Category: Photography

Photography Challenge Day 92: The backside of a rodent

Well, today’s post is going to be slightly on the short side–only because it is difficult to try to determine what type of mouse (or possibly rat) I saw from the back end.

I think I spotted a mouse…..

So while I was on my walk yesterday, I heard something rustling in the grass off to the side. I decided that I would wait and peek through the grass to see if I could spot anything.

I managed to get the back end of a smallish rodent. I’m going to say some type of large mouse, as I’m not sure if rats have the brownish streaks to them that I saw. I know that there are field mice up at Boomer Lake–I’ve seen them, but the problem has always been that means they’ve seen me and run into the brush before I can get a picture of them.

So this is another mini-goal added to my summer photography plans: try to get a good picture of some of the rodents that call Boomer Lake home.

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Photography Challenge Day 91: Random butterflies and moths

So today’s photographs are of some of the butterflies and moths that I was able to get today on my walk at Boomer Lake.

Well, you can tell it’s a butterfly……

So the first one I think is the state butterfly of Oklahoma: the black swallowtail butterfly. I think it is almost ironic, that both the state bird and state butterfly are only found in the state during a certain number of months. They’re both migratory species, that spend the spring through fall months in state.

I would have loved to get a closer picture–but it was flying through the trees and bushes a little too fast–and since it had just rained I didn’t want to be trudging through mud either. So hopefully sometime this summer I can get a good picture of one.

Yellow and black moth on the honeysuckle

Then as I was looking around to see if any of the rabbits were out and about, I noticed this little guy on the honeysuckle. I know its coloring–it was yellow and black, but I wasn’t able to get a closer picture (and by the time I pulled out my phone it flew off). It’s funny that when you google “yellow and black moths in Oklahoma”–over eighty percent of the pictures you get back are of butterflies. So it may take me all summer to try and figure out what species of moth this is.

Little blue butterfly

Then I saw this little light blue butterfly on the other side of the lake. This was about as close as I could get in terms of taking a picture and it having its wings open. I do know that it was a light blue in color, and there might have been a little black as well. I may actually spend a little longer time at the lake one day just trying to get some good butterfly and moth pictures.

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Photography Challenge Day 90: Two Sparrows at the lake

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.

One sparrow decided it didn’t want to sit for the photo shoot.

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.

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Photography Challenge Day 89: Fishy Friday Edition. There are baby fish in the lake.

So today’s Fishy Friday post is going to be a short one. Mainly because I’m not one hundred percent certain on the type of fish that I saw in the lake on Sunday.

Some of the minnows swimming in the lake.

While I was on my walk Sunday, I go a certain way to see if I can spot any of the turtles sunbathing in the little cove next to the parking lot. In order to see them, you have to peek through the tall grass that is growing along the edge of the lake.

There is one little area that people have cleared, to where someone can stand and cast a fishing line out into the lake to fish. When I was standing there I looked down, and I saw probably about two dozen little fish swimming around. I’m calling the minnows, though they could be the young of some other fish in the lake.

It isn’t that often I see the little fish swimming around the lake–mainly because this is a muddy lake, and there are also numerous water snakes living in the lake (and I don’t want to cross the path of them–I don’t mind seeing them from a distance).

So it will be interesting to see how often I will be seeing small fish swimming in this area, or if they will move on and maybe I’ll start seeing some tadpoles swimming around soon.

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Photography challenge day 88: It’s either the orange sulfur or clouded sulfur butterfly.

So today’s post is going to be rather short, as I am not one hundred percent confident on the identification of the butterfly.

Pretty yellow butterfly.

Looking at pictures of butterflies that are found in Oklahoma at this time of the year, it is either the orange sulfur butterfly (also known as the alfalfa butterfly) or the clouded sulfur butterfly. Since I couldn’t get a picture of the butterfly with it’s wings out–I can’t say for certain which one it is.

So that is a goal for the summer–get more pictures of this pretty butterfly, but at the same time get a few pictures of it with it’s wings open so that I can hopefully determine which one it actually is.

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Photography Challenge Day 87: The Bald Eagle, our national emblem in flight

The winner of today’s photography challenge is our national emblem—the Bald Eagle. Truthfully, it wasn’t until I got home and put the pictures on the computer that I realized that I managed to get a fairly decent picture of one in flight.

