Galapagos 2012

Galapagos Journal 2012

 

May 14, Monday

I drove to Hannibal with Savannah and Stacey in my truck.  We met Bobbi Klein and Jessica Zeiger at Hardee’s.  Stacey went to work and Bobbi drove us all to STL.  Christian Carter’s Mom called to tell us he was sick with a high fever and could not come on the trip.  This was very bad, and had never happened before.  We met all the others at the airport.  Amanda had left her money in her ride’s car, but this situation was remedied with an ATM.  We checked in and went through security without difficulty.  Savannah and I got the very back seats in the plane next to the bathrooms and with no windows.  

 

We had no problems at ATL.  I got the flight credited to my Skymiles account.  We experienced some delay having to do with bags and establishing who was actually on the flight, and ened up 40 minutes late into Quito.  We had no problems on entry and went fast through security.  We met Vinicio and took the bus to the Hotel Vieja Cuba.  Since the student that dropped out from illness (Christian) was male, only two males remained, me and big John Lidy.  Megan and I were supposed to have single rooms, while the students were in doubles and triples.  This situation created a bit of a rooming problem, so I chose to room with John and let Bobbi have my single.  She’s a teacher, and probably appreciated the privacy and quiet devoid of rowdy college students.

 

May 15, Tuesday

We had breakfast at the hotel and took a bus to the highlands, which are actually lower than Quito.  This trip was longer than I remembered. 

At Bella Vista Cloud Forest we saw the assemblage of amazing hummingbirds and flowers.  I had thought we were taking the same easy hike as last year, but our new guide David planned to take us to a waterfall instead.  We went through more spectacular scenery on this route, including a lot of primary forest.  The flowers were diverse and colorful, the trees large and covered with epiphytes.  The route was much more challenging, however, with a lot of vertical climbing.  Steps were installed in a lot of places, making it a stairmaster workout.  At some points we were hiking directly in the streambed.  Did I mention we all had to wear rubber boots?  Many of them leaked, but that hardly mattered since some places were deep enough to overtop them.  Bigger leaks were better able to let the water out afterward.  To get past one waterfall we had to climb a ladder, then use a rope to get us across the rock.  Two other places just had ropes.  One student slipped, but held onto the rope and didn’t get hurt, just wet as she swung around into the waterfall.  At the big waterfall near the end, two students chose to immerse themselves.  Hope it was refreshing.  One student got sick.  Megan took her back to the lodge, so neither got to see the waterfalls.  After the hike, we had a. nice lunch at the lodge.  Too bad none of us had brought extra socks because all were soaked.  If I remember right, the birds I saw included cinnamon flycather, russet-capped warbler, red-billed parrot, barrel faced tanager, and rush.

 

Blue Mountain Tanager, From 2012_05_15 Bella Vista

We had lunch at the lodge and took the bus to Mindo.  It rained pretty hard on this ride.  Buses are no longer allowed on the bridge that hung us up last year, so we had to get into little trucks.  Those of us who rode in the back were shaken and soaked.  I suggested that it was all part of the day’s adventure.  Zip lining was the same, except that I didn’t take a camera (in the rain).  Everyone who did it seemed to enjoy it.  On the bus to Quito all slept as much as they were able.  At one point SJC told me she had to pee or wet herself soon.  On the narrow mountain road there was nowhere to even pull over.  Fortunately, we stopped at a gas station after about 25 minutes.  Dinner was at Boca de Lobo.  I had my first Pilsener of the trip, but on top of the fatigue, my body felt ready to melt.  I had pepper steak for dinner, and it was outstanding.  We walked back to the Hotel Vieja Cuba.  After a feeble attempt to connect to the internet, I fell dead asleep.

 

Yellow Flower, From 2012_05_15 Bella Vista

May 16, Wednesday

We got up early, had a nice breakfast at the hotel, and bussed over to the airport.  After typical luggage and security procedures, we waited for our flight.  Many of the students had bites on their legs where the boots had been.  This after we all had used bug spray.  I passed out antibiotic creme.  Later, anti-itch medication would be needed.

 

As soon as we landed on San Cristobal, I could see how different things were from last time.  Everything was green and flowering.  Butterflies and dragonflies were everywhere.  Jose said that this was typical of the rainy season.  Usually, we go to Ecuador in December or January.  This was our first trip in May.  After a short bus ride to the Hotel Cactus, we had a robust lunch of chicken. 

