Tag: amaturephotographer

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??

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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.

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Photography Challenge Day 135: The tiny buffalo treehopper

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.

Buffalo treehopper on the edge of the table.

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.

Front view of the buffalo treehopper

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.

References: https://www.insectidentification.org/insect-description.asp?identification=Buffalo-Treehopper

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Photography Challenge Day 134: The jumping spider

So today’s winner of the photography challenge is the jumping spider that was hanging around the patio table and chairs.

We usually have several small spiders hanging around the patio table and chairs during the summer. I know that there are other spiders (such as the black widow) out in the yard under rocks and behind logs—I leave those guys alone.

A jumping spider (I think) on the arm of the chair

So the jumping spider family (Salticidae) is the largest spider family with 610 recognized living and fossilized genera and over 5800 described species.

Other cool facts about jumping spiders include:

Depending on the species, their diet can range from small insect to plant matter, nectar, or even small frogs (for the larger jumping spiders).

They can sing and dance.  Seriously check out some of the youtube videos on the peacock spiders.

They have sensory hairs that detect vibrations and send signals to their brain, and act as “ears”.

While I’m not a big fan of spiders, I go out of my way to leave them alone and hopefully not walk through a web in the morning. The only time I will kill a spider is if I recognize that it is a harmful spider that could hurt me (brown recluse or black widow), it breaks the rule and I see it (but again mainly if it is a brown recluse or black widow), or I don’t realize that I walk right through it’s web (usually first thing in the morning leaving).

I am going to try to see if I can get some more pictures of jumping spiders (as they are the most common “friendly” spiders that I see outdoors) this summer. This way I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone, and controlling how I react to seeing certain things.

Reference: mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/jumping-spider

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Photography Challenge day 116: Throwback Thursday edition

Today’s photographs are all throwback photographs to different trips that I’ve taken over the years. One thing I’ve realized is that I do love to travel, both by myself and with others–it all depends on where I’m going.

The main cavern at Carlsbad Caverns

In terms of going to different national parks and doing things like camping and hiking–I think I’d like to be with at least one other person. That way if something goes wrong–there is someone else there to help.

There are several national parks that I would love to visit and hike in–but am realistic enough to know that I need to be in better physical (and mental) shape to handle the hikes and changes in elevation.

Sunset over Boston, looking out from the Skywalk Observatory

Visiting a new city, this is something that I can go either way–on my own or with friends. Sometimes it’s better with people I know, and other times if there isn’t anyone I know–I’m trying to get slightly outside my comfort zone.

The trip to Boston was actually to visit with friends from grad school. So it was fun to catch up, and see a city I enjoy being in. Boston is one city that I think I could probably spend a better part of several years exploring with a camera and still get a different shot every day.

There are several cities that I would like to visit (either for art galleries, zoos, or something else that I’ve found interesting within them), but haven’t decided on when I would go–but I’m realizing that time slips away faster than we think as we get older. I’ve also come to realization about a few other things (but they don’t fit with the current topic).

Next week I’ll share some more throwback photographs from other trips.

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Photography Challenge day 112: Fungi Sunday

I know it should be Fungi Friday, but I did Fishy Friday last week, and feel like showcasing a couple of fungi pictures today.

Small fungi growing at the lake.

So we are still wet enough, that there are some mushrooms still popping up here and there. I almost walked pass this small group of mushrooms.

I particularly like how I also managed to get the spiderweb with the morning dew in the photograph as well.

Some of the mushrooms looked like they’ve had better days

Since these guys are so small, it looks like they’ve been walked upon a few times. These could be fairy inkcap mushrooms (though that’s only a guess and trying to compare them to other images on the internet). In theory if they are fairy inkcap, they’d be edible–but the only wild mushrooms so far that I’ve eated are oyster mushrooms (those I know how to id).

Then there is the more traditional death-cap mushroom (or toadstool)

Then I saw a single toadstool mushroom in the middle of one area–which makes me think that within a couple of days (possibly by the weekend) there should be at least another three or four popping up as well. I’ve hardly seen just one toadstool mushroom before.

I think that another mini-goal for this year is going to be trying to see how many other fungi pictures I can throughout the rest of the year.

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Photography Challenge Day 105: Swimming and sunning turtles (short post)

Today’s winner(s) are again the red-eared sliders living around Boomer Lake. With doing a morning walk–I may not see as many sunning themselves on logs, but I do catch sight of several more swimming around the lake.

Red-eared slider swimming in the lake.
Nice size red-eared slider swimming in one of the coves at Boomer Lake.

I saw one swimming in one of the “coves” as I was walking across the bridge. I managed to get a picture where it almost looks like it’s looking back at me.

Two red-eared sliders sunning themselves.
Two red-eared sliders sunning themselves.

Then there were the ones that had already made it some of the more sunny spots along the bank. These two were in the area that normally the great blue herons fish at first thing in the morning.

Since the water levels are slowly returning to normal, there has been a change in where some of the logs are located. Some of them were washed up on shore, and others were pushed further out. No matter where the logs have ended up, there seems to be turtles (and snakes) that can find them. While I didn’t see the soft-shelled turtle today, I’m sure that it was on the other side of the lake sunning itself in peace and quiet away from the noise of society.

