Read Scientists Unravel Mystery of Flying Squid – National Geographic Blog by Valarie Chapman (
While swimming, the squid open up their mantle and draw in water. Then these squid launch themselves into the air with a high-powered blast of the water from their bodies. Once launched by this jet propulsion, these squid spread out both their fins and their tentacles to form wings. The squid have a membrane between their tentacles similar to the webbed toes of a frog. This helps them use their tentacles as a wing and create aerodynamic lift so they can glide – similar to a well-made paper airplane.
Flying Squid 1280px Todarodes pacificus ruler
Replied to New Crypt-Keeper Wasp Is Parasite That Bursts From Host's Head (National Geographic News)

Scientists have discovered a new parasitic wasp species with a life cycle so diabolical, they named it after Set, the Egyptian god of evil and chaos.

Meet Euderus set, otherwise known as the crypt-keeper wasp.

Native to the southeastern United States, this species lays its egg inside the tiny, wooden chambers that another parasitic wasp species, the gall wasp (Bassettia pallida), carves out in sand live oak trees. These knobby protuberances, known as galls, are sort of like tree cysts induced by the presence of the host wasp's young.

Once the egg hatches, the crypt-keeper larva burrows into the other wasp and takes over its mind, forcing it to start tunneling through the tree’s bark to freedom—a feat the crypt-keeper struggles to perform on its own. (Read more about mindsucking parasites in National Geographic magazine.)

Thus feels so … stranger than fiction.

Great Swamp Watershed National Wildlife Refuge

  NIKON D5100  @ 600mm  , ISO 250  , 1/1250s  , ƒ/6.3 

In early November I visited the Great Swamp Watershed National Wildlife Refuge in Morristown for the first time. The trip was arranged as an event with the Photografriends meetup group. Ten people had registered by the date, but only two of us showed up. Myself, and Howard Hoffman, an amateur photographer from Verona.

Howard and I hung out at the visitor centre for a few minutes discussing which part of the refuge might be interesting at this time of the year. One of the staff at the visitor centre warned us that due to a severe drought affecting the northern part of the state, that the water level in the swamp was very low. The Great Swamp Watershed creatures would be hard to find and that the birds were having a tough time finding fish and other food.

Great Swamp Watershed National Wildlife Refuge NIKON D5100 20161106 5487 2
If you know what type of birds these are please respond in the comments.
  NIKON D5100  @ 600mm  , ISO 1400  , 1/1600s  , ƒ/9 

Getting up close to wild animals without spooking them is difficult and in some cases — e.g. bears — not recommended. I know that for nature and wildlife photography, the photographer needs a long range zoom that provides a broad focal range to capture subjects at a great distance. I don’t own such a lens. For this field trip I rented a Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM C A1. On my DX Nikon this lens is the equivalent of a 225-900mm lens on a full-frame (FX) body. This lens is heavy! As strange at is seems, Howard just happens to own this lens. I explained my inexperience, and he patiently offered a quick tutorial on using the lens.

The most popular places to see birds and mammals are the drives on Pleasant Plains Road and the wildlife observation blinds at the Wildlife Observation Center. For viewing reptiles and amphibians, the boardwalks at the Wildlife Observation Center is the best area. Given our limited time, Howard and I decided to try the drive along Pleasant Plains Road.

Our first stop we noticed someone spotting through binoculars, so we stopped hoping for something. It took a long time, but we spotted a bird hunting something in the brush far away along the tree line. I struggled to operate the lens while tracking the bird and pushing the shutter button.

Great Swamp Watershed National Wildlife Refuge NIKON D5100 20161106 5569  NIKON D5100  @ 600mm  , ISO 360  , 1/1600s  , ƒ/9 

We waited at this spot for a while before continuing on our quest, moving along a little further down the road. We had much better luck finding birds, but I still struggled using the lens. It’s heavy; birds move quickly and with my inexperience I could not track and shoot as well as I had hoped. It was a very windy day, and most of the birds were flying into the wind. We were downwind so I did not capture many “facial” images.

We found a field where a flock of small birds were flying back and forth between a set of trees. Occasionally they would disappear into the brush. I can only assume they were feeding on some insects.

It was starting to get a bit cold, and around noon, Howard and I agreed to quit ( I had promised to see Dr Strange with the kids). We either had keepers or junk but either way, I think we both enjoyed sharing the experience. I think Bhavna and the kids might enjoy a visit to the Great Swamp Watershed in the spring. I hope to be back with the camera.

