Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Turtle Videos

About two weeks ago, I created a You Tube account. This internet service provides a way to upload and view videos that you have created. Here are my first two clips that I have uploaded to You Tube. I shot these images of map turtles at the Columbus Zoo. Turtles fascinate me, and the zoo offered some excellent viewing opportunities.

This clip shows two male ringed map turtles, Graptemys oculifera, interacting with each other. The male on the left then dives down to the bottom of the tank. This species, which dwells in the Pearl River of Mississippi and Louisiana, is a federally threatened species.

Next, we have a male and female yellow blotched map turtle (Graptemys flavimaculata). The thing to notice in this clip is the size difference between the male and female. She is almost twice the size of the little guy. In this clip, he tries to get her attention by fluttering his long fingernails against the sides of her face. When this fails, he simply bites her nose! This species, also federally threatened, dwells in the Pascagoula river system in Mississippi.

Turtles are fascinating, and the Columbus Zoo has a diverse collection of this ancient order of reptiles.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Yesterday, Megan and I created our own, impromptu Christmas bird count yesterday at Kenny Park in North Columbus. This park, which I visit often, serves us well. Today, we saw the following:

First, an overflow channel on the east bank of the river, looking south. Yesterday morning was hazy but bright, and there was an erie sense to the whole park.

This female mallard was dabbling near the opposite bank of the Olentangy as we approached the river from the east. She looked up across the river, saw us, and started smimming across the current to us. She was clearly looking for a handout. Her mate, not quite as brave, eventually came over to check us out as well. Both overshot us on the way across the current, and this female made one heck of an effort to swim upstream the extra 10 feet to get to us.

Here is her pal. I was able to capture this image with Megan's Kodak camera, which boasts an image stabilized 12x zoom lens.

American Robins were feasting on the fruits of Lonicera maacki. This bush honeysuckle has finally lost its leaves (they were still yellow in early December), and the Robins are now taking advantage of the red berries that were passed over earlier in the fall.

Megan and I also saw at least two goldfinches. They were also interested in the bush honeysuckle berries. Here you can see a goldfinch in winter plumage. I am not sure if this is a male or female, but you can see how this bird was intently examining the honeysuckle berries.

Megan and I also heard white throated sparrows and Carolina chickadees. Finally we saw a male and female downy woodpecker. These active birds were impossible to photograph!


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Winter Cold has Arrived

After almost one week straight of incredibly mild weather, winter has struck here at 301 Girard. Yesterday, as winter was marching through, I sat in my car during my lunch break. To say the wind was roaring was an understatement. It felt as if my car would be lifted up, tossed about, and slammed back down half way across the parking lot. This morning, Megan and I were greeted with a cloudless sky with almost no wind. The kicker? Our thermometer on our kitchen windowsill that is connected to a temperature sensor just outside the window by a small black wire read 32.8 degrees, and this was at 9:00! This morning is the first morning since living at 301 Girard that I can sit on my couch, gaze to my left out through the picture window, and see the old Burlington Coat Factory building at Graceland Shopping Center. Yes, the Amur honeysuckle, an invasive shrub that forms a nice wall between our house and the shopping center, has finally dropped all of its leaves. I'm guessing it was the arrival of winter yesterday, and the accompanying sixty mile per hour wind gust that finally did the leaves in. I still feel like I live in a hole, since our street is about 10 feet lower than the parking lot a mere 10 feet to the north. The small dirt bank between the road and the parking lot has grown up in Catalpa, honeysuckle, and black walnut, trees and shrubs that provide a nice barrier between our homes and shopping land. But now it is winter, and that barrier has temporarily gone away.