At first glance this butterfly maybe identified as one of the comma species of butterflies or a member of the Polygonia family. Comma butterflies are identified by the white "comma shaped" mark on the underside of their wings. This butterfly has a "comma" on its wing but it is actually in the Nymphalis, or tortoiseshell, family. From its underside the Compton tortoiseshell looks similar to a grey comma except that it is larger and the punctuation mark is very thin.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Earlier this year Michelle and I went down to Texas on vacation. The main purpose of most of my vacations is to go out an take pictures in habitats tat are different then I see at home. This year we did not go to Texas until April. We did not see the diversity of birds that we have when we have traveled there in late February but we made up for it by photographing many new species of butterfly and dragonfly. The great pondhawk was a species that I almost missed. They were fairly common at several of the parks but I mistook them for common pondhawk females.
The common pondhawk is a dragonfly that I see frequently around home during the summer. The female and immature are green in color with stripes across the abdomen. As the males mature they are covered with pruinose and they turn a chalky blue color. The great pondhawk is a little bit larger. Their abdomen is thinner and the stripes on it are reddish a little bit more distinct. Also both male and female are the same coloration.
Friday, September 28, 2012
Even though the turtle and the log are the central subject of this photo it is the reflection of light and shadow on the water that makes this pic interesting to me. The turtle and the log seem to separate the band of light from she shadows extending from the reflection of the turtles head.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Snow geese are one of the most abundant waterfowl in North America. They breed up in the arctic and subarctic regions of Canada, Alaska, Siberia and Greenland. They nest on the tundra typically near ponds or other shallow wetlands. The nest is a scrape that is usually protected by vegetation and rocks. The female will add her own down feathers to the nest. She may also add other vegetation as she continues to lay eggs. The clutch size is typically 2- 6 eggs. When the eggs hatch the chicks already have their eyes open and they are protected by a layer of down feathers.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Although they are a plover they are often found far away from water. They are found in a variety of habitat and have adapted very well to humans. The bird in the first picture made its nest in the side of a gravel road. Fortunately it was in a wildlife refuge so the area was roped off to avoid an accident with a car. Other common places that you can see killdeer include parks, ball fields, low farm fields, yards and golf courses. Killdeer are known for faking a wing injury to lure predators away from their nest or young. Since they consider us predators I have seen this behavior on a few occasions, but since I do not intend to eat the bird it does not quite work correctly. Instead I look for the chick because they are quite photogenic.
Monday, September 24, 2012
My main job at the release was to take pictures. This was not so easy this year since the cloudy skies made the lighting difficult to work with. Fortunately we did have a bit of clearing as the day went which did give us a little light to work with. My other duty during the event was to help out at our raptor rings. We bring many of our education birds out to the release so that during the day people get get a good close look at a variety of different raptors. The ed raptors are divided into rings. This year we had 3 rings, one with bald eagles and our turkey vulture and 2 others that have a mix of hawks, falcons and owls. So while I was getting some nice close ups of our ed birds, like the one above of Samantha the great horned owl, I also answered questions about the raptors. It turned out to be another great event.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Saturday, September 22, 2012
Friday, September 21, 2012
The badger is a member of the weasel family. There are eleven different species of badgers that are divided into three subfamilies, the Eurasian badger, the American badger, and the ratel or honey badger. The honey badger is found through out much of Africa and in a few places in southern Asia. The American badger is only found in North America. There are no badgers that are native to South America, or Australia
The American badger is found through out the western and central portions of North America. They live in dens that they dig with their long sharp claws. Grasslands and open prairie with are their preferred habitat especially those with sandy soil which is easier to dig in. The American badger is an omnivore but primarily eats pocket gophers, ground squirrels, marmots, prairie dogs, other rodents, burrowing owls and other ground nesting birds, amphibians, lizards, insects, carrion and some vegetable matter. Badgers are typically solitary except during the mating season in late summer. Like bears, badgers have a delayed pregnancy. Pregnancy usually occurs between December and February. The kits are born in March or April with a litter consisting of 1 to 5 kits. The kits are born blind and helpless. It takes about 4 to 6 weeks for their eyes to open and another week after before they begin to emerge from the den. It was May when I photographed this female with her 4 kit out at Yellowstone. With in a month or two after these pictures where taken the young will have left to go out on their own.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
Living in the middle of North America makes it a little difficult to run down to the ocean to take a pic. I was over 30 years old before I saw the Atlantic Ocean and even older before I looked out over the Pacific. Perhaps that is why I try and stay in a hotel that is near the ocean when we travel to places like Florida, Texas, and California. This shot was taken on the beach on South Padre Island in Texas. On of our hotels was right on the beach. Each morning I would get up and take a walk on the beach while Michelle got to sleep in.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
The elephant seal is a large seal that spend the majority of its life in the ocean. Their are two species of elephant seals. There is the northern elephant seal species, which lives primarily in the northern Pacific Ocean off of the coast of North America, and the larger southern elephant seal species which lives primarily in the frigid waters surrounding Antarctica. Elephant seals spend about 8 to 10 months a year living in the ocean. They are able to dive 1000 to 5000 .feet in search of their favorite prey such as octopus, squid, and large fish. They have a high proportion of red blood cells which enables them to hold their breath for about 100 minutes. Layers of blubber enable them to survive the frigid temperatures of the deep waters.