Tag: naturephotography

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.

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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.

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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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Photography Challenge Day 123: Throwback Thursday Edition no. 2

So today’s photographs are throwback photographs to prior vacations or weekend getaways, again.

Waves on the beach in Maine

When I was out in Boston, I managed to make it up to Maine once or twice to visit with distant family (third or fourth cousins)–once was over Thanksgiving, and then I managed to get up there more or less for a full weekend.

The beaches were more rocky around parts of Portland–actually had lunch on a refitted ship–that was an interesting experience. I enjoyed the brief times I made it up to Maine, and would love to go back and make it up to Acadia National Park around Bar Harbor for hiking and camping (just need to find someone else to go with).

Nautilus seen in bay on South Padre Island, TX

It’s been almost six years since we took a trip down to South Padre Island (with a brief stop in San Antonio).

One of the unique things that I liked was trying to take pictures of life under the water. I have had very few chances of using my digital camera underwater–mainly because I have yet to find a snorkel mask that will fit over my glasses comfortably. I know that I could get contact lens for swimming–but I rub my eyes way to often, and they’re a no go because of that.

The nautilus was actually in a group with some other hermit crabs and other aquatic life when we went to watch the sun set over the bay.

Nautilus and other shell dwelling creatures.

I’d like to get back to South Padre Island and try either kayaking in the bay or using my standup paddle board. That is another thing I’ve realized–I’d like to be close to some body of water (lake, river, pond) that I can maybe take my paddle board out on every so often.

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Photography Challenge Day 118: The Dragonfly collection

So on my walk this morning, I actually managed to get some good pictures of three different dragonflies.

Dragonfly on a stick

I managed to capture the picture of this dragonfly just after it landed on the stick. I was happy it turned out as nice as it did–since it originally looked to blend in well with the ground. It definitely blends in when the background is brown and green.

Then spotted this blue one a little further down the path.

Then I saw one that was blue but had the black patches on it’s wings. It also has bright blue eyes as well–and did you know that the head of an dragonfly is made up almost entirely of it’s eyes?

Then another bronze dragonfly flew through.

Then another bronze dragonfly landed on the branch behind the blue one (which is extremely fuzzy in the picture). I know it’s different from the first–based mainly on the patterns on the wings. This one just has dark edging, where the first had dark patches. Also the body of the first one was probably double the size of this one.

I enjoy seeing both these and the smaller damselflies–that means they’re eating all the mosquitoes they can. Considering how wet of a year we’re having–I’d really be happy if I was seeing swarms of the dragonflies and damselflies.

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Photography Challenge Day 114: Turtle Tuesday

Since I have been able to get numerous photographs of the red-eared sliders, and occasionally the soft-shelled turtles–I’m going to try to do a turtle Tuesday post for the next couple of weeks.

There are thirteen different families of turtles (within the order Testudines). Within those thirteen families, are more than 365 different species, and fifty-seven of those species can be found in the United States.

Large red-eared slider sharing the log

I was walking back on my short walk Sunday, when I noticed that there was a fairly large turtle on the log. This guy was lording over the other little two that managed to squeeze on at the very end of the log.

I had been told a couple of weeks ago, that there was a fairly large turtle in Boomer Lake–I don’t know if this is it or not, but it is an impressive turtle.

So one interesting fact about sliders–they are poikilotherms (which basically means they can’t regulate their body temperatures). This is one reason why you can see so many of them climbing on to logs and other surfaces to bask in the sun. They need frequently go between being in the sun (to increase their body temperatures), and then being somewhere cool (so they don’t overheat and suffer heat stroke).

Of the fifty-seven different species that can be found within the United States:

I’ve seen a sea turtle (both in the wild and in captivity), but I still want to see a leatherback sea turtle (hopefully in the wild; as I don’t know which aquarium would have the capacity to keep one).

I’ve seen common and ornate box turtles; though over the past few years I’ve only gotten a picture of common box turtles. We had a snapping turtle on the front porch years ago (though never did get a picture of it).

I’ve seen the desert tortoise (but in zoos), same for the alligator snapping turtle. Also managed to get a picture of the soft-shelled turtle a couple of weeks ago. One thing I’d like to do—when traveling try to get to nature preserves, walking trails, forests and just see what type of animals I might see (in particular turtle wise).

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