Common Yellowthroat at Mercer Meadows

This wasn't the first time I had photographed the Common Yellowthroat Warbler, but it was my first time doing so at Mercer Meadows.

After a brief distraction watching a rabbit enjoy breakfast, I continued my search for birds. Earlier, two photographers with impressive zoom lenses on their cameras had passed by, clearly interested in capturing avian moments. I walked past them and found a spot about ten meters ahead to focus on my own bird photography.

I attempted to capture images of birds coming and going from their nests in the meadow, but unfortunately, I didn't have much luck. As I was trying, the two photographers caught up with me, and we struck up a friendly conversation. The elder photographer seemed quite familiar with the park and shared some helpful tips on where I might have better chances of spotting birds in the meadow. The other photographer appeared to be around my age and was relatively new to bird photography.

While we were talking, I heard a chittering sound coming from a nearby thicket, and I immediately got my camera ready. This wasn't the first time I had photographed the Common Yellowthroat Warbler, but it was my first time doing so at Mercer Meadows. The male warbler was busy hunting for insects in the thicket, and I was fortunate to capture a shot of him holding his prey in his beak.

Common Yellowthroat Warbler.
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) · 18 June 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

The Common Yellowthroat Warbler stands out due to its unconventional nesting habit. Unlike other warblers, it chooses to nest in open marshes, making it a common sight in reed beds and areas with cattails throughout the country. The male of this species can often be seen perched on tall stalks, delivering its unique song, characterised by the rhythmic repetition of "Wichita-Wichita-Wichita."

Sunbathing Turtles

On the picturesque banks of the Delaware & Raritan Canal, a delightful sight awaits those who happen upon it: turtles basking in the sun's warm glow atop a weathered log

When walking along the banks of the Delaware & Raritan Canal, I often see turtles basking in the sun's warm glow while sitting atop a weathered log. I’ve wanted to photograph these turtles for a while, but up until now, I’ve not had a lens long enough to make a capture without getting too close and spooking them. I was fortunate that this time I had my XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR lens, which I was using to photograph the Princeton University crew races on Carnegie Lake.

painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)
painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) · Saturday 22 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 at 1500 sec, ISO 400 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR at 185.6 mm at f/6.4

The turtle climbs onto a sun-drenched log, soaking up the sunlight as it filters through the overhanging foliage. There's a fascinating mix of patterns among the turtles of different sizes. They hold their heads high and scan their surroundings with their eyes. The rustling of leaves and the occasional plop of a turtle into the water create soothing background noise.

Chrysemys picta, commonly known as the Painted Turtle, is a freshwater turtle native to North America. These turtles showcase a distinctive and eye-catching appearance, making them easily recognisable. Their upper shells, or carapaces, exhibit a blend of dark olive or black colouration with vibrant red, yellow, and orange patterns. These markings resemble brushstrokes, which give rise to their name, "Painted Turtle." The carapace is relatively flat and smooth, providing efficient water and land movement. The lower shell, or plastron, is typically yellow with intricate black markings.

painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)
painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) · Saturday 22 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 at 1500 sec, ISO 1000 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR at 600 mm at f/8.0

Painted Turtles range in size between 4 to 10 inches in length. Their heads are small and triangular, equipped with sharp beaks for capturing prey. Their eyes have a warm reddish-orange hue.

Painted Turtles thrive in various freshwater habitats, including ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers. They have a diverse diet, consisting of aquatic plants, algae, small invertebrates, and even carrion. Painted Turtles contribute to nutrient cycling and control populations of certain aquatic organisms, thereby maintaining the ecological balance.

painted turtle (Chrysemys picta)
painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) · Saturday 22 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 at 1500 sec, ISO 1000 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR at 600 mm at f/8.0

They are skilled swimmers, aided by their webbed feet. When they are sunbathing, don’t get too close. The turtles are easily spooked and will take refuge in the water. If you step back from the log and wait a while, you’ll soon see them pop back up for more sunbathing.

Isolation Photo Project, Day 112

I have used a Medtronic 670G hybrid closed-looped insulin pump since March 2018. My initial experiences with the "fast-tracked-by-the-FDA" device were not pleasant but improved after Medtronic updated the G3 CGM sensor and predictive blood glucose algorithm. The updated system was more reliable, and most patients on the hybrid closed-loop system showed improved outcomes over regular pump users. When a friend recently asked for recommendations for insulin pumps for his friend, I recommended the Medtronic 670G system.

In a hybrid closed-loop system, an insulin pump communicates with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) which feeds blood glucose information into a continuous feedback loop control algorithm that works with the insulin pump to keep blood glucose levels within a specified range. The hybrid closed-loop system automatically increases and decreases basal insulin as glucose levels rise and fall. The patient still needs to input carbohydrates and make adjustments for exercise, as well as make occasional corrections for high and low glucose levels.

But after sending my friend my initial recommendation, I dug around the DOC (diabetes online community). I realised that there was another option, one that I think is better than the Medtronic 670G.

In 2018, Medtronic’s 670G was the only closed-loop system on the market. However, in the fall of 2019, the best CGM sensor manufacturer (I formerly user a G4 sensor), San Diego’s Dexcom, teamed up with another San Diego based insulin pump maker Tandem, to create a hybrid “closed-loop" insulin pump system.

Available to t:slim X2 insulin pump users with Dexcom G6 CGM integration, Basal-IQ™ technology is a predictive low-glucose suspend feature that predicts and helps prevent lows with zero fingersticks.

If I were choosing today, I would choose the t:slim X2 insulin pump users with Dexcom G6 CGM integration. Why?

  • The t:slim X2 insulin pump can be updated with new features during its warranty period.
  • It has a separate smartphone-style touch screen from which the user can quickly and easily access pump functions.
  • The t:connect® mobile app serves as a secondary display for the t:slim X2 insulin pump. The user can have alerts appear on a smartphone or sent to a spouse’s smartphone.
  • The Dexcom G6 can send alerts to smartphones and smartwatches including Apple iPhones and Watches.

After reading up on the t:slim X2 and Dexcom G6, my Medtronic 670G feels and looks like a BlackBerry pager in comparison. The Medtronic 670G has toggle switches and scroll buttons. Neither the Medtronic 670G nor Medtronic G3 CGM transmitter connects to a smartphone or smartphone.

I don't know if this matters, but Dexcom and Tandem are American owned companies. In these uncertain times, the supply chain for your medical devices is something to be considered.

The t:slim X2 and Dexcom G6 are newer and I won't know what the growing pains are for a while. But I am excited that when my pump warranty runs out in eighteen months, I will have something new to try.

Submitted as part of the 100DaysToOffload project.