Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bees and Beekeepers at Selah, Bamberger Ranch

History of bee keeping at BRP. 

Several staff members working at the Bamberger Ranch were bee-keepers in the 80's and 90's. Buddy Francis became very allergic to bee stings and had to quit working around bees. Randy Lenz continued for many years.  Each year a number of small jars of honey were labeled with the Selah logo and given to guests by David as presents. 

When Randy and Buddy were both gone, the hives became inactive.  Colleen Gardner (then Colleen Lyons) came on board in 1999, and she decided to learn the art of beekeeping, and thus a new chapter in Selah bee keeping began. Colleen read about bees, their natural history, and the history of bee-keeping. She went to bee-keepers meetings to learn about bee hives, the proper gear for a person to wear when working with bees, and how to build hives, frames and install beeswax foundation. She found two wonderful people, Chuck and Sandy Wohl, who were willing to come to the ranch to help Colleen get first-hand experience with putting new bees in a hive, and handling a bee colony when checking their hive. Finally she learned how to take frames laden with honey and extract the honey so that we could again have "gift" jars of honey. 

In 2003 Steven Fulton, a biologist, joined the teaching staff and Colleen taught him beekeeping. This year in January Justin Duke, who graduated from Texas State in geography was hired to work with the teaching staff, and is now learning about beekeeping too. Justin's fiance Stephanie Tidwell frequently volunteers at the ranch and wants to learn about it too.

Colleen Lyons in 2001 in her bee gear is ready to work on a hive safely. It is important that the protective gear for beekeeping be a light color and cover the body so that skin is not exposed to possible stings.

Colleen learns from Sandy and Chuck about using a smoker to calm the bees before looking at the frames. Bees respond to smoke instinctively by eating honey so they will have food reserves (in case the forest fire burns their hive which is suggested by the smell of smoke), and being full of honey makes them sluggish. 

Some frames are just for honey storage and they are separated from the brood frames by a Queen excluder, which keeps her in the a part of the hive where the bee keeper wants her to lay eggs and raise brood. She is larger than the worker bees which can pass through the excluder, but she is too large. The frame above has both brood in the center and honey cells around the edge, which is the "textbook" brood pattern.

The Queen bee comes with a colored dot on her thorax (near front in middle) from the people who provide packaged bees - a different color for each year. The worker bees are all females that won't be able to lay eggs, but they are vital to the health of the whole hive. They have different jobs starting with keeping the hive clean, raising the brood, and finally collecting nectar for making honey. 
Honey frames have the wax caps removed by running a hot knife over the top of the cells. Then honey can be removed with a special centrifuge.

Colleen and Sandy use the centrifuge to separate honey from frames.

Some wax is in the honey and must be strained out.

Colleen fills jars with the clear and delicious honey.

Sandy and Colleen show off a labeled jar of honey, the end product of a lot of hard work.

Colleen uses the natural history of bees to demonstrate adaptations that both bees and flowers have to accommodate each other. The bees receive nectar and flowers get pollinated, and they are dependent on each other. 

Spring is time to "hive the honey bees".

Package bees should be ordered after the date of the last hard freeze for your region.  The best time of day to hive the bees is in late afternoon. Sugar water can be offered to bees until there are sufficient wildflowers for the bees to forage for themselves.  The new hive can be placed where the sun warms them in the morning so they can get an early start to drink nectar and gather pollen. 

Near the bottom of the picture a brood chamber sits on a cement base hive stand. Behind it is a super which will be filled with honey.

From the top down a hive consists of: 
(1) Hive Cover - with a galvanized covering that hangs over the edge of the top super and protects the hive from bad weather and extreme heat.
 (2) Shallow Super - supers are open at the top and at the bottom so bees can move around freely, with frames fitted with Beeswax Foundation for honey storage. Several can be stacked to increase storage capacity. 
(3)Queen Excluder -is placed between the storage area and where the young are raised. It  keeps the queen in the brood chambers where she lays her eggs (because she is too large to pass though the excluder), and prevents her from laying eggs in the honey storage area. 
(4) Brood Chambers - are the bees living quarters where the queen lays eggs and the brood is raised. Honey is also stored in this area for the bees' food.
(5) Bottom Board - forms the floor of the hive.
(6) Hive Stand- supports the hive off the ground to keep it dry and to insulate the hive.