The Bald Eagle soaring over Boomer Lake

I’m not a stranger to photographing Bald Eagles, when we would go up to northern Minnesota and stay at the family cabin, we’d usually see a Bald Eagle or two perched on the top of some of the trees.

Bald Eagle overlooking Lake Vermilion, St. Louis County Minnesota

While the eagle is in the raptor family, it is actually an opportunistic predator. It will hunt, though it does by either watching from a high perch and then swooping in to catch the prey unexpected or by cruising low over the water or land. It is known to be a scavenger feeding on dead carrion. It will also harass other fishing birds (such as Ospreys) and steal their food from them.

They usually have one or two young a year, though if it is a scarce year in terms of hunting only one of the young may actually survive (the strongest one to get to the food dropped in the nest). It is usually four or five years before the eagles will mate, and they may mate for life. They may also reuse the same nest, adding to it each year making it bigger and bigger. It isn’t unheard of Great Horned Owls stealing the nest of Bald Eagles.

What are some other cool facts about Bald Eagles?

It was almost beaten by the wild turkey for choice of the national emblem (that was the bird that Ben Franklin wanted chosen).

They have been observed to “play” with plastic bottles or other objects (such as sticks).

The largest nest on record is in St. Petersburg Florida and was measured to be 2.9 meters in diameter (or 9.5 feet) and 6.1 meters (or 20 feet) tall.

The young bald eagles (under the age of five) spend the time in nomadic exploration, and fly hundreds of miles.

They can have long life spans—the oldest recorded bird was ~38 years old. It had been hit and killed by a car in New York in 2015; it had also been banded in New York—but in 1977.

References: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/bald-eagle;  https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bald_Eagle/overview#

As much as I would love to try to get a picture of their nest–I know that they’re probably not nesting around Boomer Lake, and therefore I won’t be trekking in to see if I can spot the young being fed. Now if I was up at Lake Vermilion–that would be another story (though I’d have to be extremely careful not to drop my camera into the lake).

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Photography Challenge Day 86: Cormorant taking flight

Today’s post is probably going to be a little on the short side–I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

So while I was on my walk Sunday, I noticed that there was still at least one cormorant that was still either hanging around, or passing through town.

So either there is a cormorant that has decided to stay in town, or one that is taking it’s merry time migrating.

Though if it’s passing through town, it’s taking its time migrating–since it is basically mid May already.

Obviously it was tired of getting it’s picture taken

This was one of the first times that I saw one starting to run across the water to gain the traction they need to launch into the air.

It almost looks like a gargoyle.

I wonder if people got ideas for gargoyles from watching certain birds take off from the water.

And then it flew off.

Will have to see if I can spot any at the lake this coming weekend, or if they’re migrated on already.

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It’s a Monday–the heron was fishing for it’s meal. Photography Challenge Day 85

So today’s post is going to be on the short side–mainly due to the fact that it is a Monday, and it took me a little longer than I thought it would in choosing today’s picture series.

The heron was going for seconds

So on my walk yesterday I managed to get several pictures of this heron fishing for it’s lunch. I really liked the result of this picture, where you see the water actually splashing up as it goes under water to grab it’s meal. This was after it had already caught and eaten one fish.

The heron caught a snack.

So I was able to quickly snap a picture of the heron coming up with the fish caught in its beak.

And now it swallowed it.

Then I managed to snap the picture of it swallowing the fish–though it popped it in quicker than I could get the picture–but you can see it’s throat slightly bulging from where the fish is sliding down to it’s stomach.

By the time I got around to the other side, to where I could try to observe without scaring it off, that is when I managed to get the picture at the top. I was a little too far off to notice if it actually had caught the fish or not (and if it did–it quickly swallowed it).

Hopefully over the course of the summer, I may actually be able to get a photo series of it fishing from start to finish.

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Photography Challenge Day 84: The Mallard Family

So on my walk today around Boomer Lake, I noticed that it isn’t just the geese that have already hatched a brood this year–there is a small number of baby mallards on the lake now as well.

The mallard family swimming on the lake.

I came across this family starting to swim out into the lake, shortly after seeing a great blue heron catch it’s morning snack.

