Friday, June 20, 2014
There are many species of Bumblebees, but most of us are more familiar with the large yellow and black ones that generally ignore us while busily working away at gathering nector and pollen, as in this picture taken at Springbrook Nature Center.
As can be seen in these pictures this member of the fly family is an amazing mimic of a bumblebee.
By using this mimicry, the fly can sit in the open among leaves and flowers and not be seen as a threat by other insects. And birds don't try to eat it since they don't want to be stung.
It did not take it long to get close enough to one of the small bumblebees to grab it and then land on a leaf to enjoy a healthy lunch with its piercing and sucking mouthparts.
Mimicry works for both defense and offense, especially for this fly.
Friday, June 13, 2014
As the sun came up, the dew evaporated into the air as things warmed up.
The image in the dew drops illustrates how a lens inverts whatever it sees. You can see the sky on the bottom of the drops.
As soon as the dew evaporated off the damselfly it flew away and joined the many others searching for small insects to eat.
Each flower blooms for one day only, with a new bud behind it taking its place tomorrow.
The puccoon in the picture below is also starting to bloom after the managed prairie burn earlier this spring. Their large yellow clumps can be seen from a long way off.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
This was pretty exciting for all the volunteers, most of whom don't get to see a hawk up this close. Fortunately, volunteer Amber Burnete, who works at the Raptor Center, was present and very familiar with handling birds of prey.
This turned out to be a Broad Winged Hawk that was only one year old, so a little inexperienced and may be why we captured it.. The eye color helps to determine the age, and has not turned to the brighter yellow af an older adult.
This hawk was very calm through the banding process, but wary of so many hands measuring and looking at feathers to determine its age.
The hawk was ready to go, and flew immediately into a tree nearby. It shook its feathers out, and then flew back in the direction of the area where we captured it a little earlier.
Hope we see it again.
This male Northern Shoveler duck was swimming just off the boardwalk.
These little warblers are early migrants, and have usually flown further north by now, but are still very common in the park. they will be gone soon
He is posing here after he was banded and ready for release. He seems to be less "olive" colored than others I remember.
Being captured, banded, and released did not seem to frighten himt too much, as I saw him again back in the same area at Springbrook yesterday, two days after his release.
The Black and White Warbler below was just one of the 22 species and 73 individual birds banded on Sunday at Springbrook.
Monday, April 28, 2014
His blue color was very intense, contrasted with the rusty red breast.
It gives a chance to see the brilliant blue that these birds have on the upper part of their body.
With the habitat restoration project leaving many forested areas in Springbrook more open, bluebirds will have more areas to nest, and may increase in numbers over the next few years.
I hope so, as they are always a pleasure to see and hear.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
I found this one yesterday actively working on this cavity. I don't know if the hole was started by the Chickadee, or if the Chickadee was just remodeling a pre-existing cavity, but he was very busy.
The mate was close by calling and watching.
One big difference is that Chickadees are very tidy, and don't want any wood chips near the nest, so they carry all the wood peices away some distance. This one would be inside for two or three minutes, then cary several loads of chips away, and then back to work. This must be a way of reducing predator curiosity of why the wood chips are present.
Hopefully, in a few weeks I can photograph this pair of Chickadees feeding their babies.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Yesterday, these native prairie wildflowers were starting to open for the first time shortly after sunrise, one week earlier than last year.
Some of the flowers are more tentative and only opening a little, while several are still waiting for a bit more confidence that the warm weather is here to stay.
As I was taking these pictures I was surprised to see a small wasp show up and get completely covered with the pollen of the flower before flying off to look for some other early flowers.
Pollinators get to work as soon as the first flower opens up.