Thursday, May 21, 2009

Back to My Old Tricks

I went out to the edge of town to practice this afternoon. The pipes were very happy with the 75-odd degree weather, staying in tune in a most obliging fashion. Since tuning wasn't the issue today, naturally some other small catastrophe had to substitute, and it did. I had been playing through some of my latest light tunes, and, the pipes having reached the peak of their perfection, buried myself in "The Company's Lament." I was fairly drowning in contentment, what with the way the pipes were set, and the cool eddys of air that were blowing down off the mountain. In the middle of the second variation, however, I was rudely jerked out of Paradise by a wasp. No, no, not as in stung, really there was nothing painful about it, except for the conflict that arose between finishing the piobaireachd, and snapping pictures of the insect. Because the wasp was, as a matter of fact, burrowing into the ground, with the attitude and enthusiasm of a terrier after a bone, kicking up a steady (if small) fountain of dirt behind it.

Of course, I learned my lesson the hard way. I put down the pipes and dug around for the camera, and by the time everything was untangled, the wasp was taking a notion to seek the horizon, and the second variation of "The Company's Lament" was shattered beyond repair. I put the camera within easier reach and turned back to the pipes.

Though a couple of wasps flew by, I never did get a shot at another one digging. Some time later, I took a break to follow them around while they were hunting (I assume). They didn't spend much time in the air, or fly more than a few feet off the ground if they did. They were quite graceful in flight, afoot, slightly menacing as they often paused in their charge, only to move off again at the same smooth, rapid pace. The effect was something like time lapse photography; the wasp would be hurrying into a hole in one instant, and in the next she might appear suddenly atop an adjacent blade of grass before blurring away across a clearing. I was surprised to get any remotely clear pictures, but here is one:
That one was taken when she paused in my shadow, thus the impression that a flash might have gone off (it did). It would have been nice to get a picture in the sunlight at a proper angle as, there, the insect's wings reflect a rich, dark blue. I'm still not certain of the genus and species, but I'm pretty sure it's something in Chlorion; if so, it was after crickets.

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