Kite in flight, by Michael Packer. You can see why some of the golf course workers initially thought it might be a Bald Eagle, albeit a tiny one :-)Note the considerably shortened leading primary flight feather. Graceful and acrobatic in flight, Mississippi Kites often pick off flying dragonflies. Anyone who has tried to net big dragons knows how challenging that can be.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Cute little rascals, aren't they? You wouldn't be saying that if you were a white-footed mouse and this Northern Saw-whet Owl was hot on your heels!Crows like to heckle Great Horned Owls, just like some ruffians like to heckle speakers. I am hopeful there will be no crows in the audience.
I'll try to be on my A-game for this owl talk - I definitely don't want this sort of reaction!
Hope to see you there!
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Anyway, on the last trip we had photog-extraordinaire Michael Packer along, and he set some sort of record for photos snapped. Thousands, I suspect. Some are doozies, and if you want to jet down to a very tropical place via cyberspace, go right here to see Michael's handiwork.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
It don't get no better than this, if you're a dragon-seeker. Several of us were on our bellies photographing a very cooperative Orange Bluet, Enallgma signatum, when this Violet Dancer, Argia fumipennis subsp. violacea, decided to use Marlo Perdica's hand as a perch. Of course, the rest of us demanded that she freeze, so we could document the moment. The Violet Dancer was a beaut, too - nice purple male - but a bit hard for Marlo herself to photograph...While out on a pre-scouting trip, we came across a very interesting butterfly. Fitting it is the only carnivorous butterfly in North America, as we were focused mostly on dragonflies, and bugs don't get any more carnivorous than the Odonata. Anyway, veteran field naturalist extraordinaire Jim Davidson spotted a Harvester, Feniseca tarquinius, which proved to be quite cooperative.
A quarter-sized beauty, the habits of the Harvester are bizarre by butterfly standards. The larvae eat at least four genera of woolly aphids, which often form conspicuous clusters on host trees. Around here, American beech, Fagus grandifolia, and any of several species of alder, Alnus sp., are good host plants for suitable aphids. Some authorities believe that Harvesters are probably a lot more common than thought, but their populations tend to be highly localized and the tiny adults can be easily missed as they don't come to flowers for nectar.
A swarm of woolly aphids on a beech tree. You've probably seen these before; the colonies are bizarre-looking and conspicuous. And where you want to seek the odd, light brown Harvester caterpillars, their long setae (hairs) often gunked up with whitish secretions from the aphids. The caterpillars live right amongst the aphids, casually munching them as the mood strikes. The adult butterflies often hang close to the aphids, too, as they shun plant nectar for the apparently tastier "honeydew" secreted by the aphids.
Nature can be strange sometimes.
Monday, July 23, 2007
For Immediate Release Contact: John Tautin - 833-7656, Ruby McCormick – 833-7656, Susan A. Smith – 460-2540
2007 Purple Martin Conference & Festival at Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle
The Purple Martin Conservation Association (PMCA) announces its first Purple Martin Conference & Festival on August 17, 18 19, 2007. Purple martin enthusiasts from around N. America are expected to attend this 3 day Festival. Friday (1-5pm) workshops from experts from around the country include: Mentoring purple martin landlords, Feeding Purple Martins, Preparing natural gourds and Conducting nest checks. Friday evening (5;30-7:30pm picnic and viewing hundreds of p. martins staging on the Beach 11 wires.
Saturday’s (9am-5pm) presentations include: Survival in purple martins, Swallow roost ecology, Purple martins in S. America, and more. Saturday evening (7-9pm) Reception on the Victorian Princess and view of thousands of p. martins at their waterfront roost.
Sunday 10am-4pm) is a celebration of PMCA’s 20 year anniversary and will appeal to kids, families and the general public including: gourd painting, face painting, making Origami martins, Purple martin exhibits, scavenger hunt and children’s activities and prizes and partner exhibits.
This event is open to the public. Registration form is at www.purplemartin.org/2007conference.htmlor call 814-833-7656.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
The mob of paparazzi surrounds the exceptionally tolerant snaketail. Many hundreds of photos were snapped of this one.
Violent insects, if you hold a dragonfly by its feet you'll be assured of getting nipped. This Green Darner is chewing on Larry Rosche's hand. Luckily for us, even the big ones don't hurt; they just create a funny nibbling sensation. Such would not have been true some 250 million years back during the Carboniferous Period, when Canda Goose-sized dragonflies ruled the skies.
Jen Brumfield, one of our guides, is absolutely amazing with a net. She made a number of incredible catches, including this Prince Baskettail, Epitheca princeps. A beautiful member of the Emerald Family, Princes are typically seen on the wing hunting insects well above the ground and often out of reach. Getting to see one up close and in the hand was a treat.
We were indeed fortunate to see this Orange Bluet, Enallagma signatum, out and about in the heat of the day. Unlike the previous species, this is just a tiny little guy. Like many of the orange-colored damsels, Orange Bluets tend to emerge and become active towrds the end of the day and even past dusk.
Everyone was ecstatic about seeing this one up close, thanks once again to the wonderful netting abilities of Ms. Brumfield. It is a Swift River Cruiser, Macromia illinoiensis subsp. illinoiensis. River cruisers typically fly fast over the waters of streams, and can be very hard to catch. Like B-1 bombers, they come in low and fast, exposing brilliant green eyes if the light is one them, and blur past just outside of net reach.