April 14 – Wildflower time

Tuesday I gave an exam in my morning class and took all the answer sheets down to Main Campus, as usual, to use the machine that grades them.  Since the machine is in the mail room, I checked my mail.  There was a thin envelope with a single sheet in it from the Governor’s office.  It had all the hallmarks of a ding letter.  But when I opened it I found out my proposal had been funded.  We’re getting $500 to put in a rain garden (prairie) at North Campus.  Woo hoo!  I’ve been trying to get this done for a long time.  With this money, we can buy a lot of plants and do it right.  We need to get it done by the end of the semester, however. 

In the afternoon we went to scuba class out at Sheridan pool.  I’ve taken Savannah to swim meets there many times.  Their pool was overchlorinated and cloudy.  Yuck.  We did all the exercises for “confined water dive #2”, plus a few that must be done in deep water.  One girl opened the valve on her tank without the regulator screwed on.  Brent and the instructor ran to turn it off.  Shawn’s long hair look hilarious underwater.  The mask holds down most of it, except a strip front and center.  Looks like a long mohawk. 

The camera club meeting was that night, but our meeting place, a local coffee shop, was closed.  Forever.  Being adaptable, we went to the Mexican restaurant across the street.  A couple of latecomers followed the same line of logic and  found us there.  We showed some images on computers and some prints we’re entering in the contest next week.  We planned our next couple of meetings, one of which is a field trip.  They’re all good people, which makes it a fun club.

Wednesday morning was field trip time.  We went to the Soulard Access, a site on the Fabius River.  I hadn’t been there since last fall, where I pulled my kayak out there.  As soon as we got out of the car we saw a pileated woodpecker, followed shortly by a red-headed woodpecker.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a class see the pileated.  Then we saw the blue-gray gnatcatcher, and I know no class of mine has seen it.  There were a few more species as we walked down the road.  The woods were too muddy from recent floods to walk in.  We saw several more species on the drive back to North Campus, including a huge flock of pelicans.  Leo came with us, which was nice–like having another instructor along.

I met a student, but otherwise had no further obligations.  I wasn’t feeling too great, and headed home early.  I stopped in the woods to photograph some wildflowers.  I identified the species at our stream team site.  It’s very abundant there, but I haven’t seen it anywhere else.  Must like floodplain forest.

Spring Cress.

I saw about five species of butterflies this day.  It was the first warm clear day in a long time, which explains a lot.  So here’s the first butterfly photo of the season.

Spring Azure.

I took a nap and a couple of aspiring, and went to see Savannah’s soccer game.  She got to play a lot of minutes.  Not surprising, as we only have two on the bench.  We played Quincy Notre Dame’s JV team and only lost 0-8.  They have some tall girls.  It was fun to watch, and I sat next to Mohamed and Omaima, who I haven’t talked to in a long time.

Savannah is #5, same as her birthday. 

Thursday I had just one lecture to give.  I got some writing done on my book chapter in the afternoon.  I photographed flowers in the yard when I got home.

Two color morphs of common violet, growing next to each other.  Ah, genetic variation, the raw material for natural selection.

Virginia bluebells

Daff O’dill

Friday morning I went out to Lowell’s.  It was a sunny, warm day.  We did about two and a half rounds of the lake.  I caught five bass.  Lowell caught a couple, plus a crappie.  We did a quick ATV tour for wildflowers, but not that many species are up yet.  I went to the office afterward, took care of a couple of little things, then to a faculty meeting.  I learned some interesting things.

We watched this muskrat actually pluck the plant from the bank of the lake and take it to its burrow.

This pair of wood ducks may be using the nearby nest box.

A painted turtle, standing at her post.

Saturday was overcast, but it wasn’t supposed to rain until later.  I cruised around in the morning looking for targets.  The following were all taken out the window of my car.

American White Pelican on the Mississippi River.

Blue-winged teal hen stretching her wings in the wetland along the levy.

Blue-winged teal drake.

I was looking at these teal when a surprise appeared in the foreground.

American woodcock are seldom seen in daylight hours.  There were five or so hanging about the shoreline.

Canada goose comes in for a landing.

Common grackle makes a splash in a mud puddle.

A killdeer was hanging around this sandy/gravel area.

The mourning dove nesting in our pine tree by the garage.

Sunday was also rainy and cold.  I picked some violets from the back yard and attempted some macro photography. 
You can see all the reproductive parts of the flower in this section, though I’m not sure I got the lighting right.

Monday I took the Bio II lab out into the woods to see wildflowers.  What a bunch of sheltered city kids.  Some, even athletes, found the hills challenging to navigate.  Others were worried about every possible threatening plant or animal.  The real test came when we had to walk past an old deer carcass.  These are biology majors!  At least we saw a good diversity of wildflowers, also the first tiger swallowtail of the year.

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