Category: Photography

Photography Challenge Day 156: The white hairy caterpillar

So the winner for today’s photography challenge is the little white hairy caterpillar that was crawling around the bottom of the bug repellent (that had obviously been knocked over).

Hairy little caterpillar

Since we live next to a creek, and probably less than a block from some undeveloped areas we usually get caterpillars coming through the yard on a daily basis. Not many of them make it up to the table, but some do and usually I help them on their way.

So I’m not an entomologist by any stretch of the imagination, so if it is an unknown bug I will either turn to google or ask my cousin (who is an entomologist). Well today I decided to try my hand at google to figure out what type of moth or butterfly this was going to be changing into.

It turns out that this probably a fall webworm caterpillar. So this little guy at one point was up in a tree in a “web” with hundreds of it’s relatives. The caterpillar stage for this particular species lasts about four to six weeks–which means that by September it is going to try to find an area around a tree to spin it’s cocoon for the winter.

While their webs/nests are unsightly in the trees, they’re not killing the tree and I’m sure that there are industrious birds trying to figure out how to get through the webbing and feast on all those little caterpillars.

I might have to try and spot some of the tent caterpillars and see if I can get a picture for comparison.

No Comments insectsnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 155: The household pest, the house fly

So the winner of today’s photography challenge is actually the common household pest—the house fly. I took a picture of this one outside, when I was sitting on the patio this morning. What caught my attention is it’s coloring—unlike the other flies that were being pests, this one (was still being a pest), but had a white body instead of the darker colored body that the other flies sported.

A white/black housefly in the backyard

Seeing this fruit fly, took me back to my high school genetics class, where we actually had to cross two flies and keep track of the progeny. We learned how to determine male from female flies (before they hatched from the pupa stage), so that we could separate them. Then we would do crosses, check the sexes, separate and look for specific traits (such as body color, eye color, and wing shape).

Just for those three traits, this particular fly has the recessive markers for body color (since it is white and not a darker color; and I’d assume the darker color is more dominant as I hardly see lightly colored house flies), but managed to get the dominant markers for eye color (as red eyes are more common), and the wings look normal (not curled, or thin).

So flies are pests (but can should be considered a semi-beneficial pest). They do help recycle organic matter, but can also transmit diseases as well—this along with their flying around being obnoxious is the reason why they’re considered pests. They are also one of the most widespread insects, as they can basically be found almost anyplace humans are.

They have at least a four week life cycle, and the female can lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime. The life cycle of a house fly goes from egg to larvae (this stage is ~2 weeks, though can be as long as a month if eggs laid in cooler climates or cold front comes through) to pupae (this stage is 2-6 days, though again can go longer if the temperatures are cooler), then finally the adult. The life span of the adult is anywhere from two weeks to a month.

So this week’s theme for the photography challenge may be insects, or oddly colored objects??

No Comments insectsnaturePhotographyScience

Photography Challenge Day 153: Cooler areas for a hot summer day

So today’s photographs are yet more throwback/flashback winners. I decided that since we’re in the middle of the ”dog days of summer” with triple digit heat with even higher heat indexes I wanted to share some photographs that reminded me of cooler temperatures.

So when thinking of cooler temperatures, what automatically comes to mind? Swimming, being out on the water, but also being underground in caves.

One of the formations in the main cavern at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

We went to Carlsbad Caverns last year as part of a quick whirlwind trip through New Mexico. While it was my first time there, I enjoyed it and would love to go back and explore more. There is a lot to see within the main cavern, and I would actually like to go on one of the guided tours within other caves that have entrances via the main cavern. The only reason why I didn’t do one to begin with–I didn’t know that it was going to be a five hour round trip tour.

Besides the caverns, there are numerous hiking trails that one can go on as well. I also enjoy hiking, but wasn’t dressed for it and again we hadn’t planned on doing any-though I’d like to hike a little bit of a trail just to see what type of wild flowers or animals are around. I know there are rattlesnakes, we’ve heard them–luckily we didn’t see them on the trip.