So some facts about how mallards nest and raise their young:

Usually the female will form a shallow depression/hole in moist areas (that are usually close to the water), and as she is doing that she is pulling vegetation towards her. So in other words—she makes a nest in a area that provides ample protection and material to line her nest.

She will lay anywhere from five to fifteen eggs (with the average being seven to ten), and the incubation time is anywhere from twenty-three to thirty days (so basically three to four weeks). The young are able to leave the nest within a day after hatching. They stay with their parents (mainly the mother), and are able to fly within fifty-two to sixty days after hatching. Mallards usually have just one brood a year (as it is basically three months from egg laying to the time the ducklings are able to fly), though if they have the first one early enough in the year—they might have a second one mid to late summer.

References: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/mallard; https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Mallard/lifehistory

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Playing catch-up on the photography challenge. Days 80 to 83.

Well today’s post is actually going to be several posts combined into one to play catch-up on the photography challenge. Since the weather has been rainy, cloudy, and then slightly sunny—our internet/wifi has been the same—down, down, up, down, down, oh you can have access for about three minutes and then down again over the past few days.


This unfortunately is why I didn’t get pictures posted after Tuesday (yes, I could have tried to find the time at work to post—but I didn’t feel comfortable doing that) night. Therefore today’s post is going to be a mix of different things. So let’s get started on the photography challenge catch-up.

The winner for day 80 (Wednesday) is the hummingbird at the back feeder. We usually try to get our hummingbird feeder out in mid-April to feed the hummingbirds as they migrate through—though the ruby-throated hummingbird does summer in Oklahoma. It looks like either it’s a female ruby-throated hummingbird at the feeder, or a young male that hasn’t molted into the bright red throat.

Ruby-throated hummingbird has made an appearance in the backyard.

What are some cool facts about the ruby-throated hummingbird?

This is basically the only hummingbird that is seen in the eastern United States; as it is the only breeding hummingbird east of the Great Plains.

It can beat its wings approximately 53 times a second (that means its beating its wings almost 3200 times a minute).

Due to having extremely short legs, it shuffles along its perch (it doesn’t walk or hop). But it can still scratch its head & neck if needed.

It’s either a female or a very young male–I don’t see the red throat.

It belongs to the order Apodiformes (along with swifts), and the name means “without feet”—mainly because in flight it doesn’t look to have feet.

While they mainly feed at flowers (or feeders that have sugar water), they will occasionally eat small insects as well.

Depending on the number of broods, the female may start building a new nest while still feeding the nestlings in the first nest (as the nest will stretch as the young grow).

They can migrate a long distance (for example from Canada down to Costa Rica), and often fly over the Gulf of Mexico during migration (either way).

It seems to be thirsty today.

As much as I’d love to get a picture of one trying to shuffle along a branch–they usually perch extremely high (sometimes I can get a picture of it sitting on the power lines), but I doubt I’d be able to catch it close to its nest where it’d most likely be shuffling along a branch.

References:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ruby-throated_Hummingbird/overview

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/ruby-throated-hummingbird

The winners for day 81 (Thursday) are the squirrels hanging from the birdfeeders in the backyard.

Someone doesn’t want to hunt for seeds…

So we had to buy a new birdfeeder after the squirrels had chewed a hole in the lid of the one I’d bought a few years earlier from the national wildlife foundation. This is a birdfeeder we have hanging in front of the window in the living room, where the cats can lay on the back of the loveseat and watch the birds, and anyone sitting in the recliner across the room can also watch the birds.

Since we live next to a small creek, and not that far from some wooded areas, we have quite a few squirrels in the neighborhood. These little critters also like to help themselves to the birdseed and bird suets in the backyard, so we try to get the birdfeeders that claim to be “squirrel proof”.

They’re doing an upside down “hug” to stay on the feeder.

Well as you can tell from the picture—the squirrels have figured out how to get around the “squirrel proof” byline and get to the birdseed. This particular feeder is suppose to be weight sensitive—to where if something heavy is on it, the bars slide down and the animal can’t get to the bird seed.

A young raccoon had broken the lid earlier this spring—I’d found the feeder on the ground and the lid pulled off, and since then the squirrels have figured out that if they “hug” the feeder they can distribute their weight and still get to the bird seed.

