Tag: amaturephotographer

Photography Challenge Day 13: Ruby-throated hummingbird

So the winner of today’s photography challenge is the ruby-throated hummingbird.

I’ve always been intrigued by hummingbirds—they’re small, quick, and they beat their wings constantly.

Lately, I’ve also been trying to remember that when I was younger I felt a little like a hummingbird.

In that I could dive into a subject, immerse myself, learns as much as I could and then move on.

Ruby-throated hummingbird at the rose-of-Sharon

I did this for class projects: there was the paper over the Culture of India (and I covered everything from architecture to music to philosophy), to diving into the history of Peru (though I don’t think I ever wrote a paper over this—so that may be something to go back to) and medieval England.

I’ve always been fascinated with birds—I have quite a few bird encyclopedias in my storage unit, plus numerous articles that I had clipped out of the papers as I was growing up to make a scrap book on them.

So what does fascination with birds, culture and history of other countries, and everything else have to do with hummingbirds?

Ruby-throated hummingbird at another rose-of-Sharon

When I had taken the Clifton Strength Assessment test back in both 2017 and 2019, my top strength was learner.

This trait fits people who have a love of learning (though they have to be drawn to the topic), love digging into new things, love researching topics and ideas and gathering information.

These individual have been likened to hummingbirds in that they will deeply investigate on subject before moving on to another—similarly how hummingbirds will investigate flowers for their nectar before going to the next flower.

Until I took the test and saw the top strength as learner—I had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed learning, reading, investigating, and putting the information together in some format.

Getting my undergraduate degrees took awhile—because I was ‘bouncing’ between ‘flowers’ (aka different subjects)—but I did manage to get my two degrees and minor (though now looking back, I should have taken that last six hours of sociology to get that minor as well).

Graduate school, allowed me to dive deeply into a subject that was still fairly new and I was learning different techniques and systems. The first postdoc was where the love of learning started to dwindle—while the topic was slightly different from grad school—what I was being taught really wasn’t, and therefore I got bored (only realizing now, exactly why I was getting bored so early—if I had realized it then, things might have gone differently had I asked for either another project or figured out a way to strike up a collaboration with another lab).

The second postdoc allowed me to dive into another system and I learned quite a bit—though I didn’t like being told to read up on other things in my spare time. I learned in both staff positions—more so in the first (only because I was working with undergrads in several different labs on several different projects) than the second. It has taken about ten months of self-reflection to realize that one of the problems that I had with the last position—I was bored; while I had been told I could ‘collaborate’ with other labs on projects, the only labs I could think of would have required me doing experiments and those aren’t something that you can schedule to only take 1 to 2 hours a day.

As I now move forward—I have to remember that I’m like a hummingbird, where there needs to be ample ‘flowers’ around for me to sample; I may hang around one or two longer than others, but at least I won’t get bored.

This is something that I will keep in the forefront as I start looking towards either my industry transition or freelancing/working for myself–I need variety to keep busy–so for me (at least mentally) it is better to be both a jack-of-all-trades and a ‘specialist’.

Have you taken the Clifton Strength Assessment Test? What was your top strength?

No Comments bird watchingcareerflowersnaturePersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflections

Daring jumping spider: winner of the photography challenge-Day 12

The winner of today’s photography challenge is a little jumping spider that I noticed around the pond this summer.

I had decided last year, that I was going to try and branch out in photography subjects—therefore not just photographing birds, but looking for the smaller things as well.

In this case, it was a little jumping spider that was moving around the leaves of the decorative grass.

Jumping spider on the decorative grass

Now I’m not really a insect/arachnid/snake type of person (and I just realized I put the phrases of the things that I ‘avoid’ down—since I don’t mind butterflies, turtles, or lizards (can’t think of an arachnid that I ‘like’).

But I do find the smaller spiders to be somewhat cute—especially when I’m far enough away from them that I know we won’t be getting in close contact with each other.

It’s got an orange spot on its back

So this spider is the bold (or daring) jumping spider, and is found throughout the United States, southern Canada, northern Mexico, and introduced to Hawaii. I assume its name came from the fact that jumping spiders hunt their prey—running them down & if needed ‘jumping’ on them. This is a juvenile spider since the spots are tinted orange/red—as the adults usually have white spots.

So it’s nice to know that there are ‘nice’ spiders in the backyard trying to keep the insect pests in check—though, yes I know that if it bit me I could get a rash/welt. But, I’m never going to get that close to any spider to have it be able to bite me.

While I don’t like spiders–I wonder how many other types I can (or have already) gotten a picture of? Are you a spider person? If you are–which spider is your favorite?

