May 24, 2011 – Fishing again, finally

We had a break in the weather Tuesday.  After a morning Tree Board meeting, I ran out to Lowell’s for some fishing and habitat enhancement.  First things first: we went out to lunch.  We stopped on the way back by the lake.  I took the chainsaw out of the trunk and dropped a big willow branch into the water for fish habitat.  I left the base hinged so that it will stay in place.  We fished one go-round of the lake, and I caught about 10 bass, mostly of the foot-long variety that we cull to manage the population.  We went up and got the Mule and drove around the other side of the lake to put up a bird house.  After a quick change in chosen tree, it went up fairly easily.  It sits on an arm hanging over the lake.  Tree swallows really like these.  We went back and picked up a wood duck box that Lowell has modified.  He put a video camera in a box on top.  We loaded the thing into the pontoon boat and took it to the big dead tree where it used to hang.  This box has held flying squirrels, eastern screech owls, a raccoon (as we learned when we took it down), and possibly even wood ducks.  With the camera, and attached wires, we’ll be able to see what’s inside from shore.  Lowell is a very crafty guy.  We fished another round of the lake, where I picked up another few fish for a total of about 14.  No giants among them but a few respectable enough to throw back.  I heard the first periodical cicada calling.  Soon we’ll be inundated with them.  We finished right as the weather turned bad, so I was filleting our catch while it rained.

From Spring 2011

I spotted this little wildflower by the lake after we hung the bird box.  It’s not in my field guide, and awaits identification (any help, Leo?)

From Spring 2011

This painted turtle was not very bothered by our presence.  I like the refraction effect of the water.

From Spring 2011

Spiderwort is spreading around Lowell’s.  It’s a lovely native wildflower.

From Spring 2011

I was driving down by the Mississippi River in Canton looking for targets of opportunity.  I’ve been wanting to shoot a robin with a worm, but I didn’t expect to get it on the railroad track.

From Spring 2011

This great blue heron was in the holding pond around the big fuel tanks.

From Spring 2011

A female indigo bunting has become a frequent visitor to our bird feeder.  She even showed up on a sunny day!

May 15 – Again with the birds

I have kept the feeders full later in the year than I normally do.  Usually, we quit in the spring because the grackles come and wipe us out.  It has been fruitful, however, to keep them stocked, as we are getting to see some species that we normally don’t.

From Spring 2011

American Goldfinches are not uncommon, I just don’t have that many shots of males in their summer plumage.

From Spring 2011

We haven’t seen Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in a few years.

From Spring 2011

Black-capped Chickadees taking off.

From Spring 2011

I’ve always been envious of those who get Indigo Buntings to come to their feeders.  This year we finally got one!  And a few good shots of it.  I hope it hangs around until the sun shines again. 

From Spring 2011

Savannah was blowing bubbles in the back yard one day.  I guess when they’re backlit, you get two reflections.

From Spring 2011

Royal Catchfly, the second species to bloom in the prairie this year.

The last class field trip was to the home of one of the students.

From Spring 2011

That’s a baby bluebird in the box.  I call this one, “You’re not my Mommy.”

From Spring 2011

This fledgling Barred Owl was the primary reason we went to Barb’s house.  It’s sibling and parent were also hanging around. 

May 7, 2011 – Spring Bird Count

Saturday was the annual bird count, which I’ve been doing for a few years now.  I met my new partner, LuBeth Young in Quincy, and we drove down to our coverage area, southwestern Adams County.  We began by walking in to the Fall Creek rest area.  Things are kind of overgrown there, as it is no longer maintained.  We saw some cool birds there.

From Spring 2011

There were about three gray catbirds hanging about in the underbrush, but this one came out into the open to sing.

From Spring 2011

Northern rough-winged swallows were all over near the old stone arch bridge.

We drove around for most of the rest of the morning,  I believe it was the variety of habitats that allowed us to accumulate so many species (46) during the day.

