Tag: naturephotography

Photography Challenge Day 191: The birds…….

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).

Ducks, egrets, and an heron…oh, my

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.

Closer look at the one egret, and more ducks joined the picture.

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.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 186: The Waved Sphinx Moth

So the winner of today’s photography challenge is the waved sphinx moth that was hanging out in the shed this weekend.

Waved sphinx moth

This is a member of the larger family of moths that are commonly known as sphinx moths, hawk moths, and hornworms—and there are almost 1500 species found throughout the world.

These moths have great camouflage—they are mostly brown, with both wavy lines and straight lines bisecting its wings. It’s unclear if the adults feed, unlike some of the others that have been mistaken for hummingbirds (from a distance).

The waved sphinx moth on the side of the house

I don’t think that the moth was happy being moved from it’s hiding spot—these moths are more nocturnal in nature, and it was rousted a good three hours or so before the sun went down. I do know that it did hang out on the side of the house for awhile before finding another area to doze in until the sun went down.

Depending on location, these moths may have either one or two broods a year. Since we’re in the southern part of their range, it is possible that there could be another brood before the end of October.

This may mean that if I pay attention and keep an eye out for them—I might be able to spot a caterpillar of the waved sphinx moth. Though it may be difficult, as I don’t think we have any ash, fringe, hawthorn, or oak trees in the neighborhood—though we might (I’m not the greatest at telling trees apart).

That could be something to keep me busy in the spring/fall—trying to identify the different trees in the area, that way I would have an idea of the insects that might be visiting them in the late spring/summer.

I’m pretty sure that the moth was only in the yard, because it had decided to try to snooze the day away in the shed before someone found it and decided to show it off. But it is a pretty looking insect, and I think I’ve seen them before on the trees earlier in the year (and definitely last year).

No Comments mothsnaturePhotography

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 164: Resting dragonflies (short post)

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).

Dragonfly on the wire

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.

Smaller dragonfly resting on the iris leaves

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.

Two dragonflies staring off in two different directions.

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).

No Comments insectsnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 160: The probable stink bug

So, continuing with the theme of insects, the winner of today’s challenge is probably a green stink bug nymph. The reason why I’m saying probable stink bug—I didn’t threaten it, so it didn’t release it’s unpleasant odor.

Probably a green stink bug nymph

I’d notice this guy crawling along the edge of the patio table, and decided to try to get some pictures of it—if nothing else to prove that I don’t sit inside all day during the summer. While I knew it was a true bug (based on it’s shape), I wasn’t sure of the species—so turning to google, the closest insect seems to be a green stink bug.

I’d assume that this is a stink bug in it’s third (possibly fourth) nymph stage–it was fairly large, but I didn’t see any wings on it yet, so it isn’t in the fifth (and final) nymph stage yet.

This makes sense, since we have a small peach shrub/tree that gives fruit—but the fruit never fully ripen. I’m wondering if these guys could be part of the reason why the fruits only develop so far. These insects like others go through a incomplete metamorphosis—where they have five instar (or nymph) stages before becoming adults; and each instar stage looks a little more like the adult. The full life cycle is usually around thirty to forty-five days (so about six weeks or so).

They are a pest of crops, fruit trees, and other plants. They feed on the sap of the plants—so they have needle-like mouths for pierce the stems/fruits of the plants. The young nymphs can winter in the leaves and emerge in spring/summer when the temperatures are warmer to complete their lifecycle.

So again—giving space to another living creature allowed me to get some good photographs, and also ensured that I wasn’t going to be smelling an obnoxious odor (that if it was a stink bug it would have released if it felt threatened).

One thing I may try to do—be outdoors more and look for more than just flowers, birds, or animals to take pictures of–look for the smaller things, try to find the young nymphs of insects (or even the eggs). Looking for the small things may be even more rewarding than finding the big things.

No Comments insectsnaturePhotography

photography challenge day 159: the probable assassin bug

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.

Probably some type of assassin bug out looking for it’s lunch.

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.

No Comments insectsnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 158: The grasshopper

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)).

Grasshopper nymph hopping across the table

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).

Larger grasshopper nymph on top of the bug spray

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.

No Comments insectsnaturePhotographyScience

Photography Challenge Day 153: Cooler areas for a hot summer day

So today’s photographs are yet more throwback/flashback winners. I decided that since we’re in the middle of the ”dog days of summer” with triple digit heat with even higher heat indexes I wanted to share some photographs that reminded me of cooler temperatures.