My other favorite place to escape the heat is going to a lake, and not just any lake. I prefer sandy bottom lakes, that you can actually see where you’re walking and if it’s a little rocky that’s fine–they’re at least smooth rocks that you’re walking on. So one destination that I have enjoyed going to over the years has been Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota. This is a large fresh body lake that has actually become one of Minnesota’s latest state parks.

Sunset over Frazer Bay, Lake Vermilion St. Louis County Minnesota

Swimming, kayaking, bird watching, star gazing, and watching the sunsets are things that I have always enjoyed doing when going to Lake Vermilion. I remember kayaking out to an island and watching the bald eagles feed their young. This was the first place where I actually saw a bald eagle in the wild, and we use to see them sit atop of the large pine trees gazing out over the water before launching out to hunt for a meal (either for themselves or their young).

Going to the ocean is another way of getting away from the heat–though you do need to stay in the water, or have a really nice large beach umbrella to stay out of the sun. While I’ve been to the ocean several times (both Atlantic and Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico as well)–I’ve only managed to capture a sunset picture from the Gulf of Mexico, when we went down to South Padre Island years ago.

Sunset over the bay, South Padre Island Texas

What I liked about this sunset picture was actually managing to capture the heron hunting as well. There weren’t any clouds in the sky that day, so there wasn’t any pinks and reds streaking across the sky that I would see when looking at a sunset over Lake Vermilion. It was different, but just as beautiful. Now that I’ve gone back through photographs of different locations–I would like to try to capture more sunsets over water (be it lakes, rivers, or oceans). It’s a nice way of saying it’s been a beautiful day, and tomorrow will be just as nice.

That will be a goal for my travels in 2020–capture at least one sunset picture from one new location. If I travel back to areas I’ve been before (say Boston), then try to go on a harbor cruise and get a picture of the sun setting over the harbor (I do have one of it setting over the river). Also I should try to get at least one new sunrise picture as well in my 2020 travels.

No Comments National ParksnaturePhotographyState Parkstravel

Photography Challenge Day 152 (a day late): Flash Back Friday edition

So hopefully I’m all caught up on the photography challenge after today and it will be back to a daily posting. Last night the internet was acting up and my Friday post didn’t save as a draft. So we’re trying it again this morning.

So yesterday’s winner of the photography challenge is one of the anaconda snakes that live at the New England Aquarium.

I would recommend that you go to their Facebook page or their main page to learn more about these cool snakes (beyond the little that I’m going to be sharing here). One of the females (and I’m not sure if it was this one or one of the other two)—actually birth to a couple of baby anacondas, even though there are no males in the holding.

Green Anaconda at the New England Aquarium

So there are two main types of reproduction: sexual and asexual. Sexual reproduction, is reproduction with fertilization; whereas asexual reproduction is reproduction without fertilization. There are actually six to seven different types of asexual reproduction. Though when talking about more complex animals, if they asexually reproduce, it is usually through parthenogenesis.

Pathogenesis, is the process in which an unfertilized egg develops into an new individual. So, the female anaconda had several unfertilized eggs that developed into a couple of new little green anacondas.

According to the aquarium, the two young anacondas haven’t been put out in the display unit yet–it will interesting to see when they do, if one can capture pictures of them on the same day every year and see how they grow.

I find these snakes to be fascinating in terms of both their size and the fact that they thrive in water. While I’m not fond of snakes (living in the southern part of the US, there are quite a few that have nasty bites that can seriously hurt or kill a person), I do enjoy watching them from a distance—or when there is a solid piece of glass between us.

No Comments naturePhotographyreptilestravelZoos/Aquariums

Photography Challenge Day 151 (A day late): Throwback Thursday to old headstones

Well this post is a day late–while I had decided on the topic, I couldn’t quite decide on which exact pictures to share, so I decided I’d look through them again today and decided. So the pictures are all throwbacks to my trip to Boston last year.