Stephanie holds the bee "package" which includes a mass of bees inside the screen and a can that is hanging inside (you can't see it in this picture) with a queen bee in a little screened box. The queen produces  a chemical called the "queen substance" that makes her hive smell different from any other hive, and all of her worker bees will recognize their hive and their queen. 

You can see the queen bee inside her box and she has a white dot on her thorax so she is easy for people to see. The worker bees are very interested in her. There is a plug of candy in the end of the queen's box and by the time her workers eat the candy away, they will recognize her as "their queen". She will leave the box and start laying eggs in wax chambers formed by the workers for the hive's brood to be raised in. 

The queen's box is hung in the brood chamber so she'll know where to start laying eggs when she is out.

The rest of the bees are dumped into the super on top.  Justin is holding the brush so they won't fall into the sugar water which is there for them to drink until they figure out where the flowers are.

Justin gently brushes across the top to help them into the spaces between frames. When they are all in the hive the top is placed on it. You can see the inside of the top with galvanized metal on the outside just behind the hive.

Some of the workers stay on the brush and Justin holds it up so I can get a good picture of them.

The hive was set up last Thursday afternoon. When I went to see them today they were moving in and out through the entrance. It appears that they will be a successful hive. However, Colleen and Justin will be checking to make sure that the queen is healthy and laying eggs, and that the workers are taking care of the brood. They will also check to see if honey is being stored. If the weather is very dry, they may put out sugar water to keep them from getting hungry.

I found interesting information on a site about the American Bee Journal that had information about hives and answers to frequently asked questions.

Pictures in the History section were taken by Chuck and Sandy Wohl, Colleen Gardner, and me. Pictures of the hive being set up were taken by me on Thursday, April 24. Last picture was taken April 28.

I hope you found this interesting. If you have questions that you'd like me to answer, send a comment and I'll answer it with an addition to this post.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

April's Blooming Trees & Bushes

In mid-April there are blooms on some Hill Country trees:

Yesterday J. David and I went on a flowering tree expedition, with my camera of course. The first three trees featured are in the Rose family and they all have white or pinkish-white blossoms with five petals. The size of the flowers varies and they all have fruit in which the seed(s) are surrounded by flesh, sometimes soft, as in the cherry, or relatively hard, as it is in the Blanco Crabapple and Hawthorn.

ESCARPMENT BLACK CHERRY (Prunus serotina var. eximia):
Some trees you can smell before you see them, and the aroma of the Escarpment Black Cherry flowers is heavenly. They are fairly common on the ranch, and are native to this area. Because the foliage is so tasty to deer that they appear to be in decline. However, if small cherry plants are protected by a corral, a pile of brush, or by virtue of being in a thicket, they do very well. The blooms appear in March or April, and in late summer the fruits ripen, which are purple, round and small (1/4 to 3/8 inch). In the fall their leaves turn bright clear yellow and they offer a beautiful accent to the Central Texas fall landscape.

J. David is enjoying the sweet smell of the spring blossoms of The Escarpment Black Cherry (Prunus serotina var. eximia).

The bark of the Cherry tree has silver and grey bands on the smooth younger branches and the trunk of young trees. On older trees the bark is is is rough and silver to dark grey. In the picture above the tree trunk is on the left and has circular silver and grey bands.

Flowers are small and white. They have 5 tiny petals on a slender center stalk that is 4 to 6 inches long.

HAWTHORN (Crataegus sp.) is a smallish tree that grows in bottomland or in heavy mixed deciduous shrubs and vines where it is protected from browsing deer. Here at the ranch it grows in thickets on the rocky limestone soil on our hilltop(s). There are many species that are difficult to tell apart, and it is uncertain which species we have, thus the scientific name ends with "sp." which means "species" which implies that it's exact identification is unknown.

Hawthorns are small trees or large shrubs, 5 to 16 feet tall. They protect themselves with long very sharp thorns, as are seen on the underside of the small branch in the picture above.

Small clusters of white flowers appear briefly in mid-April. It is amazing how many Hawthorns we see driving around the ranch in the spring when they can be easily recognized by their flowers. They tend to be found in thickets of mixed plants, such as Shin oak, poison ivy, Elbow bush, Rusty Blackhaw, where they are out of reach of Whitetail deer and other browsers.