 

Passion Flower, From 2012_05_17 San Cristobal

We caught a bus down to the bay for kayaking.  Incredibly, the bus driver recognized me from a year and a half ago.  The water had a slight chop, and slow swells, much calmer than last time.  We had many firsts for the students: the water birds, sea turtles, sea lions.  My partner was Dani, who is small and fit.  Savannah was partnered with Kassidy, a varsity basketball player, and superfit.  While the students were playing on the beach, I found a place with helado mora (blackberry ice cream).  We knew we were going to have to wear rubber boots for a later hike again, so almost everyone bought a long pair of socks.

We had dinner at La Playa.  I had fish again.  Got another helado mora.  The beach was covered in noisy sea lions at night. 

 

May 17, Thursday

After breakfast we boarded a boat to go snorkel Lobos Island.  We saw stingrays feeding.  It was incredible that they did not swim away.  Blue-footed boobies were doing their courtship dance on the beach, but were gone when we swung by with the boat.  I had never seen it before and had asked Jose about it earlier.  We stopped at a beach to explore. Hermit crabs fighting over a shell were the most interesting find, but there were many finches, warblers and mockingbirds.

 

Displaying male frigate, From 2012_05_17 San Cristobal

After lunch we snorkeled Kicker Rock.  This time there were very few sharks; I saw none.  Many small jellies were present, though, and nearly everyone was stung, including me.  SJC was distressed and we went straight to the boat.  Upon our return, we prepared for the hike to the campground in the highlands.  SJC was bitten by large ant, known locally as the quinquina, as soon as we got out of the truck.  We put on our rubber boots ant hit the very muddy trail to camp. 

We planted trees, thereby completing a service-learning project.  Last year’s trees were head high, and all survived.  Nice sunset, and stars were incredible.  Wished I’d had a tripod to photograph the Milky Way.  Wind picked up in the middle of the night.  Hard to sleep.

 

Sunset from camp, From 2012_05_17 San Cristobal

May 18, Friday

We had an early breakfast at camp and hiked back down.  Because of the wind, the boat ride to Floreana was very rough and long.  Many people took Dramamine.  I got a bit sea sick, but no one threw up.  We saw some flying fish.

We snorkeled La Loberia upon our arrival at Floreana.  There was poor visibility because of the wave action.  Did see a couple of spotted eagle rays and a turtle.  John found a pair of Leica binoculars.

We took the little bus up the hill to hike Floreana.  The spring was running much more than usual, supplying the townspeople with their water.  Now it’s fenced off from tourists and cows.  Tortoises were attempting to mate, but mostly male to male.  There’s a significant amount of grunting involved.  A sea lion chased Randa at the dock.  The big male marine iguanas that normally hang out on the shoreline rocks were notably absent.

 

Amorous tortoise, From 2012_05_18 Floreana

Another lengthy boat ride  to Puerto Villamil, Isabela, followed.  I lucked into a comfy spot and slept nearly all the way.  A short bus ride to our digs at Hotel Tero Real was followed by a shower, dinner, and relaxation.  I got the same cabin as last year, except that John was rooming with me.  I let him have the larger bed, as he is nearly twice my body mass.

 

May 19, Saturday

This day was set aside to hike Sierra Negra Volcan.  We stopped at the lagoon where there were 15 greater flamingoes.  On the hike, Megan, Jess Main and I fell behind the group and took a wrong turn.  We saw a vermilion flycatcher though.  We still got to see the Caldera, and ended up at the lunch site before the others.  Their route was much more difficult, as we had taken the horse trail, which is less steep.  Dee Dee and Jess Z returned to the pick up point before then.  Megan and Jess M returned after lunch.  The rest of us continued on to Volcan Chico.  The fumaroles were not very active, but the views were great.  It was a long, 11-mile, hike, but at least it stayed cool.  When we got back, I got an ice cream, candy bars and Gatorade.  Took a shower.  We had some time, so I took Heather to the emergency room for her bug bites and there was no one there.  All the doors were open and the TV was on.  We waited about 20 minutes then went to dinner.  Her bites were big and many shades of purple.  I was beginning to fear what they would  become next (dead foot, perhaps?).  We tried the ER again and saw the Dr.  He prescribed a topical antibiotic cream.  Both pharmacies were closed, as they were the next day.  We got by with the antibiotic creams we had on hand.  I always carry a first aid kit.  Most of us went to a night club that evening.  I had a beer and tried to keep an eye on the creepers who were eying my students.  I wasn’t too worried, though, because John was watching over them.  Did I mention he’s a 300-lb offensive lineman?

