My attempt to document 40 sunrises in Eastern Cincinnati. Spring 2011.

Sunrise 60: Ault Park (Dying Oak, Annual Cicada Macro, Dense Summer Fog)

After about an hour beyond sunrise, the fog has receded but is still visible a few hundred yards away.
Final shot of the cicada from the side. I tried to capture the dark rich green color of the body.

Green -> brown -> black. Another beautiful organic gradient in the wing pattern.
Foggy Sunrise

This morning made me have the realization that I need to start thinking of Cincinnati as a city with lots of fog. We are well into the summer month now and the morning sunrise fog shows no intentions of going away. Cincinnati does, after all, sit between the seven “hills” if you want to call them that. The fog this morning started off light but actually got more dense as the sun heated up the valley air. There were sheets of the fog blowing into the park from the Little Miami River Valley. For more pictures of the cicada, check out the bottom of this post. The lighting was perfect.

The dawn sky. Light pink with a bit of haze.

Looking out from Heekin Overlook. Nothing down there but fog. It’s about to get thicker.

As I’m sitting in the overlook I notice the black spots on the nearby oak tree. I noticed them for the first time on Tuesday and hoped it wasn’t the result of fireworks damage. Today was the first time I looked up and realized that the old Oak was dying. The spots are where the bark has peeled away and revealed the black wood underneath. The squirrels were clamoring around and couldn’t help knocking off huge pieces of bark from the top of the tree. Makes me sad to see such a great tree die. I wonder how long until they chop it up?

If you’re on the front page, please click to continue. More oak pictures, sunrise shots, and cicada macros coming up —>

You can see the black marks on the oak’s trunk.

Black marks.

Close up.

Looking back into the foggy park from Heekin Overlook

I took a quick dip into the forest but decided I wasn’t up for any morning hiking. The forest is lush with green growth, that’s for sure. This year’s unseasonably high amount of rain has done wonders for the summer shade of the local deciduous forest.

Seeing as how the sunrise was taking its sweet time in the fog, I decided to perch atop the pavilion to get my head further up in the mist. The fog lapped across me in light puffy sheets. The fifteen feet height difference really made a difference.

The fog coming in from the valley.

Looking up the stairs.

Ahh! A dull orange sun rises above the tree line. Finally!

Who says you can’t have a sunrise in the fog?

As I’m sitting on the ledge taking a picture of the sun, I hear a loud WHIRRR whip by my face, followed by a loud thud/smack. I look over about ten feet from me and see a fresh young adult annual cicada. He was seriously stunned from his encounter with the wall and didn’t mind me taking pictures of him. I absolutely love the periodic cicadas. We were supposed to have another 7-year cicada this year, or so i thought, but they didn’t end up making an appearance. This cicada is an “annual” cicada because it has black eyes and a dark green body. The other cicadas are brownish with red eyes.

The cicada is one of my favorite insects because of how unique and visible its lifecycle is. You can see their shells all around the midwest, hanging to trees as they change into their adult stage before climbing out of the old exoskeleton. The species as a whole has adapted to basically having only one defense – numbers. They have no poison, hardly any kind of a jaw, and are basically clumsy flying reproductive machines. Their songs have been known to get complex and even include “phrases”, something that is fascinating to me. Healthy summers in the midwest are always marked by the constant background buzz of the annual (and periodic) cicadas.

This cicada was a young one, the first I’ve seen this year. His green body was bright and earthy and his wings crisp, healthy, and undamaged.

He decided to take a breather and recoop for a few minutes on the ledge.

Looking down into the park from the pavilion. The foliage has taken on a lush green color and the fog adds to the scenery.

I mustered up the courage and gently pushed my hand up against the cicada. He naturally backs away from (but didn’t try to fly) my finger, so I place my hand behind him so he backs up onto it. I know that a cicada can’t harm a human in any way, but they are so large that they still make me jump if they move too fast 🙂

It didn’t mind in the least. I probably helped her out by providing some protection from the birds.

The cicada wings, reaching up towards the sky

Cicada Wings.

See that little dot in the middle of the head? She actually had three of them. I learned they are called “oscellus” and they are actually “simple eyes” that most invertebrates have in addition to their real eyes. They just sense light and dark without direction. The wikipedia article is a good read.

4 responses

  1. eremophila

    I love your commentary on the cicada, and yes, there’s something rather special about close contact with an insect like this. Great shots of the wings, especially as it would have been one handed!
    Fog is great for atmospheric photography, so I’m envious of your frequency of it. I’ve managed one sunrise of sun plus fog, and the effect is most unusual. How about some more walks in the forest in the fog?

    July 7, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    • Thanks Eremophila! Yeah those were mostly one-handed. Where the little point-and-shoot is limited in hardware it makes up with agility 🙂

      You know I had no idea how much fog rolled through the area because it is almost all gone by 8:00am and hardly makes it past the edge of the mountain. On the next foggy day (there should be plenty more) I’ll continue on through the forest. There’s an old rail bridge down in the ravine I haven’t checked out yet, perhaps I’ll see what it looks like in the fog. Thanks!

      July 8, 2011 at 11:15 am

  2. Pingback: Sunrise 66: Ault Park (Beechmont Dragway?) « Ault Park Sunrise

  3. Pingback: Sunrise 97: Ault Park (Misty Mountain, Compass Flowers, Beetles, Oak Stump) « Ault Park Sunrise

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