Tag: naturephotography

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

Photography Challenge Day 145: White and Purple wildflowers

So I’m doing a dual flashback Friday post for the color/flower challenge. These flowers were some of the wildflowers that bloomed earlier this year up at Boomer Lake. I managed to spot both of these white and purple flowers, and I’m pretty certain they’re from the same family (if not the same flower species–just different color genes were activated during germination).

White Carolina anemone

So this plant goes by two different names, and depending on what name you call it—it can change it’s scientific name.

One name is the Carolina anemone (Anemone caroliniana), and that places it within the genus Anemone and the family Ranunculacae. It is also native to the central and south eastern parts of the United States.

Purple Carolina anemone

The plants flower in early to mid spring, with coloring of white, soft rose, and occasionally purple flowers, with one flower per stem.

The other name that they can go by is windflower. Now windflowers can refer to anemones in general (so that is fine)—but the main anemone that goes by that common name is Anemone nemorosa (or the wood anemone), and it found mainly in Europe.

So if one is referring to them as windflowers—we also need to add in the other common name of Carolina anemone.

I’ve always loved anemones, as they’re some of the first flowers to bloom in the spring time. We have some of the smaller purple anemones planted in the front yard, but they’re slowly dying off (since it’s been about twenty years since I originally planted the seeds). I’m thinking that maybe it’s time to get some more seeds and start a new batch of anemones in the front yards.

No Comments flowersnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 138: The fuzzy, little caterpillar (short post)

So today’s winner of the photography challenge was the fuzzy, little caterpillar that I brushed off my leg when sitting outside.

Fuzzy, black caterpillar crawling around outside.

I’ve always heard the old tales that fuzzy caterpillars were a sign that the winters were going to be really bitter and cold. Since this is the first one I’ve seen so far, I don’t know how much I’m going to believe that tale (until I start seeing quite a few of them).

It was really trucking along

I’ve always been curious to know what type of moth or butterfly different caterpillars change into, and so far I haven’t been able to identify the “adult” version of this caterpillar.

Hopefully it isn’t one that is going to strip the leaves off any of the trees or build the really ugly silk tents in the trees (as they strip off the leaves).

Once I’m able to figure out the adult/mature version of the caterpillar I will be back to update the blog post.

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Photography Challenge Day 137: the dragonfly and the rabbit

Well there was a draw when trying to decide the winner of today’s photography challenge–therefore there will be two today.

I decided to go ahead and do a morning walk (as I wasn’t sure of how congested the pedestrian traffic was going to be at the lake this morning). I’ve realized that depending on what time I walk, determines what wildlife I may see on my walk.

Since I’ve been trying to do early (though not super early) walks due to the weather I haven’t seen that many turtles out and about. I also haven’t seen that many different species of birds. I have been trying to keep my eye out for other wildlife (such as turtles, dragonflies, rabbits, and so forth).

Today I was lucky to be able to get the picture of the following dragonfly and then one of the many rabbits that are living up at the lake.

Dragonfly resting on a blade of grass

I’m not sure what type of dragonfly this is, but it is a beautiful one (even if I got the picture of the back end). Since I’ve decided to do more than just bird watch at the lake, I’ve been able to get pictures of animals that I normally would pass by, but they turn out to be wonderful photography subjects.

Then a little later on my walk I noticed that there was a cottontail rabbit out grazing in the grass.

Cottontail rabbit having its breakfast

I just didn’t think that I’d actually capture a picture of one with a mouthful of grass. I’ve noticed on my walk that there are at least four to six rabbits up at the lake, and they all look to be fairly large, so they’re probably all adults (how old–that I don’t know).

That means there is a healthy rabbit population at the lake, and also a healthy predator population as well. I know through reading up on cottontail rabbits, they have several litters of young a year because most don’t survive–so with seeing the number I have, it means that next spring I should probably still be seeing at least four rabbits around the lake.

