Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Morning Outing

A hint of cool in the air and a gentle breeze made for a delightful morning out.  There was quite a bit of bird activity compared to yesterday morning.  I wished I had taken my scope when I arrived at my first location but had decided against it since I was already hauling two cameras.

I saw more Common Yellowthroats this morning, though they were all female of juveniles than I have seen all year.  They were doing some serious insect hunting in the undergrowth.

The Jewelweed have begun blooming and the number of hummingbirds are increasing.

I saw more Robber Flies today than I have seen in a while.  They were all finding a sunny location to warm.

There was no shortage of horse flies and they too were warming in the sun.  Fortunately they were not interested in biting, just warming.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Begging Baby

Almost the size of the adult, this juvenile Cardinal still begs for food from any passing adult.  I wonder when it will start trying to feed itself?  The behavior of fluttering wings and getting in to the begging position seem to be something the adults cannot pass up.  Adult Cardinals other than the parents have taken time to feed the young one.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Summer Tanager

For the past week, a female Summer Tanager has been coming in the yard early in the morning.  This morning I was washing up so dishes and looked out the window and there she was.  Just as she had flown down to the fountain, one of the workmen hooking up the gas logs needed me to come in the other room so I only got a few shots.

Unfortunately is was cloudy and not daring to raise the window shot through it so a high ISO makes the shots a bit grainy.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

American Redstart

I have been very busy this week doing some things in the house in preparation for painting and new carpet.  In the process I am doing a massive de-clutter of stuff.    I want to get down to the bare minimum.  I am really just tired of stuff everywhere that has to be dusted.

The few cool days we had last week that teased us with a prelude to fall weather has gone and the dog days of summer have returned.

Some signs of the impending fall are definite.  A couple of us noted how the dogwood berries are already turning red.  Seems a bit early.  Possible signs of a cold winter?

I am beginning to see more and more warblers  come in.  A pair of Redstarts have been hanging around quite a bit this week.  The male comes late in the afternoon to drink from the fountain and splash around a bit in the water.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Pleasant Morning

A little sunshine this morning before clouds started moving in turning the sky milky white.The cold front that came through Wednesday still has temperatures pleasant.  Tomorrow should be a wash out so I wanted to get out today and enjoy the nice weather.  As it warmed up the birds became active.

There were several Great Crested Flycatchers searching for insects on the mimosa tree.  They were so busy trying to keep the other bird away neither could search long.

Moving on I watched a Great Blue Gnatcatcher working an area.  There have been more very tiny green tree frogs this year than I have ever seen.  The bird chased, caught, lost and finally re-caught the tiny frog.  Several what appear to be younger birds came in and started begging but the adult gave them a no-no.

I saw a Yellow Warbler in the yard this morning but by the time I could get out with the camera it was gone. I have high hopes that the large number of warblers that came through in the spring will come back through during the fall migration.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Family Affair

What has their attention?  As I was walking towards the tail camera location something gave my nose a tickle and a sneeze caught their attention.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Young Eastern Bluebird

A young bluebird hunts for insects checking out the various holes in the tree.  It still looks very thrush like with it's dapple markings.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Berry Berry Invasive

Porcelain Berry -Ampelopsis brevipedunculata, a member of the grape family is native to Northeast Asia - China, Japan, Korea and Russian Far East.  It is a highly invasive plant that can grow up to 15 feet in a single growing season.  They prefer sunlight and will climb to the top of trees.  It is estimated that they were brought to the U.S, as a cultivated plant around 1870 and through spread of seeds have taken hold in the eastern part of the U.S.  Unfortunately, the birds absolutely love them which aid in the spread of seeds.  There were several Mockingbirds trying to claim territory of this vine.

Native Grape Vine
The leaves closely resemble our native grape vine which is a better choice as it is a native and still provides a food source to wildlife (and humans).

With all of the rain this year, most of the vines I have seen are full of grapes.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Crane-fly Orchid (Tipularia discolor)

I very understated, diminutive, North American orchid that would be barely noticed walking by it.  During the winter months the plant has one basil leaf that is purple on the underside with the top side looking crinkled.  The basil leaf disappears during the spring months and will not re-emerge until winter.

The entire bloom is no bigger than you thumbnail.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sweet Spots

After a frustrating day yesterday with the tripod that I mount the scope on, I made up my mind to head to the camera store today with gear in hand and try different tripod heads until I found one I was happy with.

The store was very patient let me mount my scope and try several tripod heads.  I think I made a good choice and look forward to going out and giving it a field try.

