Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Dedicated Dad

This summer seemed like a particularly good one for the cardinal couple that frequented my back yard. 

This youngster is from their third brood. You can tell it's still a baby because it still has a brown bill, even though it's as big as the adults.

Dad looks a bit worse for wear, missing a few feathers around his head.  I don't know - do cardinals tear their feathers out with frustration with their young?

They can be pretty demanding, after all!

But, he seems to be up for the challenge - especially with a little help from the sunflower feeder! 

The cardinals do a great job of working together and I enjoy watching their cooperative parenting.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Going a Little Buggy!

Sometimes, it's the little things that capture my attention. A flash of movement or an unusual shape will catch my eye and I try for a closer look.

This American Pelecinid Wasp appears fierce, but that nasty looking stinger is used primarily to insert eggs into unsuspecting grubs, thereby helping to control beetle populations. 

This Bronze Copper butterfly is pretty unassuming and well camouflagd. 

Well, at least it is until it opens its wings and displays its brilliant colors.

It's pretty hard to miss at that point, even though it's small. 

I feel fortunate to be able to explore the world with Baloo every day!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

South until Spring

On a recent rainy day, I spent some time hidden away with my camera to try and capture a few pictures of the last hummingbirds of the season. 

This female would perch in the hydrangea and swoop in to drink a little 'hummer sauce'. 

Then, alighting on the wire that holds the feeder, guard the precious food source from all interlopers. 

If she got chased off, she would simply hide in the hydrangea until the coast was clear again and return to her vigil.

She didn't even bother to take shelter when it started pouring. 

She just hunkered down and defended her territory (you can see the streaks from the raindrops in the background).

There were four feeders in different parts of the yard, but it never seems to matter - they like to fight over them, anyway. (Note the male marauder coming in from the left to threaten the stronghold.)

They've all flown south until the spring migration begins again. I'll miss the chattering and jousting matches (I think they look like tiny airborne jousters with their long, lance-like beaks!) and their aerial acrobatics - they have such expressive tails that fan out and seem to reflect their feisty moods as well as guide their flight. See you guys in when you return in the spring!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Strange Sumac

I noticed something peculiar about a few of the sumac growing along the hiking trail.

Usually the drupes of the sumac are tightly clustered and turn rich red, like the ones in the photo above.

Here is a plant with the strange kind of drupe I found.

It's light in color with pinks and greens and instead of the dark red, round, tightly clustered berries of the normal plants. It almost looks like a great mass of writhing of worms or something (it's not - don't get squeamish on me). Does anybody out there know what's going on with these plants? I've tried to look it up to find some answers, but have been unsuccessful.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Four Musketeers

These four Tom turkeys were taking measured strides in a line across the field as Baloo and I came out of the woods and spotted them.

I've seen wild turkeys working together like this before to flush unwary grasshoppers out of the weeds for snacking. The smart turkey version of beating the bushes, I guess.

They were curious, if somewhat wary about a person and dog invading their hunting ground. 

Handsome fellows, no? 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Spinning Gold into ... Gold

The goldenrod is blooming all over the peninsula, but there's a huge field of it on one of our favorite afternoon walking trails.

The air is heavy with perfume and pollen.

Honey bees are clearly taking full advantage of the warm, sunny days to gather in as much pollen as they can to spin into golden treasure for the winter ahead.

There were frequently three or four bees on the same flower and the field was positively humming with activity. Seriously, it was. The air was filled with a constant drone of bees in flight.

Honey bees weren't the only ones gathering in the bounty. Hornets, bumble bees, beetles, and butterflies also flew from blossom to blossom.

They didn't seem to be bothered by our presence and I was able to get quite close with the camera, since they were so intent on their harvesting labors.

Of course, I love getting a shot like this. It really is pure luck (and maybe just a touch of patience), since my camera isn't fast enough to capture the image of a flying bee or bird - they're usually long gone before the shutter clicks!

So, the golden honeybees were gathering golden pollen from goldenrod blossoms to make golden honey - all on a golden afternoon. :)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Chicken of the Woods

Baloo had to go back to the vet for an eye problem and we took the opportunity to hike a different area, since we were already in the vicinity. There's a large, wooded tract of land with a network of walking trails that we almost always get lost in, since there are so many unmarked and poorly marked paths. It's hard to get very lost, but sometimes it can be a challenge to come out in the same place where we went in - at least on the first try!

We tempted fate by taking a route we hadn't attempted before and were rewarded by the discovery of this beauty along our way.

We sliced off just enough to bring home for our scrambled eggs - well maybe just my scrambled eggs, but Baloo does get to have a sample after I'm finished, if he's good. :) 

On our morning walk today, I noticed that someone had harvested a whole bunch of this mushroom from a tree near a local restaurant we frequently pass. I wonder if it's going to appear in the chef's special tonight!