May 23, 2011 — Ghost Hollow Nature Reserve

The Canton Camera Club went out to the Ghost Hollow Nature Reserve just south of Quincy.  Most had never been there before.  We saw a variety of wildflowers and wildlife.  I used nothing but a 150 mm macro lens, partly to force myself to learn to use it more effectively.

From Spring 2011

This Jack-in-the-Pulpit shows what a good lens it is.

From Spring 2011

Buttercup.

From Spring 2011

Stinkbug

From Spring 2011

Wild ginger blossom

From Spring 2011

Sweat bee on Spring Beauties.

From Spring 2011

Umbrella mushroom.

From Spring 2011

Pair o’ mushrooms

From Spring 2011

Ugly old fly

From Spring 2011

Trillium

From Spring 2011

Interesting bee.  I love the pink pollen packs.

From Spring 2011

Tiger beetle. These iridescent beetles, genus Cicindela, have huge jaws and are agile fliers.  They are  great predators.

From Spring 2011

This is Jaime’s toad.

From Spring 2011

Broadhead skink, Eumeces laticeps.    We almost stepped on this guy.    This is a new species for me.  As with birds, I keep a life list of reptiles. This male is in breeding colors, sporting a red head.  He made my day.   As usual, click on any photo to see it larger, and a few more not posted.  

Advertisements

April 22, 2011 — Love in the air

It’s mating season for many birds, and their courtship rituals are happening all around us.  Some of these birds aren’t too shy, and carry on right in the back yard. 

From Spring 2011

Northern Cardinals strengthening their bond.

From Spring 2011

Common grackle displaying.

From Spring 2011

Same grackle, relaxed.

From Spring 2011

Another grackle displaying.  Looks particularly evil.

From Spring 2011

The female of the brown-headed cowbird.  There is no more generically little brown bird.

From Spring 2011

And now for something completely different.  I shot this flower because it’s new to me.  We found it out at Lowell’s.  Its common name is Jacob’s Ladder.

From Spring 2011

It has nice, bell-shaped flowers.

April 9, 2011 – Guess what? More birds!

I have continued my efforts to single out particular species of birds to obtain really good images.  With the migrants we’ve had, there have been some interesting possibilities. 

From Spring 2011

This is literally Mother Goose, incubating her eggs out at Lake Lowell.  Canada Geese are trite, but she looks rather elegant up close.

From Spring 2011

Common Snipe probing the wetlands in Canton.

From Spring 2011

Another Common Snipe, up to its knees in mud.  These are cute little shorebirds, and they are already gone.

From Spring 2011

Lesser Yellowlegs.  It has longer legs than the snipe, allowing it to wade deeper.  I’ve seen it before, but never gotten this close.  I’m not that crazy about shorebirds, but we don’t get that many.  So I get excited when I see one.

From Spring 2011

Red-winged Blackbird.  This is actually the best shot I’ve ever gotten of this very common species.   Stacey was driving me around the riverfront.  We stopped to look in a wetland and this guy flew up and landed on a post right next to the car.  Score!

From Spring 2011

Coots are common too, but fairly hard to get close to. That blood-red eye looks black from a distance. I shot this one from the road just north of Canton in a flooded field. 

From Spring 2011

This is the shot I’ve been trying all week to get: a good close-up of a drake Blue-winged Teal.  They are gorgeous, and they won’t hang around for long.

From Spring 2011

I also got this lovely hen.

From Spring 2011

The drake on the right got a bit worked up when the drake on the left got too close to his hen.

From Spring 2011

The male on the left is now airborne, and the drake giving chase is hidden in the prop wash.  As usual, click through to the Picasa album to see this images in larger form, plus a few others not shown here.

March 30, 2011 – Mammal day

I took the vertebrate field biology class out to Lowell’s.  He’s been seeing the screech owl in the wood duck box again.  We were hoping to see it.  If it wasn’t there, we were going to take down the box so that Lowell could install a camera in it.  We took the pontoon boat over to the proper tree.  Sadly, the screech owl was not in evidence.  I took the borescope and tried to peer into the box, but I didn’t get a very good image.  We knocked on the box and nothing came out.  So we pried the box off of the tree.  It was attached to a long board, so we turned it up side down for convenient storage on the boat.  That’s when I saw a hairy leg through the entrance hole.  We waited for the unknown animal to run out, but it wouldn’t.  We took down another nest box and motored back to the dock.  Lowell had gone to get an electric screw driver and screwed the top off of the box.  


From Spring 2011

Chris lends a hand.

Then we saw it was a raccoon, about half adult size. 

From Spring 2011

Little masked devil.

I thought it might have distemper because it had never made any attempt to run away.  I grabbed the crowbar that we had used to pry off the box, but when they layed it down, the ‘coon ran away like a healthy raccoon would.

We all got a kick out of that.  Earlier, Tara had been putting her face up to the opening and talking to the unknown occupant.  Good thing he didn’t come out then!

Later that same day, one of the music students, Scott, came by my office.  He often stops to talk about hunting and fishing.  He had an old cup; inside was something he had scooped out of the pond.  I was thinking tadpole.  I was definitely not thinking “bat”, which is what it was.  We took it out to the courtyard and put it in a tree.  It was wet and shivering, and we thought the sun would do it some good.

From Spring 2011

He’s kind of cute.  I’m pretty sure it’s another big brown bat, the species I always seem to find around here.

From Spring 2011

I like the way it uses it’s thumbs to climb the tree.

I thought it might have a good chance to make it.  It dried out and stopped shivering.  But it was still on the same tree the next day and the day after.  It was either sick or too far gone to fly away.

That afternoon when I got home, I took a run with the dogs.  We got around by the baseball diamond and I saw a woodchuck in the grass next to the road.  Big Guy saw it too.  I would have let him go after it, but it quickly got into a brush pile after it spied us.  Down by the dairy I saw a muskrat on the milkman’s lawn.  I reached for my cell phone to take a picture, but it ran into a culvert.  None of the dogs saw it.  That’s just as well.  I haven’t fallen down while running with them yet, but I’m sure the day will come.