I love winter but I am particularly glad to see the arrival of spring this year. There are so many things that I'm looking forward to photographing and most of these things don't come out until the warmer weather shows up. This past weekend, my five-year-old son and I spent some time exploring the woods and photographing some of the creatures that we found around our home. Here are a few of the many things that we discovered (check out image of myself and a queen European Hornet (Vespa crabro) that had just come out of hibernation). I made this photo with a wide-angle macro technique that I began experimenting with a couple of years ago. My lens was literally about an inch away from the subject and I would normally never think of getting so close to these fairly docile, but potent members of the wasp family. However, due to the colder weather that we had on Sunday, she wasn't going anywhere fast.
My son was thrilled to find quite a few land snails crawling about.
We also discovered a number of salamanders moving around after last week's rains. This is one of the Plethodons –I suspect that it is a 'Mountain Dusky Salamander– but I wouldn't bet my life on it. As much as I love salamanders, I find certain individuals in this group to be very tricky to identify.
I am very hopeful that the increase in rain this past winter and so far this spring will feed the earth and brings lots of good things out, about and blooming. I'll be heading up into the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment over the next few days to see how the ephemeral species of wildflowers are progressing so far.