From Spring 2011

The wood thrush was, of course, in the woods.  I took this photo through the sunroof of Beth’s car.  We saw some waterfowl in the ditches down by the river.  In the farmland I was able to photograph a number of species that have seldom provided the opportunity before.

From Spring 2011

This dickcissel was right next to the road, singing his heart out.

From Spring 2011

A meadowlark looking at us curiously.

From Spring 2011

I’ve never gotten a decent image of a horned lark before. Too bad, this appears to be a juvenile.  The adults are more colorful.

Afterward, we had lunch at Sydne’s on 12th Street in Quincy.  I highly recommend it!

May 6, 2011 — Kids Conservation Day at Kibbe

Friday I went to Kids Conservation Day to present on insects.  My student assistant couldn’t make it at the last minute, so I had to go it alone.  I took the motorcycle up to Warsaw, and it was a glorious ride there and back.  The weather was great this year–the last couple of times we had to go to the fairgrounds in Carthage to get out of the rain.  Giving the same presentation eight times can be exhausting, but I still felt pretty good afterward, and took a hike through the prairie.   I got mostly images of insects and flowers…and a sunburn.

From Spring 2011

Stinkbug with spotted legs.

From Spring 2011

Jumping spider

From Spring 2011

Buttercup

From Spring 2011

Big weevil

From Spring 2011

Carpenter bee

From Spring 2011

Eastern tailed blue, a lycaenid butterfly

From Spring 2011

I never get tired of tiger beetles!

From Spring 2011

Wild strawberries

I was walking along the trail, glanced to the right, and my eye picked out a form among the garlic mustard plants.

From Spring 2011

I hadn’t even seen a luna moth in years.  Finding a perfect specimen in a natural location while being armed with a camera was the greatest fortune.  I bent the plant over to get it into the light.  It never flew away or even budged.

From Spring 2011

I hear rumors that this species is endangered, but i don’t believe them.  I thing the moths are just seldom seen.

May 4, 2011 – more field trips, more birds

We’ve been spending a lot of time in the field these days.  Monday and Wednesday I had two field trips each day.  I took the camera, but was really focused more on the teaching.  At Ghost Hollow we saw quite a few birds.

Not a bird.

While most of us were looking up in the trees, one student noticed this Big Brown Bat lying in the middle of the trail.  They thought it was dead at first, but after I nudged it, it began to move around.  That was the bonus animal of the day.

From Spring 2011

American Robin — these are everywhere.

From Spring 2011

Palm Warbler: saw this one for the first time last year.

We went out to the Berghofers’ place, and immediately found a road-killed blue racer at the end of the driveway.  We saw a lot of species in total, including some rarities.   We saw a bright, little bird land in a tree, and I told Jenn and Tara they had seen it before, only 3000 miles away.  Tara said, “Blue-footed booby!”  Very funny.  It was a yellow warbler, which is common in the Galapagos. 

From Spring 2011

Female red-winged blackbird.  Not seen nearly as often as the males.

From Spring 2011

Gray catbird.  Also seldom seen.  The neat thing, though, was that we were able to hear the brown thrasher and the catbird sing during the same outing.  The students learned the subtle differences between these mimids.

May 1, 2011 – First Hummingbird

I had heard that hummingbirds were in the neighborhood.  When I saw one buzzing our back yard, near the area where we normally hang our feeder, it was definitely time to fill that feeder and put it out.  It wasn’t long before she was taking sugar water.  It sure makes me wonder if she’s the same female who had her territory here last year.  She likes to perch on the sticks I have put up behind our regular seed feeder.

From Spring 2011

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  She’s practically posing for the camera.

From Spring 2011

She shakes the rainwater off of her feathers here.  It was dark under the overcast skies, but ISO 800 seemed to do an adequate job of compensating

From Spring 2011

Eying the sky.  Will it rain some more?  I’m hoping a male will show up soon.  I have in mind some set-ups for capturing the hummingbird-in-flight photo.

From Spring 2011

Black-capped chickadees keep coming to the feeder.  They’re not shy.

From Spring 2011

This male Northern Cardinal doesn’t seem to happy about the rain either.