Friday, August 31, 2007

A Very Dewy Morning

A dewy winged Grape Leaf Folder Moth

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Dewy Thistle Gone To Seed

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Photos taken at Pawnee Lake SRA

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Even More Butterflies

Today was a lovely day. Made up for the past week.

When I left the house, it was in the upper 50's and it was a joy to be out and about.

Branched Oak Lake was the destination of choice this morning. I was about ready to leave one area of the park and move on to another one, when I noticed a graveled area that seemed to have a couple of butterflies fluttering about. So I ambled over to see what I could see. What I saw was one of those extraordinary sights that you come upon from time to time. There were a couple of trees, maple I believe, and they must have been oozing sap. The trunk and some of the branches had numerous butterflies, wasps, and flies.

The vast majority of the butterflies were Hackberry Emperors

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There were also several Red-spotted Purples

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And several Eastern Commas. They all seemed to be rather tattered.

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None of my group photos of these butterflies turned out very well (the lighting was really tricky).

I paid a visit to my mid 90's mother this afternoon who has mild dementia. It was a pleasant visit. Anyone who has dealt with someone with dementia knows there are pleasant times, and not so pleasant times. One has to be thankful for pleasant times.

As I said, a lovely day!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Moth Photos

It's been quite a week on every front. Not much of it good. Haven't had much chance to be out and about, and the couple of times I was out briefly, I didn't have much luck seeing, or photographing anything.

Have photographed several moths in the last little bit. I am finding them devilishly difficult to identify, but some of them are quite pretty.

This is a Yellow-collared Scape Moth

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I couldn't a common name for this little guy, just the Latin name Schinia regia

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This guy looks a lot like the photos of Clover Looper Moths that I have found, but there's enough variations that I'm not comfortable saying that's what he is.

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I'm hoping circumstances allow me to be out and about tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Worth a Giggle

A teacher friend of mine called a little bit ago wanting to know if I had any pictures of deer and elk.

So I was going through pictures of said subjects and found this one of an elk. I cropped it to show what made me giggle.

Picture taken at Ft. Niobrara NWR

Even More Butterflies

Yesterday I went to Pawnee Lake. I saw two Bronze Coppers. The female was cooperative and I was able to get photos with her wings open and closed. The male was more elusive, and since the footing was dicey at best, I felt fortunate to get a photo with his wings open.

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Female with her wings open

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Male with his wings open

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Cogresha paid a visit on Sunday. He has birded in Kansas and lives in Chicago now. He blogs about both. If either subject interests you, I recommend paying him a visit.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Things You Learn II

I have a feeling that there are going to be a few more of these "The Things You Learn" posts while the birding is slow. As I intimated, but never really came out and said in the first The Things You Learn post, I never really paid a lot of attention to butterflies, caterpillars, and assorted other bugs. I would occasionally photograph butterflies, and although I had a butterfly book, I never bothered with identifying what I had photographed. So I am an absolute neophyte, and nearly every photograph is a learning experience.

Wednesday I took this photograph

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When I was photographing this guy I noticed that he seemed smaller than other Monarchs that I had photographed. So when I got home I checked the Queen which is similar, and quickly determined that it wasn't a Queen and didn't bother to look further. This afternoon I was reading other birding blogs and Susan Gets Native has a photograph of a Viceroy.

I immediately got the books out, and they all say the Viceroy has "a black line usually curving across the hind (lower) wing". Well, this guy only has a hint of the black line. But on a closer examination of the depictions in my books there is an obvious difference in the fore (upper) wing. Additionally, there is a difference in the number of white spots around the eye, as well as coloration on the abdomen. The Viceroy is 2 5/8 to 3 inches and a Monarch is 3 1/2- 4 inches. A rather significant size difference.

For comparison sake, here is a Monarch that I took earlier this year.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

New (to me) Internet Birding Site

Was meandering around the toobz trying to do a little research for a trip in either September or October.

I came across a site that hosts bird videos. It is called the the Internet Bird Collection (IBC).

They say:

The Internet Bird Collection (IBC) is a non-profit endeavour with the ultimate goal of disseminating knowledge about the world's avifauna. It is an on-line audiovisual library of footage of the world's birds that is available to the general public free of charge.

As of this writing, they have 17,017 videos of 4022 species, which is 41.4% of the world species.

I spent a fair bit of time perusing videos, and was quite impressed with the quality of them

I have added a link on the sidebar.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Back to Butterfly Blogging!

Went out to Wagon Train Lake today. There is a patch of Thistles, Milkweed, and Snow on the Mountain that attracts butterflies and assorted other bugs. It was not optimal butterfly photography conditions. It was overcast, and there was a bit of a breeze. Got some photos there but my best find of the day was in another area.

I think that the Red-spotted Purples are very pretty.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

It's A Bird!

It was a drizzly, humid morning, so I opted to do other things this morning.

I scrolled down through the most recent posts, and it looks like this is a butterfly blog, rather than a blog about birding. So I looked back through my recent pictures looking for a bird picture. I haven't taken many lately! But here is one from last week.

