The winners of today’s photography challenge are the birds. Since today was a holiday (no work, :-)) that meant I had the time to go for another zen walk around Boomer Lake this morning. I managed to get several pictures that I will be sharing this week (in addition to other pictures I managed to get over the weekend).
But today’s picture is of a couple of egrets, some ducks, and a heron (it almost makes me want to think of a bad, corny joke—but I’m currently too tired to do so). Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting the two in the background (the second egret and great blue heron), as I was focused more on the egret and ducks in the foreground.
As migration season kicks off, the limbs of the different submerged trees become prime spots to both fish from, and just generally sit on—so they’re usually always have something sitting on them—be it egret, heron, or cormorant (and sometimes the terns and gulls).
Currently the cormorants haven’t started migrating though (they should be here within probably two months or so—just as the egrets move further south), so the limbs will be having either egrets or herons sitting on them.
I’m going to have to start keeping a tally record and see who sits on the various branches and logs the most during my walks–the great blue herons or the common egret.
For today–I’d have the say the egrets were on four branches/logs and the herons were on two branches/logs.
The winner of today’s photography challenge is the great egret that looked to be scratching it’s chin when I snapped the picture this morning.
The temperatures are starting to get to where I will hopefully be able to get a morning walk in at least once on the weekend. Today I noticed that there were at least six egrets (or three that managed to zip back and forth and made me think that there were more— 🙂 on the lake. They will be around for probably another month or so, and then the large number will migrate further south for the winter—basically to the Gulf of Mexico and Central America.
I noticed last year, that they will temperamentally share space with the great blue herons. I will have to see if I can find the pictures of the stand offs I got between the two in the spring, as they are both hunters that hunt via wading in the shallow waters—so there is competition for food and space between the two.
One interesting fact: when they fly they’re flapping their wings at just two wing beats per second, and they can achieve a cruising speed of around 25 miles per hour.
Since migration season has started, it will be interesting to see what other birds migrate through, and how many decent pictures can I get of them……..
The winner of today’s photography challenge are the ducks and geese. I’ve been lucky over the past couple of weeks to get candid photographs that if I was a few minutes earlier or later I might not have gotten.
I’ve managed to time my walks in the morning to where the ducks are actually resting on the floating dead trees that normally are populated by turtles later in the day.
Walking past, there are usually another half a dozen swimming around patrolling, while these guys nap and groom. I’m sure that at a certain time, these guys will push off into the water and the others will quickly move in–going, thanks our turn.
Then I saw a large flock of Canada geese out on the lake, and in the background you can see some more geese that are grazing on the grass. I think due to what ever predator is around, there were fewer goslings this year than previously–though the total number of geese is still pretty high.
Then on the other side of the lake, I noticed that there is another dead tree, but this one is more popular with the ducks than it is with the turtles. I’m pretty sure that is because of how close it is to the shore. These guys were still wanting to snooze, even though the sun was up and the temperatures were rising. It is always nice to see that there is almost a universal “I’m not a morning person” mantra going on.
While I would love to say that the large number of dragonflies is due to the large amounts of rain this spring–I know that isn’t it. The dragonflies have had a couple of good years, and numerous ones finished their metamorphosis to adults this year. I’ve seen more dragonflies this year flying around than I have the past couple of years (and we haven’t even reached migration season yet for some of the dragonflies).
We’ve had numerous dragonflies through the backyard over the past couple of days. I managed to get under this one as it was resting on the power line.
They have been attracted to the pond, so there are usually one or two that fly around it, with them both landing in different areas to rest.
It has been nice having them in the yard–there has been a slight decrease in the mosquito population, though I’m still getting chewed by the little suckers (I’d love to have a pet dragonfly that would just sit around and wait for a sign and then pick off the mosquitoes as they land on me).
So in continuing with the theme of insects, the winner of today’s photography challenge is probably some assassin bug. The name assassin bug covers a large group of predatory insects, that if provoked can also harm humans.
So I saw this guy crawling around our patio table, and I decided that I’d try to get a picture of it. While the coloring is hard to see in the picture, it was a mix of red, yellow, and black–all colors that give warnings to other animals that it isn’t something they want to mess with. So I just zoomed in with the camera to get the picture.
I know that there are warnings about various bugs and how they transmit disease, and blah blah blah blah. Unless I know that the creature I’m looking at is totally harmless (say a ladybug, or grasshopper) I’m not going to play with it–I may try to take it’s picture but that’s about it.
I try to treat every living thing with respect–though if I see a brown recluse spider in the house I will kill it–and I only kill the poisonous spiders/insects if they break the hiding rule. In other words, if I see something that is small and can hurt me–I kill it; though I know it may not strike out at me–but I’d rather not run the risk of having to go to the emergency room.
