Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Well-Groomed Osprey

Ospreys are also called Fish Hawks and often have a careless appearance to me. This one had just been through a four-inch rain and was looking all the better for the shower.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wanna Go Snipe Hunting?

When we first spotted these two mud-feeding birds, I thought they were woodcocks, because of their shape. It was not until I got home that I learned they are snipe. They use their long, long bill to drill into the mud for worms, crustaceans, frogs, insects and seeds.

They are called common snipe and, while this was my first time ever seeing them, apparently they are common enough to be game birds. Their secretive manner is what makes it uncommon to see them. 

An interesting fact I learned when I was researching this bird is that the brains of woodcocks and snipe are upside-down relative to the position of other birds. What a bird brain!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Playground Parakeet

A parakeet showed up on the playground recently at the school where I teach. As can be imagined, it caused quite a flutter of excitement. It had had its wings clipped so it did not fly very well and was almost tame enough for the kids to touch before--- it flew-hopped out of range.

It turned out to be the pet of one of our students and had been missing for a few days. He managed to catch it and a volunteer mom helped him get it to my room where I had a butterfly tank that they borrowed until his mom could come and take the bird home.

The rescuers and the rescued.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What Does the Fox (Squirrel) Say?

I love, love, love fox squirrels. I guess it is partly that they always take me by surprise. And the variety of their colors is interesting. Unlike gray squirrels that all look pretty much alike, these larger cousins come in several colors and combine them for lots of different effects. Like most squirrels, they are fast and rarely stay put for long. This one crossed in front of our truck recently and then, uncharacteristically, accommodated my picture-taking by posing for about a minute.

Look at that beautiful winter coat! No faux fur here!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Seeing Stars

A close friend of the family was visiting earlier this month. She is finishing her Masters in Marine Biology at San Francisco State. She has written her thesis about sea stars. Sea stars are common on the rocky shore of San Francisco Bay, but I have seen few enough in my lifetime in Florida. So we were all quite excited to find one down at St. Marks when we took her to the lighthouse. The tide was way out and this little guy had been left to bake on the beach. There was a muddy track to indicate it had tried to get back into the water, but had dried out before that was accomplished.

Our friend told us that sea stars are notorious for "playing possum." She put it back in the water, but when we passed by on the walk back to the car, it had not moved and was clearly dead.

Until I knew of her studies, I rather had assumed that all sea stars have five legs, but the ones she studied have six!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Avalon Moccasin: Heads or Tails?

We were on a wander down some Jefferson County dirt roads when we came upon this moccasin, sunning in the road where it happened to be paved for a couple of miles.

The snake crossed as we watched and went into the rough area near a burn pile where clearing had recently taken place.

Big head!

Big tail!

In the sunlight, the colors and patterns were more visible. Such a pretty (if dangerous) snake.

As an aside, Avalon is the name of one of Ted Turner's properties. We were just down the road from the main gate.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mailbox Monday: A Good Read

This bronze statue is outside the public library in Eagle, Colorado. (Makes my feet cold!)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Baby Gators at the Visitor's Center Pond

 There was a whole hatch of yearling baby gators at St. Marks recently. They were so small and I love their patterns.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Two-Headed Eagle?

This pair of bald eagles were two of the five we saw one evening recently at the lighthouse. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Can't You Read the Sign?

As far as I was concerned, that gate was BLOCKED. It was suppertime and I was not going to be on the menu!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

He Was Framed

I first saw this large hawk fly down and land in our front yard. It picked up something and flew to the mailbox where it perched until I got my camera. Of course, as I approached it flew but only into the cul-de-sac. I am fairly certain it is a red-shouldered hawk, dressed as a pumpkin for a procrastinator's Halloween.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mailbox Monday: Colorful Cow

We came across this colorful cow mailbox in a shop in Thomasville, GA. 

It is made by an Australian man in Vietnam.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Killing the Monster Moth Larva

This caterpillar was dying at our son's house. It was quite large and I am still not certain what kind of moth it would have made. It was almost as large as a hickory horned devil but the colors were all wrong. But possibly that was due to the fact that it was dying. The yellow spots are the sphericals that it breathes through. But the white spots are the eggs of a parasitic wasp that consume the caterpillar as they develop.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November 1st Was All Snakes Day

November 1st is actually All Saints' Day but since we saw several snakes that evening, I have renamed it.
Here are the two notable ones that I photographed.
Initially, we thought they were both moccasins. When  I consulted this webpage, I learned otherwise.

This young snake was only about 18 inches long. It is a banded water snake. 

Looking at the photo below, we can see the pupil is round. 

This is the second snake,  a cottonmouth moccasin. It was a larger snake, though we never saw all of it. 

The moccasin's pupil is vertical. 

But I don't recommend getting that close to check it out lest you become prematurely one of the saints honored on this day.  I took these pictures from safely inside the pick-up.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Spider

This is a jumping spider ---and that is as far as I get with identifying it. It was on a zinnia in our garden. Jumping spiders are the largest group of spiders, with over a thousand different kinds.

This one was quite hairy and the eyes are visible. The Halloween colors were appropriate for the season. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mailbox Monday: Log Cabin

We found this mailbox for sale in Bass Pro.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Glorying in the Morning

This small, native morning glory has found its spot along this dirt road near the bear tracks. The vine was covered in blooms and buds. It may be small, but it blooms in a big way. This one is considered invasive.

Morning Glories constitute a large variety of flowers that are mostly blue to violet, but some are white and even red. I have these pop up in my school garden.

Moon Flowers and Cypress Vine are also Morning Glories. These plants are toxic and have been used as hallucinogens and laxatives, but sometimes with serious consequences.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sunset and Silhouettes

On the way home from the garden, we admired the sunset and the silhouettes.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Farm Tour

B and I were enticed to explore the local farm tour this past weekend. We were surprised to learn that 40 different locations were participating. We only visited two, but we had a great time.

At one farm, there was a corn maze with fun scarecrows throughout. While, going through a corn maze is on my life's to-do list, this one was not quite the one I'm looking for. The corn was a little short for me.

There were rides: this one shown, as well as a little train of barrels pulled by a lawn mower.

There were of course LOTS of animals to see, touch and feed.

This stock tank filled with dry corn was popular with the kids. Check out the little girl with the white shirt filled to bulging with corn.

There were several varieties of chicken tractors available for sale. I only learned about chicken tractors a few years ago. So I will share that these are little chicken houses that can be moved around the yard to allow the birds to eat the bugs and fertilize in different locations. 

This little greenhouse was so charming! They had put thought and time into its design. I love it. Notice the guttering leading to rain barrels.

A slightly different view.

It was fun and informative. It was free except for the gas to get there. We bought some local honey from a beekeeper and other products were available.

We will be looking for it next year!