No Comments naturePhotographyScience

Snapping at the Photography Challenge Day 2: The Snapping Turtle

Today’s entry into the photography challenge is the common snapping turtle. Since I’m still self-isolating due to the pandemic, majority of my photography has been done around the house, about three and half weeks ago I noticed that we had a ‘visitor’ in the creek bed—a snapping turtle.

Someone came wandering up the creek bed

Now this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen them around the area, after we first moved in we actually had one on the porch (that was fun—we had to enter and exit through the garage until it decided to leave).

It looks like this one had decided to move up the creek bed from the flood plains for a while, either looking for water, a place to build its nest (though I have no idea if this snapper is a male or a female) or possibly something to eat.

Even though they are large turtles—they can move fairly quickly when they want to—I wandered over the to fence every so often to see if it was still there, and when I noticed it was gone I went out front to see if I could notice it further up the creek bed and I couldn’t—I assume that it decided to chill under the ‘bridge’ for awhile before moving further up the creek to either the little reservoir pond or Sanborn ‘lake’.

They are actually only combative when they are out of the water–otherwise they just bury themselves in the sediment at the bottom of the lake, river, stream, or wherever they’re at. When they’re out of the water and looking for a nesting site, or just moving between different bodies of water and they feel threatened–that is when they ‘snap’ towards people. While not visible here–they can extended their heads and neck quite far.

Now I’m wondering if the largish turtle I saw a year or so ago on a walk around Boomer Lake wasn’t a snapping turtle making its way back down the hill into the water.

No Comments naturePhotographyreptilesTurtles

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 190: The great egret is back (for awhile)

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.

Egret scratching it’s chin……

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.

Egret flying over head

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.

Egret overhead, slowly flapping its wings.

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……..

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotography

Photography Challenge Day 165: Waterfowl Wednesday (short post)

The winner of today’s photography challenge are the ducks and geese. I’ve been lucky over the past couple of weeks to get candid photographs that if I was a few minutes earlier or later I might not have gotten.

Ducks on the logs

I’ve managed to time my walks in the morning to where the ducks are actually resting on the floating dead trees that normally are populated by turtles later in the day.

Walking past, there are usually another half a dozen swimming around patrolling, while these guys nap and groom. I’m sure that at a certain time, these guys will push off into the water and the others will quickly move in–going, thanks our turn.

Geese, geese, and more geese

Then I saw a large flock of Canada geese out on the lake, and in the background you can see some more geese that are grazing on the grass. I think due to what ever predator is around, there were fewer goslings this year than previously–though the total number of geese is still pretty high.

Ducks snoozing on a log

Then on the other side of the lake, I noticed that there is another dead tree, but this one is more popular with the ducks than it is with the turtles. I’m pretty sure that is because of how close it is to the shore. These guys were still wanting to snooze, even though the sun was up and the temperatures were rising. It is always nice to see that there is almost a universal “I’m not a morning person” mantra going on.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotography

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 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 157: The large milkweed bug

The winner of today’s photography challenge is a orange-red/black bug that we see every so often moving through the backyard. I decided to look on google and see if I could figure out what it possibly could be—and I’m going to wager a guess that it is the large milkweed bug.

Large milkweed bug crawling along the edge of the patio table.

I find it a little funny that a milkweed bug is moving through our yard—we don’t have any milkweed planted. We’ve thought about planting some, we have the seeds sitting in the fridge—but we haven’t planted them. So, that is probably why they’re sporadic travelers in our yard—they’re trying to find some milkweed plants somewhere. Though they may also be feeding on the sunflower seeds that have been dropped from the bird feeders by various birds or squirrels.

They are found throughout North America and down into Central America and the Caribbean islands as well. In terms of their lifecycle—they have incomplete metamorphosis, where they grow in stages (coloration changes, and development of both wings and genitalia). The four instar stages usually occur over the span of a month (but this is dependent on temperature—if it’s warm they may move through the stages a little faster, if it’s cold they may stay longer in a particular instar stage until the temperature warms up).

While the mature milkweed bug can feed off of other plants, though the younger milkweed bugs need to feed off the seeds of the milkweed plant for development and growth. Once young milkweed bugs find a milkweed plant, there may be as many as twenty of them on it feeding at the same time.

One really cool thing about the milkweed bug—it is now being used in research labs for study of evolutionary biology and patterns. I think that I would probably have taken an entomology class as an undergrad, if the bug we had to keep alive was a milkweed bug and not a hissing cockroach.

No Comments insectsnaturePhotographyScience