Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Fully Aware

Because I have spent so much time outside this past year, I have gotten very aware of my surroundings. I am always looking for birds, insects, spiders, clouds . . . whatever the day may bring. 

I have also been attending virtually a birding festival: For the Love of Birds Festival.  There are three days of "bird sits."  I have watched one of them so far.  The focus was on being fully aware of your surroundings, the sights, the sounds, the colors, etc and looking all around you. 

I eat my meals outside whenever I can. Yesterday, I sat down to eat my lunch and watch my birds.  As I was surveying the sky around me, I saw something very interesting. It was a swarm of tiny white insects.  The night before I had seen something similar above my head near the pond. Those had been brown and I knew they were gnats, also called midges.  Today, these were white and glistened in the sun.  My camera was ready, but I was doubtful I would get pictures. How was my camera going to focus on something so tiny? But, I have learned to be disciplined with my photography.  Take the shot regardless and hope.   Checking the screen, I had something in some of the shots.  When I magnified some of them in the camera, I became even more hopeful. So I kept adjusting the amount of zoom and hoping it would focus and I took a number of shots.  Once again I checked my images. There were some that WERE picking up detail, enough to see it was definitely small winged insects, most likely midges. 

So . . . When I came in and looked on the computer, yes, I had something. Probably not enough to identify to species level, but enough to post a few places and get some ideas.  The first place I went was to the Facebook page: Entomology.  I got confirmation that yes, these are Chironomidae, midges.  And I learned that this was a mating swarm that occurs in warm sunlight. OK, it was bright sunlight today, but not so warm.  They will also move to be above your head, called hilltopping, which indeed they were doing about 8-10 feet above me.  The midges from the night before had also done that but close to me. 

This was the most detailed image I got.  Beautiful, dainty, and amazing.  These were high enough above me that if I had not been in the habit of being observant, I might have missed them. And my practice of attempting to capture what I see with the camera gave me something new to marvel.

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