Tag: BoomerLake

Photography Challenge Day 188: Grasshopper hiding in the grass

The winner of today’s photography challenge is a grasshopper. I noticed this guy hanging out in the flowers of some grass (if I had to wager a bet—it is either switchgrass, or a close family member).

Grasshopper in the grass

So grasshoppers go through five different molts between hatching from the egg and the adult—but they look like an adult in each stage (just smaller and slightly weirder—as I shared some pictures of the younger nymphs earlier this summer).

This one was just chilling in the flowers, though I’m sure that if I got any closer it would have jumped towards other tall grasses in the area.

A little on the grass (as I’m going to say that I’m pretty sure that it is either switchgrass—or a close family member), it was probably thinking of chomping on. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a perennial warm season grass that is native to North America. This is one of the many plants that is being groomed as potential biofuel plants. One of the main reason why it is being looked at: it isn’t part of the food chain for either humans or cattle (or other farm animals).

It can also grow in areas that other plants can’t—such as high salt, and brackish waters. It has a very good root system—so it can also work in erosion control as well. It comes back year after year—and before we started building cities and towns in the middle of the prairie—it was one of the major native grasses.

I actually worked with this grass during graduate school (it was the focus of my dissertation)—and I am always amazed to see how tall it grows in the wild (in the lab—it’s height is limited by either the growth chamber or being trimmed back in the greenhouses)—it can get up to six feet tall pretty quickly in some areas.

No Comments flowersinsectsnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 185: Back on track, and a soft-shelled turtle

Well, it’s time to try to get back into a picture sharing mood. The weather is slowly starting to cool, so that means hopefully I will be able to do a walk on the weekends (hopefully both mornings). I may also try to do some architecture/building photography as well this fall/winter (something to switch things up a little).

I realized this weekend, I do enjoy photography—it is both calming, and exciting (as one doesn’t know what type of wildlife they’ll be seeing on a walk). As much as I would love to walk in the woods—the ones closest to the house are on private property, and it is still tick season—so currently it’s a no go (but there is always trips in the future to different parks).

So the winner of today’s photography challenge is the soft-shelled turtle. The shells of these turtles are mostly leathery and semi-pliable and this allows them to move quicker than other turtles. I had managed to get a couple of pictures of the soft-shelled turtle earlier this summer, but none of them got all the characteristics of the turtle in one shot—the pointed nose, the smooth shell, and the webbed feet.

Soft-shelled turtle sunning itself at Boomer Lake

I have no idea of this is a male or female soft-shelled turtle, because when I moved slightly closer to get another picture it slid off the log and into the water. Though since it does look like a large turtle—it could very well be a female, as that is one of the main ways of differentiating between the sexes—the female is larger than the male.

As we start heading into the fall and winter months, the turtles are going to be going dormant until late winter/early spring, but hopefully I will still be able to get a few more pictures of various turtles at the lake sunning themselves. I would still like to get a picture of some of the larger red-eared sliders that I know are living up around the lake.

No Comments naturePhotographyreptilesTurtles

Photography Challenge Day 183: Great Blue Heron grooming itself (short post)–half a day late.

Well the winner of yesterday’s photography challenge is the great blue heron (I thought I had posted it before shutting the computer down–my bad). These guys are regulars up at Boomer Lake, and I consider it a good day if I manage to see at least two of them on my walk (even if it is a short one).

This one seemed to be acting as king of the mountain yesterday morning (and wasn’t happy with the hawk flying past).

The great blue heron surveying his domain……….

Usually when one thinks of great blue herons–it is where they’re wading through the water hunting their prey, not sitting on top of dead trees overlooking the little cove.

Zoomed out a little, so the dead tree is a little more visible….

I’m not exactly sure what this one was either looking at or watching for, especially since it wasn’t looking down towards the water.

Starting to groom itself……

Then on my return walk, I noticed that it was still on it’s perch–but it was starting to groom it’s feathers….

