f5.6 1/800s, ISO 1250, JPEG, focal length 300mm, Nikon D80
According to statistics by the U.S. Drought Monitor and published on the columbustelegram.com website, drought is affecting more of the nation than ever before in the twelve-year history of the U.S Drought Monitor, with 55.96 percent of the nation’s continental land mass in one form of drought or another.
f20 1/1600s, ISO 4000, JPEG, focal length 170mm D7000 9:26 am Carpenter Bee
The country faces unprecedented water worries as we irrigate and water our lawns, take our daily showers, flush our 2.5 toilets, wash our one-day worn clothes, all the while, thinking little how half of our country is in some form of drought.
f8 1/125s, ISO 160, JPEG focal length 85mm D80 6:35 pm Monarch. I just saw a great post today entitled, Gardening for Butterflies, by Stone the Gardener. When you finish here, have a look.
We have simply gotten to the point remarkably in this country that with the combination of little rain, scorching heat draining municipal reservoirs and increasing water consumption, that there is simply not enough to go around. And reliable predictions say the worst is yet to come.
f11 1/640s, ISO 1250, JPEG, focal length 195mm, D7000 Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth
f10 1/2000s, ISO 2500, JPEG, focal length 140mm D7000 Ailanthus Webworm
The evident signs of drought are crop damage or loss, with streams and reservoirs getting low. In some areas, this is creating emergency situations. Colorado and Georgia are the worst affected.
f4.5 1/200s ISO 400, JPEG, focal length 210mm D7000, 3:09 pm
The High Park fire was the most destructive in Colorado’s history to date according to the Nat Geo site. Lack of soil moisture and the recent high temperatures causing dry conditions are leading to a significant number of wildfires there and elsewhere.
f7.1 1/1600s, ISO 2500, JPEG, focal length 330mm D80
When the rains do come, the watershed is being compromised by the sediment runoff from the burned out watersheds. This has a consequence of tainting and clogging treatment systems.
f 7.1 1/1600s, ISO 2500, JPEG, focal length 330mm, D80
Medina Lake, shown left, providing water to farmers in San Antonio, Texas, has dried and dropped by 52 feet. This area has been the driest and hottest in the last twelve month history. What is unfortunate, is that farming and cattle raising in the state was established at a time when the area was much wetter, and looking ahead, predictions do not look too promising for Texas.
Click the image above to go to National Geographic’s site for additional information and images in slide show format. Some of the images, although beautifully done, are quite alarming showing how drought is devastating our country.
f5.6 1/500s, ISO 320, JPEG, focal length 135mm, D80, 8:20 am
And what is it like now, not just in general terms?
“The Southeast, Deep South, and Southern Texas: Widespread heavy rains and flooding in southeast Texas resulted in significant improvement with the USDM depiction improving by two categories in parts of Texas and adjacent Louisiana. Elsewhere along the front, drought conditions improved by one category in a few local areas where 2-3 inches, or more, of rain fell, from Mississippi and southern Arkansas to West Virginia, and from Georgia to North Carolina. But expansion occurred in a few local areas missed by the rains in Alabama and North Carolina. Exceptional drought (D4) expanded in western Kentucky and southern Illinois, severe drought (D2) expanded in northwest Kentucky, and D1 filled in the hole from northern Kentucky into southwest Ohio. D1 expanded in the Florida panhandle which had below-normal rainfall and where low lake levels persisted.” National Drought Survey July 17, 2012
f20 1/1600s, ISO 4000, JPEG, focal length 185mm, D7000 10:04 am
Florida is a state where at one time it had too much water in swamps. With development, dikes, dams and diversion, Florida has built their way over many swamps. Aquifers are depleting because water cannot penetrate areas paved through development. Florida is leading the nation though in reclaiming waste water at 240 billion gallons annually. (source)
f5.6 1/500s ISO 360, JPEG, focal length 135mm, 7am
Ironically, coastal states like California and Florida have other concerns as well. With glacier melt caused by increasing temperatures, ocean water is rising each year which could cause aquifers to be compromised by saltwater at sometime in the future. Rising temperatures now also cause water to evaporate at increased speed where more water is lost even before it reaches aquifers. Aquifers are an underground lifeline of clean water stored in porous rock and sand.
f13 1/1000s, ISO 2000, JPEG, focal length 200mm, D7000 Female Ruby Throated Hummingbird
This year, the Midwest is being compared the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
“The Great Plains to Midwest: Unrelenting heat and lack of rain continued the downward spiral of drought conditions. D0 to D2 expanded across parts of the Plains from Texas to North Dakota, from Missouri to Minnesota, and in the southern Great Lakes. Extreme drought (D3) was introduced in Nebraska, Missouri, and Wisconsin, and D3 expanded in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Indiana. The city of Indianapolis, Indiana, implemented mandatory water restrictions for the first time ever with many trees dropping their leaves and going dormant months early. Exceptional drought (D4) expanded in Arkansas and was introduced in western Kansas.” taken from the National Drought Survey, July 17, 2012
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Many farms and ranches in Texas are being forced to sell off or abandon cattle and other grazers, like donkeys. After all, ranching is all about water and grasses. In 2011, Texas had its worst drought that cost state agriculture $7 billion in losses. (source) This article is citing how Texas is proactively fighting back with better farming practice, management and conservation.
