No, not the Canadian railway, nor the Asian road route, nor the Ankh-Morpork telegraph system (which I recently finished reading about). This particular grand trunk is growing in our front yard and belongs to a large, old maple tree. The trunk is covered in deeply ridged bark, which is in turn covered with colourful lichens, which in turn hosts many interesting critters.
I was out raking leaves yesterday, since the weather was quite mild; a relatively balmy 16 C (61 F). I set aside the rake before the sore spots on my thumbs got a chance to turn into blisters, but reluctant to go in just yet, I played ball with Raven for a little bit. In between tosses, while she was hunting for the ball in the long grass of the meadow, I examined the trunk of the tree. It initially caught my interest when I noticed some of the tiny little Bark Mycena that I had first observed on the maples of my parents’ old house, when my blog was still just a month-old fledgling.
I grabbed my camera and documented all the organisms I found on the trunk, between the ground and eye-level, yesterday afternoon. For the purposes of relating scale, all of these photos are taken at the same magnification and are the original out-of-the-camera image; I have not cropped any of them (although I did lighten a few since it was overcast and some of the photos were a little dark). Most people know how big an average pillbug (or maybe a sowbug; I forgot to check for tails) is – the size of the frame for the photos below is the same as for this one, to give you an idea of relative size. The only exceptions to this are the final three, which were too big to fit into the frame when fully zoomed-in.
The next three are at a different scale from the above, as they were too large to fit into the frame comfortably (or at all). They were also on the next tree over, so not strictly the same group, but I couldn’t resist including them as well.
41 thoughts on “Sunday Snapshots – October on the Grand Trunk”
Just like, Sarah!
Absolutely delightful! That old watcher of a tree hosting all that diversity. I’m always spellbound when a single trunk can offer up so much life drawn to that one ecological environment. What a treat! The images are beautiful and enchanting…
Thanks, Jason. I love looking through places to see all the diversity contained within it, so often overlooked. Like a insects in a patch of flowers or wildflowers popping up in the lawn.
Another super post! Can you tell me anything about your camera? Lens? Your pictures are terrific. Cheers, Diane Tucker, Estate Naturalist, Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT
Thanks, Diane! My camera is a Canon Digital Rebel XTi, which I bought a couple of years ago (so it’s not the newest model out there). I have a few lenses that I use according to the situation. The wide-angle (an 18-55mm) and telephoto (75-300mm) came as part of the promotional package the store was offering. The other I splurged on and bought myself because I really wanted a macro lens. It’s a Canon EF 100mm Macro, and it’s the one that I used to take these photos.
I find that a lot of what makes good photos is as much knowing good photography principles as it is the equipment. Probably it would be possible to achieve similar results with a point-and-shoot set on manual mode, with the macro setting. A great book to read for learning how to use all those technical settings (shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc), is The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby. It was given to me for my birthday, and provided me with a real “aha!” moment in using my own camera.
Great job “Going Postal” on this collection (sorry – couldn’t help myself!).
Thanks, Randomtruth! I was wondering if anyone would recognize the reference…
The depth of field on these shot is incredible. Some of the organisms appear to be floating on thin air.
I could take credit for that, but I’d be lying. I had to set the aperture really, really wide (about f/3.5 to f/5), and the ISO quite high (800), to allow me to get a reasonably sharp image while hand-holding the camera because it was so overcast.
That last caterpillar is awesome! Rather more exotic-looking than the moth it turns into.
Isn’t it cool? I was so stoked when I found it. I’ve caught many of the adults, but had never seen the caterpillar. You’re right, the cats are much more interesting than the moths.
Superb images – amazing what you can discover when you take a closer look at something that on the surface seems so ordinary. I’m inspired to get out and investigate our own broad-leafed maples here on the west coast!
Thanks, Dave. I love peering closely at places one ordinarily just walks by, there’s often so much to discover there. I bet you’d find quite a bit hiding on your trees, too.
wow – I think those macros are great! I like the colors of the whole pictures as well. Congratulations!
Thanks, Dreamfalcon! It’s something I notice about rainy days, colours are really accentuated.
This is a great blog.
Did you know that E.O. Wilson says you can spend a lifetime in a magellanic voyage around a tree? Excellent start here.
Thanks, Matthew! I hadn’t heard that quote from E.O. Wilson, but it sounds like something he’d say, and I bet it’s not entirely far off, either.
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