Friday, November 8, 2013

Fantastic Frog

When I walked outside, around midnight, I noticed the outline of something that looked similar to a Leopard Frog in the shadows.
I retrieved a flashlight and returned to find the creature gone.
 While searching the area, I spied a cat walking under the deck.
As I got closer, I realized that the cat had a frog in its mouth.
I exclaimed so loudly that the cat dropped the frog and ran.
I quickly crawled over and picked up the limp frog's body.
I was furious because the cat had attacked the frog.
That was my favorite type of frog to photograph.

As I solemnly returned to the house, I felt a slight movement.
I rushed the frog into the bright light, for a closer inspection.
It appeared to have some minor wounds on its right side.
I prayed that I had gotten there in time to save its life.
I carried the frog inside to rinse the dirt and grass off.
It started kicking with both back legs, as I washed it.
That startled me and made my night, all at once.
That frog was a fighter; it was going to survive.
I prepared a container to keep it in overnight.
It didn't protest as I closed the vented lid.
It tolerantly rested in a far corner.

The next afternoon, I took the frog outside for some photos.
As soon as I removed the container lid, the frog leaped out.
I chased it back and forth in the yard, until it gave up.
I returned the frog to the house for another bath.
It escaped from my hands and dove into the sink.
I finally had to have a serious talk with the frog.
I said that I deserved some good pictures,
since I had saved it from the crazy cat.
That talk must have done the trick.
The frog settled right down and 
let me get my photographs.
I released it, afterward.
What a Fantastic Frog.


Southern Leopard Frog




You can View my Nature Photography here:

http://al-powell.artistwebsites.com/

Black Woolly Bear

I spotted a bristly black caterpillar on a dank November night.
It was fervently feeding on some light green leafy vegetation.
When I touched the prickly hairs, it curled in a defensive circle.
That was the first time that I noticed reddish rings on its body.
That captivating caterpillar was two and a half inches of total awesomeness.

I did some research to find out what kind of caterpillar it was.
I had happily happened upon a Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar.
That fuzzy caterpillar would eventually change into a wonderful white moth with shiny black and iridescent blue circular spots.
The moth would have a three inch wingspan and a beautiful blue belly with orange markings.

GOD created the coolest creatures.


Giant Leopard Moth Caterpillar




You can View my Nature Photography here:

http://al-powell.artistwebsites.com/






Monday, November 4, 2013

Highlighted Heron

It was a blustery afternoon and I was searching for a Heron.
The birds had apparently taken shelter from the strong wind.
I rounded the coming corner with a healthy helping of hope.
I looked in a slough to my immediate right, in anticipation. 
A Great Blue Heron stood feeding from the muddy bank.
I was elated.

I quickly found a good vantage point and I began snapping.
The sun was playing peek-a-boo and I was losing light fast.
The Heron looked up and began walking in my direction.
My heart skipped a beat as I waited for the punch line.
Where was it going?

I momentarily lost sight of the Blue in the camera's viewfinder.
My eyes frantically scanned the area where it had been fishing.
I hoped that I didn't accidentally frighten it, making it fly away.
As I looked down, I saw that it was fishing directly below me.
The evening sun was illuminating its beak, causing it to glow.
I thanked GOD for my many blessings, as I snapped my photographs.


Great Blue Heron



You can View my Nature Photography here:

http://al-powell.artistwebsites.com/


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Snazzy Sliders

Clouds obscured the sun as I perused the pond perimeter. 
Near the waters edge, I startled a Frog, that returned the favor.
He shrieked an alarm and noisily belly flopped into the water.
SQUEEK...SPALOOSH!

I located my wits, steadied myself and continued my journey. 
I saw something ahead like small green leaves on the wet sand.
I approached for a closer look, my bare feet sinking in the mud.
I suddenly realized that they were green and yellow Turtles.
As I gently picked the tiny reptiles up, I had a vivid childhood flashback.