Boston is one of my favorite places to visit—it has history, science, and numerous things to do; plus a semi-decent public transportation system. With it being one of the oldest cities on the east coast, one of my favorite things to do is walk the Freedom Trail (of course walking the whole thing depends largely on the weather for that day).

Marking the spot of the Boston Massacre

The Freedom Trail is a two and half mile path through the north end of Boston, that connects sixteen different historical sites and/or monuments. Most of the sites are free, though there are some that require an entrance fee (such as Paul Revere’s house, and one or two of the churches).

I find it fascinating and somewhat calming to walk through the old cemeteries and look at the different headstones that are still somewhat readable after a few hundred years. Some of the headstones you can’t read anything, but you still see some of the stone work that went into the headstones.

The artwork on the tombstone for John Hurd
Some more of the stonework that has survived centuries.

So when walking through Granary Burying Ground, you can see monuments to different historical figures such as:

Paul Revere’s burial site.
Monument to Ben Franklin
Monument to John Hancock

I have other pictures of gravestones (from this graveyard and others) from when I lived in Boston (I would head to the north end almost every other weekend, and I did enjoy wandering through the cemetery and look at the headstones), that I’ll post within other topics as well over the next few weeks.

No Comments Historical SitesHistoryPhotographytravel

Photography Challenge Day 150: Woof Wednesday edition

So I decided that today’s photography challenge should introduce the newest member of the family. My mom had decided around Mother’s Day that she wouldn’t mind getting another dog. I might have had something to do with it–the facebook pages for the humane society in town wasn’t play fair and there was a very cute puppy posted. So we went and put in an application for adoption, and two days later got the call that we could come pick her up.

Rolex, sitting on the table staring at the birds.

So we brought home an 11 pound whirl wind that we named Rolex–since she was going to be our new watchdog. She has steadily been growing since we’ve got her–she is up to a solid 27 pounds, and I’m hoping that she tops out at somewhere between 35 and 40 pounds.

Rolex’s opinion of the weather.

We’re thinking that she is part boxer, due to the under bite she has and shows every so often. What the other breed(s) are–we have no idea. She is a runner, and loves running in circles through the backyard (and house) as fast as she can. Luckily there are squeaky toys to amuse her partially during the day, and old plastic water bottles.

I’ve been wanting to get a puppy myself, as I’m almost over the heartache of losing Chewi back in October. The only thing is I want to have my transition more or less already happening. I figured it would be better to get a puppy once I’ve moved and get the cat adjusted to her new living quarters. That way the puppy will be accustomed to living in an apartment (not having to deal with it knowing that it could always have the run of a yard, then having to get it adjusted to walks only).

But Rolex is slowly starting to help ease my depression over losing Chewi, Piranha, and Spelunkers last year. We’ve had her for a little over two months, and the months do seem to have flown by since we’ve got her.

No Comments PetsPhotography

Photography Challenge Day 149: The turtles are all in a row

Since I’ve been trying to do my walks at Boomer Lake a little earlier in the day–because let’s face it, summer temperatures in Oklahoma are not fun–especially mid-morning onwards. So, I’ve been trying to get up to Boomer Lake to walk, hopefully no later than say quarter after eight.

Turtles lined up in a row.

So, since I’m there fairly early it has been hit and miss with getting pictures of the turtles. Sometimes they’re out, and sometimes they’re not. This particular morning I managed to catch sight of almost half a dozen of them sharing a log on the other side of the small cove. The only reason why I managed to spot them–the sun was already warming up that part of the lake.

Red-eared sliders, are unable to regulate their own body temperatures–so they need to sit in the sun for a time to warm up. If they get to warm–they slide back into the water to cool off, then back into the sun to warm up again.

Depending on the size of the log or branch, there can be anywhere from one or two turtles upward of half a dozen or more.

One interesting thing about sliders–come fall to winter, you usually stop seeing them out in the wild. This is because they’ve gone into a stage of brumination, which means they become seriously inactive. They slow down all their metabolic pathways, their breathing, and their heart rate to the bare minimum that they need to survive. They can stay like that at the bottom of ponds and shallow lakes, or in hollow logs, or under rocks. This makes sense, since they can’t regulate their own body temperatures and the surrounding environmental temperatures start dropping and instead of trying to migrate or store food in a den somewhere–they just slow everything down and basically chill until late spring.

