Tag: morningzen

Photography Challenge Day 106: The (not so) elusive killdeer

Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the killdeer (Charadrius vociferus). I’d have missed seeing this guy if I hadn’t stopped to take the lens cap off the camera and wonder what race I was going to be dodging on my walk.

 This plump plover is one of the few shorebirds that doesn’t need to be near a beach (though I’ve always noticed them around Boomer Lake).

Killdeer in the park
Killdeer in the park

Their diet is mainly insects (beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers), but will also eat spiders, earthworms, centipedes, snails, and will even “fish” for crayfish.  They can be found in fields (which may or may not be near water), and will follow the farmers plowing the fields to eat the grubs that unearthed.

They usually have one brood a year (though in the south, it can be possibly two broods a year) that ranges from three to five young (average is four). Both parents will incubate the eggs, and this ranges almost a month (24 to 28 days). Depending on location, parents may soak in water before returning to the nest in order to help keep the eggs cool.

The young leave the nest within a day of hatching. While they stay with their parents, they are able to feed themselves. They are able to fly roughly three and a half weeks after hatching.

Some cool facts about killdeers include:

They got their name from their call, which is a shrill, wailing kill-deer. They are also known as the Chattering Plover & the Noisy Plover.

They use the broken-wing act to lead predators away from the nest. Though since they nest on the ground, they have to be weary of other animals potentially stepping on the nest—so they try to charge the larger animals to get them to change directions.

They are actually proficient swimmers (both adults and young).

Their nests are quite small and bare to begin with, but are added to after eggs are laid. There was one nest somewhere within Oklahoma, where people found over 1,500 pebbles adorning the nest.

They can live quite a long time—the oldest recorded Killdeer was at least 10 years & 11 months, when it was recaptured & then re-released in Kansas.

References:

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/killdeer

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Killdeer/overview

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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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Hawk sighting at Boomer Lake

So I’ve been trying to do a nature walk in the mornings (at least on the weekends) as a way of waking up. While it is a little harder to do in the winter because of the colder temperatures, there are the unexpected sightings that makes the morning walk worth it.

Today’s unexpected sighting was this hawk (I’m assuming that it is either a juvenile sharp-shinned hawk or a juvenile Copper’s hawk).  As I walking back across the one foot bridge I’d startled it from it’s original roost.

After sitting nearby for a few minutes (so that I could get one good picture) it flew off to another nearby tree. I was able to get a couple of good pictures of it’s profile. The main reason why I’m assuming it is a juvenile and not an adult is the brown coloring (though it could be a adult that isn’t in it’s mating colors; or it’s a female).

Here was the last picture I got, before it flew off again. These sightings are what makes the morning walks so enjoyable–you never know what you will see from day to day. That is why nature walks (even to the same place) are so fun–nature changes day to day. What you saw yesterday, you might not see today, and what you saw today–you may not see tomorrow or next week when you go back.

So even though the temperatures are getting cooler (and they can be frigid first thing in the morning)–get out and go for a walk, look at things with a fresh eye, and find the enjoyment in the little things.


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