During the summer of 2014, I became entranced by Water Striders inhabiting a small brook in a natural area near where I live. As I sat next to the stream and observed the striders, I began noticing all kinds of interesting things … including the remarkable shadows they cast on the bottom of pools, the bright “starburst” reflections that are sometimes visible where their feet touch the water, and the wonderful play of light on the water’s surface when they skitter here and there.
After several visits, I was so impressed with the “water strider phenomena” that I decided to return with a small high-definition (HD) camcorder and see if I could capture some of the magic and share it with others. After just a few sessions, I managed to get some splendid footage … enough, I surmised, to create a decent video celebration of their unique “way of being”. My plan was to work up the material the following winter, when I would have plenty of time on my hands for studio work. But then I was diagnosed with major illness and had to shelve the project indefinitely.
Late in the autumn of this year, I was looking through old video footage and stumbled upon my folder of water strider clips. While some seemed a bit marginal in quality in comparison to today’s 4K video standard, it nonetheless looked plenty good enough to produce a useful celebration. So I decided to follow through with my plan. It took me well over a week to put it all together. I had to choose and prepare the clips, write and narrate a script, add nature sounds, and come up with appropriate music for the ending. A lot of hard work for sure, and numerous experimental versions. But I finally got it done, and I must say that I’m quite pleased with the result.
Without doubt, Water Striders are fantastic beings, well-deserving of our attention, and brimful of magic for those who take the time to observe them.
The Wat’ry Mirror
on this placid summer morn
meandering up a forest stream
i search for magic newly-born …
sprinklings of fair nature’s dream
and soon i find a sweet delight
drifting, darting, left and right
in pools beneath the riffled light …
water striders, skimming near
gliding on the wat’ry mirror
casting shadows, sliding smooth …
entranced, i watch their every move
poem © Lang Elliott
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I’m so glad I stumbled upon your amazing website. I miss the outdoors so much!
Very high qaulity, and the video made me thirsty. Really good!!!
i so love this
Mesmerizing, stunning, the light, the reflection, the striders, the photography, the bird calls and sound of the forest in the background – a truly magical experience.
I hope you are improving from your illness, so sorry.
Yes, I recovered nicely, and I’m still tromping around outdoors, up to my neck in the muck of naturel
I’m thrilled to see you posting again, Lang. You’ve been missed!
Ever since I was very young, I’ve been a fan of water striders. Your video doesn’t disappoint – it’s beautiful!
Thank you Eliza!
I love to close my eyes and listen to nature sounds and your voice telling your story. Thank you for sharing this. Asomeness.
I always appreciate all your excellent work so much, Lance! Thank you for feeding my soul. X
Thank you for a badly needed summery moment on a bleak, foggy, chilly January day.
fascinating & mesmerizing! love the poem too.
So cool. So very cool. I see them and it takes me back in time to when I was a carefree kid.
Sean … you don’t have to go back far ’cause you’re still a carefree kid!
I’ve been told that. Likewise, I’m sure. Sometimes you forget to check out the local, more common treasures. When searching for the “more exciting” subjects it’s easy to pass them by. What a mistake on my part. Beautiful video, beautiful words.
Very enjoyable and truly beautiful to watch. Thank you, Lang!
So beatifully done. I loved the music and light reflections along with the poetic words introducing me to water striders. I cannot wait to introduce you works to young children.
Very enjoyable in a number of ways.
Dear Lang Elliott,
I own your book on The Songs of Insects, and have the CD. It is a great book! So, I recently purchased your book, Music of the Birds, used, but the CD did not come with that book. I noted that you had posted the insect songs online and people could access them. Have you also posted the bird songs on your CD online? I would like to listen to them as I read your book. Thanks. Hope I will see your reply. Don
No, the recordings from Music of the Birds are not online. But I’ve sometimes thought of putting the entire book online, with recordings in their proper places. I’m at loss to see how it would help me make a living, but I’ll think more about this possibility.
BTW, I am willing to make you a copy of the CD. Let me know via email if you’re interested: email@example.com
Hi Lang, Found my way to your water striders by way of chasing down information on candy-striped leafhoppers and seeing your footage of them. This striders video is lovely and creative. The leafhopper footage is astounding. I had been in my garden trying to film what I thought were leafhoppers, with not much success, and actually identified them through your video. Then explored more of your work which is phenomenally beautiful in its composition, lighting and clarity. Mesmerising!
