Monday, July 18, 2011

2 Mile Walk

Found a trail along the Little Muddy River. It's a mile from start to finish, making it a two mile round trip. An easy walk when dry. Not so easy during high water. A good walk none the less.

Wild Chicory
Common chicory(Cichorium intybus)
Mid-July and the wild Chicory is in bloom. Chicory is used for salads, coffee and greens. It's  a non- native species  from Europa.

Double-crested Cormorants

The dead Cottonwood tree that is used by the cormorants as a preening tree is the half way point of the walk.  Turn around here for a short one mile walk.

Cormorants drying feathers in dead Cottonwood tree.
 Double-crested Cormorants(Phalacrocorax auritus) sunning.

Painted Turtle

I encountered a couple Painted Turtles taking a stroll in the meadow, a ways from the water. Why ? Maybe its turtle making turtle season.
Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta)

Wood Ducks!

Common to the river and marsh are Wood Ducks(Aix sponsa) A perching duck that nests in tree hollows. A day after hatching the baby ducks climb to the opening and jump to the ground, sometimes from a height of more than 100 feet. Once the ducklings are on the ground, mama duck leads them to water. 
Male and female Wood Ducks(Aix sponsa)

July is the time for Eclipse. The adult ducks shed and regrown their feathers and until the flight feathers grow back the ducks can not fly.
Drake Wood duck in eclipse.

Male and female ducks look similar because the brightly colored feathers of the males are dropped and the males are brown and gray like the females.
Wood Ducks

The white eye patch will help identify the female Wood Duck.
Female Wood Ducks

A cattail marsh surrounded by woods is the preferred habitat of the Wood Duck.
Cattail Marsh

Well, this is the 1 mile point. Now I turn around and finish the 2 mile walk.  
(If you would like to see enlargements, just click on photos.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Crows and Cooper's Hawk.

July 6, 2001 

This morning there is a group of crows(Corvus brachyrhynchos) sitting in an Oak tree out back.  Most times when the crows see me they split. Looks like they're gonna hang this time. I grab the camera, a black bird in deep shadows with high contrast highlights should be interesting.

Juvenile Crow.

This Crow is not black, it's a  juvie, was hatched this summer. Just learning to fly,  its color is a chocolate brown,  the older he gets, the darker he will become.

Adult Crow
This is one of the two adult crows. Parents of the juvie, teaching it to find its own food and to build up those flight feathers. Sound of a repeating bird scream gets my Attention. I look up and at the top of another tall Oak is perched a Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) and the reason the crows are laying low! 

A Cooper's Hawk is a good reason to lay low.  This hawk will fly thru the forest canopy at full speed in hot pursuit of its bird prey.

Cooper's Hawk making his presence known.
I see you!


July 5, 2011 - Fireworks

These are photos of fireworks my neighbor set off. He works on the 4th, so on the 5th he gives himself and the neighborhood a private fireworks show.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Sun is Gonna Find You, 7/04/11

Another good hot n humid day for a walk. Under the cool, dark shade of the overgrown river banks a Black-crowned Night-Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, is seen loafing the heat of the day away. A dusk to dawn hunter, its days are spent in the shadows.  

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Black-crowned Night-Heron

The Double-crested Cormorant, Phalacrocorax auritus, is another bird that is a recent arrival to this area. A long, dark water bird, it hunts fish during the day. Being without water-proofed feathers, when in the water its body rides low to the surface. Groups of this bird can be seen perched in trees with their wings spread to dry their feathers for flight. 
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Double-crested Cormorant

The Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) a very common shore bird.  Can be found near any body of water across North America. Their long yellow bills are used to poke in to the mud to catch worms and insects.
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Spotted Sandpiper

The Reversed Haploa Moth, Haploa reversa, a member of the Tiger Moth family, which include the wooly bear caterpillars and some think it can forecast next winter's weather.  

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Reversed Haploa Moth

 A Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio polyxenes asterius) sipping moisture from a deer track in the marsh mud.

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Black Swallowtail Butterfly

A Monarch Butterfly(Danaus plexippus) caterpillar feeding on a Milkweed plant. 
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Monarch Butterfly caterpillar

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Red Milkweed Beetle

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Mississippi Gal Friends, 06/30/11

Was about to start my near daily conditioning walk at Ranger Marsh, when I crossed paths with two Mississippi Gals out for an afternoon of fishing at the Little Muddy. I stopped and asked them if the fishin' was good. Just starting, if we can get this tangle out of this line, they replied. So, I ask to let me try. While I rassaled with the tangle, a riverside conversation in sud.  Turned out they were both from Mississippi, not too far from where my folks were from. They missed Mississippi and loved to fish.
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Mississippi Gals

Fishing the Little Muddy.

I untangled the knot(crow's nest) and cleared a little brush from the river bank, so they could safely get closer to the water. I saw them catch one yellow bullhead, wished them luck and took my walk.

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Oxbow Lake
About a mile walk on the levee is an oxbow lake. It is actually the old river bed. What's called the river, is a drainage channel that was dug to convert the marsh into farm land some years back. 
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Bowfin unnecessarily killed by fisherman.

Lots of people fish the Little Muddy, I've heard many a fish story about how good the fishing can be. Today I found the charred remains of 3 Bowfin (Dog fish),Amia calva, that someone caught and burned in their fire. Amazing what fishermen do to the fish they fear. The Bowfin is a prehistoric fish, that was swimming the waters of  eastern America before the dinosaurs and man crawled from the mud. They are able to live in water conditions that will kill all other fish. During low oxygen levels the Bowfin can gulp air at the water surface. Yes, breathing air for its oxygen supply helps it to survive the low stagnant waters of summer.  It's called a Dog Fish because it has teeth like a shark and can bite thru wood fishing lures. Scary fish! (to some)  

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Painted Turtle contemplates stealing a snack.

When my walk was complete, I revisited my Mississippi Gals, still in their 'serious fishing' mode. Talked a short while more and watched a small painted turtle steal bait from their hooks.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Marsh Walk, 06/29/11

Hot morning walk, temp in the 90's. revisited the Goldfinch nest that had two eggs in it several days ago. One has hatched, the other did not make it. Here's the rather large chick, getting plenty to eat. When the shutter clicks the chick flinches. Took 3 quick pics and let it be.
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 Chick in GoldFinch nest.

Not long ago, the Snowy Egret was non-existing in this far north. The clean air and water regs must have worked to these birds benefit.
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Snow Egret drenched in sunlight.

Scare one duck you scare them all. These Mallards have no intention to hang around any longer. One wing beat and they're doing 30 mph up and away.
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Love the sound of whistling wings.

First time seeing a bird like this. Black head, red body, I think it's an Orchard Oriole, Icterus spurius
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A Bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana, sizing me up!

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Horsetail, Equisetum, also called the puzzle plant. A living fossil, has been on earth since the coal age, back then it grew 30 meters tall or 90 feet, as large as most trees alive today. One of the plants that we depend on for our fossil fuel needs. Funny, old rotten plants power space age civilization.
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Bee Balm ~ Oswego Tea ~ Bergamont, Monarda didyma, a pleasant smelling plant in flower now. Will try to transplant to my garden. Thru the years it has been used to treat a number of ailments.
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Wood Ducks, Aix sponsa are in eclipse, shedding old flight feathers growing new. Unable to fly,  they run across the water to avoid me.
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A large colorful Garter Snake in my path. I've been bitten by Garter snakes many a time , now wiki tells me that they are mildly venomous. Learn something new every day.
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