Tuesday, November 11, 2014
This male was waiting for an open space on the feeder. He soon was eating seed as can be seen below.
The females do not have the purple-cranberry color, but are distinctive with the white line over the eye, as can be seen in the picture at the bottom.
Friday, October 24, 2014
This bird seemed to be resting, eating, and preening its feathers as it prepared for the next leg of its migration to the southern coasts of the United States or somewhere in Central America.
Yellowlegs nest in Canada, so we only get to see them during migration
The bright yellow legs are distinctive in these birds.
Here this bird is looking for food, and in the next picture is seen grabbing something only it can see under the water.
After eating a little, and resting, then preening, as seen in the picture below, this bird flew off to another spot for more food and rest.
Next spring it will make the return flight to Canada, passing through this same area looking for food and rest to give it the resources it needs to fly thousands of miles to its breeding grounds.
With this eclipse and the total eclipse of the moon earlier this month, it has been a rare sky focused time.
The moon moving between the earth and the sun causes this eclipse, but the moon can not be seen, since the sun is lighting its other side.
Friday, October 17, 2014
This male Wood Duck is one of the most colorful ducks in North America and and is easily seen from the boardwalk.
The Wood Ducks are usually at the edges of the wetlands, and a bit more secretive than other ducks.
As you can see below, their time is mostly spent eating plants that can be reached just under the surface of the water. Bottoms Up!
I took this picture at 10 PM, six hours before the eclipse started.
In the picture below you can see how the moon changes position, at least from our perspective, turning a bit clockwise, over the next 6 hours.
The internet said the eclipse would begin at 4:25 AM, but at 4:00AM it had already begun in my location, so I was glad I had taken this picture of the whole moon earlier.
As the shadow "moves" across the moon, the limitations of photography, compared to human eyesight, become apparent.
To the camera it looks like the area on the moon that is in shadow is completely dark. But our eyes are able to see the red glow of the dark moon area caused by the "halo" of reddish sunrises/sunsets happenning all around the edges of the Earth. This is where the term "Blood Moon" comes from.
But as you can see in the picture below, the red "Blood Moon" was very visible over the rest of the surface of the moon.
The pictures here are all taken at about 125th of a second because the moon is quite bright in the camera lens. But the "Blood Moon" is quite a bit darker and required a slower shutter speed of about 1/5 of a second.
At 1/5th of a second through a 600mm lens the moon actually moves a little as it is setting, making it difficult not to have some blurring when taking the picture.
From my place to take these pictures the moon lowered into the trees nearby and was gone for photography purposes after this picture.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Folklore seems to have made sure that everyone hears the story that the amount of brown on these caterpillars is a predictor of how severe the winter will be.
Supposedly, more brown means a less severe winter.
Here in Minnesota we are always looking for a reliable winter prediction, even if from a caterpillar.
Folklore is fun and will persist, but science and observation helps to give some understanding of why these caterpillars may look different sometimes.
Eggs are laid in late summer and early fall when these caterpillars hatch and start to grow.
When cold weather sets in the caterpillar finds shelter under some bark or other protected place and hibernates, freezing solid!
When warm weather returns the caterpillars revive, eat a little, then form a cacoon, and after a few weeks an Isabella moth emerges, and the cycle starts over.
So, what do you think? A long hard winter or a short easy one?
Friday, September 12, 2014
As the flowers and warm weather have dissappeared, the butterflies have as well.
While these butterflies are now gone their caterpillars are finishing growing and looking for a place to make a chrysalis for the winter.
They are a basic green like many caterpillars, but they have special "eye" markings to use in defensive situations.
When danger approaches they pull their head back into their body, swelling the front part of their body, making it look like the scary picture below.
If that doesn't work the caterpillars have brightly colored orange scent organs they extrude from their head that emit a bad odor.
It's defenses seem to be working for this caterpillar so far.
Friday, August 29, 2014
I took these pictures on Tuesday with Monarch butterflies all around me, seeming to have added to their numbers this summer after reports of serious population decline last spring.
This is a male, as told by the black "spots" on the hind wings.
Although there were plenty of flowers to go around, the butterflies often nectared together on a single plant, with 3 or 4 close together, as can be seen in the picture below.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are nearly the largest and there have been lots of them this year.
They are slow fliers when they are getting nectar from flowers, and a pleasure to see. Their caterpillars feed on cherry leaves, so a Cherry tree will attract even more of them.
These butterflies are very fast flying and some years will be seen in great numbers and other years very few seen.
Below is the Red Admiral Butterfly, another one that is sometimes seen in great numbers. This one is nectaring on Purple Cone Flower, and flies very fast from one flower to another, spending all day on the flowers.
Friday, June 20, 2014
There are many species of Bumblebees, but most of us are more familiar with the large yellow and black ones that generally ignore us while busily working away at gathering nector and pollen, as in this picture taken at Springbrook Nature Center.
As can be seen in these pictures this member of the fly family is an amazing mimic of a bumblebee.
By using this mimicry, the fly can sit in the open among leaves and flowers and not be seen as a threat by other insects. And birds don't try to eat it since they don't want to be stung.
It did not take it long to get close enough to one of the small bumblebees to grab it and then land on a leaf to enjoy a healthy lunch with its piercing and sucking mouthparts.
Mimicry works for both defense and offense, especially for this fly.
Friday, June 13, 2014
As the sun came up, the dew evaporated into the air as things warmed up.
The image in the dew drops illustrates how a lens inverts whatever it sees. You can see the sky on the bottom of the drops.
As soon as the dew evaporated off the damselfly it flew away and joined the many others searching for small insects to eat.
Each flower blooms for one day only, with a new bud behind it taking its place tomorrow.
The puccoon in the picture below is also starting to bloom after the managed prairie burn earlier this spring. Their large yellow clumps can be seen from a long way off.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
This was pretty exciting for all the volunteers, most of whom don't get to see a hawk up this close. Fortunately, volunteer Amber Burnete, who works at the Raptor Center, was present and very familiar with handling birds of prey.
This turned out to be a Broad Winged Hawk that was only one year old, so a little inexperienced and may be why we captured it.. The eye color helps to determine the age, and has not turned to the brighter yellow af an older adult.
This hawk was very calm through the banding process, but wary of so many hands measuring and looking at feathers to determine its age.
The hawk was ready to go, and flew immediately into a tree nearby. It shook its feathers out, and then flew back in the direction of the area where we captured it a little earlier.
Hope we see it again.
This male Northern Shoveler duck was swimming just off the boardwalk.
These little warblers are early migrants, and have usually flown further north by now, but are still very common in the park. they will be gone soon
He is posing here after he was banded and ready for release. He seems to be less "olive" colored than others I remember.
Being captured, banded, and released did not seem to frighten himt too much, as I saw him again back in the same area at Springbrook yesterday, two days after his release.
The Black and White Warbler below was just one of the 22 species and 73 individual birds banded on Sunday at Springbrook.