Posts Tagged With: insects

From The Back Yard To The Back Of Beyond

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries. —A.A. Milne

 

Since my recent discovery of digital photography, I have been a bit reckless in the number of images produced during a typical outing. Then came the revelation that my camera has a magic setting, which, when selected, allows me to simply depress a shiny little button to take hundreds of images in less than a second! Well, maybe it’s only nine or ten images, but let’s not get too technical. The result of all this magnificent science is a “virtual” cardboard box full of photographs which no one is ever likely to see, government agencies and the 12-year old hacker down the street notwithstanding.

I planned to be diligent in deleting images of less than perfect quality, but that strategy would leave me with no images at all. Clearly, there needs to be a middle ground. Accordingly, “spring cleaning” of photograph folders buried deep within my computer’s closet resulted in tens of thousands of images being sent to their final resting place in image heaven. (There seems to be a trend developing in this post whereby data is apparently exaggerated. Suffice it to say, I got rid of a bunch of dark, out of focus, uninteresting and just plain lousy pictures! It felt good to “lighten the load”!)

However, there were still photos I didn’t want to let go. I liked them. For whatever reason, they were never used in a blog post. Until now. The pictures below were all taken within the past three months or so and range from back yard butterflies to a deep swamp Barred Owl. A few bugs may have crawled in amongst the photos in the box as well.

Herewith are the results of my first ever “photographic spring cleaning of images left in the computer after the others were either already used or tossed out” extravaganza. In no particular sense of order whatsoever.

 

In my humble opinion, the Zebra Swallowtail is one of the most attractive butterflies I’ve ever seen.

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

 

When we first spotted this male Wild Turkey (“gobbler”), he was holding court with three hens. The hens ducked under the fence as soon as they spotted me but the “Tom” remained behind to ensure I was no threat to his harem.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

 

The only Anole lizard native to the United States is the Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis).  They average 5-8 inches (12.7-20.3 cm) in length and can change coloration to greenish-brown or dark brown (they are no relation to the Chameleon, however). In the past several years, Florida has seen several non-native Anoles, especially the Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei), spread throughout the state and there is some evidence they may be displacing the native Green Anole. Hope not.

Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

 

These are most likely eggs of a Softshell Turtle. The female turtle excavates a burrow and lays up to as many as two dozen eggs then covers the burrow to incubate the eggs. From this point, the eggs (and eventually baby turtles) are on their own. They face a dizzying array of threats. This nest was likely discovered by a Raccoon and we found no viable eggs remaining. (In the same area, we observed six female Softshell Turtles in the process of laying eggs, so Nature provides for the species.)

Turtle Eggs

Turtle Eggs

 

An Eastern Towhee prefers the very top of a bush or tree to keep a look out for threats or potential mates. Most Florida species have a light-colored eye whereas those further north have reddish eyes.

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

 

The small and very fast Viola’s Wood-Satyr is not all that common and there is apparently a question if it and the similar Little Wood-Satyr are the same species. In spite of this buggy brouhaha, I think it’s pretty.

Viola's Wood-Satyr (Megisto viola)

Viola’s Wood-Satyr (Megisto viola)

 

Our area usually enjoys an influx of wintering Pied-billed Grebes, but only a few remain during summer and breed here. I was happy to find one recently sporting breeding plumage instead of the drab winter colors normally encountered. Now, if I can just locate those babies…..

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

 

I don’t know what kind of prey this Eastern Bluebird has, but I counted 15 times that the bird slammed it onto the top of that fence post. Suitably tenderized, he swallowed the morsel in one gulp.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

 

After attempting to follow the fast, zig-zag flight of this bright butterfly through the camera, I had to sit down due to dizziness. I wanted to find the genius who named it “Sleepy Orange” and throttle him/her! Then I discovered it was so named due to the upper wing pattern resembling a closed eye. I couldn’t see that, either.

Sleepy Orange (Eurema nicippe)

Sleepy Orange (Eurema nicippe)

 

While I was preparing morning coffee recently, a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers appeared outside the kitchen window. Although both were about the same size, it was apparent one was a juvenile male and I watched as the adult male drilled into our oak tree and found many worms/grubs for Junior to enjoy.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

 

After examining a Leaf-footed Bug, I decided that science fiction animators/film makers must employ entomologists to give them ideas on how alien life might appear.

Leaf-footed Bug (Acanthocephala sp.)

Leaf-footed Bug (Acanthocephala sp.)

 

Gini and I found a very young Red-shouldered Hawk last week who wouldn’t stop screeching. Not too far away, we heard one of his parents calling back, probably trying to encourage the youngster to fly home. He would climb up and down the tree limb but didn’t attempt to become airborne while we were watching. His extended crop indicates he just ate well.

Red-shouldered Hawk (Juvenile)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Juvenile)

 

This attractive small butterfly is a Cassius Blue. The blue/violet is visible on the upper wings, which, of course, is seldom displayed. I’ll keep trying!

Cassius Blue (Leptotes cassius)

Cassius Blue (Leptotes cassius)

 

Walking down a sandy path in a deep woods adjacent to a wetland, I was startled by a White-tailed Deer springing across the path. It happened too fast to get a picture. I bent down to examine the foot prints she left. As I stood up, I looked into the deep, dark eyes of a Barred Owl. I’m sure she was amused by how I jumped when the deer bolted in front of me.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

 

 

So, spring cleaning of the computer’s closet yielded a few images I thought I’d share. Please, whatever you do, don’t tell Gini I engaged in spring cleaning!! Going into the garage is a frightening thought …..

