Beauty in Niagara Trail Finds


In the post, Visitors – Love Niagara Falls State Parks, I took you to all the tourist spots for those ‘postcard’ images. You know, the pretty ones everyone tries to bring home. Here, I look in the natural places fewer tourists visit to see what I could find along the trails of Niagara.


Taking a walk along the Niagara Trail at Whirlpool Park turns up some pretty ordinary finds, but when in pretty light, makes them a bit extraordinary. I took the challenge of Saxon Holt to find the better light of the golden hour.


When I want better light, I always gravitate to the forests, fields and meadows for the blue light of the morning or the golden light of the early evening. I feel peace and calm in natural settings.


In the forest where everything is in shadow, the darkness of the woods gives a splash of vibrancy to the logs and fungi with a stray beam of light streaming through the trees.


A mason wasp, Monobia quadridens.

Insects are sparse in the meadows along the trail. Maybe the recent weather had a hand in this, but in my own garden there is a lot of buzzing, flapping and crawling. I do have a post coming up on the loss of butterflies. The info is from scientific papers and studies. It looks to be rather bleak for some species.

Pennsylvania Leatherwing

Pennsylvania Leatherwing


With the recent downpours, I was expecting a flush of mushrooms, but that was not the case. So few insects and scarcely any mushrooms, I keep looking and keep finding…


What you might find odd, is I am shooting as much or more for the backgrounds as I am for the object of the photo.




Blister Beetle

Usually the meadow is filled with dragonflies, but not this year. I have been wondering what has happened to all the insects? It really took looking to find those in this post.

I do have an observation though. I noticed when dragonflies and even hummingbirds enter my garden, a flurry of bees go on the attack and harass each larger creature until it leaves. Is this cause and effect with loss of feeding habitat (dry plants equals less nectar-rich bloom)? Is this why less insects are in the meadows generally?


Like I said above, I have researched this decline and weather does have a direct effect on loss of butterfly species. “Butterflies are considered to be representative indicators of trends observed for most other terrestrial insects.” Which means simply, if it is happening to butterflies, it is likely happening to other insects as well. “Butterflies are useful indicators of biodiversity and the general health of ecosystems.”


Tachinidae – Peleteria sp.

I don’t always know the names of the insects, and some are really hard to identify. This fly for instance is really gnarly looking and I could not find out exactly what it is, but that is the fun of nature walks. There is always things one does not know.



Since finding insects was not going well, I started looking for pretty bark patterns in the woods, textures and colors to make bark art. Easy to find downed trees, but finding cool stuff on them took looking. You can always find stuff then add them to the textural background too. A tip I learned and used in the turkey feather on the log below.


Fun textural finds when you look close.



Photos, a kaleidoscope of color.


This Calico Pennant Dragonfly on Hawk Weed was just too pretty of an insect.

Oh, and I had to photograph any dragonfly I saw! I was amazed he was in focus, they fly so darn fast.


Dragonfly over water.

Check out the trails in your backyard for some ‘extraordinary’! Find some bark art of your own. Oh, and don’t forget to look up. Stuff happens on nature walks high above.


Next nature walk has the butterflies and what is happening to them.Β  I have been to quite a few nature preserves lately, so stay tuned. One had a seminar on bird banding.

Check out the tab Photography Tips & Thoughts. Maybe find something you yourself might try for your nature walk.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
This entry was posted in garden, Niagara Falls State Parks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to Beauty in Niagara Trail Finds

  1. LIKELIKELIKE!!! That dragon is GORGEOUS. Also, your longhorn beetle is a blister beetle (probs Epicauta pennsylvanica)

  2. PS I think the fly is a Tachinid…maybe Peleteria?

  3. ginnietom says:

    superb dragons 1+2…youΒ΄re a gem Donna…gr8^^

  4. Absolutely amazing shot. Beautiful.

  5. Mac says:

    Concerning about the butterflies though.

    • The butterflies being affected are certain species, ones dependent on moderate temperatures and specific diets. I have not read about them worldwide except for some affected by weather in the UK, but I did include the links to some of the studies. One study was done by the Germans, so it must be happening elsewhere as well. It is sad and looks only to get worse not better. I will post that post next. I was going to do a garden, but the gardens can wait.

  6. rebecca says:

    I DEFINITELY need to check out your photography tips! These are just amazing photos…I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite or the best. The details in these close-ups are attention-grabbing.

    • Thank you. I do have photo tips for macro, but have two posts planned to show how I get these images. Not one was taken with a macro lens, but in the upcoming posts I will show both the zoom and macro and how to get those backgrounds. The tips are surprisingly simple too. I am also going to show some extras I use to control the midday light that may be useful.

  7. acuriousgal says:

    I love your pics, just gorgeous!

  8. What joy it is visiting your pages, my dear Donna!
    Thank you for sharing your talent and knowledge!
    Happy weekend!

  9. alesiablogs says:

    Wonderful post. Gnarly bug–too funny. I love your detail. I have tried to comment on your posts at times. I do not know if Word press has some glitches or what..Hope this one goes through!

    • Thank you for trying to leave a comment. I use comments in blog hopping and that is how I get back to all blogs. When you use your blog link it works. When people just use the email it asks to sign in for some reason. It is across all WP blogs as I have run into this too.

  10. Ohhh just stunning images and what a gorgeous variety of plants insects and birds. I love the Pennant dragonfly too. Great post x

    • I had to look so hard to find insects and that never happened in any other year. I am perplexed why so few. That is what lead to the research finding out why less butterflies. That was my first Pendant find too. He had the whole meadow to himself and one Black Saddlebags.