So yesterday would have been day 82 of the photography challenge. This is the day that I usually try to also share some of the fish pictures I’ve taken over the years–making it a FishyFriday post as well. So in addition to that–it’s also a FlashbackFriday post to one of my trips to the New England Aquarium.

I’ve realized that one thing I should start doing when I go to aquariums/zoos/museums and am taking pictures—I should also try to get pictures of the plaques that state what animals are in the exhibit (or time period if I’m in a museum).  It is quite difficult to google “black and white stripped fish new England aquarium” and actually get a good hit on what that particular fish actually is.

Thankfully, I have managed to identify all three of the fish (though it took quite a bit of time to be able to do so).

A French grunt swimming in the large ocean tank at the New England Aquarium

The yellow-striped fish is actually a French grunt fish (Haemulon flavolineatum). This fish species is actually native to western Atlantic ocean and can be found basically from South Carolina down into the Gulf of Mexico & Caribbean and then downwards towards northern coast of Brazil.

They feed primarily on small crustaceans and mollusks that they hunt for during the night. They stay in close proximity to coral reefs (probably to be able to dart to safety to escape predators) while hunting.

Their name comes from the noise they make when they grind their teeth together.

References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haemulon_flavolineatum; https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish/species-profiles/haemulon-flavolineatum/

A fish that is known by many names: pufferfish, balloonfish, and blowfish

The second fish is the balloonfish. This fish is also known as the pufferfish, blowfish, and bubblefish (just to name a few of the other names).

The habitat of the balloonfish, are the warm shallow coastal waters; more specifically coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds. They stay hidden for the most part during the day—though I’m sure they’ve given plenty of scuba divers and snorkelers a shock if they’re accidentally awoken in their hidey-holes.

They are nocturnal feeders, going after clams, snails, hermit crabs, sea urchins, and other mollusks that dwell on the sea floor.

If something comes upon them (and they think they could be eaten), balloonfish will puff up to almost three times their normal size; this puffing also allows for special scales to stick out, and they then look like a spiked football, which most predators will then leave alone. The bubblefish will then float away, and may wait awhile before releasing the air (or water) to shrink back down to its normal size.

References: https://www.scienceandthesea.org/program/201008/balloon-fish

Honeycomb cowfish swimming in the tank at the aquarium.

The final fish is the honeycomb cowfish. This fish gets its name from the hexagonal scales that cover most of its body.  This is one of the ways that the fish is able to blend in with the coral reefs it calls home, though they are also found in seagrass beds as well.

This fish is found in the western Atlantic (east coast of the United States), the Caribbean, and then down towards Brazil. While it isn’t found in the Gulf of Mexico, it can be found around Florida (mainly on the Atlantic side and the Keys).

They feed on shrimp, algae, and sponges during the day.  Another way that they protect themselves from predators (aside from the hexagonal scale like armor) is the ability to change their color to blend in with their surrounds as well. Once they sense a threat—they can change their colors, and then remain stationary for quite some time.

Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honeycomb_cowfish

Now we’re finally up to today’s photography challenge winner, and it’s one of the hundred or so I took last year on our small vacation down to New Mexico. One of the places that we went to was Carlsbad Cavern National Park.

One of the many formations one can see in the grand cavern at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

. While we only spent a short time in the caves, I managed to get over a hundred pictures of the caves. Because no matter which way you turned, there was a new angle to take a picture, different lighting, and so forth.

This is one of my favorite pictures of the caves, showing the “draperies” of the caves. As one of the signs stated: “Draperies form where water containing dissolved limestone runs down the ceiling leaving traces of calcite. Over hundreds of years, calcite crystals accumulate. When water stops flowing, draperies stop growing.”

The proper name for the draperies is actually “speleothems”. Since we only spent time in a small part of the national park (the main caves and then a small drive through one of the canyons), I’d like to go back at some point—but maybe actually signup for a tour of the inner caves—which is basically a five hour round trip in and out (which is one of the reasons why I didn’t do it last time). I know that I need to be in a little bit better physical (and possibly even mental) state than what I currently am in.

So I’ve managed to catch up on the photography challenge, and hopefully the wifi connection will behave and I won’t have to many other multiple post days. Though while in a slight enforced ban on electronics–I was able to get some other things done (there will be several posts coming over the next few weeks on this)–so that was one small bright spot. Until the next picture–remember to try to find the beauty in the everyday.

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