A Northern Shrike. They are often seen perched on a telephone wire (as this guy is). They hunt from this perch. Their prey include large insects, small lizards, mice, and small birds. Shrikes will impale their prey on thorns or barbed wire. (ugh, I never like seeing the survival of the fittest thing)

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Photo taken near Stagecoach Lake SRA.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Things You Learn

On September 1st ( a date that I can chronicle because of the dating imbedded in digital photographs) I was at the Nature Center at one of the parks in town. I was there hoping to photograph wildflowers. I got to talking to one of the ladies there and she told me there were Monarch caterpillars on the milkweed plants. The pictures I took that day, and the knowledge imparted by the lady at the Nature Center sparked an already burgeoning interest in butterflies, caterpillars, and insects you see when you are poking around looking for something to take a photo of.

Today's photograph is of a Robber Fly. During my search to find out what exactly I had taken a photo of I found out there are a total of 7,000 varieties of Robber Flies world wide and that there are nearly 1,000 varieties in North America. They are interesting looking critters. This site has more information.

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Photo taken at Twin Lakes WMA

Monday, August 13, 2007

Monarch Caterpillar and Butterfly

Have been looking the last week or so for Monarch caterpillars. Finally found one this morning.

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And saw a Monarch butterfly also

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Both pictures taken at Pawnee Lake SRA

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bird Identification Book

I love books, I love going to the book store. Regardless of what kind of book I might be looking to buy, I am always drawn like a moth to a bright light to the section of the book store that has nature books. I quite often end up buying a book from that section even though I probably don't really need it.

One such book I bought this summer is titled "Birds of the Great Plains". Authors are Bob Jennings, Ted T. Cable, and Roger Burrows, and it is published by Lone Pine. Now it would have been easy to convince myself not to buy yet another bird id book, as I have a bunch of them. But I liked the format of this book.

The book covers the states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South and North Dakota, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, part of Montana, Wyoming Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.

At the beginning of the book is a reference guide. There is a thumbnail picture of each bird. I think this would make id'ing a new bird easier. There is also a section on the top birding sites in the Great Plains.

Each bird gets an entire page. The book is illustrated. The top of the each page gives details about the bird. When the botanical name has special significance, it is explained. The descriptions have all sorts of neat little factoids. There are also identifying marks, size, normal habitat, nesting habits, how and on what the bird feeds, it's call, and last but not least similar species.

The cover is of heavy enough paper to be sturdy, as are the pages. At the same time, the book is flexible enough to flip through easily. The opposite is one of my complaints about the smaller Sibley book.

No book is perfect, and there are a couple of things I don't like. The size. The book is 8.5 by 5.5 inches. Not a good size for sticking in a pocket. The second one is probably a bit picky, and seems somewhat common to id books. Similar birds are not on opposing pages. For example I always have trouble with Franklin's and Bonaparte's Gulls. I would have really liked them positioned so that I didn't have to flip back and forth. As I say, a bit picky.

Friday I took a photo of this Turkey Vulture.

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Among other things this book says about Turkey Vultures:

The Turkey Vulture's red, featherless head may appear grotesque, but this adaptation allows it to remain relatively clean while feeding on messy carcasses.

Neat little factoid, no?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Batting .500 Two Days in a Row

Yesterday I photographed two butterflies at Branched Oak Lake. One I could identify, and one I couldn't. Today I photographed two butterflies at Wagon Train Lake. One I could identify, and one I couldn't.

From yesterday a Gray Hairstreak

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And this one I can't nail the id on. UPDATE: After looking at lots of images on line, I've decided that though this little guy seems to missing his tails, all the other markings are those of Eastern Tailed-Blue.

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From today a Reakirt's Blue

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Then there's this pretty little guy that I can't figure out. UPDATE: I've concluded that this is a worn Spring Azure.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007


The grasshoppers are a hoppin'

The Starlings are a flockin'

The Red-winged Blackbirds and Grackles are a disappearin'

Even though it's a hot and humid August, the season is a beginnin' to change

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A Painted Lady Caterpillar

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Images taken at Twin Lakes WMA

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Since birding is less than inspiring at this time of year...butterflies and insects have been in the sights of my camera.

Found this Juniper Hairstreak

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I love how this skipper's (Delaware, I believe) probiscus is all curled up...

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And then there is this Juvenal's Duskywing. He was a real challenge to photograph. Everytime the shutter clicked he was gone. I got a bunch of pictures of the rocks he was lighting on. I guess he finally figured out that if he sat still and let that crazy lady take his picture, that she would go away. And he was right!

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All of these pictures were taken at Twin Lakes WMA. I have set up a photo gallery for Twin Lakes here.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Minneapolis Bridge Collapse

Since last evening I have been watching the coverage of the bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis.

My thoughts and prayers go to all those involved. To those injured, to their families and friends, to the families and friends of those unaccounted for. And most especially to the rescue/recovery personnel. May they remain safe as they preform their duties.