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Showing posts from February, 2017

A smattering of Florida birds

I've been roaming various biodiversity-rich southwest Florida habitats for a few days now. Some photos follow... As always, click the photo to enlarge.

Painted Bunting, female, bathing
Great Egret in breeding condition, fanning aigrettes.
Laughing Gulls, courting
Royal Tern
Snowy Egret
Wood Stork, portrait.
Royal Tern, portrait

A few images from the Okefenokee

A made a one-day whirlwind trip through  the eastern side of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia yesterday, on my way to points south. Here are a few images.

Southern Cricket Frog, Acris gryllus
American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis
Belted Kingfisher, Megaceryle alcyon
Inflated Bladderwort, Utricularia inflata
Pine Warbler, Setophaga pinus

Wasp-eating moth fills rare niche

Sooty-winged Chalcoela moth/Jim McCormac/For the Dispatch Scroll to bottom of post for more photos
Columbus Dispatch February 19, 2017
NATURE Jim McCormac
One August evening last summer, I was in Adams County in southern Ohio shining specialized lights on white sheets with some expert lepidopterists.
We were trapping moths deep in the midst of the Nature Conservancy's Edge of Appalachia Nature Preserve, which encompasses 20,000 acres. "The Edge" harbors some of the richest biodiversity in the Midwest. Like a moth to a flame, the insects flocked to our sheet. We could survey what was present without needing to kill or collect the specimens. At one point, a moth unknown to me fluttered in. It was gorgeous: tawny-buff in color, with large patches of peppered black and white. Gemlike dots trimmed the trailing edge of the hind wings. We had lured a sooty-winged chalcoela, orChalcoela iphitalis. Someone mentioned that it is a parasite that kills paper wasps. "What?" I ex…

Ohio Natural History Conference - February 25

You won't want to miss the upcoming annual Ohio Natural History Conference, organized and executed by the Ohio Biological Survey. This event attracts many naturalists, biologists, students and admirers of the natural world from all over the state. It's always a good time, with many interesting talks. There will also be a few very special award winners, and you won't want to miss that.

This year's topics include birds, plants, wetlands, conservation, park districts, and mudpuppies. The complete itinerary is RIGHT HERE. As in year's past, the event takes place in the Ohio History Center, the main building of the Ohio History Connection (Ohio Historical Society). It's right off I-71 in Columbus, adjacent to the Ohio State Fairgrounds. To register, CLICK HERE.

A visit to the orchid house

The scene within one of the glassed atria at the Franklin Park Conservatory yesterday. It wasn't a bad place to be, with temperatures in the 20's-30's F, and high winds.
About mid to late winter, I really start to miss plants - green foliage and flowers. One of the drawbacks of living in the north is the complete disappearance of such things for several months. As an antidote of sorts, I decided to visit a place I don't get to nearly often enough, the Franklin Park Conservatory. This is a big plant-packed facility; the artificial tropics come to life right here in Columbus, Ohio.
There are often themes to the exhibits, and right now - thru March 5th - it is orchids.
The massive south wing of the conservatory sports a veritable jungle, complete with water features. You'll forget it's winter in here.
There's even a waterfall (a few, actually), so of course I took the opportunity to practice waterfall photography. I wasn't alone in sporting camera gear - …

An ever-growing eagle aerie

Our national avian symbol, the Bald Eagle, sits with apparent pride atop a large aerie that it and its mate have jointly constructed. This nest is already massive, in spite of "only" being five or six years old. Bald Eagles will reuse nests for many years, and add material constantly.

A few weeks back, I spent a frigid, snowy, windy day watching the comings and goings of a pair of eagles in eastern Ohio. The nest is in an easily viewable locale, and attracts scores of onlookers. Fortunately, because of the Arctic weather during my visit, few others stopped by. It can become quite a circus along this road, I am told, but the gawking onlookers don't bother the birds a whit.

I had only planned on staying here for a few hours, but that stretched into 6-7 hours by the end of which I had nearly lost feeling in my extremities. Well worth it, though, to spend time watching the birds add sticks to the nest, interact with each other, and the world around them.

Some flyby American…

Bald eagles prove healthy environment is essential

Bald eagles build a nest in eastern Ohio. There are now more than 200 nests known in the state.
Columbus Dispatch February 5, 2017
NATURE Jim McCormac

On June 20, 1782, the bald eagle was formally adopted as the symbol of the fledgling United States of America.

Contrary to myth, one of the committeemen involved in the decision, Benjamin Franklin, probably never protested the choice in favor of the wild turkey. However, in a missive to his daughter two years later, he did lament the bird as being of "bad moral character."

Franklin's sniping aside, the mascot was a good pick. Eagles have long represented power, nobility and freedom.

In the early days of the Congress of the Confederation, bald eagles flourished. The huge raptors would have been a familiar sight to most Americans.

By the turn of the 20th century, 100,000 pairs of nesting eagles were estimated to inhabit the U.S. Serious threats would soon loom, though.

Indiscriminate shooting and loss of habitat began to take t…