I had a similar small green and yellow Turtle, as a little kid.
I recalled a clear container with water and a plastic Palm Tree.
I wondered what became of that Turtle; what had I named it?
No idea.

They sprang to life as I rinsed the dried mud from their shells.
Scratching my fingers with their claws, they tried to get away.
They had summoned surprising strength from those little legs.
I placed them in the palm of my hand and carried them to the soft, warm grass, to dry.

They let me take photos, while they basked in the sunlight.
The sun highlighted the intricate designs on their stunning shells.
GOD's handiwork is clearly evident in the smallest of details.
Impressive.

I enjoy the exploration of Nature now, much as I did as a child.
Each newly found creature affects me like a shiny new toy.
Finding two at a time; now that is a big ole bonus.
Twin Turtles!



Yellow Bellied Slider Turtles



You can View my Nature Photography here:

http://al-powell.artistwebsites.com/


   

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall Fungi

The sun was slowly setting in the Pines and the Autumn air was getting a bit cool, as I wandered around, in search of a unique subject to photograph. 

I had decided to turn around and head back to civilization, when a little voice said, "Don't turn around; walk up a little more".
When I relented and took just two more steps, I came upon a surreal scene in the shade of a Live Oak Tree. 

Had I fallen down a Rabbit Hole?
Before me stood two Orange Amanita Mushrooms with a small American Toad sitting between them, surrounded by a soft bed of leaves.

I immediately dropped to my knees and elbows, cleared a small pathway, and started photographing the Wonderland scene.
The little Toad probably thought that his world was coming to an end, when the flash started popping, but he survived just fine.

Orange Amanita Mushrooms and an American Toad




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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lucky Lizard

As I walked around looking for animals to photograph, I noticed a dark brown Lizard, also known as a Carolina Anole, perched on the inside of a window frame of a storage building.
He was longingly staring out through the glass, as if he was begging for help in escaping.

He would probably not live long, once the sun baked the black metal roof of the small structure in which he was trapped.
The temperature would soar and he would become lizard jerky.
When he tilted his little head up and looked me directly in the eye, I knew what I had to do.

I retrieved the storage building key, unlocked the door and readied myself for a chase, a fight, or both.
My childhood memories reminded me that, when captured, Lizards tend to squirm, bite and run.

I needed to be sure that he would make it to the outside, and that he wouldn't just hide elsewhere inside the same building.
I quickly devised a plan to distract his attention with one hand while grabbing him with the other one.

The tactic worked, just like it had when I was a kid.
I rushed outside, with him furiously flailing between my fingers.
Holding an angry Anole was more exciting than I remembered.
Once outside, I attempted to calm him down and get some quick photographs.

He wasn't very appreciative of me saving his life.
Apparently, his intention was to bite my forefinger as hard as possible, jump down into the grass, immediately turn green, run away, and leave me standing there with my mouth wide open.

Well, his plan didn't work out exactly as he had imagined.
He squirmed around in my hand until I nearly dropped him, then, with my grip loosened, he moved around and bit the side of my forefinger three times, hard and fast...Bam Bam Bam!

To his surprise, I did exclaim, but I didn't actually release him.
He looked up at me like he was amazed that I didn't scream and throw him, or at least drop him, when he went all rabid dog on me.

I told him that I just wanted to get some photographs of him.
That was the least that he could do, after that exciting rescue.
He didn't seem to like it very much, but he humored me.
He was all atrocious and angry, but he posed.


Lucky Lizard staring out of a storage building window

Angry Anole reluctantly posing for the camera


You can View my Nature Photography here:



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Drowning Dragonfly

As I approached the edge of the pond on a warm, sunny day, I noticed a Dragonfly lying motionless on the surface of the water.
Most of the body had been submerged except for the wings, that now glistened in the afternoon sunlight.

I assumed that it was dead and wondered how it had gotten itself into such a serious situation.
Maybe it had been trying to drink some water, had a splash-down and its wings had become too wet to fly.

