April 26 -“I kissed a dog, and I liked it.”

My image of the Mexican long-tongued bat is now live on the ARKive conservation website here:
http://www.arkive.org/mexican-long-tongued-bat/choeronycteris-mexicana/image-G78237.html

Tuesday I took the Plant Field class to the Berghofer place.  I had never scouted for wildflowers there, and we saw some great ones.

From Spring 2010

A neat little waterfall along the stream.

Violet wood sorrel.  I’ve only seen this one other place before.

Same with hispid buttercup.

Phlox grows everywhere.

Shawn caught this little tree frog.  It jumped around and landed on his camera.

Birdsfoot violet.  I’ve never seen it in the wild before.

It has been rainy and somewhat cold all week.  As a result, I have not been able to do much photography or riding of the motorcycle.  On Wednesday I took the Environmental Science class to Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage .  We’ve been going every two years for six years, and the place has changed a lot.  There are a lot more people living there, and a lot more buildings up.  Like an idiot, I left my camera in the car.  A few of the houses look like hobbit homes.  We got to enter the one with the reciprocal roof, which was really cool. 

Today I had planned to take the BIO II class to Fall Creek to see wildflowers.  The weather was cooperating, and the time was ideal.  As I pulled up, I saw all the cars parked out along the road.  Then I saw the gates closed and a sign (“CLOSED”).   The outer sign was covered with plastic and boards.  We checked the other entrance and it was closed too.  Crap!  I had no feasible back-up plan, so I dismissed all the students.  As I was close to Hannibal I went to Stacey’s office and hung out there until she got off work.  On the Fall Creek road I had found a baby snapping turtle, probably hatched last year.  I picked him up and put him in a container.  He sat pretty well in my studio.  As usual, click through to see larger versions of any photos here.
 
Now three inches long, he has the potential to grow into a monster.

I found another garter snake while working on the yard over the weekend.  The Amish were selling firewood for $6/pickup load.  I got a couple of loads in my truck, with some help from Savannah.  I can’t cut it that cheap myself.  We also found that the frog eggs we put in the pond have all hatched.  There’s a lot less algae in there now!  The mourning doves are incubating a lovely pair of eggs.  Gretchen is 8 months old today, and still a ball of fire.  The new novelty song around our place is “I kissed a dog, and I liked it.”  Gretchen likes to slip you the tongue when she’s licking your face. 

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April 19 – Anniversary edition

This is not the anniversary of this blog, but of my marriage.  Also, coincidentally, the date of the Oklahoma City bombing and Waco.  Stacey and I have been married 19 fun-filled years.  To illustrate how similar our minds have become, last Friday Stacey and I bought each other the same barbecue grill for
each other as anniversary presents at different WalMarts. She called me while she was still in the store and we figured out what
we’d done. So she put hers back before buying it because we don’t need two
grills.  The old grill had survived numerous disasters.  It had been knocked about by the tornado in 2003.  After we moved to the new parsonage, it was knocked over by straight-line winds, and Stacey backed over ti with my truck.  It was still running, but barely.  We had steaks the first night with the new one, and they were delicious.  We also got some morels from the side yard, which apparently grow out of the scraps from the wood pile.

I took my class out to Lowell’s, where we saw and photographed many wildflowers. 

From Spring 2010

Pussytoes is an early bloomer.

From Spring 2010

Orange puccoon: this is still the only place I’ve seen it.  It appears to be spreading.

From Spring 2010

I think this is a female blue corporal, a dragonfly that is not even supposed to be here.

From Spring 2010

Yellow violet

From Spring 2010

Rue anemone

From Spring 2010

I love this tiger beetle eating an ant.

From Spring 2010

Dogtooth vioet

From Spring 2010

Toothwort

From Spring 2010

Virginia bluebells–first time I’ve seen it in the wild.

I’ve really been enjoying the motorcycle, riding to work and other destinations.  I took a loop north of Quincy after work one day.