This close-up shows the five white petals of each Hawthorn flower and the toothed edges of the shiny leaves with parallel veins.

BLANCO CRABAPPLE: (Malus ioensis var. texensis) is another small tree with beautiful pink and white spring blossoms. It is endemic which means that it is found only in a limited area. This tree or shrub, is found only on some limestone soils in Blanco, Kerr and Kendall Counties. Fruit is a hard green apple that can be made into jelly with enough sugar.

J. David is standing under the Texas State Champion Blanco Crabapple.

Susan Sander presented a Champion Tree Certificate to J. David Bamberger on June 3, 2003 for our Blanco Crabapple which is 12 feet tall, has a crown spread of 14 feet, and a trunk circumference of 13 inches. We believe that this is the only Blanco Crabapple that has ever been submitted to the Texas Forest Service, and will remain the champion until someone submits a larger one for the champion tree registry.

This small tree is actually quite old, and because it is slow-growing lichens are growing on its branches in spite of its relatively small size.

Thorns on a Crabapple are less frequent than on a Hawthorn, they can still help provide some protection from herbirvores.

Like other trees in the rose family, its leaves are tasty to deer, and the small plants must either be protected by thicket growth or caged if they are to survive being eaten. This young Crabapple has been corralled for 5 years and this year has a beautiful crown of flowers.

WHITE HONEYSUCKLE (Lonicera albiflora) is in the Honeysuckle Family and is native to our area. Its flowers resemble the common invasive Japanese Honeysuckle from eastern Asia. White Honeysuckle is a bush that has long branches that "climb" when appropriate. Fruit are bright red translucent berries in clusters in the fall.

This bush is blooming and you can see a long climbing branch that arises on the right side of the bush in this picture. It is not attached to anything and was waving in the wind yesterday when I took this picture.

The terminal leaves are joined in the middle to form a collar around the blossom cluster.

TEXAS SNOWBELL, (Styrax platanifolius var. texanus) is a close relative of our Sycamore Leaf Snowbell (Styrax platanifolius) found along the Miller Creek on the Preserve. Texas Snowbell is an endangered variety that is found west of here in the watersheds of the Nueces River and Devils River.

J. David stands in front of the largest Texas snowbell that we have here on the Preserve. It is on the trail and there is a sign so hikers can read about the plant and the project to save them that David, Steven Fulton (ranch biologist) and a group of volunteers have been involved with for years.

On the right side of the picture is a Texas Snowbell. Note that the underside of the leaves have a white pubsence. On the left side is a Sycamore-leaf Snowbell which has flower buds, and the underside of its leaves are a shiny smooth green.

The flowers are bell shaped with a distinctly yellow group of stamen surrounding the pistal. You can see from the white underside of the leaves that this is the Texas Snowbell.

Each year in the spring J. David and a group of volunteers go out to the watersheds where the Texas Snowbells are found, and look for the blooming plants on land owned by cooperating ranchers. It is important to have diverse genetic material to restore the endangered snowbell. In the fall the crew is out again to collect seeds. Seeds are stratified by putting them in a baggie with moist peat moss in a refrigerator for several months until they start to sprout. The sprouts are moved to 4 inch cups that are marked with the watershed name and keep in the greenhouse until it is warm in the spring.

In the fall older plants 6 to 12 inches tall are taken out into the watershed where seeds were collected, and planted with a sturdy corral to protect them from browsers. Each plant is visited in the summer to make sure they are doing well and to be given some water if too dry. The reintroduction program has been funded by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Jackie Poole, botanist with TPWD, who is in charge of the recovery projects for endangered plants in Texas wrote the recovery plan and assists the group in field work as well as overseeing the project as a whole.

To learn more about endangered plants in Texas see the TPWD website.

The plants featured in this post are not all of the blooming trees now. We saw Golden Ball Lead Trees, Rusty Blackhaws, Pyracanthas blooming this weekend as well.

All photos taken on April 20, 2008, by Margaret Bamberger with a Canon Rebel XTi digital single lens reflex camera, with the exception of Susan Sander giving TFS Champion Tree certificate to J. David, which was taken by Margaret on June 3, 2003.