Great Swamp Watershed National Wildlife Refuge NIKON D5100 20161106 5528  NIKON D5100  @ 600mm  , ISO 1250  , 1/1600s  , ƒ/9 

Ten years have passed since my Type 1 diabetes diagnosis, and as I get to know myself more as a person with diabetes, I have learned that to do what I’ve always loved to do and to try new things is possible, but both require more planning than in the past.

Managing diabetes requires me to regularly consider what I need to live every day regardless of what I am doing or where I am. I have to deliberate, prepare, and strategize before heading off into the woods and away from the safety of home and a comfortable routine. What did I forget? What if I my CGMS stops working? What if my insulin gets hot? What if I run out of glucose gels?

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Diabetes and Outdoor Photography Screen Shot 2016 10 25 at 12.38.34 PM 480x594
My diabetes check-list in Wunderlist.
For about a year and a half, I’ve worn the ACCU-CHEK insulin pump. It’s about the size of an old Blackberry pager (if you are old enough to remember what those looked like), along with a glucose meter about the same size, which acts as a remote control. The insulin pump is attached via plastic tubing to a small port inserted into my stomach. Every three days I change the plastic tubing and port location on my body, and every five or seven days I fill a new plastic cylinder with insulin and insert into the pump. I check my blood sugar on the glucose meter about six times a day.

Once I count and enter the number of carbohydrates I am going to eat; the glucose meter suggests a dosage (called a bolus) which I can accept or alter as needed. When I decide to be active, I can choose a higher or lower baseline insulin rate depending on my activity level (it’s all guesswork). This system functions as my personal external electronic pancreas, and it’s helped me to live a more flexible life than when I was on 4 to 6 shots a day.

Before I go into the woods to hike or take photos, I run through the list of things I would need. I’ve learned that the added exertion of walking in the woods or long walks around a large city causes me to burn glucose at a faster rate, and it takes me a while to get enough carbohydrates in my system to sustain my activity.

During one recent hike this past spring I downed two 22g glucose gels just to keep my blood sugar high enough to walk back to my car. I brought what I thought was enough glucose tabs to handle possible hypoglycemia and adjusted my insulin based on an estimate of excursion. 30 minutes into the hike and my blood glucose dropped, and the devices started beeping. I used up all the glucose tabs, and things did not improve. Thank goodness my friends had snacks.

The other thing I have to consider is that there is no cell signal out in the woods. If I have a hypoglycemic episode (undetectable without my bio-hardware) or a diabetes device failure, having someone with me provides added comfort in knowing there is someone who can help me if I need it.

T1 (autoimmune) diabetes is not something about which a patient can escape thinking. But over time I’ve developed a go-to checklist, with my medical supplies listed next to my photography essentials, diabetes no longer gets all the attention when I’m planning.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Reflections at Whitesbog Village, Browns Mills, New Jersey

 Location 39° 57.5687′ 0″ N 74° 30.4325′ 0″ W 

Whitesbog Village was a commercial cranberry farm/company town, built in the early 1900s by Elizabeth Coleman White. There are many older buildings that are being restored and many others that are decaying.

I visited for the first time with a Meetup group of photographers from Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

We walked among a few square miles of cranberry bogs, some of which are still functional.

That afternoon the water was a mirror for the sky. There was a a gentle breeze, not strong enough to cause any ripples. I setup my tripod and my Nikon with a Hoya 10 stop ND filter. I was able to capture 2-30 second exposures which I combined in Photomatix Pro. This image is a long exposure HDR.

In Adobe Lightroom I pushed the saturation, highlights, vibrance and clarity settings, then applied a Fuji Velvia 50 preset and reduced the grain.

Reflections at Whitesbog Village, Browns Mills, New Jersey Whitesbog Village NIKON D5100 20160306 0438 39 40 HDR Location 39° 57.5687′ 0″ N 74° 30.4325′ 0″ W 

Reflections at Whitesbog Village, Browns Mills, New Jersey Whitesbog Village NIKON D5100 20160306 0435 6 7 HDR 2  NIKON D5100  @ 20mm  , ISO 100  , 5s  , ƒ/10  on 6 March, 2016  Copyright © Khürt L. Williams  Location 39° 57.5687′ 0″ N 74° 30.4325′ 0″ W