Well, this week there isn’t going to be a theme for the photography challenge. It could be due to my mood–but I can’t think of a challenge that I’m willing to do for the week. So this week will be random photographs–though they’ll probably all share a common location–Boomer Lake.
So on my walk this weekend, I came across a mother duck and her duckling wandering around near the sidewalk. They look so cute and cuddly (though I’m pretty sure they’d peck at me if I tried to cuddle with them). There were actually five of them grazing under the watchful eye of their mother.
While pairs are monogamous throughout the breeding season–it is the female that takes care of the young.
I’d notice that even the ducks around Theta Pond on campus have ducklings–though they seem to be a bit smaller than these guys. But thanks to the rain we got this spring–it’s been a good season for the ducks and geese in terms of raising their young.
Well today’s photography challenge post is hopefully going to play catch up and starting tomorrow I will be back to doing daily posts. The last few days I just couldn’t decide on a photograph to share, and if I could decide on a photograph—I ended up with writers block and couldn’t figure out what to say with the photograph.
Thursday’s photographs are a #throwback photograph series to
my whirlwind trip to London two years ago. I tried to cram a week’s worth of
sightseeing into a few days. I managed to see quite a bit, but would love to go
back and take a little more time and visit a few more places. So the photograph
is one of the many that I took while walking through the Tower of London, and
then visiting the Tower Bridge.
One of the things that I decided not to do while visiting the Tower of London was going up (and down) the stairs in the White Tower. I had decided that with all the walking I’d been doing through the day—I didn’t need to climb 204 stairs. Though I think it would be neat to look out from the top of the White Tower.
Looking back through the photographs has me itching to plan another trip somewhere, though currently I’m not sure where. I have several ideas of places I would like to go, I will just have to try and narrow the list to one for travel and then maybe one or two for networking.
Friday’s photograph is a #fungalfriday photo. This picture is actually quite old—I took it a little over two years ago, but that has been how long since we’ve seen this type of mushroom around the area.
This is an oyster mushroom—it’s one of the edible ones that grows on dead and dying trees. We use to have these popping up at least once to twice a year, but then the neighbor’s son moved into their place and sprayed herbicides along the creek bed and that spelled the end to our yearly collection of oyster mushrooms. I loved simmering them and then freezing them—we had quite a bit stored, but then used them in different meals.
I’d like to become better at identifying mushrooms in the wild, that way I know which ones are the edible ones and which ones are the ones that can kill you. Besides liking to eat mushrooms—I think they’re cool objects to photograph as well.
Saturday’s photograph winner is of two (of the many ducks) sitting on a log and grooming themselves. This is a log where if I manage to get up to the lake at dawn, I would usually see a great blue heron or an egret standing and waiting for their breakfast to swim pas them. Though lately since I’ve been getting up there after dawn, I’ve seen either the ducks or at times turtles sunning themselves on the log. I am going to have to try to start getting up earlier to manage to get up to the lake for some sunrise pictures.
Today’s winner of the photography challenge are the two pictures I managed to get of the sun as it was going in and out of the clouds this morning. It almost seemed like I was taking pictures of the moon moving in and out of the clouds—but we’re heading into a new moon phase—so it was the sun that looked so odd this morning.
On the walk this morning, I noticed that there were numerous dark clouds rolling through the area—luckily no rain fell. But as the clouds rolled through, they managed to act as a natural blinder for the sun and gave the optical illusion of it pretending to be the moon.
With these pictures I’ve managed to catch up on the
photography challenge. I’m going to try to take a new picture every day (either
with the camera or my phone), that way something new will be posted (instead of
picking a random photo out of my weekend work). Whether or not I manage to take
a picture every day will depend mainly on the weather (temperature), and my
mood—but hopefully the idea of a small walk will help spur the imagination and
give me new photography ideas.
So I managed to get a walk around Boomer Lake in between the thunderstorms today. Considering both the time I went, and the weather I really wasn’t expecting to see anything other than geese, mallards, and the occasional turtle.
So I was really happy when I noticed there was an egret on the far shore. Though before I could get a picture of it in the tree it took off towards an more quiet portion of the lake.
The egret could have just been in the area to just eat and then head back to the area where the nest and rest of the birds are-only a small portion of Oklahoma is in their breeding grounds (the rest of state including Boomer Lake is in the migratory area).
Though seeing this one, means that there should be quite a few come fall before they migrate south for the winter.
Some cool facts about the common (great) egret include:
They’re the symbol for the National Audubon Society.
They were hunted extensively in the 1800s for their long plumes (which were used to adorn women’s hats).
If it is a bad year for foraging/hunting–not all the young will survive. The stronger/larger chicks may kill off their weaker/smaller siblings (and it may also happen even during a good year for foraging/hunting).
Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the wild turkey. It has been quite awhile since I’ve seen one in the area. This one was just chilling in someone’s front yard next to their bench. If it hadn’t moved it’s head, I would have almost thought that the family had put out an lawn ornament.
We have had turkeys through the neighborhood before (last time was probably about two years ago), when a group was going through someone’s front yard.
What are some cool facts about turkeys:
They’re able to swim—they just tuck in their wings, spread out their tail and start kicking.
They have a well known fossil record—fossils found in the southern US & Mexico have dated turkeys back about 5 million years.
Due to dwindling numbers in the early part of the twentieth century—birds were captured and released in different areas of the US to help repopulate those areas. Now they are found in all lower 48 states, plus Hawaii and parts of Canada.
There are only two domesticated birds native to the New World: the wild turkey & the Muscovy duck.
The domesticated turkey originated in Europe—after European explorers brought back wild turkeys from Mexico (where they’d been domesticated), and then when the English showed up on the East coast—they brought the domesticated turkey with them.