It can bend it’s neck in unique directions…..

This is one of the few pictures I’ve managed to get of blue herons grooming themselves where they’re looking upside at me.

Hopefully the temperatures and/or the humidity will slowly start dropping in the coming weeks and I can get back to doing a walk at Boomer Lake on the weekends in the morning. I’m interested to see what birds I might be able to see passing through on their migration to warmer climates in the south.

One other goal for the coming year(s) will be that during any travel, I have to try to get at least one picture of an animal (and preferably not counting visiting zoos or aquariums) on a walk or hike.

No Comments bird watchingnature

Photography Challenge Double Day (181-182) Winner: the red-shouldered hawk

The winner of the double photography challenge (yesterday and today) is the red-shouldered hawk. Today was one of those days when I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to go on my morning walk or not—while it wasn’t that warm yet, there was already a heat index—but I decided to do a short walk if nothing else. I’m glad I did, or I would have missed seeing this magnificent creature this morning.

Red-shouldered hawk swooping in to land.

I was following my normal path when I noticed a hawk fly up into a pine tree on the other side of the street, I followed hoping to get at least one semi-decent picture of the hawk before possibly scaring it off.

I think someone wanted to be left alone to snack….

I managed to get a couple of pictures (none worthy of sharing) before it flew to another tree—I followed and managed to get several others before it flew off to another part of the park to hunt.

Some interesting facts about red-shouldered hawks:

They return to the same nesting territory year after year.

It’s eating something……

They’ve been known to turn the tables on great horned owls and steal their young from the nests (nestlings of any large bird are known prey of great horned owls) to eat.

I think it’s still hungry……

They can team up with crows to chase owls out of the territory.

Also I think it was tired of getting it’s picture taken……….

These birds are found year round in this part of Oklahoma, and I didn’t realize that there are four other subspecies of red-shouldered hawks—three others found in the eastern parts of the country and then the fifth one is out in California (and they really aren’t seen in any of the states in between California and eastern Oklahoma/Texas and then eastwards).

I know that area also has red-tailed hawks, and broad-shoulder hawks as well. I’m going to try to keep my eye (and camera) on the look out for them as well as we head into the fall and winter months.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 180: The elusive sunrise

The winner of today’s photography challenge is the sunrise.

Sunrise at the park

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve been able to get up to Boomer Lake to catch the sunrise. I will admit that while I can set my alarm, get dress and head up there right away—I’ve gotten into the routine of drinking a cup of coffee before thinking of leaving the house on the weekends for my walk. I’m thinking that maybe, I should set the alarm—have a cup of coffee, feed the dogs and then try to make it up to the park by sunrise. It may be the only time for at least a month that the temperatures are bearable.

Another view of the sunrise

I do watch the sunrise while I’m both walking towards the bus stop and waiting for the bus, but it isn’t the same as watching it across a body of water (no matter how small). I’ve always enjoyed sunsets, but it has only been the past couple of years that I’ve caught the sunrise at Boomer.

When we use to go up to northern Minnesota, sunsets were spectacular and I’d always say that I’d get up early, walk over to the other bay and catch the sunrise—but I always slept through it. I’m wondering if one my photography challenges should be trying to get a daily sunrise picture (and maybe a daily sunset picture as well)—hmm, something to think about.

One reason why I love watching them–the different colors that streak across the sky and clouds.

No Comments naturePhotographySunrises/Sunsets

Photography Challenge Days 166-168: Playing Catch-up again.

So I’m doing a multiple photography post to play catch-up for the month. Thursday night got away from me, and last night I was finally watching Avengers: Endgame.

The winners for Thursday’s photography challenge are some turtles. Since we’re in the dog days of summer, I’m lucky if I can manage one morning walking around Boomer Lake before the temperature and/or the humidity skyrockets for the day. On this particular morning, it was nice and sunny, and the temperature and humidity were still bearable; therefore some turtles were already starting to claim their sunning spots.