From Spring 2010

I knew this waterfall was there, and it looks good now that everything has greened up.  Stacey has her own helmet now, and we can take some rides.

On Thursday I took the class to the arboretum at John Wood Community College.  One of the students spotted this flower, which is a new one for me.

From Spring 2010

Corn salad–we all got a kick out of that name.

Saturday we went to the Mardi Pals in Quincy, sponsored by Paw Pals.  The highlight is the dog parade.  I really enjoyed seeing the diversity of dog breeds.  Gretchen got some socialization, meeting many other dogs and people.  We ran into some friends, which was fun. 

From Spring 2010

The parade progresses.

From Spring 2010

Many dogs were in costume.  Click through to see many more in the online gallery.

From Spring 2010

Gretchen got nose-to-nose with this huge dog, which is apparently safe while it is peeing.

I took the camera club out to Lowell’s on Sunday afternoon to shoot wildflowers.  Most were quite cooperative, the flowers that is, and there were a few in bloom that had not been out on Tuesday.    Click through to see more from this adventure.

From Spring 2010

Blue-eyed grass

From Spring 2010

Indian paintbrush

From Spring 2010

Bumblebee in flight.  I like the motion blur in the background, even if the subject is not perfectly focused.

From Spring 2010

A minilandscape of ferns.

From Spring 2010

Twisted vine. (Full disclosure: idea stolen from Tracey)

From Spring 2010

Gnarly gall on a cedar.  I want a hairdo just like that.

From Spring 2010

There are a million spring beauties in the woods, but these spoke to me.

Saturday we noticed a pair of doves nesting in the sweetgum tree, visible right out our back window. 

From Spring 2010

They were still building the nest at the time, but today they have two eggs.  I will be tracking them and reporting their progress to NestWatch.org when it’s over.  Meanwhile, we’ll enjoy seeing them at every meal.

April 12 – Day owls

Friday I strapped my tackle box and a couple of rods onto the motorcycle and rode out to Lowell’s.  We did two rounds of the lake.  I caught one modest bass, and had a few more bites.  Many signs of spring were about.   Toothwort and rue anemone were in bloom, and the tree swallows were checking out the nest boxes around the lake.  I saw the first dragonfly (green darner) and three species of butterflies.  We didn’t see the screech owl in the wood duck box, though we were looking hard and I was ready with the camera this time.  We went to Ewing for lunch and ate at a tiny new diner that just opened there.  It was good food.  The lady who runs it (apparently all by herself) has been hawking food in the area for years.  We went back for another round of the lake.  I caught two more bass, but, more importantly, the little screech owl was peering out of the wood duck box.  I took about 50 pictures as we drew ever closer.  It seemed to have its eyes nearly closed.  Maybe the daytime is too bright for it. 

From Spring 2010

I guess we got too close for it’s comfort, and it retreated into the box.  Only then did it crack its eyelids open a bit. 

From Spring 2010

The turtles were out, as usual, many sunning themselves on the banks.

From Spring 2010

This one was probably hatched last year, a cute little baby.

We walked up to the catfish pond to give it a try.  Lowell caught a nice crappie and a little bass.  I was admiring his crappie while reeling in my spinnerbait when a catfish hit it.  Surprised the heck out of me.  It wasn’t a huge one by the standards of that pond, but it gave me a good pull. 

From Spring 2010

The Bradford Pears in front of Lowell’s house were in full bloom, and fairly spectacular.  You can hear the bees buzzing in them if you stand nearby, or even not so nearby.

I took the plant field class out last Tuesday to South Park.  It was our first look at some spring wildflowers.

From Spring 2010

I liked this common violet, as it is mixed white and purple.

From Spring 2010

This digger bee kept peeking out of her burrow.