  11. OMG! AMAZINGNESS!!! Calico Pennant Dragonfly on Hawk Weed just absolutely stunning. I have been trying to capture pics with my iphone on my hikes. I think it might be time to add a real camera to my packing list.

    • I used my point and shoot today on the walk because of where I was going. Did not want to take an expensive lens to that hike, even though my husband was along. One never knows on steep, rocky terrain.The iPhone does work pretty good, but I rarely use mine for anything but making calls.

  12. I LOVE your close-up shots, especially the fungus, the dragonfly, and the Queen Anne’s Lace with the Goldenrod. I hate thinking that we are facing a long-term decline in butterfly species. Will anyone do anything about it?

    • If the current decline is weather related as predicted, they could bounce back with more moderate temperatures. The Mexican scientists are working to change farming and logging practices to help the habitat there and here for the Monarchs. Too many different stresses are on insects in current times. Too many different things affecting there survival and productivity, but weather is one out of the hands of science for the most part. I have linked the next post heavily so readers can access articles on the reports. The actual reports are in places like Science, which needs membership. Plus, those papers are very technical. When I read them, I find it difficult to simplify for readers here. I don’t always follow them myself if they are too overly academic.

  13. I can see why everyone loves to walk in this park. Great collection of photographs and the dragonflies are a treat.

    • Actually, not many do walk the trails. I run across fishermen and joggers, but almost never a tourist. I never see anyone with a camera either. I think it is too bad more folks don’t take their kids hiking. Kids miss so much now a days.

  14. b-a-g says:

    Great dragonfly photos. Interesting what you say about the butterflies. I’ve noticed more than ever before in London during the past few weeks. I’m literally swatting cabbage whites out of the way.

    • I too have those cabbage butterflies all over the garden. The articles I read were saying only certain species are in decline. Others, oddly are increasing. I don’t think they said which were increasing though, but I would not doubt the Cabbage Butterfly is one.

  15. Pat says:

    Stellar photography. Delightful to see.

  16. Julie says:

    Fantastic photos, loved your post.

  17. Brian Comeau says:

    Beautiful images Donna and really well written and informative as always. Here’s hoping the butterflies return next year.

  18. nciteful says:

    The dragonfly shot was exceptional.

  19. Victor Ho says:

    The dragonfly shots are phenomenal. I usually can’t get close enough. Wonderful!

  20. Phil Lanoue says:

    What an amazing series! First one particularly is a stunner!

  21. That is unusual that the insects were absent….here I have loads of bees, flies, wasps, hummers and dragonflies all moving around the same stands of plants….butterflies are few and far between except the cabbage whites. But I really enjoyed these amazing images using the best light. That first photo is just incredible…work of art Donna!

    • Thank you for the kind words. Glad you liked the late afternoon shots.

      You have had much more rain that we have had though. I mentioned in the post that “my own garden there is a lot of buzzing, flapping and crawling”, but I have been using the sprinklers this year to keep the plants at least alive. But then it has not been keeping them really fresh looking though, so the bees/wasps are running off some of the other creatures. This dryness locally is affecting the wildlife since they feed on and get territorial over plants that are browning and dry – just to get the last bit of nectar. I will have my garden posted this week and some of the plants are looking weather worn unfortunately. The next post on the loss of butterflies will explain more.

  22. Just beautiful photos!

  23. Great advice about looking “up”! I always need to remind myself to do that, and I’m always rewarded with an incredible view. How interesting that you didn’t see many dragonflies. They’ve been incredibly plentiful around here–more than I remember from the past, especially earlier in the summer. In fact, in my most recent post I didn’t get any decent shots of them, but they were among the pollinators that I posted about. I should have mentioned them. Dragonflies and damselflies have been swarming. Not so much with the butterflies, though. 😦

    • No, they have been absent this year as are butterflies. Very little milkweed too. I have taken some shots of damselflies but not on this walk. Each walk I have been taking has had just what I saw. A few more walks are coming up, including the one on fewer butterflies.

  24. Alistair says:

    Always interesting to read your observations, however I have difficulty focusing on anything other than your remarkable photography. The picture of the Dragonfly on Hawk Weed is sensational.

    • The post tonight is on both observation and research. What I observed, sent me on the path to find out why. I am very pleased you like the dragonfly. They are hard to chase down and not scare off when they land.

  25. KidazzleInk says:

    Love the lighting. As you said the early morning and the late afternoon are the absolute best for taking shots. Well done and thank you for sharing.

  26. What a fantastic photo! Thank you. It made my day.

  27. A.M.B. says:

    These are wonderful pictures! I particularly love the textures.

  28. The dragonfly photo is incredible. Such color and DETAIL!

  29. ladyseminole07 says:

    Reblogged this on ladyseminole07 and commented:
    This is a wonderful photo. I used to collect dragonfly artsy types of pieces many years ago. They are beautiful creatures.

  30. bee1designs says:

    Each image is a gem. Thank you for sharing the beauty of our world and your talent.

  31. Beautiful and informative post as always and I saw so many of these same plants and insects when I went walking in VT and my yard. I too have noticed how nasty the Bumble Bees are towards other not me thankfully as I do not have a good macro lens for the new Nikon I am playing with so I have to get right in on top of them πŸ™‚ yes I am fearless πŸ™‚

  32. Very pretty—I am catching up on my emails.

  33. sharonftaylor says:

    The dragonfly photo! It was hard to appreciate all the other great photos after that one!

Comments are closed.