In mid-thought, my eyes widened in amazement as the wings fluttered momentarily, then came to a halt.
Was it still alive? YES, it was!
I frantically searched nearby for a limb that was long enough to reach the now struggling Dragonfly.

I quickly found a limb, stepped into the damp mud at the edge of the pond, and attempted a rescue.
The Dragonfly began slowly rising from its watery grave, when it suddenly slipped off of the tip of the limb and fell back into the water with a splash.

As I apologized for my mistake, I went in for another try.
Fortunately, my second effort was a splendid success.
I gently rinsed the loose mud away and brought the waterlogged Dragonfly to rest on my hand in the warm sunshine.

After a closer inspection, I realized that it was a female Roseate Skimmer Dragonfly that I had just fished out of the pond.
I had no idea how long she had been in the water before my arrival, but she was covered with sand and scum from tip to tail.

She didn't move much in my palm, except to intermittently wipe her eyes, attempting to get some of the muck off.
I held her gingerly and photographed her while she warmed her body and dried her wings in the sun.
She didn't mind much. She was happy to be alive.

After nearly fifteen minutes, she had finally recuperated enough to fly away and perch in a tall tree nearby.

Good luck, Rosie.

Waterlogged Female Roseate Skimmer Wiping Her Eyes


I have heard other Nature Photographers and Naturalists say that a human should NEVER intervene in Nature's dealings, and that it is "survival of the fittest", but I definitely disagree.
If there is a way for me to help an innocent animal that is in a life-threatening situation, I will certainly try.
Of course, any potential rescue would warrant a hearty helping of caution and common sense.


You can View my Nature Photography here:



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Two Headed Butterfly

I went out to watch the interesting Insects nipping nectar
from the gorgeous Goldenrod this morning.
I was stunned to see what appeared to be a
brilliant Butterfly with a head on each end.
I had to move in for a closer look.

It was a medium sized Butterfly with rich red,
white, blue, black and gold colors on it.
It had two black antennae on its head and two black
curved appendages on the trailing edges of its wings.
I had never seen a Butterfly quite like this one.

I looked on in astonishment while it was feeding.
As the Butterfly's proboscis was busy sipping nectar on the front end, the hind wings were rubbing together, causing the fake rear antennae to move back and forth, attracting competitors and predators alike, to the posterior.

Competing Bees and Wasps repeatedly dove at the rear agitating appendages, attempting to intimidate
the beautiful Butterfly into leaving.
The Butterfly paid them little attention and
continued feeding at the opposite end.

That was incredible.
Predatory Birds would likely also attack the fake antennae, possibly allowing the Butterfly to live another day, minus an appendage or two.

Through research, I found out that this beckoning Butterfly is a female Great Purple Hairstreak, in all of her glory.

GOD really created some fascinating creatures.

Female Great Purple Hairstreak


You can View a VIDEO of this Butterfly here:
   

Friday, October 11, 2013

Colossal Caterpillar

It looks like Fall has finally arrived.

I enjoy the slight chill in the Autumn breeze.
I enjoy the contrasting colors of the falling leaves.
But I especially enjoy seeing the COLOSSAL CATERPILLARS.

Every October, I look forward to the Tersa Sphinx Caterpillars
showing up to gorge themselves on the plentiful Borreria plants.
I search the vegetation for the brown or green caterpillars with seven splendid eyespots on each side of their plump bodies.

To my delight, I recently found a beautiful brown Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar that showed up earlier than expected this year.
It seems friendly and is about the size of my middle finger.

This Caterpillar will eventually morph into a beautiful medium-sized, triangular-shaped brown and beige Tersa Sphinx Moth, if it is fortunate enough to not be eaten by a predator.



Tersa Sphinx Caterpillar

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Refuge Rights Revoked

"CLOSED DUE TO GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN"

These wicked words were prominently printed on a swinging sign on the locked gate, when I recently traveled to one of the
National Wildlife Refuges.

The administrators have always made a point to remind us that 
these are OUR Wildlife Refuges, some proudly displaying signs 
stating, "Visit YOUR Refuge Again Soon".