The winner of today’s photography challenge is the grasshopper. One thing about the name grasshopper—it refers to a group of insects (which include locusts), and not just a single species. So far this summer I’ve managed to get a picture of a grasshopper in two different molting stages—as they don’t go through a complete metamorphosis, but they as they grow they molt and become more and more like the adult at each stage.
There are five nymph stages between the egg and the adult grasshopper. Grasshoppers are plant eaters (mainly the leaves of the plants), and can be consider pests of crops if they gather in large numbers (especially locusts). They’re considered food in Mexico and Indonesia, and are one of the oldest living groups of insects (they’ve been found in amber dating back to the Triassic era (~250 million years ago)).
The first photograph is of an very young grasshopper nymph—probably within it’s first molt (or just hatched for that matter). It was this tiny little green hopping bug on the table. This little critter will then feed, and go through several more molts until it reaches the adult stage (usually the sixth and final molt).
The second photograph is probably of a fourth or fifth stage molting grasshopper. It is almost adult size, but still seemed to be a bit on the smaller (and bright) side of a grasshopper. I’m use to the adults being a little more of a dark and drab green, and not this bright leaf green.
This guy then moved on to find leaves to feed on so that it could go through it’s final molting stage and emerge as a fully winged adult within the next couple of weeks. They’ll mate, and the females will lay their eggs so that an new round of grasshoppers will hatch in the spring and begin the cycle again.
The life cycle is unique in that eggs will enter a period of diapause (or a period of suspended development, especially during unfavorable environmental conditions) in the fall/winter and then when the temperatures warm back up—they’ll finish developing and hatch as tiny little nymphs.
I know that it is probably too late this year, but next year I want to see if I’m able to get pictures of a grasshopper in all five nymph stages and the adult. This year I managed two.
The winner of today’s photography challenge is a orange-red/black bug that we see every so often moving through the backyard. I decided to look on google and see if I could figure out what it possibly could be—and I’m going to wager a guess that it is the large milkweed bug.
I find it a little funny that a milkweed bug is moving through our yard—we don’t have any milkweed planted. We’ve thought about planting some, we have the seeds sitting in the fridge—but we haven’t planted them. So, that is probably why they’re sporadic travelers in our yard—they’re trying to find some milkweed plants somewhere. Though they may also be feeding on the sunflower seeds that have been dropped from the bird feeders by various birds or squirrels.
They are found throughout North America and down into Central America and the Caribbean islands as well. In terms of their lifecycle—they have incomplete metamorphosis, where they grow in stages (coloration changes, and development of both wings and genitalia). The four instar stages usually occur over the span of a month (but this is dependent on temperature—if it’s warm they may move through the stages a little faster, if it’s cold they may stay longer in a particular instar stage until the temperature warms up).
While the mature milkweed bug can feed off of other plants, though the younger milkweed bugs need to feed off the seeds of the milkweed plant for development and growth. Once young milkweed bugs find a milkweed plant, there may be as many as twenty of them on it feeding at the same time.
One really cool thing about the milkweed bug—it is now being used in research labs for study of evolutionary biology and patterns. I think that I would probably have taken an entomology class as an undergrad, if the bug we had to keep alive was a milkweed bug and not a hissing cockroach.
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.
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??
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.
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.
Today’s winner of the photography challenge was a tiny green bug sitting on the edge of our patio table. Thanks to the sleuthing skills of my cousin (who is an entomologist), it was identified as a buffalo treehopper.
These little green insects are actually garden pests, as
they feed on the sap of plants—and they aren’t picky on what plants they suck
the sap from. They will feed from crop plants (wheat, alfalfa, corn), garden
plants, trees, and ornamental plants as well.
The females will lay eggs either under leaves or in fresh cut sliver on the stem. The young when they hatch will feed to the point that the stem of the plant collapses, and then they’ll move to a new plant or back to a tree. The mature trees can handle the treehoppers better than young, or small trees can.
When you manage to look at them from the front–their heads do resemble those of buffalo (hence the name–buffalo treehopper). Well it’s hard to tell from the picture how black the tips are–as those are it’s “horns”. They are unique looking bugs.
They can be found throughout the United States and are most active in the summer time. That can explain why I’ve probably never noticed them before in the yard—I’m usually sitting inside during the summer evenings (I’m not a big fan of high temperatures with high heat indexes).
The only thing I’m not sure of is whether this buffalo treehopper is male or female (and whether it is a mature adult or a newly molted adult). It will be interesting to see if we notice more of them throughout the summer, as living next to the creek—it would be the perfect spot for a large number of them to cluster together for the winter months.