 

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

 

See more birds at:   Paying Ready Attention   (Check out Wild Bird Wednesday.)

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

An Abundance of Life

Thank goodness for genes!  When we learned of the impending birth of our first child, we wondered all the things prospective parents wonder about.  Will it be a boy or girl?  What color hair?  Eyes?  What will he or she be when they grow up?  Can we be good parents?  (Okay, I’m the only one who wondered that one.  My wife never had a doubt…still doesn’t!)

We were eventually blessed with two healthy children who have grown up to be all we could have ever prayed and hoped they would.  They now have children of their own and it has been amazing to observe how each has developed.  Mixing of genes has produced some mighty beautiful grandchildren who are intelligent and loving.  (No, I’m not bragging, it’s true!)  One of the traits I feel they inherited from my wife is a power of observation.  She is one of those rare individuals that has an innate ability to see your soul.  Our grandkids can give you “that look” which says “I know what you’re thinking and I know how to get exactly what I want from you”.  Hopefully, they will be able to hone that talent to keep others, as well as themselves, honest as they travel through life.

I was thinking about genes the other day while standing in waist-high wet grass trying to focus the camera lens on a fast-moving dragonfly.  Yes, of course I was birding.  Sometimes though, one just becomes overwhelmed with the plethora of life all around.  Standing in one spot, I could see dozens of spider webs spun during the night, each containing a multitude of small insects trapped for hungry spider families to enjoy.  Dragonflies, moths, butterflies, katydids and unknown life forms seemed to be everywhere.  This doesn’t even include the “ordinary” flies, mosquitoes, ants and microscopic forms of life all within arm’s-length.  Within each of these species there is an incredible diversity.  How did genes play a part in creating such similar, yet different individuals?

I love birding precisely because it takes me into a world of vast possibilities.  Hopefully, I’ll never stop being curious about that world.

On this day, we were exploring Hardee Lakes Park, hoping to find a few migratory birds.  We found a few, but most birds remained beyond the reach of my camera.  So our photographs include a preponderance of C.O.T.B. (Critters Other Than Birds).

We ended the morning with 55 species, including Forster’s Terns, Bald Eagles, Red-shouldered Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, four species of woodpecker,  White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireo, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, House Wrens, Blue-gray Gnatchatchers,  Ovenbirds, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-throated Warblers, Pine Warblers, Black and White Warblers, Northern Parulas, a female American Redstart and a female Indigo Bunting.  A very satisfying outing!

Here is a safety tip:  When trying to get a better angle from which to take a photograph, do not use a fire ant mound to stand on for greater elevation.  The mound is not solid and will sink under your weight.  Oh, and it makes the local residents within the mound quite peeved.  Although, as a result, I may have invented several new dance moves.

We hope you enjoy a few images of our morning.

(Identifying insects is very challenging for me so if anyone can provide corrections I would really appreciate it!)

Sunrise

Sunrise

 

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

 

Dragonhunter (Hagenius brevistylus) - (?)

Dragonhunter (Hagenius brevistylus) – (?)

 

Eastern Pondhawk (Female) - (Erythemis simplicicollis)

Eastern Pondhawk (Female) – (Erythemis simplicicollis)

 

White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae)

White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae)

 

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

 

Wingless Meadow Katydid (Female) - (Odontoxiphidium apterum) - (?)

Wingless Meadow Katydid (Female) – (Odontoxiphidium apterum) – (?)

Wingless Meadow Katydid - (Male) - (Odontoxiphidium apterum) - (?)

Wingless Meadow Katydid – (Male) – (Odontoxiphidium apterum) – (?)

 

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

 

White-eyed Vireo

White-eyed Vireo

 

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

 

American Hover Fly (Metasyrphus americanus)

American Hover Fly (Metasyrphus americanus)

 

Eastern Pondhawk - (Male) - (Erythemis simplicicollis)

Eastern Pondhawk – (Male) – (Erythemis simplicicollis)

 

Four-spotted Pennant - (Male) - (Brachymesia gravida)

Four-spotted Pennant – (Male) – (Brachymesia gravida)

 

Rambur's Forktail - (Male) - (Ischnura ramburii)

Rambur’s Forktail – (Male) – (Ischnura ramburii)

 

Black Horse Fly (Tabanus atratus)

Black Horse Fly (Tabanus atratus)

 

Fall Webworm Larva (Hyphantria cunea)

Fall Webworm Larva (Hyphantria cunea)

 

Tawny Pennant (Brachymesia herbida)

Tawny Pennant (Brachymesia herbida)

 

Four-spotted Pennant - (Immature or Female) - (Brachymesia gravida)

Four-spotted Pennant – (Immature or Female) – (Brachymesia gravida)

 

Florida Redbelly Turtle (Pseudemys nelsoni)

Florida Redbelly Turtle (Pseudemys nelsoni)

 

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

 

 

The next time you find yourself outside, try standing still for a few minutes and observe the amount of life all around.  Prepare to be amazed!

 

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

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