Thursday, May 31, 2012

Clouds by Chris Lee

 Clouds trickle by, way up in the sky,
They make me ponder, what I've done and why,
Ever changing, ever moving,
and strangely so soothing,
They flutter about, here and there,
Come rain or shine, they never seem to care,
They cover my world with relative ease,
Riding on the back of a casual breeze,
A cloud can be whatever it may choose,
Then drift away, on a relaxing cruise,
Looks so peaceful, gliding on the wind,
No thoughts, no illusions or actions have sinned,
Wouldn't mind trying it out someday,
Could be free to go any which way.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Three-toed Woodpecker

Three-toed Woodpecker
 The three-toed woodpeckers range further north then any other woodpecker in the world. At one time there was only one species of three-toed woodpecker but thanks to DNA testing they were split into the American three-toed woodpecker and the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker. The Eurasian three-toed is found across Northern Europe and Russia. The American three-toed is found in Alaska, Canada and parts of the northern United States. These photos were taken in the Sax Zim Bog in northern Minnesota.
Three-toed Woodpecker
 Three-toed woodpeckers are usually permanent residents with in their range, however some three-toed may migrate during the winter if food is scarce. They eat the larvae of different wood-boring and bark beetles. Unlike many other woodpeckers they do not usually bore into the wood in search of prey. Instead they use their beak to pry and scrape the outside bark from the tree leaving the insects beneath exposed. They then use their long and agile tongue to suck up the larvae. Three-toed woodpeckers can be confused with the black-back woodpecker, another three toed woodpecker found with in much of the same range, however the black-back has a completely black back where the three-toed has white speckles on black.

Monday, May 28, 2012


blackburnian warbler
Welcome to Tuesday Tweets. To join in the fun, just post a photo of a bird on your blog then come here and enter your information in the inlinkz tool down below. Don't forget to put a link back to here on your blog and the pretty little banner photo. Then visit all of the sites that participate to see a lot of cool bird pics.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Spiney BasketTail

Spiny Baskettail
One of the earlier dragonflies that we see up here in Minnesota each year is the spiny baskettail. The spiny baskettail usually begin to emerge around the middle of May. Often they will emerge in mass, this helps them to survive the vulnerable teneral stage when they are out of the water but are not able to fly well. Last weekend I visited Crex Meadows in Wisconsin and there were thousands of these dragonflies flying.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ohio Soiderwort

Ohio spiderwort photographed at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Blue Mud Dauber

Blue Mud Dauber
 The blue mud dauber is a solitary wasp found through out much of the United States. Like many bees and wasps they drink nectar from flower blooms and in turn help to pollinate the plants. They do not make a hive or nest. Instead the female will take over an unused nest of another species of mud dauber.
Blue Mud Dauber
 Blue mud daubers are generally not very aggressive unless you happen to be a spider. Females hunt spiders by flying into the spiders web and acting as though they are caught. The spider is attracted to the motion in the web and when it gets close the dauber strikes paralyzing it with its sting. The blue dauber will then carry the spider to its nest where it will include it in the egg chamber as food for the young. One of the common victims of the blue dauber is the poisonous black widow spider which makes the blue mud dauber much more popular with people.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Swans are large waterfowl that are typically found in temperate climates. They are closely related to geese and share the same subfamily, Anserinae. There are seven species of swans found around the world, only two of which are native to North America.
Trumpeter Swan
The trumpeter swan is the larger of the two North American species. They are the largest waterfowl in North America and typically weigh from 17 to 28 pounds. They breed on freshwater wetlands in Alaska, Canada and northern portions of the United States. They migrate short distance during the winter to locations where they can find open water. We do have trumpeter that nest here in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. With in the next couple of weeks I should begin to see cygnets, baby swans, swimming with their parents up at Crex Meadows, where they have numerous pairs breeding This photo was taken at Monticello, MN where the water stays open during the winter.
Tundra Swan
The other swan that we see here in Minnesota is the tundra swan. They are smaller then the trumpeters typically weighing between 16 to 23 pounds.Tundra swans do not nest here in Minnesota. As their name suggests they are a bird of the far north. They breed up around the arctic circle. During the winter they migrate south. Some parts of the population migrate down to Europe and Asia while others migrate down to the east and west coast of North America.A large chunk of the Canadian breeding population heads south into the central part of the continent before turning east and heading for the coast. In November the Mississippi River, in southern Minnesota, is filled with thousands of tundra swans that stop over to eat and rest. This photo was taken near Brownsville, Mn during the tundra swan migration.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tuesday Tweets

Welcome to Tuesday Tweets. To join in the fun, just post a photo of a bird on your blog then come here and enter your information in the inlinkz tool down below. Don't forget to put a link back to here on your blog and the pretty little banner photo. Then visit all of the sites that participate to see a lot of cool bird pics.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Eight-spotted Forester