I wonder how many of them chill on the bottom of Boomer Lake in the winter??

No Comments naturePhotographyreptiles

Photography Challenge Day 148: Baby Mallards (short post)

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.

Baby ducklings

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.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 147: The dew drops and the fungi

So I’m still trying to decide on the next theme for a week of the photography challenge. I have some ideas–but I need to make sure that I can either a) get a picture within the theme at some point during the day, or b) I have several pictures already (that I hopefully haven’t shared) on my computer.

Therefore today’s photography challenge winner is one of the tiny mushrooms that pop up every so often–and if you aren’t looking for them, you’ll miss them.

Tiny mushroom hiding in the grass.

Though the humidity was high enough that I managed to catch some dew drops as well before they disappeared. These little guys seem to pop up after rain, and then quickly disappear.

Since I’m not an expert at identify most fungi (I’m pretty good at identifying oyster mushrooms and toad stools), I’m not to going to even try to guess what this one. While I’ve shared some other fungi pictures earlier, I don’t think that these are the same type. The only thing that the two have in common–is that they’re small.

This one was growing by itself, and the others I saw as a small grouping. I know that I could get even more pictures of mushrooms/fungi if I started going out to the area lakes and walking some of the trails. My main thing against that are the ticks–they’re numerous in Oklahoma, and I’ve developed allergic reaction to them even crawling on me. Once I find some new long/breathable leggings, and a hiking partner (or two)–I’ll probably try it. For now, my mushroom watching will be limited to areas that I know have very few ticks in them.

Fungi are an important part of the local ecosystem–they help decompose things, and recycle nutrients back into the soil. They can also have symbiotic relationships with bacteria, plants, and others.

No Comments naturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 146: The white false garlic

Today’s winner of the photography challenge is another early spring wildflower: the false garlic (Nothoscordum bivalve), and also goes by the names of crow poison.

This is one of the more numerous wildflowers up at Boomer Lake in the early spring time, it looked like the entire field was covered with them.

Numerous blossoming white false garlic

It will bloom in the early spring, and potentially again in the fall (now I have something to keep an lookout for on my walks this fall). It is called false garlic, because it looks like a wild onion but lacks the onion odor.

It is a native wildflower to the south plains and south eastern states (basically from Arizona east to Virginia), and it’s blooming schedule is March through May, and then again possibly in September and October.

It can also be found growing in Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile as well.

I wonder that even though it doesn’t have the garlic/onion odor—would it have the garlic/onion flavor? This could be a possible native wildflower to plant in the yard to help naturally deter the moles from coming through and destroying everything—it is something to look into.

It would also be interesting to try to find the origin of the other common name–crow poison. Just a quick google search didn’t really turn up anything–it might require looking into older botany papers and books to see if origin (or even old wise tale) about the other name. My hypothesis: someone (years upon years ago) found a dead crow in the middle of a field of false garlic, and though it ate the seeds and died; they therefore named the flowers crowpoison.

That is one of two main reasons why I haven’t done much gardening over the years—the moles have a habit of eating the flower bulbs (didn’t realize they liked tulips as much as they did until they ate like two dozen tulip bulbs the second year we were living here). The second reason why I haven’t done much gardening—is the soil—it is really nothing more than solid red clay, and it is a pain to dig in. You need to add in some much extra mulch and topsoil and hope that you’ve added enough extra that the soil will actually drain and not drown the roots of your plants.

It’s looking like it could be August before I really try to do any type of even weeding of the front garden—starting Tuesday it’s going to be triple digit weather for at least 10 days—and that means I may not even get my morning walk in at Boomer Lake next weekend (depending on what the temperature and humidity is at 7am).

Starting tomorrow I’m going to try to do another week of pictures that follow a certain trend—something for me to think on tonight and most of tomorrow.

No Comments flowersnaturePhotography