Little turtles sunning itself on the log.

When I took this picture, I was focused on the small turtle that was already at the top of the branch. It wasn’t until I got the pictures on the computer, that I realized that another turtle was starting to climb out of the water onto the branch.

Then another turtle is crawling up to join it.

Now I wished I stuck around to get a series of pictures of the second turtle claiming its portion of the sunning log. I’m willing to be that it was a fairly large turtle based on how it looked so far coming out of the water.

The winners for Friday’s photography challenge are some ducks and the migrating egret. I’ve noticed that one of the egrets has already landed and residing at Boomer Lake this month—which is probably a good two to three months earlier than what I saw of them last year. These guys stick around Boomer Lake (and the other area lakes) twice a year—early spring and late fall—basically migratory season. Which is funny since parts of Oklahoma actually fall within their breeding range—so who knows, maybe they flew in to fish and then were flying back to the southeastern part of the state.

Egret and ducks in the early morning.

There were also several other mallards swimming around when I got a picture of the egret standing on a log, patiently waiting for a fish or some other small creature to swim by to grab.

The egret has the immediate area to itself.

It will be interesting to watch the interactions again this fall between the egrets and the herons–neither really likes to share their hunting grounds.

The winner of today’s photography challenge is the viceroy butterfly. This butterfly is native to North America, and can be found almost throughout the region.

Viceroy Butterfly in the grass

While the butterfly looks like a monarch butterfly—it has a strip across the bottom portion of its wings (which the monarch lacks). Another interesting little fact is that it had been though to mimic the colors and patterns of monarch to avoid being eaten by birds—but know it’s know that they’re also unpleasant for birds to eat.

So instead of being a case of Batesian mimicry (where a harmless species evolves to imitate the warning signals of a harmful species to deter a common predator), it is actually a case of Müllerian mimicry (where two species come to mimic each other’s warning signals).

Viceroy butterfly chilling in the grass

Another interesting fact: the caterpillars and pupa resemble bird droppings—so that gives them a little added protection during development. Next spring I may try to keep my eyes peeled for the caterpillars (shouldn’t be that hard—if I’m looking for them).

Decided it was done showing off it’s wings.

One thing I’ve learned so far over the course of my photography challenge so far—is to look for the interesting and the unique in the not so obvious places.

No Comments bird watchingbutterfliesinsectsnaturePhotographyreptiles

Photography Challenge Day 165: Waterfowl Wednesday (short post)

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.

Ducks on the logs

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.

Geese, geese, and more geese

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.

Ducks snoozing on a log

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.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 163: The surprising turkey vulture

The winner of today’s photography challenge is the turkey vulture.

When I was on my morning walk this weekend, I noticed that a large raptor sitting at the top of a dead tree limb. After I got closer, I realized it was actually a turkey vulture and not a hawk or an eagle.

Turkey Vulture sitting in a tree…..

This is the first time that I’ve seen a turkey vulture sitting in a tree, for a prolong period of time—I’ve seen them soaring in the sky, I’ve seen them perched on fence posts (near a kill), but I’ve rarely seen them just sitting.

This one was just chilling out—though I think it was waiting on other vultures to show up so that there would be several of them soaring through the air. Now that I think about it—while you might see one vulture soaring through the sky, there is usually another one or two off in the distance also soaring, they’re usually in groups of two or three, seldom are they alone.

Turkey Vulture spreading it’s wings…

It’s also nice to know that it is the turkey vulture that I’ve been seeing and not the black vulture. When they’re overhead (and by usually thirty to forty feet above you minimum), it’s hard to tell the color of the head (and that is the only way to tell the two vultures apart).

Looking to see if anything looks good to eat…….