Mesmerized by your love for water striders, your voice, and the poem. Ah the poem reads classical from the times of Shelly and Wordsworth, a poem right from the Romantic Period. Blessed are you and blessings you spread. Thank you
Ryler: Thank you for your kind words!
Dear Lang, This is the first of your blog posts I’ve “read”/watched, though I have been familiar with your recordings of bird songs and amphibian calls for a long time. This study of water striders is truly balm for my soul during this pandemic. I love insects and I grew up spending time on rivers and by ponds. This spoke to my childhood memories and my eternal sense of wonder about the magic intricacies of nature. I now have a place to come for solace when I am feeling really low. I can’t wait to experience more of your blog… Read more »
This is beautiful! Your photography is excellent and the mood you set is reflective and peaceful Back in the 1960s I embarked upon a study of Gerris regimis….if I recall the name correctly. My study area was along a small steep creek in Southern California that occasionally dried by late summer. I was curious about their groups. I wondered if they were stable, or if they moved up or downstream. I also had questions about dispersal, since most of them were apterous. But I did find a few individuals that were winged. I spent hours catching and dabbing small spots… Read more »
Thank you Sally, and I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed my beaver recording, which I presume is the one that features the animated sounds of the young.
I am a nature educator and absorbed much of my knowledge and love of the out of doors from my Dad, Paul Stoutenburgh. He was a local naturalist on Long Island, NY. After retiring from 30 years of teaching young children I had an idea for a children’s picture book. It was finally published after 7 years of searching for a publisher. But that is not why I reply to your beautiful video. I included water striders in my book, Moonglow/www.moonglow.com, and truly enjoyed this entertaining video.
Hi Peggy. Just checked out your book. Looks nice. Note that the link you gave now points to a jewelry website, but I found it by searching in amazon.com. I also managed to find moonglowkids.com.
I love your poem and short film. We overlook so many interesting and beautiful things around us.
The footage in this video is fabulous! I have tried to photograph striders and found it extremely difficult; I also find editing video extremely time consuming. So I really appreciate and enjoy this wonderful movie that you created and shared – thank you so much!
Awesome, thanks so much.
Hello, Mr.Lang! Thanks for your beautiful piece of sound scape! I sent you some business inquiry e-mail via your blog contact form!
Please check out!
Thank you for continuing to share the wonders of nature with us. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that has been entranced by this amazing insect. Great treat on a chilly day!
You’re welcome Caryn! I only wish I had more time these days to do the same. Too many hours sitting in front of a computer … though with a silver lining: I’m listening-to and editing field recordings most of the time. For instance, on this dreary winter day, I’m wallowing in Amazon rainforest soundscapes.
Your focus here on striders gave new dimensions to their beauty. Thanks Lang!
Gene: I remember watching them in a little stream just uphill from your country house. I even got some footage there, although I didn’t use it in the video.
This brought me straight back to favorite times growing up next to a big woods and walking my dog everyday there. These insects were amongst the gentlest to interact with directly. Their liveliness added immense depth to even shallow water. Great thanks for this superb highlight.
You’re welcome Bill!
Absolutely wonderful! The dance of water and light is an ever-present glimpse of magic…..and these
Iittle folks invite us into that realm! The star-bursts were beautifully captured, and that fleeting shot with lensed reflections up through the trees overhead took my breath away…. Many thanks for letting us see through your eyes and heart!
Jim: Glad to hear that you like it! I gathered all the footage with a little Canon HD camcorder, the XA20 I believe. Small, versatile, easy to deal with in the field. Now I’d like to go back and get footage in 4K. But the wonderful spot where I did the work has been radically changed (for the worse) as a result of a winter ice storm that brought down a bunch of big trees, creating a massive tangled mess. Such a shock. So now I need to find a new sit-spot.
Hi my friend, I am so happy you shared this with us all. I was just talking with my husband about these little gems the other day.I find them amazing and so much fun to watch.I love all the videos you have shared, they are a little piece of heaven and I love them,especially the owl and swamp sounds. So thank you again for all you do.Hope you get well soon
Lovely work, my friend. I so appreciate your sharing with us what you see and hear and learn.
