this morning i was down at the chelsea waterfront picking up another used aquarium tank. chelsea is one of those towns that i don't often visit but it looks interesting. the last (and probably only) time i hung out in chelsea was visiting a vietnamese friend from college many years ago. today i was standing on a street that looked directly onto the tobin bridge. in a time where most new bridges are beautiful works of engineering artistry, the tobin bridge - all steel trusses and painted green (to make it look more ecofriendly?) - looks like a serious eyesore. however, it is an boston landmark of sorts, and does offer an old-school charm, warts and all. the transaction was fast, i paid the man, and took away the aquarium filled with a grab bag of related fishkeeping equipment. i stopped by pet supplies plus to pick up some filtration inserts for the included aquaclear power filter.
once i got back to the house i took a careful look at what i bought. it's always interesting buying used equipment. what kind of stuff people own provides a window into their fishkeeping. for example, the old brookline man that i got my last tank from, i inherited an assortment of fish breeding equipment from him, so he was a pretty advanced aquarist. a lot of his stuff were also really old, so he must've been in the hobby for a long time. this latest tank, i got a large bag full of plastic/rubber aquatic plants. they're not even realistic looking, painted metallic silver and blue, it'd be great if i was setting up an alien underwater seascape. there was also a lot of equipment for an under gravel filter. the general consensus these days is under gravel filters aren't very efficient (it's a pretty old-school water filtration method, largely replaced by power filters and more advanced methods). i lucked out on some of the other equipment though. i thought there would be just one fluorescent light strip but turns out there were two. they have that fake wood-paneling look and they're both old (the white plastic housing have yellowed and warped) but they still work. instead of a regular hood/cover, i got a glass hood, which in my opinion looks a lot better than the traditional black plastic hood. the aquaclear power filter is for a 50 gallon aquarium, which is overkill for my 10 gallon tanks (i think at one point the previous owner had a much bigger aquarium). i knew this when i got the inserts at the pet store; i figured i'd get them now, so if one day i do decide to use the filter (on a bigger tank), everything will be ready.
normally i'd be setting up the new tank at this point, but i noticed a slight chip on one of the edges. it's not really a crack and it's on the outside, but i decided to reseal it just in case, and that takes at least 24 hours for it to cure. my plan for this new tank is to divide it with a tank separator and split up my batch of young guppies by gender. they'll be raised under this condition for another month or so before they're old enough to join the adults (some of them will also go to new homes). at that point i will retire this tank.
with the weather looking like it wouldn't be raining anytime soon, i went out to do some naturing. i picked the assabet river national wildlife refuge in sudbury hoping to get some good dragonfly photos. it's a pretty straightforward route, from route 2A to route 62 to route 27 to fairbank street then to the refuge. i was immediately surprised by the lack of wildflower activities, like maybe i'm still a few weeks early. without wildflowers mean few insects, and that included the dragonflies. i've been there in the past where the air would be choking with dragonfly activities, but things were pretty quiet today.
nevertheless, i did see some dragonflies: pondhawks, blue dashers, twelve-spotted skimmers, whitetails, clubtails, and calico pennants. nothing new though, all species i've seen before. at one point a green female pondhawk landed on my white t-shirt. i tried to get her to perch on my finger, her two pairs of front legs wrestling with my digit, until she got bored and flew away. i don't want to brag, but i seem to have an instinct for handling dragonflies. usually with a little bit of effort, i can coax some of the friendlier ones to land on my fingertip.
for me, today was more an exercise in practicing with my different lenses, particularly the macro which i haven't really used since i bought it a few months ago. my feeling this is: nothing compares to the macro lens in terms of image quality, but when it comes to ease of use, the nikon coolpix 4500 is still the hands-down best macro camera out there. it's much lighter, which means it's easier and more stable to hold, and that swivel allows for acrobatic shots a normal camera would never be able to get. my dream is one day nikon will update the coolpix 4500, give it some manual features, but improve the lens. money would be no object, if that hypothetical camera ever comes out, i'll buy it without hesitation.
like i mentioned before, there weren't too many flowers. i did see some small red unknowns, but if i had to guess, i think they're just flowering ragweed.
the most exciting thing i saw today was a goldenrod spider with a captured bee-mimicking fly on a daisy. i could tell from far away that there was something going on, because there was this yellow blob and a crumpled black husk on this flower. when i got close i could see it was a spider and its prey. goldenrod spiders are cool, they come in two different colors, either white or yellow, depending on what color of flower they're hiding on. i can usually find them in a field of wildflowers, waiting patiently to ambush an unsuspecting pollinator. because they're ambush predators, they're pretty tolerant of intrusive camera lenses, which they make easy subjects. one of my favorite things about these spiders is their eyes: a triangle wedge with 8 dots, very futuristic robotic. i also think their abdomen resemble ritz crackers.
i left assabet a bit after 4pm, stopping off somewhere in lexington to get some gas ($2.94/gallon). i came home and went with my mother and aunt to market basket to get some groceries. i had a late lunch (early dinner) of corn pop cereal and some chicken strips for dinner.