This one also seems to be wondering why I’m staring up at it, like I’ve never seen a turkey vulture up close before. Now when I go on my morning walks, I’m going to have to look towards this particular tree to see if there are any vultures just sitting around and chilling in the morning sun.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 162: The Mississippi Kite

The winner of today’s photography challenge is the Mississippi kite. I’ve been lucky the past couple of days of seeing them sitting on the utility wires watching for insects to pass by, before they swoop in for the kill.

Mississippi Kite launching from the wire

These are migratory raptors, that breed in either the southeastern part of the country (Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and parts of southeastern Arkansas), plus the parts of Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. We usually see them as they sail through the sky (usually just over the tops of trees), but every so often I can catch a glimpse of them sitting in trees or on wires.

It’s snack is grasped in one foot.

Last year I managed to get some really closeup pictures of them in the park. So far this year, my seeing them has been at a distance but I’ve still managed to get some good pictures.

It is eating it’s snack

This one I managed to catch it as it was launching into flight to grab it’s morning snack out of the air.

Then it returned to it’s perch to eat—and I’m pretty sure it probably caught a dragonfly (or a damselfly).

I’m still hungry…..

Then it neatly turned around to continue watching for more dragonflies or other insects to fly past, because I think it was still hungry.

Come fall these majestic birds will fly all the way to South America for the winter. One of the most unique things about these birds–they incorporate wasp nests into either their nests or the choice of where their nests go. The presence of a wasp nest will usually help deter any climbing predators away from the nest. They also can peacefully nest near other birds such as mockingbirds and blue jays (both of which are territorial–so it’s three for the price of one in terms of nest protection).

While I couldn’t get close to this kite, I’m pretty sure it’s still an adult (or at least a yearling)–while it would be cool to get a picture of a fledgling, I’m not going to risk getting dive bombed by either the parents or angry mockingbirds and blue jays. Adults and yearlings are the way to go for a good photograph.

I’m thinking that the theme for this coming week is sitting on a wire or gliding through the air.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotographyScience

Photography Challenge Day 161: Moths, butterflies, and dragonflies–oh my.

The winners of today’s photography challenge are some of the insects that I saw on my morning walk this morning at Boomer Lake. Both the temperature and humidity were low enough this morning, that I decided to get in my morning zen and see what type of wildlife I could see at Boomer Lake.

I’ve decided to be more in the moment and not just look for birds, turtles, and rabbits–but also pay attention to the smaller things that are buzzing around (or splashing around for that matter).

These two I saw pretty early in my walk. I’m not sure what type of moths they are, but at least I managed to get a picture of them with their wings spread out. There have been times when I only manage to get the picture when their wings are up and you can hardly see the butterfly (or moth).

Orange moths or butterflies resting on the leaves near the shore.

I then saw this orange and black butterfly a little later in my walk—I think it is a pearl crescent butterfly. This particular butterfly can be difficult to identify (markings change), which is why I’m only guessing at the identification. But if it is a pearl crescent butterfly—they’re found throughout the eastern United States, southern Canada, and Mexico.

Possibly a pearl crescent butterfly

Finally there was this small butterfly or moth, that just wouldn’t spread it’s wings. I know that it was a yellow-orange color, but that is all I managed to get. I stood there for awhile waiting to see if it would spread it’s wings–but it had more patience than I did–it out waited me and I moved on.

Little orange/yellow butterfly (or moth) that didn’t want to show it’s wings

Then I noticed that there were some dragonflies fluttering around, and I decided to see if I could get a good picture of one landing/resting on a flower or some grass. Well I managed to get a picture of one resting on a blade of grass–and I managed to get a surprise in the picture as well. I didn’t realize at the time, that there was a little grasshopper sitting on the underside of the blade of grass.

Dragonfly and a little grasshopper sharing a blade of grass

Since it was such a wet spring, I’ve seen numerous dragonflies and hopefully that means in a year or two there will be another large number of dragonflies flying through the air eating all the mosquitoes.

No Comments butterfliesinsectsnaturePhotography