Tag: photography

The small, but loud Carolina wren: photography challenge day 69 (slightly late)

So this was suppose to be the picture that was posted last night, but there were issues with the WiFi and internet connection–so it’s a day late. I’m still calling it day 69, as I did try to post last night.

Carolina wren in front of the wood holder.

The Carolina wren is a small wren species that is common in most of the eastern parts of the United States. These wrens like to make their nests in hanging plants, empty flowerpots that have been forgotten and left in a corner, or they may make use of nesting boxes. We’ve had them make nests in hanging plants, and various other things hanging on the house (including gardening equipment). Lately they’ve been around the brush piles that we have on the other side of the fence.

The wren deciding to check out under the wood.

Both sexes look similar—having an reddish-brown back, with a orange chest. They also have a long eyebrow stripe, and white chin and throat.

Carolina wren deciding to check out the top of the wood.

If you’ve heard a Carolina wren sing—you know that they have a very good set of lungs for being such a small bird. Though—it’s only the male (usually) that sings that loud song.

Carolina wrens mate for life, once the pair bond is formed they will stay in their territory year round, and forage together as well. These bird feed primarily on insects (such as caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers, and true bugs [to name a few]) and spiders. They can also be found on suet feeders grabbing nuts (especially in the winter months), and eating berries as well.

Carolina wren debating on whether or not to go back into the wood pile.

They usually have two broods per year (usually five to six eggs), with the female incubating the eggs. The male may bring the female food during this time (incubation usually ranges about two weeks). The young (which are then fed by both parents) usually leave the nest about two weeks after hatching.

References:
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/carolina-wren
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Carolina_Wren/id

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Triple the entries: Day 2 of the photography challenge; all fish in one space.

Not often they’re all on the same side of the aquarium at the same time.

So with the fact that a minor winter storm blew in this afternoon, and I really didn’t feel like going outside–the winners for today’s photography challenge are the three fish in the large aquarium.

So we originally bought this 55 gallon aquarium when the koi fish was getting to big for the smaller aquarium in the family room and we didn’t want to donate it to the local botanical garden for their koi pond. Needless to say that fish passed a couple of years ago (we’ve gone through a couple of shubunkins since then). The algae eater adapted to the aquarium quite nicely (though we learned that they don’t like to be caught with the fish nets when they’re adults).

The larger algae eater in the back was the one I had in the aquarium in my room. But alas, the pump went out on the aquarium (and they no longer make the pump), so I moved it over to the aquarium in the other bedroom.

The cats enjoy going in there every so often to watch “fish tv” for a couple of hours–especially when the algae eaters are cleaning the front of the aquarium.

I’ve realized that once Pancakes and I move, I will have to set up an aquarium for her so that she has her fish tv to watch, since I’m not sure there will be many birds around for her to watch.


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Month in Review: January 2019

So we’re off and running into 2019. January has come and gone. The weather has been interesting this month—within the first four days there was a snow/ice storm (did get out of work a little early, and then the next day started a little later)—so can’t wait to see how the weather is going to behave for the rest of the year.

So I decided that to start the year, I was going to start a little slower in terms of goals (not have quite as many as I’d been having) to see if I could get at least 80% on each of them. So what did my goals for January include?

They were:

At least 434,000 steps (this will be breaking down to the minimum of 14K/day), so that I can be on track for reaching 5 million steps again by New Year’s Eve.

Starting to interact more on Linkedin.

Restarting the photography challenge (may or may not be same picture on the blog and other social pages).

Working through different e-courses and on the transition plan (making notes and posting updates on the blog).

Working on different science posts for the blog.

Reading (or finishing) at least 3 non-fiction books (aiming to read at least 10% of a book a day—lovely thing with the kindle as it tells you the % of the book you’ve read; would make it approximately 3 new books a month).

Workout daily (either restart a beachbody program or start a hybrid program), alternating resistance training with cardio (and hopefully a walk on the weekend along with yoga).

Figure out how to ensure that I’m having my shakeology daily.

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. Step goal of 434,000: I managed to surpass the step goal this month. I got in 477,549 steps (and this was with four days being below average; three of which were below 5K). A little closer to reaching 500K in a month, but still a little short. But I’m on track for both the yearly goal (of 5 million) and my 1001-day goal (of either 14,014,000 or 19,124,000 steps).
  • Interacting more on Linkedin: This one is a little slow going. I’m liking posts, and sharing posts every so often, but I have yet to write an post or leave a detailed comment on someone’s post.
  • Restarting the photography challenge: This one has been difficult, mainly due to my cell phone acting up (during the week, that is usually how I take my pictures). So the challenge got restarted again on the 7th (though I did post on the 1st, and then several pictures over the weekend of the 5th & 6th to try to make up for not having a daily picture posted from the 2nd to the 4th).

I restarted the challenge again this week (starting on the 28th), and did a double post on 30th (since I had trouble trying to load any of the pages on the blog on the 29th). So we shall see how long I make it this year.