Reference: Jan Wrede, TREES, SHRUBS, AND VINES OF THE TEXAS HILL COUNTRY. A&M nature guide. Texas A&M University Press, College Station. 2005

Marshall Enquist, WILDFLOWERS OF THE TEXAS HILL COUNTRY. 1987. A new printing of this wonderful book is now out and can be purchased at the Lady Bird Wildflower Center in Austin. I got their website by Googling Marshall Enquist.

Monday, April 14, 2008

College Students at Selah for Field Work

Trinity University students come to BRP for field studies.

Dr. David O. Ribble of the Trinity University brought a small number of his students out for a field trip last weekend (April 4, 5, and 6). The class is studying Vertebrate Evolution, and the purpose of this field trip was to learn field techniques for collecting data on vertebrates, and starting a census of native animals here on the ranch.

David O. Ribble, Ph.D., is a Mammologist, and studied small mammals for this doctorate research.

Whitney McCarthy, Latoya Comer, Claire Edwards, and Rachel Johansen worked hard to trap small mammals. Claire is holding a Sherman trap which is used to trap mice and other small mammals in the field. They are "have a heart" traps for little mammals.

Claire and Rachel look for the traps that were set out with dry oatmeal as bait the night before. They set out 120 traps each night, so it was difficult to remember exactly where each one was placed.

Whitney and Latoya help look for traps too. If the door of the trap is closed the trapped animal is examined, measured and identified. If it is open it is left there to hopefully catch something later in the day or during the upcoming night.

When the animal is removed it is put in a plastic bag so it can be handled safely. People that handle wild animals get rabies vaccinations so they don’t have to worry about getting rabies.

Dr. Ribble weighs the mouse while it’s in a baggie. The weight of the baggie is subtracted from the total weight to get the mouse’s weight.

Mice can be held behind their head so they can’t bite or scratch you. This is a White-ankled Mouse (Peromyscus pectoralis) and we believe it is the most common mouse on the ranch. They even come in our houses and we trap them in Sherman traps which don’t hurt them. We release them in areas that are far from our houses.

Dr. Ribble looks at the specimen to see if it is a male or female.

The length of the mouse’s body and tail are measured on a ruler.

Length of its back foot is measured, as well as ear length. If all the information needed is collected in the field then the mouse is released.

Other native rodents that were captured in Sherman traps were one Hispid Cotton Rat (Sigmodon Hispidus) and one Northern Pygmy Mouse (Baiomys taylori).

Track plates which are sheets of aluminum with carpenter's chalk on them are put out with bait to see if larger mammals are out and about. The prints on this plate are fox size and most likely made by a Gray Fox. Some of the prints are quite clear.

As we were driving to a new site, Dr. Ribble braked, jumped out of the van and picked up a Rough Green Snake (Opheodrys aestivus). It is a tree or bush dwelling snake that is usually not far from water. They eat crickets, grasshoppers, larvae of moths and butterflies, as well as spiders.

On Friday and Saturday evenings Bat Mist Nets were set up over a creek to catch bats flying around that might be swooping down to get a drink of water or catch insects emerging from the water. Four male Mexican Free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) were captured on April 5th. Here Claire Edwards holds a bat.

In this picture one of the bats is held with its wings held so they can be seen.

The students went out early in the morning each day to listen and look for birds.
Seen and/or heard:
Mourning Dove
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Northern Cardinal
Wild Turkey
Carolina Wren
Bewick’s Wren
Black-capped Chickadee
Field Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Rufous Crowned Sparrow
White-eyed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Tufted Titmouse
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Brown-headed Cowbird
Common Grackle
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
Black and White Warbler
Golden-cheeked Warbler
Black-chinned Hummingbird

All of the information gathered by a field trip like this one not only provides inportant baseline data for the ranch, but will also help scientists in the future understand how climate change is affecting known habitats that have data collected over a period of time. We have been talking with some UT professors about doing ongoing research of insect populations. Hopefully Dr. Ribble will continue to bring students here for vertebrate field studies.

The four students were good enough to write me some of their impressions from their short but exciting stay here at Selah.

Whitney McCarthy said, "I enjoyed the beautiful terrain of the ranch; what's even more amazing is all of the restoration of the grasslands that has taken place here. I enjoyed setting traps for mice at various areas and seeing what we came up with the next day."