 

The caldera, From 2012_05_19 Sierra Negra Volcan

May 20, Sunday

I was looking forward to this day to snorkel Los Tuneles.  It had the most diverse and abundant fish last time.  We saw Nazca boobies on the big rock on the way over.  The sea was very rough.  The boat turned sideways on the way in and splashed us good.  Saw a couple of penguins, then walked around on the lava tubes.  A few turtles but not many fish were present.  We did not snorkel there, but went around to the place where the sea horse was last year.  I saw an octopus, lots of fish, sea cucumbers, anemones.  There was a shark in a cave, but I couldn’t see it.  I did see the turtle sleeping in a cave.  We looked long and hard for the sea horse, but could not find it.  SJC had the runs in the boat’s bathroom.  Kass asked if she had flushed.  She said she didn’t know how, so we told her to push the handle up and down to pump water through the system.  Shortly, we saw her poo floating out the side of the boat, just as a snorkeler from another group swam by.  I had thought the boat had a blackwater tank, but I guess not!  We ate lunch on the boat and motored back to the pier.  We changed boats and motored over to the penguin colony.  There were about 30.  Took lots of photos.  We went to Las Tintoreras.  I didn’t see the one alleged shark, but there were cute baby iguanas by the dozen.  Also some females, but no adult males.  This was the first place we’d seen that had adult sally lightfoot crabs, and plenty of them.  They are brightly colored and beautiful, so I took lots of shots.  The sea was too wavy to snorkel, so we went back to the pier.  I got an ice cream, then went back to the hotel for showers and naps.

 

Blue-footed booby, From 2012_05_20 Los Tuneles & Tintoreras

May 21, Monday

The last boat ride was supposed to be over two hours, to Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz.  Fortunately, the sea wasn’t as rough as expected.  It took about two hours.  We saw that many birds, especially boobies, were plunge diving on fish.  Flying fish were scattering from the side of the boat.  I was trying to photograph them when, suddenly, a whale breached nearby.  I only saw the splash.  We tried to follow it in the boat.  It breached again on the other side and I missed that one as well.  Some people saw it clearly. A big school of yellowfin tuna were attacking the same baitfish, repeatedly jumping in the air.  That was all the excitement we had.  I listened to music and tried to sleep.  The water was rough, but not as bad as a few days ago.  We got to Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island in good time.  Had lunch, fish, at the Cafe Hernan and a blackberry milkshake. We went to the Darwin Center and saw the tortoises.  Kass dropped a bomb in their bathroom.  I guess milkshake followed by ice cream is not a good idea for the lactose-intolerant.  You can no longer go into the corrals and pose next to the tortoises because some idiot tourists had been caught riding them.

 

Yellow warbler, From 2012_05_21 Santa Cruz

I bought some gifts and goods in Puerto Ayora, but it seems like I’ve been there enough times that I already have one of everything.  The Hotel Las Palmeras was definitely the nicest hotel we’ve stayed at.  I was hopeful that the showers would even be hot (they were).  I had a dinner of spaghetti at El Garrapata.  We had cake for Bobbi’s Birthday.  Went to the Bongo Bar (upstairs from La Panga) after.  Soccer highlights were great, but the music videos were awful.  I went back to my room for journaling and unwinding.

 

Galapagos Blue, From 2012_05_21 Santa Cruz

May 22, Tuesday

I woke at 5, showered and got breakfast in the hotel.  We took the bus over Santa Cruz but did not stop at Los Gemelos pit craters.  The ferry over the Strait of Itabaca was uneventful, as was the bus to the airport.  This area was remarkably green for being in the arid zone.  Dani had lost her Ingala card, so we bought a new one.  Savannah had misplaced her passport, but found it shortly, much to my relief.  Otherwise, the airport was about like usual.  Oh, Jess M dropped an entire glass bottle of Gatorade on the floor.  “Wet clean-up, aisle two!”  Someone finally did come over and mop it up.

 

We flew to Quito via Guayaquil.  Vinicio met us at the airport.  We took the bus around Quito.  We stopped at El Panecillo, which I believe has the highest concentration of stray dogs of anywhere in Quito, then went on to the Mercado Artesenal.  I bought some stuff, but did not spend all my money.  We went to the spiral mall and got an ice cream.  We had dinner at Mama Clorinda’s because many students wanted the authentic dining experience.  Many ordered traditional Ecuadorian food, and all shared half a Guinea pig.

