The winner of today’s photography challenge is the hawk that flew off in mid-shot, but I still managed to get two decent pictures of it in flight.
I’m pretty sure that this is the red-shouldered hawk and not the red-tailed hawk, due to the red on the breast as it was flying past me.
I’m wondering if I interrupted this one while it was hunting—as I had noticed it sitting on top of a light post, but when I got close to get it’s picture—it flew off towards some trees. I followed, but I didn’t notice the exact limb that it had landed on, so I continued on my walk to see what other birds I could spot.
They are hunters, and their prey ranges from small mammals to reptiles and amphibians. Though they have been seen to also eat other birds (including young owlets, sparrows, and doves).
They’re year round residents of the area, so I will be keeping an eye out for them on my walks to see if I can spot them in trees, on light posts, or just flying through the area.
The winner of today’s photography challenge is the great egret that looked to be scratching it’s chin when I snapped the picture this morning.
The temperatures are starting to get to where I will hopefully be able to get a morning walk in at least once on the weekend. Today I noticed that there were at least six egrets (or three that managed to zip back and forth and made me think that there were more— 🙂 on the lake. They will be around for probably another month or so, and then the large number will migrate further south for the winter—basically to the Gulf of Mexico and Central America.
I noticed last year, that they will temperamentally share space with the great blue herons. I will have to see if I can find the pictures of the stand offs I got between the two in the spring, as they are both hunters that hunt via wading in the shallow waters—so there is competition for food and space between the two.
One interesting fact: when they fly they’re flapping their wings at just two wing beats per second, and they can achieve a cruising speed of around 25 miles per hour.
Since migration season has started, it will be interesting to see what other birds migrate through, and how many decent pictures can I get of them……..
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.
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.
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.
Today’s photographs come from our “quick” visit to the tall grass prairie preserve today. The Tall Grass Prairie Preserve is located just outside of Pawhuska, Oklahoma and is home to a fairly good size buffalo herd.
I’m betting you noticed that I had “quick” in quotes—when we were leaving the preserve, we ended up with a flat tire, just inside the preserve. Now, if you know Oklahoma geography—Pawhuska is a fairly small town, with the next largest city to get triple A service is a good hour away. So by the time triple A almost showed up, some kind strangers had stopped and helped us change the tire.
So the first few buffalo that we saw were probably within just a few hundred feet of the opening of the preserve. These guys were just grazing and enjoying having this part of the preserve to themselves.
So we managed to see some of the herd of buffalo—it numbers between 1 and 2 thousand animals. Some of the bulls were close to the road, while a another portion of the herd could be seen in the distance. Since there are calfs present, and we’ve had decent rainfall the herd has quite a good area to graze on this year.
There were probably about 150-200 buffalo that we saw off in the distance (which is a good percentage of the total herd). The calves, are the light brown ones.
So if you can see the one or two pale brown animals–those are the calves that were just born this year.
There were also still numerous wildflowers in bloom. These flowers included:
Butterfly milkweed, this was one that I had to google once we got home, as I hadn’t seen any blooming for quite awhile. This is another wildflower that is native to the prairies of the midwest. Prior to the 1930s, it was actually listed as dietary/herbal supplement, as it was served in tea to help treat chest inflammations.
Black-eyed Susan, which were growing along the road and out in the prairie. This plant is native to the prairies of the midwest, and while some parts of the plant are edible, other parts aren’t (it is used by certain Native American tribes as medicinal herb).
So it will be nice to maybe try to get back again in the fall to see possibly more of the herd (but without the added headache of a flat tire), and see what type of possible fall wildflowers we may see.
If you’re ever in the northeastern part of Oklahoma, the drive through the Tall Grass Prairies is totally worth it–you may or may not see buffalo, but you will see some land being transformed back to how it looked a couple of hundred years ago–prairies, which are a vital ecosystem for North America.
So today’s photograph is of a cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus). Seeing these guys in the morning now means that spring is here and summer is around the corner. I will now hopefully be seeing this one (or another) at least two to three days a week as I walk to catch the morning bus.
So what are some facts about the cottontail rabbit?
The eastern cottontail rabbit is the most common species of cottontail rabbits and is found throughout North and South America (though within the US—it’s found from the east coast to the great plains—hence the name eastern cottontail).
They like to be on the edge of open areas—so they can be found at the edge of fields, farms, meadows, parks—areas that can also back up to wooded areas to hide.
They’re herbivores—so they eat grasses and if they can get into gardens—they’ll munch on peas, lettuce, and herbs. During the winter months they’ll eat bark, twigs, and buds.
Rabbits tend to breed three to four times a year (as only about fifteen percent of the young survive their first year), and the young are self-sufficient within a month (which is about one to two months before they reach sexual maturity). The populations of cottontails can grow quite quickly depending on the number of initial rabbits in the area.