No Comments insectsnaturePhotography

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

No Comments naturePhotographyScience

Photography Challenge day 129: Waterfall Wednesday Edition

So today’s photography winner is a small waterfall that I spotted on a hike in Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas.

Mini Waterfall in the park

We had gone to Devil’s Den State Park a couple of years ago for a mini vacation. I actually managed to hike probably a quarter of the paths within the park. This waterfall was spotted on the Devil’s Den trail, which also had a lot of neat rock formations as well.

Openings in the rocks.

I remember looking at the openings and wishing that I was a rock climber (and that it was allowed in this part of the park). I think it would have been cool to get closer to the openings and get some interior pictures.

It’s been recently shown that spending at least two hours a week outdoors and in nature is a good way of getting a good emotional reset. While I do spend time outdoors–it’s mainly on the weekend. I now realize that I need to find the time to get outdoors (and not just walking to the bus stop or sitting in the backyard at the end of the day) each day so that I can get back on an even keel in terms of how I deal with each day.

I would like to get back to Devil’s Den and hike the trails that I didn’t have time to hike the first time around (fossil flats, finish yellow rock–only did about a quarter of it before turning around, and hike part of a horse trail). I would also like to possibly camp out at Devil’s Den (we stayed in one of the cabins), though it would have to be at a time when all the insects were at an all time low (mosquitoes and ticks in particular).

No Comments naturePhotographyState ParkstravelWaterfalls

Photography Challenge Day 128: Reptile Tuesday

I know, its suppose to be Turtle Tuesday–but I couldn’t decide on a turtle picture to share, so I decided I’d do a group post and make it reptile Tuesday instead.

In terms of age–reptiles are one of the oldest groups of animals on the planet. The taxa group Reptilia include all living reptiles (snakes, crocodiles, alligators, turtles, lizards, and tuatara), and their extinct relatives.

Alligator at the birding center, South Padre Island TX

I was lucky to get the picture of this alligator before it decided to retreat back below the waters. Crocodiles and alligators are actually more closely related to birds, then they are to other reptile groups.

Box turtle seen on walk at Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas

There is one reptile that I haven’t seen that many of lately–turtles, and I’m not talking about water turtles–I’m talking about box turtles. I use to see these guys constantly and even helped one or two cross busy intersections (to make sure that they wouldn’t get hit by cars). I have only seen at most two over the past couple of years.

This guy was a large one that I spotted on an evening walk in Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas a few years ago.

The only reptiles that I will admit to avoiding are the ones that can harm me–so mainly the poisonous snakes, and I don’t plan on getting really close to any alligator or crocodiles either.

I’m going to have to see if I’m able to spot any box turtles or lizards this summer–I’ve already spotted the water turtles, and water snakes so I’d like to see if I can spot other reptiles this summer in addition to these.

No Comments natureNature PreservesPhotographyreptilesState Parkstravel

Photography Challenge Day 126: Spotting a large turtle at the lake

So today’s photography challenge winner is the very large female turtle that I spotted on my walk yesterday. I think it is a red-ear slider, but it could be a painted turtle–the only thing I’m positive about, is that it isn’t a snapping turtle.

Large turtle heading back to the water

I noticed this turtle towards the end of my walk, and it was heading back towards the water. I’m going to assume that she just laid her eggs and is heading back to the lake.

The back end of the turtle as it heads back to the water.

It can take about two to four months before the eggs hatch–and the turtle could possibly lay another set of eggs in another nest. The area that it picked was perfect–it is away from at least human interference (I was looking down the hill at it, and I’m not going to go playing around in that area), so the only possible dangers are the normal predators that are in the area.

I had been told that there was a very large turtle living in the area, and I think this is probably the one that the fisherman was talking about. I’d wager a guess that it’s probably at least fifteen to twenty years old (mainly due to the size).

Though this could very well be a male turtle, that was just out wandering trying to find a sunny spot to sun itself–I’m still going to go with my first guess it’s a female that was laying it’s first round of eggs for the year.

No Comments naturePhotographyreptiles