Thanks for sharing. The true magic in life to me, is noticing and appreciating the small things. I invite you to also enjoy what I’d call the “mirror image” of the striders and that is the backswimmers. I wish I could share my photo with you. They are every bit as fascinating.
Oh yes … those wonderful backswimmers. A much more difficult video project, though, considering that they don’t gather in groups and all their action is underwater. I really don’t like bringing critters into an aquarium, but with truly aquatic species there isn’t much choice. More likely, I will do a study of whirligig beetles first, but I doubt they would hold a candle to the striders in terms of providing really powerful video imagery … what’s more I’d certainly have to resort to a controlled aquarium environment in order to get sharp views from underneath. You might want to check… Read more »
A lovely study Lang! And a reminder that even everyday creatures are worthy of a close look.
Really really nice Lang. Your efforts paid off!
Thanks so much for this lovely video which helped me appreciate something I’ve never paid much attention to. Anyway I will be working this year on stream conservation and it is good to get back to the core of why we are doing what we are doing.
In this crazy hyper charged world of human endeavors, we rarely take the time to stop, look, and listen … to sink into the magic that surrounds us and allow ourselves to rest at peace within nature’s womb.
They always have reminded me of you!
I am honored!
Thank you so much. Such beauty!
Enjoyed your poetry, the peace of the striders, and identifying the background birds.
Carole: So what birds did you hear?
Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Veery, Wood Thrush, Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Scarlet Tanager, American Redstart, Cedar Waxwing, Black-throated Green Warbler, Red-eyed Vireo, ….. Couldn’t help but to chime in!
You have a sharp ear!
It was fun! Very relaxing watching the striders and listening to the summer woods! Great stuff.
Doesn’t matter how old the clips were, you made them come to life. Great info. And really interesting. I’ve watched them with my daughter many times and they are fascinating.
It helps that they are so common and wonderfully easy to observe, and quite “kid friendly” as well. What’s more, you can get fantastic views with modern close-focusing binoculars.
Love this one, Lang. Magical! There’s a touch of Wordsworth in this one, and a touch of John Burroughs, and a whole lot of Lang Elliott. Keep up the good work!
Thank Ed! My time with the striders was very fruitful, but I’d love to get back out there and shoot in 4K for improved sharpness, plus get some more striking closeup footage of individuals.
A droplet of magic this video delight
I’ll not forget it,
a moment of light.
In a world full of anger, stress, and trouble,
the water bugs bring us some love in a bubble.
Shadows and brilliance and poetry too
Thank you Lang
I’m refreshed all anew!
Very clever poem! And indeed it’s true … watching striders offers some measure of relief from all the anger, stress, and trouble of human existence.
Oh Lang……your combination of luminous photography, soothing nature sounds and melodious words was absolutely magical !
THANK YOU, once again, for bringing the world of nature ‘to life’ in ever deeper and more meaningful ways…….. 🙂
Most gratefully yours……
Teria: Thank you for your kinds words and I hope all is well with you in the southern Appalachians. I visited the Smoky Mountains briefly in October, accompanied by a fellow recordist. We gathered soundscapes in Cade’s Cove, bicycling to the far end of the loop road after dark. One night, I almost ran into a bear that was crossing the road. That would have been a disaster for sure. Imagine, on my gravestone … “Here lies Lang, who collided with a bear in the middle of the night. May he rest in peace.”
Laughing ……… :-). Yeah…….quite the ‘finishing touch “……. 🙂
p.s. I think I corrected the various typos in my response.
Thank you! The poetry and facts were complemented by the lovely sounds of birds and music.
Interesting and lovely. Great photography. Thank you Elliott
You captured it so beautifully, a summer day in the woods by a creek. I have always called them skater bugs and a few summers ago as I was cooling my feet in the mountain stream behind my house I realized they also bite sometimes. I too love the shadows they cast into the bottom of the stream and the play of light they create on the water. I have introduced my 5 grandchildren to them on summer afternoons in the woods. Thank you…for bringing me a bit of summer magic in January!
I like that … “skater bugs”. By googling, I discovered that they can leave a minor “sting” when irritated, but I wonder if they actually have stinging organs? Probably not! Perhaps, though, one might inadvertently poke its beak into your leg or foot while searching for food. Then again, perhaps not! In any event, they sure do look dangerous, with their dagger-like mouthpart protruding from their anterior end.