If the refuges really belong to US, then why are we denied entry, simply because our leaders have their heads up their hineys?

Keep in mind that these refuges do not require guided tours, or interaction of any kind with another human being.
You simply drive in and view the wildlife on your own.
You don't normally see any of the workers there, anyway.

There was little that I could do, short of crashing the gate, 
so I huffed and puffed and went on down the road.
Little did I know that I was about to encounter some beautiful Wading Birds that had found their own refuge, away from government meddlers.

My heart hit ninety miles a minute, 
when I first spotted them wading in the wetland.
When I was finally able to count them, I thought that this surely was God's way of providing me some cool critters to photograph, without any government intervention.

They were breathtaking Roseate Spoonbills 
and their number was Seven.
I hurriedly readied my camera gear, 
thanking God the whole time.

When I made it out to where they were wading, they looked at me and started doing a "what's up" nod to one another.
They patiently posed for several minutes, then took flight, in a brilliant burst of pink.

So the Government Shutdown attempted to ruin my trip, but GOD saw fit to bless me with an awesome adventure that even ludicrous legislators could not spoil.

Roseate Spoonbills


You can View my Nature Photography here:



Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Moth in the Hand

Meet Polly.

She is a gorgeous Polyphemus Moth, in the family of Giant Silk Moths.
The beautiful eye spots on her wings are God's way of helping her to scare off predators, like Birds and Frogs, so that she can have time to pollinate some flowers, mate, and lay her tiny beige eggs.

When I first saw Polly, she was trying to perch out of the reach of several Eastern American Toads, who had been intently watching her fly in spirals, above their bumpy heads.
I guessed that she would have been like a late-night steak dinner, to them.

I offered her my hand and, to my surprise, she gladly accepted.
She must have sensed that I meant to do her no harm.
I could feel her fuzzy feet desperately grasping at my skin, to remain on my hand.
She finally climbed up my fingers, until she found a comfortable spot. 
Then she calmed down and rested for a while.


Polyphemus Moth


She flew away, shortly after daylight, the next day.
Carpe Diem, Polly.

You can View my Nature Photography here:




Saturday, September 7, 2013

Clingy Cicada

On a cool, damp morning, as my eyes scanned the area for critters, my heart leaped when I spied this big bug.

It was one of the elusive Cicadas that I had heard in the trees daily, but never actually saw.
I had finally found one near the ground, and it was alive...
IT'S ALIVE! 
(sorry, Frankenstein flashback)

I crept over to it with my heart pounding in my ears, anticipating the disappointment of the Cicada's impending hasty retreat.
To my surprise, it climbed up onto my finger, with little hesitation.

Wow, that Cicada had some kind of grip!
It latched on, like it had no intention of ever leaving my warm hand.
I quickly photographed it, still expecting it to fly away at any second.
It moved around a bit and posed for me, but never chose to leave.

After getting my photographs, I was unable to return the Cicada to its original resting spot.
It refused to relinquish my digit, until I coaxed it onto a Cypress stump with the thumb and forefinger of my other hand.
Then it finally released its fierce grip on my finger, so that I could put it down.

It was wonderful!
I was then able to get even more great photographs of the Cicada perched on the stump, before I left the area.

I thanked God and the Cicada for the prodigious photographic privilege, then I left it alone with its thoughts.
It remained on the stump for a few more hours, until the sunlight became too intense for comfort.
Then the Clingy Cicada flew off into the shady safety of the tall trees.

Cicada


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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Little Leopard Frog

Here is a photograph of a small Southern Leopard Frog sitting in my hand.
This was no easy feat, by the way. These Frogs are extremely skittish.
I couldn't believe that it was actually letting me hold it, without jumping.
It tilted its head up and to the right to get a better look, directly at me.

Cute critter. 
I bet that it is relieved that I don't eat little Frog Legs.




Leopard Frog



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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Daring Dragonfly

One warm and sunny day, as I was heading into the house from the back yard pond, this beautiful young Female Blue Dasher Dragonfly lit on my finger.