  • Working through the different e-courses and on the transition plan: I’ve managed to work through one e-course (which was more of a refresher on job searching), and did one or two little linkedin “courses”. In terms of my transition plan, I’ve come up with several things that I’d like to avoid doing, slowly figuring out my “professional lifestyle” and I have an idea about which biotech hubs I’d be willing to move to for a job.
  • Working on different science posts: I’m slowly working on this, as I’ve realized what my two major hang-ups are: 1) trying to draw what I want to relate (structures of DNA & RNA for example), and then 2) making sure that I’m not using a huge amount of scientific jargon. I want to write scientific posts that can be understood by someone who doesn’t have the scientific background.
  • Reading (or finishing) at least 3 non-fiction books: So I managed to finish reading the following books, and have also decided to color code them differently in my master list to differentiate between the books that I finished last year (in red) and the ones I will have finished this year (in green); though I also have one in purple (this is more of a reference book):

Move Your Æ Ash: Know, Grow, & Show Your Career Value by Paul Carney

Anti Goals: Find Success by Knowing what to avoid by Kevin Wagonfoot

Power Up Your Self Talk: 6 Simple Habits to Stop Beating Yourself Up and Reclaim Your Life by Michal Stawicki

Anti-Debt: A guide to personal finance, getting out debt and building a money plan for our life by Kevin Wagonfoot

Though I’ve only written one book review so far: Anti-Goals: Find Success by Knowing What to Avoid by Kevin Wagonfoot

  • Daily workout: I’ve managed to at least get my steps in 27 out of 31 days (which means that my fitbit registered at least 25 minutes of walking). I’ve also done numerous workouts—it may not have been daily though. So this is still something I’m going to be working on (see my other post on trying to finish at least 250 different Beachbody workouts).
  • Trying to figure out the best way to have my shakeology daily. This has been a total washout—I haven’t had shakeology at all this month. I’m considering cancelling my supplements for shakeology (as I have about 2 months worth to still go through). Mornings right now are too chilly for having a shake before leaving the house, and I’ve gotten spoiled having it mixed with almond milk instead of water and blended (instead shaken in a cup). So yeah—I’m still trying to figure out the best way of having my daily dose of shakeology.

So I think I’m off to a good start this year (at least in terms of certain things). There are always going to be bumps or roadblocks in the road, and I just need to go over them or figure out a way around them. So now it’s time to try to set some goals for the next twenty-eight days in February.

February goals will include:

At least 392,000 steps (again this breaks down to at least 14K/day; and will keep me on track for my other step goals).

Continue trying to interact more on linkedin.

Read at least one article on fiercepharma or fiercebiotech each day (maybe make notes for a small weekly recap blog post).

Continue with the photography challenge

Continue working through various e-courses/groups and the transition plan (pick specific cities, and have an idea of what my superpower trifecta is).

Continue trying to workout daily.

Aim for a week of no spend days (start money log)

Read (or finish) at least three non-fiction books

Start really trying to work on science posts for the blog (and potentially on linkedin as well).

Figure out the best way (still) of trying to have my shakeology daily.

Image of Goofy running: http://clipart-library.com/clipart/pc787erqi.htm

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Photography Challenge Day 4: Mississippi Kites

Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the pair of Mississippi kites that I saw on my morning walk at Boomer Lake. Truthfully, I almost missed seeing them—I’d turned at just the right time to see a bird swoop into a tree, and when I went to get a closer look, I realized that it was a pair of Mississippi kites.

                           Mississippi Kites

I’ve seen the kites all summer—but usually when they’re just swooping around in the sky foraging for flying insects and they’re usually a good block or so away and I can never get a good picture. Today I managed to get several good pictures of them.

       Swooping Mississippi Kite

The Mississippi kite (Ictinia mississippiensis) is a bird of prey that spends its summers in both the southeastern and southwestern parts of the United States (it winters down in central South America). Unlike larger birds of prey, the Mississippi kite feeds primarily on insects though will also forage on small reptiles, amphibians, smaller birds, small mammals and bats.

These graceful birds can be seen throughout the day flying and soaring though the sky as they hunt for their meals. Since these are social birds, usually they can be seen in groups as small as just a pair, upwards to a dozen or more (depending on how main breeding pairs and yearlings are in the area).

                  One Mississippi Kite

As much as I’d like to get a picture of the youngsters—I’m going to need a better lens that zooms as the pairs are fiercely territorial and will dive bomb anything that gets to close to the nest. Obviously this morning, either the tree where they were perched didn’t contain the nest, or the youngsters are old enough that the parents don’t dive bomb any more, or I was still far enough away that they didn’t see me as a threat.

             Two Mississippi Kites

And here are a couple of more unusual facts about these graceful birds:

They may build their nests near (or incorporate) a wasp nest to help protect their eggs and chicks from climbing predators (because who wants to mess with a colony of wasps?).

They allow certain smaller birds to nest near them (namely mockingbirds, blue jays, and house sparrows).