Latoya Comer said, "I didn't know what to expect coming into this adventure, but I sure didn't expect the sprawling beauty, the silencing beauty, of the Bamberger Ranch Preserve. My purpose was to learn the trapping techniques of small mammals, but I found my pleasure in hiking and finding niches of paradise in the land. Thank you for the opportunity to "pause" this weekend."

Claire Edwards said, "This is an amazing ranch! There is so much to do and to see. I really enjoyed getting to see all the animals. We caught a lot of mice and bats. My favorite part was getting to held the bat and releasing it into a tree. It scurried up the tree and eventually flew off into the night. It has been a very peaceful, enjoyable experience."

Rachel Johansen said, "It is very comforting to know not only there is such great natural beauty in Texas, but that there are genuinely great people trying to preserve it. Personally I really enjoyed the wonderful birds and their beautiful songs. I definitely think bird watching might become a new hobby of mine."

We enjoyed having you at the ranch. It is not only exciting that you all see and learn about the ranch, but we are getting good documentation of the animals that live here and where they are found.

Thanks to you Dr. Ribble, and to your students!

Friday, April 4, 2008

I'm an April Fool for Spring Wildflowers!

Spring Brings Endless Entertainment to Wildflower Enthusiasts

In the past I have found that even when there is only a "minor wildflower show" there are still a huge variety of species represented. I remember one of our wildflower walks (usually held in the first week of May) when it was a dry year. One of our participants asked, "So where are the wildflowers?", and I answered, "Just wait and see". We saw around 100 species in our 4 hour field-day. In fact, we have a large percentage of our May list blooming each year, what varies is the number of individuals of each species that are blooming. In wet years there are lots of individuals of each species, and in dry years, fewer individuals of each species in bloom. So the determined enthusiast sees lots of wildflowers even in dry years.

Following are the wildflowers that I've taken pictures from this past couple of weeks (in alphabetical order):

Buckeye, yellow (Aesculus pavia var. flavescens)
Buckeyes are multi-trunked shrubs 5' to 10' tall. There are 2 varieties, a red one, and a yellow one, that are divided by range. Both have palmately compound leaves with 5 leaflets, that are attached to the stem opposite another leaf. We are in an area that has both varieties, and we have yellow ones and others that are intermediate between the two. The red variety are found on the eastern edge of the Hill Country, and scattered throughout East Texas counties, and the yellow variety is in the south-western Hill Country. The individual flowers are 1 1/2" long. Large brown seeds with a white "eye" are in a pod in late summer that remains after the leaves are gone. The flowers, leaves and seeds are all poisonous to animals.

Buckeye (Acsculus pavia), red & yellow intermediate form.

Damianita (Chrysactina mexicana) is found in the eastern and south-west portion of the Edwards Plateau and throughout the Trans-pecos region of west Texas. It grows here in dry areas of limestone and caliche. It is a short spreading shrub 8 to 16 inches tall. Flowers are typical of its family, Asteraceae (daisy), and have disk flowers in the center surrounded by ray flowers. The leaves are dark green, linear and very aromatic. You can smell them by rubbing them gently between your fingers and sniffing your fingers.

Death Camus (Zigadenus Nuttalllii) is in the Lily family, grow from dark brown bulbs, and are found on prairies and open hillside on limestone soils. The upright flowering stalk is 1 to 2 feet tall and is surrounded at the bottom by arched linear leaves. The flower-head is usually 3 to 5 inches long and individaul flowers are 3/8 to 1/2 inch wide. The plant is poisonous to all livestock species, but is not often eaten becuase it is not tasty to them.

Green Dragon (Arisaema Dracontium) is 1 to 2 feet tall with one compound leaf on a long stem. The flower stalk is 4 to 10 inches tall topped by a light a light green spathe (c0vering) from which emerges a pale tapering spadix that has tiny male flowers above the slightly larger female flowers on the spadix. I have looked for years in hopes of seeing a Green Dragon blooming, and finally this year saw one and got some pictures.