I picked up the trail camera early this morning as I knew the batteries were getting low.  There were several really sweet captures of the fawn antics.   Both fawns seem to have a fascination with squirrels that are trying to steal a bit of food.  One was curious about the crows that come and sit in the trees above them and squawk.

I was quite disturbed by the images of someone's Pit Bull in the area though.  There is a leash law and the dogs are not supposed to be running loose.  I worry for the fawns safety.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Blue Grosbeak

I went out this morning to get in a little digiscoping practice time.  The EVF for the GX-1 had arrived and I wanted to give it a try and see if it helped.  While the resolution is definitely not good enough to use for focusing, it was a big help in framing the shot while in bright sunlight.  The LCD screen was useless when in full sunlight.

I came across a male Blue Grosbeak and he was more than cooperative about standing still.  Rare to get such a great practice opportunity.  He occasionally flew to another tree but never far.  I finally realized the reason when female popped out from some of the underbrush along with a couple of young birds.

He was keeping look out as they were hunting.   A couple of times when she came out, he would fly to her.  I kept watching hoping to get them together then all of a sudden there they were.  I only got one shot though and was holding my breath it would come out okay.

I am beginning to get more comfortable with the digiscoping however a different tripod head is going to be a must.  I am missing too many shots as the current one takes too long to adjust.  I  probably still need to use some reading glasses for focusing as that seems to remain an issue.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cicadas - The Song of Summer

Have you ever tried to photograph a cicada?  I swear they have a sixth sense and  know as soon as you get an eye on them,  Zoom, they are gone.

As I was photographing the hummingbirds, the tree beside me seemed to be a prime resting spot but as soon as I would locate one, it would fly.  I watched as Mockingbirds listened and hunted for the cicada rattle.

Barely escaping a catch, this cicada flew to a nearby fence.  I would have preferred a capture on a natural element but sometimes you take what you can get.

The males are the "singers" and make their noise to attract a female.

The excerpt below from (here) is an easy to understand explanation of how they make their noise.
"The adult male cicada possesses two ribbed membranes called tymbals, one on each side of its first abdominal segment. By contracting the tymbal muscle, the cicada buckles the membrane inward, producing a loud click. As the membrane snaps back, it clicks again. The two tymbals click alternately.
 Air sacs in the hollow abdominal cavity amplify the clicking sounds. The vibration travels through the body to the tympanii, which amplify the sound further."

Image Source - National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, NIH

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Morning Buzz-by

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Curious Fawn

When I went to retrieve the trail camera, there were lots of nose shots.  Since the doe started bringing the fawns up, this has happened often.  I stand at the window and watch when I see the fawns arriving and they definitely have complete different personalities.  One is very outgoing and the other is more timid.

If any of the other deer arrive while they are feeding, the timid one will always dash off but the more outgoing fawn will attempt to engage the older deer in play by jumping around and head butting.

The more timid of the two still attempts nursing as mom doe is eating but the more outgoing one is eating the deer chow.

 The trail camera contest here that I have a picture entered in is open for voting. Check out the photos.  You select one photo from the deer category, US and Canada category and international category.  HINT, HINT - on US and Canada....Vote for #54 (giggle) and thanks!  Should the photo happen to win, the camera will be donated to a nearby park.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Eye of Anole

Late yesterday afternoon when I went out to put a steak on the grill,  I spotted a Carolina Anole sunning on one of the deck chairs.  I figured it would hurry off as I tried for some close up shots but to my surprise, it was very accommodating and patient as I was so very close to it.

They have amazing eye detail.  I believe when they are in their green coloration they are much prettier.  I was rather surprised at this time of year that this one was more brown.


Saturday, August 3, 2013


Gray skies and low clouds were the start for the morning.  The sun has tried to come out several times but the clouds win out.  It is a humid, muggy feeling kind of day.  The mosquitoes make it miserable to be anywhere out in the woods.

A brief walk this morning just to get out but I didn't stay long.  In one little area of the creek, there were around a dozen younger catfish averaging 7-10 inches.  Just a little below them a bit were several dozen very small catfish 3-4 inches.

All were swimming back and forth skimming the water.  I am not sure if they were eating or if because the water was getting so low there was a low level of oxygen.  One of the larger catfish did snatch a dragon fly that had landed on a piece of grass floating on the water.  Unbelievably quick!

They are such odd looking fish with their whiskers and rounded head.  Not the best shots but it was too overcast to use a polarizing filter.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Morning Hummers