f10 1/2000s, ISO 2500, JPEG, focal length 200mm, D7000
I am sure bloggers from the states mentioned and some that are not have images and stories to tell painting a very bleak picture. Our area in Western New York has also been affected by little rain and 90 degree heat. This is nothing compared to western states, but our area received little snow this past winter which aids in spring growth and maintaining trees over the summer. The water table is dropping and trees in our area are very much affected, mostly because they were stressed in 2011.
Why the photos of the pollinators?
I have been thinking more of the wildlife and how they are coping. This is the first year that I have been watering my garden beds, and only for the bees and birds. My plants support bees and birds and I could not let them be without. We cannot be without them either.
Strangely, the dry conditions benefit bees to a point. Rain washes away pollen and nectar from flowers, whereas drought conditions allow bees to collect all available food sources. The problem becomes when drought last too long and flowers succumb, the bees are placed in a delicate situation. Then the dry spell hurts as much as it initially helped.
f14 1/800s, ISO 1250, JPEG, focal length 200mm, D7000 2:01 pm
As food crops are drying in the scorching sun, our pollinators are losing their food supplies, and we in turn are losing ours. While I cannot grow measurable food crops, I can keep plants alive that will benefit the wildlife. I know this seems a practice that is wasteful of water resources, but what is the alternative?
f20 1/600s ISO 2500, JPEG, focal length 116mm, D7000 9:22 am
The plants in the garden for the most part, are native hybrids that weather dryer conditions, but they still need water.
Wildlife needs water too and three water sources are providing that for them.
f10 1/200s, ISO 200, JPEG, focal length 135mm , D80. For the life of me, I cannot photograph one of these in mid-hop. Too darn fast and unpredictable.
I have not been watering the grass, but you should see the number of grasshoppers and crickets. I have been feeding the birds too. Their natural environment is drying and native food sources less plentiful.
“The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: Light to locally moderate rain fell across parts of the region. But even the heaviest amounts, which fell in southeastern Pennsylvania and extreme southeast New York, were barely above normal for the week. Most areas were drier than normal and hot, with abnormally dry (D0) conditions expanding across New York, southern New England, northern Pennsylvania, and northern New Jersey. Moderate drought (D1) spread eastward from western New York, grew in the Chesapeake Bay area, and was added to western Massachusetts.” National Drought Survey July 17, 2012.
f10 1/2000s, ISO 2500, JPEG, focal length 330mm D7000
I was away for ten days and much of the garden declined.
f13 1/800s, ISO 2000, JPEG 170mm D7000
The Monarda was the first to go. I cut it back hard and have been watering to encourage regrowth, like shown above. Luckily, the rain has graced our area this week finally. It was in the form of pounding storms, but you take what you get.
f10 1/2000s, ISO 2500, JPEG, focal length 300mm
The Caryopteris is just starting to bloom, and is a plant that takes dry conditions well, but is very appreciative of the rain. It is planted in an area, like my Black Eyed Susan, that never sees a drop of municipal water. Bees adore this plant, so don’t place it too near entertaining or play areas. You can see that bees also like the Sunny Border Blue Veronica. Veronica does take dry weather well as a plant, but loses flowers easily when dry. It just grows taller producing more flowers, keeping bees very happy.
f10 1/2000s, ISO 2500, JPEG, focal length 240mm D7000 This shot did not need an ISO so high since there was no flying, and I could have easily dropped to f5.6 or 1/100s. This image does have significant grain.
“Who Uses the Drought Monitor?
“The U.S. Drought Monitor sets the standard for communicating location and intensity of drought to a broad audience. The map summarizes and synthesizes information from the local and state level to the national scale, making it the most widely used gauge of drought conditions in the country. Policy makers use it to allocate relief dollars, states use it to trigger drought response measures, and media rely on it. The USDA uses it to distribute millions, even billions, of dollars in drought relief to farmers and ranchers each year, and the Internal Revenue Service also uses it for ranching-related tax determinations.” from…
Go to this site above to see the actual and current map.
f7.1 1/1600s, ISO 2500, JPEG, 9:50 am focal length 210mm Nikon D80
The birds and bees photographed in flight were shot with a 300mm lens and high ISO like the post, Garden Photos in Limited Light. All images were shot on Manual, some on Continuous Mode. That is like Burst Mode on some cameras, where one can rapid fire the shutter. The D7000 gets six images per second.
There is some grain in some images when enlarged, but you can compare them to static images in this post with the ISO set more reasonably. I jumped around on the settings quite a bit so you could see how they end up having differing exposure with different settings. Hoped you liked the frequent flyers in this post!