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


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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.


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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


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