 

La Virgen del Panecillo, From 2012_05_22 Quito

We waited around the airport for a couple of hours after passing through all the security checks.  For the first time, we did not have to pay $40.80 to get out of the country.  Dani was chosen for the random luggage search, but she said it was cursory.  From Quito to Atlanta was the worst flight ever.  The Red Eye left at 11 pm and arrived at 5:30 am..  Savannah and I were again placed in the last row of seats, which do not recline.  I could not get comfortable, and got hardly any sleep.  I watched J. Edgar. 

 

May 23, Wednesday

In Atlanta, we had a fairly easy transition through customs and security.  They’ve changed things there.  They must have fired or retrained all the obnoxious people that used to work there because we encountered nearly all cheerful, helpful ones this time.  We had a remarkably empty plane on the one-hour hop to St. Louis.  Bobbi drove us back to Hannibal and Jess Z’s mom picked her up.  We went to lunch with Stacey and drove home.  I slept all afternoon.  In retrospect, it was an interesting and unique trip in many ways. 

As usual, click on the link below any image to visit the online photo album where it lives.  Here’s another, including all the decent underwater shots.

Green sea turtle, From Galapagos 2012: Underwater

 

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May 13 — another academic year ends

It’s a bit sad that my Plant Field Biology class is over with.  We did end on a high point, however.  My new friend, Jan Kitzing, guided us at Deer Ridge Conservation Area.  I’ve been there many times (used to hunt ducks there).  But Jan and her husband Mark have been going there for years.  Plus, she’s a complete wildflower freak.  She led us to some rather precious species, such as Green Dragon, Southern Blue Flag and Yellow Lady-slipper Orchid.  I had never seen the orchid before.  The students added quite a few species to their virtual plant collections.  At the same time, the place was absolutely swarming with butterflies.  There has been a huge influx of Red Admirals in this area, but we also saw lots of swallowtails, various nymphalids, and more Mourning Cloaks than I had cumulatively seen in my entire life.  We were walking down the trail and Jan literally stepped on the tail of a quite large black rat snake, as one of my students tried to catch her.  The trails were very muddy, though it didn’t rain on us. I fell on my butt at one of the steep spots.  At the location of the orchids, the pollen was so thick that I had a minor coughing fit.  Still, it was one of the best field trips of the entire semester. 

Yellow Lady-slipper  From May 2012
Giant Swallowtail  From May 2012

The next day I went to Kids Conservation Day to present my usual insect station, this time under the pole barns at the Extension Office to stay out of the rain.  Fortunately, I had a bio-ed student to assist me.  Thus, I did not have to give the same presentation eight times in a row.  Afterward, I went to Kibbe Field Station.  I hiked the same trail I always do, through the prairie, but it looks different every time.  The trails had a couple of inches of water on them.  Good thing I was wearing Bogs.  I had the place to myself.  The wind was calm and the place was so quiet, all I could hear was the buzzing of bees.  The multiflora rose was in bloom, and even with my poor sense of smell there was a perfume in the air.  It was magical.  It was the first time I’ve had a cooperative Eastern Towhee.  This bird normally hides in dense brush, but this one let me get within ten feet.  This species, among others, was split from the Rufous-sided Towhee some years ago, making my old field guide antiquated.   On the other hand, it instantly increased my life list!

Eastern Towhee From May 2012

This hike was the first time I carried two camera bodies around my neck: one with the long lens for birds, the other with a short lens for wildflowers and insects.  I think the best shot was a Spiderwort with a fly on one of the petals.  It turned out very sharp.

Spiderwort with bonus fly, From May 2012

The next day was the spring bird count, which I now do with LuBeth Young, a fellow faculty from the School of Education.  We got about the same area as last year.  It’s really too big, but we drove most of it.  I think we saw more indigo buntings than ever before, but the bonus bird was a Eurasian Tree Sparrow.   I got a decent shot of a Gray Catbird from the car.  They also like to hide a lot, normally.

Gray Catbird, From May 2012

The next night was the Super Moon, the full moon when it’s closest to the earth.  I figured the best place to shoot it would be at the riverfront.  We took the dogs down there and set up chairs and a tripod.  Our friends the Gonnerman’s showed up to do the same–what a pleasant surprise.  The moon came up not over the horizon but over some clouds.  That was a bit disappointing at first, but we were able to use the clouds for some interesting effects.