Knotwood Leaf Flower (Phyllanthus polygonoides) is a tiny plant that you won't find pictured in a flower book. At the bottom of the picture I have my ring which is 3/4" wide so you can tell how small it is. The flowers are white and when the seeds develop (one where each flower was) they look like tiny green stars with a bump in the middle. A friend of mine who is a botanist taught me some of these "itty-bitty" plants.

Live Oak (Quercus fusiformis) has leaves and catkins in the spring, which are the oak tree's flowers. There are both green ones which are female flowers, and yellow-brown ones that are male flowers that are covered with pollen which falls and cover sidewalks and cars a with brownish-yellow dust in the spring. Plants that make lots of pollen which is spread by wind are generally not showy, but because of the abundant amounts of pollen they produce, people are often allergic to them.

Texas Madrone (Atbutus xalapensis) is in the Heath Family. It is a tree with smooth red bark, white small flowers in the spring, and red berries in the fall. Once a year the dark red bark peels away and the new bark underneath is a pale pink, or white. Leaves are thick, evergreen and glossy. The flowers are urn shaped with the opening at the bottom. It is an uncommon tree and is rarely found in dense concentrations. Here at Selah they are scattered in canyons and on hillsides. The lake was named Madrone Lake for the tree that is on a rise just above the spillway to the dam. The tree specialist didn't think it would survive there, but it is still alive. J. David has had success planting Madrones around the lake.

Pink Mimosa (Mimosa borealis) is a small bush with sharp claw-like thorns on it. Leaves are around an inch long and have 2 to 4 little branches of pinnately compound leaves (that means that the leaflets are arranged along a midline like a feather). The freshest flowers are pink globes with white tips, and the more mature ones are white. Fruit is a pea type pod with 2 to 7 seeds that is 1 to 2 inches long.

Prairie Verbena (Verbena bipinnatifida) with White-lined Sphinx Moth sipping nectar from a flower. The White-lined Sphinx moth is active during the day. In this photo, you can see its proboscis extend into one of the individual flowers to reach its nectar. (Click on the photo to see a larger copy).

In this photo of the back of the White-lined Sphinx moth, you can clearly see the markings on its back and wings, including a peach-pink area on its hind-wing. I couldn't see any details when I was there taking pictures, because they buzz around so rapidly that they are only a blur to your eyes.

Prairie Paintbrush (Castilleja purpurea) is a native of Central Texas, and extend to the north-central counties near the Red River. There are three color varieties, orange, yellow and pink or purple. Orange is the common color here, though we have an occasional deep pink one. The bight colors of the paintbrush are due to the colored bracts which are modified leaves that are around the actual flower.

Texas Paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) likes the sandy soils that are found in the Llano Uplift region. The Texas Department of Transportation has planted them along the highways throughout the rest of the Hill Country.

Stemless Evening Primrose (Oenothera triloba) is a low plant whose flowers open in the evening near dark. They are around 2 inches wide.

Straggler Daisy (Calyptocarpus vialis) is low growing and is common throughout our area. It is another of the "itty bitty" flowers, and you can see my ring (3/4" diameter) in the background for size. It is in the daisy family that has disk flowers in the middle and ray flowers around the central disk.

The wildflower photographs in this blog are not a complete inventory of the blooming flowers that I have seen recently, and I'm sure that there are many that are blooming that I haven't seen yet. Also, because we are in a relatively high area (between 1350' and 1900' above sea level) there are wildflowers I've seen along the highway that are not blooming here yet.

I hope you all enjoy seeing pictures and reading about some of my favorite early wildflowers. I surely hope we get some more rain to nourish more wildflowers for this spring. If you live in the Texas Hill Country, there is one outstanding book for identification of wildflowers by Marshall Enquist, called Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country which was published in 1987, ISBN 0-918013-0-1. GOOD NEWS: The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center now has copies of a new printing of this wonderful field guide, for $17.95. My copies are dog-eared, dirty and show signs of having gotten wet a time or two, because they are in constant use in the spring. I'm terrible at remembering scientific names, so I'm always looking them up, along with the interesting facts about each one.

Wildlowers offer a cheap, engaging activity!

Photographs were all taken by Margaret Bamberger and are copyrighted, so if you would like to use any of them, please get permission from me. (If you send a comment I get them on my e-mail. Let me know if you are OK with my publishing your request). All of these pictures were taken in the last 2 weeks with my Canon XTi.