Tag: amaturephotographer

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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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 78: Scissor-tailed Flycatchers in flight

So the winners of today’s photography drawing were two scissor-tailed flycatchers I spotted on my weekend walk around Boomer Lake. This is one place in town where you can almost be guaranteed to see at least one scissor-tailed flycatcher (depending on the time of day).

One of the scissor-tailed flycatchers sitting by the edge of the lake.

So there were two male scissor-tailed flycatchers trying to stake out some territory around one sheltered area (numerous small bushes) at the lake.

The second scissor-tailed flycatcher, sitting not that far from the first.

Both were sitting proudly on the branches of various bushes that were just starting to leaf out.

Then one decided that the other was too close……

But then they decided that the area may not be big enough for both of them, and they started fluttering around (I’m assuming to try to establish dominance in the area), and this was the best picture I could get of them both in flight–of course flying away from me at that point.

It will be interesting to try to keep count of how many I see on any given weekend (even though I know that I may or may not be counting the same bird several times) as we get into the summer months. I know that on Saturday I saw at least four, and then I saw two on Sunday–which means that there are at least four scissor-tailed flycatchers up at Boomer Lake right now.

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Sunday bird day: The Canada goose family. Photography Challenge Day 77

Today’s photos are brought to you by the family of Canada geese I saw walking this morning.

One of the parents and two of the goslings grazing on the grass seeds.

So this year there are quite a few geese pairs that are raising their first brood of the year.

The parents and the four little goslings.

This pair has hatched four for the first round of young this year.

Three of the young grazing in the water puddles in the street this morning.

They actually managed to slow the little bit of traffic down this morning as they were playing in the street, before deciding to go graze in the grass.

One of the goslings deciding to catch up with its siblings.

I love how cute and fuzzy the young gosling look, though I was smart and stayed a good distance away from them. I don’t need to tangle with overprotective geese parents–they’re technically mean enough as it is without them thinking I’m a threat. Though since they’ve already started having broods–my early morning walks may be curtailed due to just the normal number of geese at the lake.

Though I can always take the morning walk and try to see how many different song birds I can find (instead of looking for different waterfowl). Decisions, decisions, decisions—we’ll have to see how the summer goes.

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Fishy Friday and Flashback Friday in one: the Moorish idol or the black and white butterfly fish. Photography challenge Day 75

Today’s photograph is also another flashback Friday photo for my trip to Hawaii. One of the things I tried to do on my trip was sit near the water in areas where I could observe fish and other aquatic life. I then tried to zoom in with my camera to get pictures (this was all before I got a digital camera that I could then actually put in the water). So some of the photos came out nice and crisp, and other (like this one) had more of abstract look to them.

It’s either the Moorish idol or a black and white butterflyfish

I thought that the fish in the photo is the Moorish idol (Zanclus cornutus)—or a member of the butterfly fishes that also closely resembles it—hard to totally tell from the picture. Anyway—the Moorish idol is a fish that has a wide distribution through the tropical and subtropical waters, especially around reefs and lagoons. But know I think that it is the black and white butterflyfish; these fish are also found throughout the tropical and subtropical waters around reefs.

The diet of the butterfly fish varies depending on the species—some eat coral polyps and sea anemones, while others are more omnivorous (which makes them easier to care for in salt water aquariums).

The way the fish mature is unique as well—butterfly fish release their eggs, which float on the currents with plankton until hatching. Then as they mature, the young go through a stage where they are covered in large, bony plates that are shed when they mature.

The Moorish idol is a very difficult fish to try to keep in captivity—mainly due to its diet (it feasts on sponges, coral polyps, tunicates, and various other invertebrates) and the fact that they require very large tanks as well. So that is why butterflyfishes (especially the black and white) are sometimes called the Moorish idol replacements.

I would like to go back to Hawaii and try my hand again at getting pictures of various fish under water, now that I do have a camera that I can stick underwater (at least a few feet).

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moorish_idol

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterflyfish

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Photography Challenge Day 73: The water snakes are waking up

So when I was on my walk this weekend, I decided to check on an area to see how many turtles were out sunning themselves–this has turned in an almost weekly occurrence–checking for turtles. Then I noticed that there was someone else on one of the logs along with the turtles.

Turtles and water snake sharing the log.

The winners of today’s photography challenge are the two water snakes that I saw on my weekend walk. While I’m not a herpetologist I’m only going to make an educated guess on the identification of the snakes—based on other pictures I’ve seen on different sites about Oklahoma water snakes. One looks like it could be a plain-bellied water snake. The main reason is that it does look to have a yellow belly.

I think this is the plain-bellied water snake.

Some interesting facts about the plain-bellied water snake include:

The female will give birth to 5 to 25 baby snakes in the late summer, and when they’re born the baby snakes are between half a foot and foot long already.

They can get between two and a half and four feet long.

They eat fish, frogs, tadpoles and salamanders.

They can be confused with the cottonmouth (due to similar coloring), but they are actually members of two different families. Also when swimming, the plain-bellied water snake has half its body above the surface & half it’s body below the surface; while the cottonmouth typically swims on the surface of the water.

Either a larger plain bellied water snake or a diamond back water snake.

The other snake is either a larger plain-bellied water snake or it is possibly a diamond-back water snake. Both snakes are found in Oklahoma, and they are both in the same immediate area (since I don’t know the specifics of the snakes—I don’t know if they defend a territory or not when it comes to the mating season).

I will admit that I’m not really a snake person—though if I know that it is harmless (like these water snakes), it is in an enclosed area (like looking at snakes at a zoo), or it is a very good distance away (looking at it through binoculars) I’m not really scared of snakes. I know that they are beneficial for the environment (eating rodents and such), and that they are better at pest control and if they’re around one wouldn’t have to use poison to get rid of mice and rats.

It will be interesting to see this year if we get enough rain if they start moving away from the lake area for hunting.

References:

http://www.oksnakes.org/plain-bellied-watersnake.html

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