Green Claybank Tiger Beetle (Cicindela denverensis)

Green Claybank Tiger Beetle (Cicindela denverensis), first of the season

Green Claybank Tiger Beetle (Cicindela denverensis)
A Green Claybank Tiger Beetle (Cicindela denverensis), White Rocks Section of the East Boulder Trail, Boulder, Colorado, USA. April 13, 2013.

I have no real excuse for not updating all winter other than laziness, but spring has finally (sort of) arrived. The last month or so in Colorado has been a thrilling roller coaster ride of beautiful sunny warm weather punctuated by heavy snowfall, turning into rain this last week. But a couple weeks ago during one of those sunbreaks, we managed to get out for a short hike on the White Rocks section of the East Boulder Trail. I’m not sure I’d recommend it in general–it’s mostly a muddy track through farmland and not very exciting–but we did see a lot of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), as well as some really fascinating wasps (sadly out of focus video here, if anyone has any idea what they are–the peculiar rasping noise they made while digging especially intrigued me).

Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

Further down the trail from the fields, the ground got marshier, and we saw some shorebirds in one flooded area, although I didn’t get a good luck at them.

whiterocks bg2-11

The trail eventually crosses a river and reaches some ponds, but it was getting close to lunchtime and the ponds were sadly devoid of waterbirds, so we started heading back.

whiterocks bg2-14

But by far the most exciting find of the day for me was a gorgeous and remarkably cooperative, bright metallic green tiger beetle, hands-down the most cooperative tiger beetle I’ve ever encountered:

Tiger beetle (Subfamily Cicindelinae)

Naturally I had not brought my macro lens, thinking it too early in the year for exciting insects, so these photos I took with my cheap kit telephoto. Despite this (and heavy cropping), I think they came out better than my last attempt at photographing tiger beetles with a telephoto (the best of which were this one and this one, which I think I might actually have taken with a point-and-shoot–I’ll have to head back to that site this year to look for Cicindela scutellaris again). I’m not sure whether this was due to improved skills or the Rebel T1i body Lee passed onto me before heading off to the thrilling wilds of Australia. Either way, it is nice to see that I am getting slightly better at this, although I still have a long way to go!

Eric Eaton and Dave Rogers on BugGuide kindly identified it for me as a Green Claybank Tiger Beetle (Cicindela denverensis), a species I haven’t seen before.

All in all, a good way to start off the 2013 bug-hunting season. I have a few goals for this year, most of which I probably won’t meet:

  • Experiment with the exciting video capability of the XTi.
  • Rig up a cheap diffuser/reflector for one of my cheap flashes and see if I can get decent results with it (if not, try to save up for a better flash).
  • Possibly experiment with whitebox photography, just because. It’s not my personal favorite style, but seems like a good skill to have.
  • Field trip to find Ebony Jewelwings (Calopteryx maculata), the other species of Calopterygidae found in Colorado.
  • Find more tiger beetles.
  • Continue my insect collection.
  • Finish that Iceland travelogue.

What are your photography or nature expedition goals for 2013?

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