Supermoon, From May 2012

One day a stray cat was in the back yard.  They come around to eat Mr. Boots’s food, as he’s too old and emaciated to defend his territory at this point.  I thought I’d give the stray a scare.  I hooked up the leads on the dogs and slowly opened the back door.  Then we busted out, the cat ran down the back yard, with the dogs and me in pursuit.  I was at the end of a stride and already off balance when Big Guy hit the end of his extendable lead.  I was going down.  Rather than faceplant, I did a diving front roll and came back up on my feet.  Now, there’s the most athletic thing I’ve done in about 10 years, and no one saw it.  Not even the dogs.  Epilogue: The cat escaped into the woods.  The dogs never got near it, even though I let go of their leads when I rolled. 

Since I ripped off read this guy’s blog, I’ve been wanting to try full flash macrophotography.  I finally got the flash cable I needed, after ordering it with a bunch of other stuff, not getting it, filing a complaint and getting my money back.  You just can’t trust generic Chinese suppliers of knock-off photography accessories anymore.  Or maybe you can, seeing that I appear to have gotten it without actually paying.  Anyway, this technique works by strapping the flash parallel to the lens and angling it down toward the buggy subject.  I had to tweak the settings a bit, but in short order I was getting pretty spectacular results.  My first subject was a neat-looking (never to be identified) wasp in my prairie.  The rest were mostly various interesting flies.

Click on the album link to see the rest.  All the images are right out of the camera, not even cropped, though they were compressed in the upload to Picasa.  Oh, and all were hand-held–no tripod.

From 2012_05_12 Full flash macro

I just finished about the worst final exams week that I can remember.  I had no exams the first day, then was just swamped.  All of my classes were bigger than ever, and there was much grading to do.  I’d better stop the whining right there.  On the last day, when I was done, I drove home listening to the Duke album by Genesis.  The last two songs, “Duke’s travels” and “Duke’s end” are instrumentals that I particularly enjoy.  As I was rocking out, I got a feeling that I hadn’t had in years.  Remember when you were little, and the last day of school was over and
you went home? You had that awesome feeling of the entire summer
vacation stretching out before you? I had that for a little while.  I think it lasted until I figured out all the things I wanted to get done before I left on Monday.  As I write this, most are done.  Two trees felled, logged out, and brush hauled.  Dead bushes at the rental house are pulled out and hauled away.  Oh, almost forgot the moving of Savannah back home.  A couple of fire department obligations also ate into the weekend. 

Graduation is done.  Many people told me that the commencement speech was the worst ever.  I won’t go into details.  Tomorrow we leave for Ecuador.   Savannah is going this time, which should be fun.  When I return, I’ll have a new Galapagos blog.  Adios!

May 9, 2012 — Crazy Spring

I got creative one weekend and took my macro lens into the back yard.  I put extension tubes between it and the camera body, which provides a lot more magnification, but much less depth of field.  I measured the width of the field of view at 1 centimeter.  With a tripod, I got some interesting effects, but the wind was a pest.  I intended to get just water droplets, but picked up a few flies as well.  I find that flies have really interesting eyes, as well as bizarre body hairs.

From April 2012

From April 2012

This fly is maybe 2 mm long.

I took the extension tubes off and went out for another round.  My elderberry bush was in full bloom, and I captured one of my best images in a long time, a honeybee hovering in front of the flowers of an elderberry bush.

From April 2012

Two weeks later, one of my students came into my office and told me I should enter an Earth Day Leatherman photo contest on Facebook, since there were only about 30 entries so far.  I submitted the above honeybee photo, even though there was only about an hour left in the contest.  I posted my entry on Facebook and asked my friends to vote for me.  They must have done so, because two days later I was notified that I had won.  I was pretty excited.  I’ve won contests before, but this one was a real surprise, and paid with some nice goodies: a Leatherman tool, a head lamp, and a sweet pair of Hi-Tec boots.  I was scheduled to do a POLIS talk that afternoon, but, battling a cold, I wasn’t anticipating that it would be my best effort.  Thanks to winning the contest, I went in high as a kite (natural high, that is), and nailed the talk. 

I found a garter snake nearby with much of its tail missing.  I call him Stumpy.

From April 2012

Maybe a lawnmower victim?

One day a student told me there were pelicans flocked up by the lock and dam in Quincy.  I sneaked down there and, naturally, a barge was locking through.  All the birds were on the other side of the river.  By dumb luck, I ran into my former student who is now a park ranger for the Army Corps.  He offered to take me over the dam to see the birds.  Perfect!  They weren’t very spooked by us.  I got American White Pelicans, along with Double-crested Cormorants and a Turkey Vulture in flight.