She flatly refused to fly away, so I brought her inside with me, retrieved my camera, inserted the memory card and battery (tricky with one hand), and escorted her back outside for a photo opportunity.

She acted as if she thoroughly enjoyed it.
When I took her into the sunlight, she went into the obelisk posture (similar to a human handstand) and posed for me.
After I got my shot, I finally managed to coax her off of my finger and onto one of the broken tree limbs that I had erected as dragonfly perches, in the back yard.

I am frequently amazed by the cool critters that God puts in my path, and the beautiful photographs that result from our meeting, that I can now share with others.

Female Blue Dasher Dragonfly




You can View my Nature Photography here:


Monday, August 19, 2013

Cute Camo

I covertly proned out in the muck, immediately following a severe late-night thunderstorm, to get a good close-up photograph of this striking Southern Leopard Frog.

Lying chest-down in the mud, mosquitoes fighting for my blood, I began to second-guess my decision to cozy up to this Frog, however handsome.


Fortunately for me, this colorfully camouflaged critter patiently permitted photography, without so much as a flinch.


I got my shots, thanked the Frog for the considerate cooperation, stumbled to my feet, inside two rain-soaked shoes, and overtly trudged back in the direction of the shower... 

Squish Squash, Squish Squash, Squish Squash.

Southern Leopard Frog

The Southern Leopard Frog is a long leaper.
When threatened, they can cover great distances in a very short time.
After fleeing the area, they will normally stop near cover and brilliantly blend in with their environment.
They remain so still that you will nearly step on them and not notice.
It is necessary for them to quickly master hiding techniques, because they have many predators, and frog legs are at the top of the menu.

You can View my Nature Photography here:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Florida Gator Grin

I was elated to see this American Alligator smiling big for me.
The way that the evening sun was shining through the jaw, illuminating the pink flesh inside the mouth, made for an intriguing photograph.


American Alligator

I excitedly snapped my photographs, thanked the Alligator for the outstanding opportunity, and was on my merry way.

The image looks similar to the Florida Gators emblem, hence the title.



You can View my Nature Photography here:




Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fantastic Frog

I nearly stepped on this fantastic frog, as he hid in the grass.
I had never seen a frog that looked quite like this one.
He was lovely lime-green with dozens of small brown spots and gorgeous golden eyes.

I warned him that he had chosen a hazardous hiding place.
As I picked him up, he thought that he would be my dinner.
I told him that I don't eat Frog Legs, but he didn't believe me.
He repeatedly attempted to leap from my hand, revealing his long, slender legs.

I assured him that he was the finest frog that I had ever seen.
He looked at me like he thought that I say that to all the frogs.
I informed him that I fully intended to get some great photographs of him, to share with others, then I would release him in a safer spot where he could feed on lots of insects.
With that, he finally relented, calmed down and posed for me.

Fortunately, he allowed me to photograph him in my hand and in a small tree cavity, where he sat after I released him.
He loved feeding on the abundant insects in the area and I saw him there many more times during the long, sultry summer.

I named him Bob, the Barking Tree Frog.

Barking Tree Frog


You can View my Nature Photography here:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mesmeric Moon

I have been fascinated by the night sky since I was a child.
I remember lying down in the cool grass, holding hands with my girlfriend, and staring up at the stars, late into the night.
Good times.

Now that I am a grown up Nature Photographer, I try to capture the night sky on camera, in order to share the experience with others.
There is one problem, though.
It is extremely hard to take exceptional moon photographs.
I have tried many different ways to bring out the detail of the terrain on the moon surface.

The particular phase of the moon, local weather and atmospheric conditions, camera steadiness and shutter settings greatly affect the resulting photographs.
I have found that it is best to take many photographs at different settings and hope that one of two of them turn out really great.

This is one of my better moon photographs.
It is a shot of the Waning Gibbous Moon, showing decent detail of the "Sea of Crisis" near the top, with some cool craters on the right side of the moon.


Waning Gibbous Moon


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