I had a nice day of fly fishing out at the Berghofers.  Or at least I had a nice morning of beating the water with my flyline.  My technique is rusty, and, after trying John’s equipment, my outfit is old, heavy, and outdated.  John caught a bass and a few bluegills, but I couldn’t raise a bite.  We gave up and did some target practice with his .22 rifles.  It was a lot of fun.  He has a couple of steel plates hung from a pipe rack across the pond.  If you hit one, it rings like a bell.  Afterward, Liz made us a delicious lunch of Mexican food.  At least I got this nice pic of a colorful turtle.

From Spring 2010

I like the distorted reflection here.

Stacey and I took a motorcycle ride through the Amish country on Sunday afternoon.    There wasn’t much traffic, but I had to dodge some horse manure, as expected.  Savannah and I took Gretchen for a walk around town.  While walking by one of the Culver ponds I spotted some frog eggs.  We went back and got some to put in our little pond.  It has plenty of algae to feed them.  When we approached it, we saw a familiar face waiting for us. 

From Spring 2010

This red-sided garter snake lives in the rocks around our fish pond.  It appears to be the same one that was there last year.  It’s the first snake I’ve seen this year. 

April 5 – Honda Honda, Faster Faster

Stacey and I went down to St. Louis Friday morning.  We checked into the Hyatt downtown, and I walked from there to the Renaissance, where the Popular Culture Association meeting was held.  I gave my talk, which was reasonably well attended.  I was the only one to stand and extemporize with a Powerpoint, while the others just read their talks.  This was a strange meeting to be a scientist.  I actually had data and graphs, and was probably the only one to do so.  Afterward Stacey and I met Deirdre for drinks and appetizers.  We were so full after that we just got dessert at a different place, went back to the hotel and crashed.  We took our time getting up and ready Saturday morning, as I didn’t have any sessions I wanted to attend.  Stacey dropped me off at the meeting and went off shopping.  I went to Deirdre’s session, as well as Bob and Terry’s.  I learned some interesting things, but I’m not sure I’ll go to this conference again.  On the way out of town we stopped at Bass Pro, where I exchanged one reel for another.  On the way home we stopped in Hannibal, where I looked at a used motorcycle for sale.  It met all the criteria I had, and the price was right, so I bought it.  It’s a Honda Shadow Spirit 1100C.  It’s in excellent condition, a 2001, but with very low miles and lots of extras. 

From Spring 2010

From Spring 2010

Here are the specs for the model in that year.   Savannah drove me down to Hannibal Monday morning and I completed the transaction.  We went over to Stacey’s office to say Hi and show off the bike.  Stacey’s secretary Connie actually has a motorcycle endorsement on her license.   I began the drive home with Savannah following in the Tracker.  It was a bit nerve-wracking, as my last street bike was a 450, and that was 16 years ago.  The sky was dark, the air was cool, and it began to rain.  Perfect.  Fortunately, it didn’t get beyond much of a sprinkle.  The windshield and the full-face helmet were more than adequate.  Still, I found myself squeezing the bike with my legs as you would do riding a horse.  My hips were cramping by the time I got home.  After lunch Savannah went to work, while I got the motorcycle insured, inspected, titled and registered. 

I didn’t have time to figure out a good way to affix my rods to the bike, so I drove the Lil Egg out to Lowell’s.  We did a couple rounds of the lake.  He caught three and I only caught one, but at least it was on the new reel.  It worked pretty nicely.  More significantly, I saw a life bird while we were fishing.  Lowell said there had been a wood duck using the nest box.  As we approached, it looked like a bunch of leaves stuffed in the opening.  When we got closer, I could see that it was, in fact, an Eastern Screech Owl.  As I reached for my camera, it ducked into the box.  So, in lieu of owl pictures, I give you these cute painted turtles.

From Spring 2010

From Spring 2010

From Spring 2010

We opened our Easter Baskets on Sunday morning.  I gave Stacey a weather radio, and got it programmed that morning.  In the afternoon, we had a tornado watch, and it worked!   There were no tornadoes in the area, fortunately.