So I did a mini walk up at Boomer Lake yesterday after the storms moved through the area. That meant that the humidity and temperatures were climbing, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and hardly a breeze.
One thing that I’ve noticed is that there seems to be some large carnivore (fox or coyote) that is stalking the geese and ducks at Boomer Lake. The reason why I think this is that there are a lot of feathers laying around that should probably be on a bird (namely a goose), but aren’t.
So I’m wondering what type of shape the other animal is in–I’m assuming other ducks, and possibly geese came to the aid of this mallard (which is why it’s only missing a leg and isn’t dead).
So I’d noticed that while there are a decent number of both goslings and ducklings—there isn’t an overabundance of them (especially goslings). But I have noticed that the geese (and ducks) without young have been gathering together during the days now.
I’d say that I would try to get to the lake at night to get a glimpse or a photograph of the carnivore–but that isn’t going to happen. For one thing–I have no idea of the type of carnivore (and I don’t want to possibly be facing a coyote), and the other reason–I have no idea of the time (and I’m not going to be camping out at the lake trying to get a glimpse of it). So I’ll just have to make do with knowing that something is going through, and maybe catch a glimpse in the early morning (if I get back up there to get some sunrise pictures).
I’m going to more or less let the pictures speak for themselves today.
So the ducklings aren’t usually as visible during my walks as the young goslings are–probably because there aren’t nearly as many mallards as Canada geese at the lake. So I was pleasantly surprised to see this group swimming around the other morning.
This was about as close as I was willing to get to goslings (and parents) the other morning. I was able to walk down to the edge of the lake to see if turtles were out–but I wasn’t able to actually walk on the sidewalk. The geese had taken it over.
Well I know that these are ducklings and a parent. The only thing I’m not sure of is the exact species of duck. But it looked to have a good start at raising a good number of ducklings.
It will be interesting to see how many more broods the geese and ducks have since it seems that they started a little early this year.
Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the killdeer
(Charadrius vociferus). I’d have
missed seeing this guy if I hadn’t stopped to take the lens cap off the camera
and wonder what race I was going to be dodging on my walk.
This plump plover is
one of the few shorebirds that doesn’t need to be near a beach (though I’ve
always noticed them around Boomer Lake).
Their diet is mainly insects (beetles, caterpillars,
grasshoppers), but will also eat spiders, earthworms, centipedes, snails, and
will even “fish” for crayfish. They can
be found in fields (which may or may not be near water), and will follow the
farmers plowing the fields to eat the grubs that unearthed.
They usually have one brood a year (though in the south, it
can be possibly two broods a year) that ranges from three to five young
(average is four). Both parents will incubate the eggs, and this ranges almost
a month (24 to 28 days). Depending on location, parents may soak in water
before returning to the nest in order to help keep the eggs cool.
The young leave the nest within a day of hatching. While
they stay with their parents, they are able to feed themselves. They are able
to fly roughly three and a half weeks after hatching.
Some cool facts about killdeers include:
They got their name from their call, which is a shrill,
wailing kill-deer. They are also
known as the Chattering Plover & the Noisy Plover.
They use the broken-wing act to lead predators away from the
nest. Though since they nest on the ground, they have to be weary of other
animals potentially stepping on the nest—so they try to charge the larger
animals to get them to change directions.
They are actually proficient swimmers (both adults and
Their nests are quite small and bare to begin with, but are
added to after eggs are laid. There was one nest somewhere within Oklahoma,
where people found over 1,500 pebbles adorning the nest.
They can live quite a long time—the oldest recorded Killdeer was at least 10 years & 11 months, when it was recaptured & then re-released in Kansas.
Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the Western Kingbird.
The Western kingbird, is slightly smaller than the American Robin in size. The coloring of the Western Kingbird is a combination of gray (on the head and back), yellow (belly), white (chest and throat), and black (tail).
They feed on a wide range of insects including bees, wasps, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, flies, and even spiders (to name a few of their culinary choices). Depending on where they are, they may even supplement their diets with fruits such as elderberries, mulberries, and other small fruits.
They winter in southern Mexico and Central America, migrate through Mexico, and spend the late spring through early fall in the western parts of the United States (including Oklahoma).
When it comes to nesting and raising the young—the female will build the nest, but both parents will defend the nest and the tree it is located in (which consists of their main territory by the middle of breeding season). The female will incubate the eggs (usually 2-7) for not quite three weeks, and then both parents handle the feeding of the young. The young are usually able to leave the nest about two weeks after hatching. The biggest threat for kingbirds in terms of nestlings reaching maturity is predation—and this includes other animals such as snakes, squirrels, wordiest, and other birds that are able to get into the nest and kill (and eat) the young.
I would love to be able to get some pictures of fledgling kingbirds this summer—but I don’t wander the park enough to even begin to guess where they could have their nests. I’m also not in the mood to possibly irritate a couple of birds that have no problem dive bombing larger birds to scare them off. I’ll just have to keep searching the sky to see if maybe I can spot one sitting on a branch somewhere later this summer.
So today’s winner for the photography challenge were the two sparrows that I managed to get a picture of two weeks ago on an afternoon walk.
Unfortunately, I can’t really tell which type of sparrow these two are. I know that there are several different types that call Stillwater home during spring to fall months, but I’ve never really been good at telling them apart.
It is even more difficult to tell them apart when you’re looking at their back ends (as the most distinguished marking are usually on the front & head). I do know that the sparrows like to sit and fly through the tall grasses and bushes along the edge of the lake, so hopefully this summer I will be able to get some other pictures and maybe even determine which sparrow species I’ve been photographing lately.