From April 2012

Swimming in formation, except for the one nonconformist.

One fine Wednesday I was expecting delivery of a new camera.  I dashed home after wrapping things up at the office only to find a note from UPS.  They had to have a signature.  I called them and they said they would attempt delivery again that evening.  I said I would be home, unless we had a fire.  So, of course, we had a fire.  Not the typical false alarm dry run that sends us home after 20 minutes, but a bona fide house afire, with flames coming out the sides as we pulled up.  I took a hose line with my assistant chief.  We went in and put out a lot of flames, but as we were backing out a part of the roof fell on our heads.  It felt pretty warm, which I took to mean it was still on fire.  I quickly got it off myself and was trying to get it off the hose while the asst. chief was trying to calm me down.  We dowsed more fire before we got out for a break.  My gear was all filthy with ashes and debris.  We and others continued pouring water on smouldering portions for quite awhile.  During the break I called UPS.  They would hold the parcel at their distribution center, which was open until 7:30.  Stacey and I got done cleaning up at the station just in time to race down to Palmyra and pick it up.  Oh, and we almost ran out of gas in the process.  I’ve never felt more like my life was a sitcom than on that night.  They ran a close-up of my profile, including my sweet mustache, on the local news.

Fortunately, the next day I had my class out and was able to put to the test the new Canon EOS 7D.  It’s a more complicated camera than the 40D, and I certainly haven’t mastered it yet.  It does produce some nice images.  Nearly everything  below was taken with it.

From April 2012

Unusual white morph of the wild geranium

From April 2012

I’ve been seeing these caterpillars all over. I took one from the willow in the back yard and reared it. It has pupated, and I’ll soon know what species it is.

From April 2012

Most of my class hikes are filled with wildflowers, but a student noticed this gray tree frog beside the trail.  I don’t want to overload this blog with wildflower pics, but if you click through to the online album, you’ll see plenty.

The camera club attended the awards ceremony for the John Wood Community College Photo contest.  We had quite a few entries, and scored 7 awards.  I was glad my friend Dan had finally won a prize.  He’s one of the best (if not THE best) photographers in our group.  The only problem is that we won’t be able to tease him about it anymore.   We got 7 awards overall.  I won 2nd place in the animal category and Best Color Photo overall with an image of a butterfly I took last summer.

From Greatest Hits

After the meeting we had a festive dinner at a Mexican restaurant, then all ran home to get out of the weather.  There was a spectacular lightning show on the way home.  Naturally, I went out to photograph it.  It’s rare that we get lightning without rain or even wind.  I set up in several different spots.  This is the best one I captured.

From April 2012

I was parked on the side of a hill, looking out over Canton, which you can see in the foreground.

From April 2012

This was an old barn on the site of the Steyermark Forest Conservation Area in Hannibal. It was the first time I had been to this place. It was a nice woods, with lots of wildflowers.

One morning I went down to the river and there were some birds flying about. I set the camera on my usual Bird In Flight settings, parked at the waterside, and fired away.

From April 2012

This was the only shot with a catchlight in the eye, as it was cloudy most of the time and that black cap makes it hard to distinguish the eye at all. This occasion was the first time I’d been able to take advantage of the Canon 7D’s superior focusing ability. It’s perfect for this kind of work.  Later I looked through the bird book to confirm that this was, in fact, a life bird for me, the Common Tern.

A pair of house finches had built a nest on our front porch light.  It’s been 4 years since the last pair of birds, also house finches, had set up there.  I watched their progress and reported it to Nestwatch.org.  On the second to last day before they fledged, I set up my turkey blind in the front yard and caught the female feeding the young.  It’s not the best shot, but it’s a start.  Next time I’ll use flash.

From April 2012

Feed me! No, me! No, ME!

We went up to Keokuk for a camera club gathering at Jamie’s family farm. They set up some props in a field for a photo shoot.

From Camera Club on the farm

Jamie blows bubbles in the bathtub.

I also took advantage of a nearby bluebird.

From April 2012

Eastern Bluebird

Flocks of Red Admiral butterflies have invaded our area as they migrate through.  The have been too skittish to get near until recently.  Our ninebark bushes were swarming with them, as they were one of few plants in bloom. 

From April 2012

Red Admiral

As usual, click on the link below any of the images to visit the photo album of origin, where there will be many others to enjoy.