So when thinking of cooler temperatures, what automatically comes to mind? Swimming, being out on the water, but also being underground in caves.

One of the formations in the main cavern at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

We went to Carlsbad Caverns last year as part of a quick whirlwind trip through New Mexico. While it was my first time there, I enjoyed it and would love to go back and explore more. There is a lot to see within the main cavern, and I would actually like to go on one of the guided tours within other caves that have entrances via the main cavern. The only reason why I didn’t do one to begin with–I didn’t know that it was going to be a five hour round trip tour.

Besides the caverns, there are numerous hiking trails that one can go on as well. I also enjoy hiking, but wasn’t dressed for it and again we hadn’t planned on doing any-though I’d like to hike a little bit of a trail just to see what type of wild flowers or animals are around. I know there are rattlesnakes, we’ve heard them–luckily we didn’t see them on the trip.

My other favorite place to escape the heat is going to a lake, and not just any lake. I prefer sandy bottom lakes, that you can actually see where you’re walking and if it’s a little rocky that’s fine–they’re at least smooth rocks that you’re walking on. So one destination that I have enjoyed going to over the years has been Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota. This is a large fresh body lake that has actually become one of Minnesota’s latest state parks.

Sunset over Frazer Bay, Lake Vermilion St. Louis County Minnesota

Swimming, kayaking, bird watching, star gazing, and watching the sunsets are things that I have always enjoyed doing when going to Lake Vermilion. I remember kayaking out to an island and watching the bald eagles feed their young. This was the first place where I actually saw a bald eagle in the wild, and we use to see them sit atop of the large pine trees gazing out over the water before launching out to hunt for a meal (either for themselves or their young).

Going to the ocean is another way of getting away from the heat–though you do need to stay in the water, or have a really nice large beach umbrella to stay out of the sun. While I’ve been to the ocean several times (both Atlantic and Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico as well)–I’ve only managed to capture a sunset picture from the Gulf of Mexico, when we went down to South Padre Island years ago.

Sunset over the bay, South Padre Island Texas

What I liked about this sunset picture was actually managing to capture the heron hunting as well. There weren’t any clouds in the sky that day, so there wasn’t any pinks and reds streaking across the sky that I would see when looking at a sunset over Lake Vermilion. It was different, but just as beautiful. Now that I’ve gone back through photographs of different locations–I would like to try to capture more sunsets over water (be it lakes, rivers, or oceans). It’s a nice way of saying it’s been a beautiful day, and tomorrow will be just as nice.

That will be a goal for my travels in 2020–capture at least one sunset picture from one new location. If I travel back to areas I’ve been before (say Boston), then try to go on a harbor cruise and get a picture of the sun setting over the harbor (I do have one of it setting over the river). Also I should try to get at least one new sunrise picture as well in my 2020 travels.

No Comments National ParksnaturePhotographyState Parkstravel

Photography Challenge Day 152 (a day late): Flash Back Friday edition

So hopefully I’m all caught up on the photography challenge after today and it will be back to a daily posting. Last night the internet was acting up and my Friday post didn’t save as a draft. So we’re trying it again this morning.

So yesterday’s winner of the photography challenge is one of the anaconda snakes that live at the New England Aquarium.

I would recommend that you go to their Facebook page or their main page to learn more about these cool snakes (beyond the little that I’m going to be sharing here). One of the females (and I’m not sure if it was this one or one of the other two)—actually birth to a couple of baby anacondas, even though there are no males in the holding.

Green Anaconda at the New England Aquarium

So there are two main types of reproduction: sexual and asexual. Sexual reproduction, is reproduction with fertilization; whereas asexual reproduction is reproduction without fertilization. There are actually six to seven different types of asexual reproduction. Though when talking about more complex animals, if they asexually reproduce, it is usually through parthenogenesis.

Pathogenesis, is the process in which an unfertilized egg develops into an new individual. So, the female anaconda had several unfertilized eggs that developed into a couple of new little green anacondas.

According to the aquarium, the two young anacondas haven’t been put out in the display unit yet–it will interesting to see when they do, if one can capture pictures of them on the same day every year and see how they grow.

I find these snakes to be fascinating in terms of both their size and the fact that they thrive in water. While I’m not fond of snakes (living in the southern part of the US, there are quite a few that have nasty bites that can seriously hurt or kill a person), I do enjoy watching them from a distance—or when there is a solid piece of glass between us.

No Comments naturePhotographyreptilestravelZoos/Aquariums

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??

No Comments naturePhotographyreptiles