life list with my 20th new species.  Same standard gear, no flash, ISO 400, 1/160 @ f/10 (which means I could/should have shot at 1/320).

The bottom image is from a happier time at Wildseed Farms.  This Crimson Patch (Chlosyne janais) was in the old Butterfly Haus.  Same standard gear except it was the Canon 30D instead of the Canon 60D.  ISO 400, 1/250 @ f/9.  No flash.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2012 8:48 pm

    Outstanding images, Jim. I especially like the handsome pair in the top couple. 🙂

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