Facts and trivia were found at: www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Mississippi_Kite/overview

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Goldfinch looking for spring….Photography challenge day 14

Well I thought we were going to be settling into spring temperatures this weekend, but no…..Mother nature has decided to play with us, like a cat does with a mouse. The weather was beautiful on Thursday, rainy and chilly on Friday, and then plain cold on Saturday. The forecast claimed today was suppose to be warmer than yesterday (and in a way it was—just at 5PM and not earlier in the day).

Finch in the bush

So today’s photograph is brought to you by an rather irritated goldfinch that I accidentally disturbed at the feeder when I went out to top off all the bird feeders. I guess with cooler weather, we’ll be getting a lot of birds in the yard. I swear this weekend we probably had somewhere in the total of fifty to sixty grackles around two of the feeders (and they wiped out a small suet twice this weekend).

Its also nice to see that the cold snap hasn’t totally killed of the flowers and leaves that budded out already this year (though it will be probably fifty-fifty on whether or not we have a peach crop this year). As much as I don’t care for most insects, I want spring temperatures to come–I’m tired of wearing my winter jacket in the mornings and then having to carry it home in the afternoon because the temperatures rose by a good thirty to forty degrees.

This is one of my favorite times of the year to bird watch (I did see a bluebird the other day, I just didn’t have my camera on me [which has a better zoom than my phone]). I’m thinking that I need to make time to walk around Boomer Lake and bird watch to see what species are out on the water and flying around.

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The bugs are starting to come out……Photography challenge day 27

Well I managed to find the connection cord for my camera–it was still in my duffle bag from when I went to London back in October last year (I unpacked everything but the front pocket, which is where that cord and the iPod charger were located).

So now I’m happy–I’m returning the other package that I bought, thinking it was the connection cord–it wasn’t (it was a set of spare lithium batteries with their charger)–I have to learn to read more closely on certain packages.

So back to today’s post (sorry for the rambling). Today’s picture is brought to you by the flying (and probably stinging) insect that landed on the underside of the outside umbrella the other day. So our temperatures have been bouncing around since we’ve gotten out of the last really cold spell–we’ve been going from the upper thirties to the lower/mid sixties. This guy(gal) stopped by to say hello the other day, while we were sitting outside enjoying the mild January weather.

Is it a wasp or a hornet?

Now I don’t have anything against most flying insects, unless they are actively trying to either sting me or keep buzzing me due to my sweat or whatever is going on in their tiny neurological synapses. This little one only hung around basically long enough for me to point it out to my parents and grab the picture. I wonder that if we’re seeing them this early in the year–what is the normal spring/summer going to look like?

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Day four of photo challenge

I’m thinking that for awhile most of the pictures for this photo challenge are going to be either of the family pets (we do have seven–four dogs and three cats), birds in the yard (since we have numerous feeders), or throw-back photos that I already have on my computer. Right now its really cold out (though not as cold as the northeast is right now), and if I can find an excuse not to go out in the winter weather–I will find one and I’ll use it no matter how lame of an excuse it is.

The nose that wanted its picture taken

Today’s installment for the photo challenge is an closeup of our collie mix’s nose. I’d been playing with my phone one morning and she came to see what I was doing, and I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to see what type of close-up picture she’d allow. Well you can see her nose, and if you look really close–you can even see an eyeball through the fur.

I like taking pictures of the animals, mainly because each picture is showing a little different aspect of their unique personalities, even if the pictures are taken within minutes of each other.  Boozer is our youngest dog, and one of the most stubborn ones we’ve had as well–she is sweet, though she gets into trouble daily acting like she is the top dog, when in fact she is at the bottom of the dog pecking order.

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Day two of photography challenge

While I didn’t manage to actually be able to take a picture today–one it was too cold outside to do any type of outdoor photography, and while there are few things inside at work I could have taken a picture of–the times I walked passed them I usually had my hands full or I forgot that I wanted to take the photos.

Chewi sleeping on the dog bed

So day two of the challenge is a picture of another one of our pets–this time my dog Chewi (named because 1–she chewed on everything as a puppy, and 2–as a puppy she was a little ball of fuzz and looked slightly like Chewbecca from Star Wars [and yes I know that that Chewi was male and mine is female]). She always likes to curl up where she can keep an eye on where everyone is–though yesterday morning, she just wanted to catch a few extra zzzs.

She is a little over fifteen, and just starting to slow down a little–I’d always joke that she only had two speeds–Mach 1 and warp. She actually bent a metal stake one year on vacation when she lunged after a rabbit while tied out in a relative’s side yard. So now whenever the weather warms up enough for a walk around the neighborhood lake, I have to remember that we can no longer do the entire route, like we could even a year or two ago–in dog years she is 100 (give or take, since she is a mix), and finally realizing that point.

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Butterflies, birds, and more, oh my……

So, it is mid-September and we’ve had more and more different animals coming through the back yard.  It is the time of year when birds and other animals either start to migrate south, or really start stocking up on the nuts and seeds for the coming seasons.

Ruby throated hummingbird at the hummingbird feeder

This is just one of the many ruby throated hummingbirds that has been passing through the yard. We’ve been getting upwards of five to six of these beautiful little birds buzzing through to both the feeders and any flowers that are stilling blooming. Read More

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