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Photography Challenge Days 103 & 104: The soft-shelled turtle makes an appearance.

So today’s post is a double, since I decided to go computer free last night. Instead of being on the computer–I watched Captain Marvel instead. Loved the movie (and a mini review is pending).

So on my walk this morning I noticed that there was an odd grouping of turtles on a log–two were red-eared sliders and the third is either a soft-shell turtle or a snapping turtle.

Three turtles on a log

When I zoomed into the picture–the tail of the turtle in question looks like it could be a soft-shell turtle. The snapping turtle tail usually has several ridges on it, so unless this is a young snapping turtle–I’d put it down to a soft shell turtle in the lake.

Which makes since I think that I got pictures of it on a smaller log last week on my walk:

I think someone is a little to large for the log.

At first I was wondering if somehow a larger red-eared slider had gotten stuck on the log, until I walked a little further and got a look at the face. I’m thinking that it was just irritated that the log wasn’t as big as it looked from afar (or from underwater).

And here is another view that gives a better look at it’s face:

It’s got a pointy nose–I’m thinking it’s a soft-shelled turtle.

So besides keeping my eye out for the turtles in different areas–I’m going to be keeping my eye out for the soft-shelled turtles as well. These guys are quite large when compared to their harder shelled relatives.

There are actually two species of soft-shell turtles that live in Oklahoma–the smooth & spiny soft-shelled turtle. The only way to tell the difference is that the spiny soft-shell turtle has distinct spines on the front & back end of the shell. Currently I’m going to go with the identification that they’re the smooth soft-shell turtles living in Boomer Lake.

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Photography Challenge Day 96: Fishy Friday Edition. The French angelfish from the New England Aquarium.

Today’s Fishy Friday post winner is the French angelfish that was sitting on the artificial coral at the New England Aquarium. These are fish that live in the waters of the western Atlantic from Florida down through the Caribbean and south to Brazil.

French angelfish at the New England Aquarium

They feed on a variety of different foods including sponges, algae, soft corals, and tunicates—to name a few food sources. It’s a good thing that the corals in the aquarium are man made. Younger French angelfish will also clean the parasites and loose scales of larger fishes—including some that would probably like to have them for lunch as well. When in the wild, French angelfish actually are spotted in pairs.

Once they pair, they will defend a feeding territory from other fishes, and they reproduce via broadcast spawning. This is where the female and male both release their eggs and sperm into the water column above the reef at the same time. Broadcast spawning helps increase the likelihood of fertilization of the eggs, and protection of the eggs from predators that would feast upon them. During a single spewing event, the female fish can release anywhere between 25,000 and 75,000 eggs. The eggs will hatch within fifteen to twenty hours after fertilization. The young will live among plankton until they are approximately 15mm in diameter, where they then will settle onto the coral reef.

I’m not sure if there was a second French angelfish in the exhibit or not–and if there was I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a male and a female. I’m happy to say though, that I’m slowly starting to identify the different fish that I took pictures of (at least of those that I have non-blurry pictures of). Next goal–another aquarium and more FishyFriday photos.

References:
https://oceana.org/marine-life/ocean-fishes/french-angelfish
https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish/species-profiles/pomacanthus-paru/

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Photography Challenge Day 95: Celebration of World Turtle Day

So today’s pictures all have a common theme: turtles!!! Today is World Turtle Day–a day to celebrate turtles and tortoises, and to maybe help keep them from tumbling over the edge into extinction.

Red-eared sliders sunning themselves at Boomer Lake

So far this year, it has been a good year for seeing turtles up at Boomer Lake. I don’t think I really got any pictures of turtles last year on my early morning walks (which isn’t surprising since it was basically as the sun was coming up–they were still snoozing in the water or wherever they sleep).

Red-eared slider swimming in Boomer Lake

Managed to get a picture of one swimming on Sunday as well. According to one person fishing, there is even a bigger one swimming around the lake. He claimed it should be about four times the size of this one.

Large box turtle moving through the park

I did see this box turtle last fall moving through the park. It had been the first time in quite a few years that I’d seen a box turtle in the area. They are one turtle that I do keep an eye out for in the mornings when I’m headed to catch the bus. I will usually try to help them across the busy road (in which ever direction they’re heading). Ten to fifteen years ago, they use to be extremely common in the neighborhood–not so much these days.

Sea Turtle at the New England Aquarium

And of course, there is my favorite–the sea turtle. I’ve seen them in the wild (when I went to Hawaii), in aquariums (such as the New England Aquarium), and rehabilitation centers as well. These majestic sea creatures are some of the most vulnerable species currently–due to climate change, hunting, and the daily dangers of living in the oceans. All sea turtle species are listed at some level on the endangered species list.

I would love to be able to see a leatherback sea turtle in the wild. I would also like to make it to the Galapagos Islands and see the tortoises in their natural environment as well.

Turtles and tortoises all play an important role in their respected environments–environments that we should be protecting and not destroying. So when you’re out and about–slow down if you see wildlife crossing the road. If it’s possible (and safe to do so), stop and help the turtle(s) cross the road–just be careful if it’s a snapping turtle. The world is dark enough as it is–lets keep the light shining by helping to bring some species back from the brink of extinction.

No Comments naturePhotographyRandom Celebration DaysZoos/Aquariums