Do you know the difference between a butterfly and a moth? There is actually no simple answer. Both are part of the same order Leidoptera and there are some common differences but since there are exception there is really no accepted hard and fast rule about how to distinguish between them. Some things that you can look at to help determine of a specimen is a moth or butterfly are antennae, wings, pupae, rest state and when they are the most active. 
Butterflies typically have thin antennae with clubs at the end where moths have many different shaped antennae. Many types of moths have fore and hind wings that couple together where butterflies all have 4 distinct wings. Butterflies have a chrysalis pupal stage where many moths spin a silk cocoon. Moths usually rest with their wings flat while many butterflies hold their wings straight up over their thorax when they perch. Butterflies are also mostly diurnal, active during the day, this is because most of them use thermal energy to heat their body. Most moths use wing beats to heat themselves so they are mostly nocturnal. However like all of these hints there are always exceptions. This is an eight-spotted forester moth. It is a diurnal moth that is found through out the eastern half of North America. They usually are in flight from April through June with a second brood in August in the warmer portions of their range. Their larval host plants are Virginia creeper and grapes.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

Spotted Towhee

The spotted towhee is a large sparrow that is found in the western half of North America. At one time it was combined with the eastern towhee as one species called the rufous-sided towhee. Both species are very similar and do sometimes interbreed but at some time in the past they evolved separately and are now different enough to be two distinct species. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

They Say That Everything is Bigger in Texas

Even the moon? 
It is not true. The moon is not bigger in one location then it is in another. Although the moon can appear bigger when it is viewed near the Earth's horizon. This effect is called Moon Illusion and it has been observed since ancient times. There have been many theories on the Moon Illusion but no one theory has been globally accepted. I personally think that it has to do with perception. I think that the moon on the horizon looks larger compared to the earthly objects that we see around it, such as trees building and such. When the moon is high up in the sky it is surrounded by the vastness of space and in comparison it looks small. I am sure that my theory is overly simple. This phenomenon also occurs with the Sun, and other planets. This picture was taken from South Padre Island in south Texas.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


There are many birders in the world that we call listers. They are people who maintain lists of all of the birds that they have seen. Many people maintain a life list but the really hardcore listers can have state, county, city, monthly, yard list or even more. I am not a lister per say. I do consider myself to have a life list although I keep it in pictures. In my world if I do not have a picture it is not counted as a life bird.
The greater roadrunner is a bird that has eluded my life list on several occasions.We have spotted them on trips to California, New Mexico and Texas in the past but they always scuttled into the brush before I could get a pic. This year i finally managed to catch one on digital film at the Bentsen State Park in south Texas. The greater roadrunner is actually a ground-dwelling cuckoo bird that lives in arid regions of the southern United States and Mexico. They are well adapted to their harsh dry habitat and can survive for long periods with out water by absorbing moisture from their food. They are omnivores and eat some fruit and seeds as well as insects, birds, eggs, snakes, reptiles, rodents and carrion. Some of the things that they eat are venomous including certain spiders, scorpions and snakes.One of the reasons that they are so hard to photograph is that they can run at speeds of up to around 19 MPH. I have heard that they can reach even higher speeds when evading an ACME rocket fired by a wily coyote but that is just hearsay, BEEP BEEP!  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tuesday Tweets

Well it is time again for Tuesday Tweets. I have been a little disappointed in that this meme has not really taken off. There are some really great people who have continued to support the meme and I am very grateful to them however I am contemplating expanding the meme to see if I can get some more participation.

This week's featured bird is the yellow warbler. Warblers migrate through this area at this time of year. Most are heading up to Canada or at least northern Minnesota but the yellow warblers stick around through the summer.

Welcome to Tuesday Tweets. To join in the fun, just post a photo of a bird on your blog then come here and enter your information in the inlinkz tool down below. Don't forget to put a link back to here on your blog and the pretty little banner photo. Then visit all of the sites that participate to see a lot of cool bird pics.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cobra Clubtail Dragonfly

Clubtail dragonflies are part of the family Gomphidae. They get their name from the enlarged tip at the end of the abdomen that many have. However not all clubtails have a club tail. The easiest way to tell whether a dragonfly is a member of the Gomphidae family is to see whether the eyes are separated. Gomphidae are the only dragonflies with separated eyes.
Many Gomphidae are found along rivers. The cobra clubtail pictured here is typically a river species. The nymphs prefer large rivers usually with a sandy bottom. I photographed this dragonfly at Damn Number One on the Mississippi River. The tip of the cobra clubtail is larger then most other clubtails found in this area. Only the skillet clubtail has a wider tip on their abdomen. That makes the cobra clubtail one of the easier clubtails to identify.