Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sanibel Sunrise

Sanibel Sunrise
Originally uploaded by Tom Arbour

My Sky Watch Friday Contribution, Megan and I viewed this incredible sunrise this past March while on Vacation at Sanibel Island, Florida.


Dragonflies and Damselflies of Northeastern Ohio, 2nd edition

Today I received my two copies of "Dragonflies and Damselflies of Northeastern Ohio, 2nd edition" by Larry Rosche, Judy Semroc, and Linda Gilbert. This is the book to have on dragonflies in northeast Ohio and beyond. It truly is a fantastic work loaded with tons of fantastic photos, awesome drawings, and great insights into dragonfly behavior and identification.

It just so happens that I also had the pleasure to hunt for dragons and damsels today along the Vermillion River in Huron County with both Judy and Larry. They really got me started looking at these flying creatures beginning 2006. I'm hooked, and I can't wait to read more of this fantastic book. To order your own copy, go here:

A Guide to the Dragonflies & Damselflies of NE Ohio

I ordered two copies, one to keep on the bookshelf, one to get a bit dirty when I take it out in the field. Get it now before it hits bookstores.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Another set of Neighbors

I wondered why the previous owners of our house did not take this nice birdhouse with them to Sante Fe, New Mexico. During the day of the inspection, I realized why. We have a very happy couple of house wrens tending to their young. It is quite fascinating to watch the pair forage throughout the yard for insects and other invertebrates. Each bird lands about twenty feet from the box and gives out a low-pitched rattle, to which the nestlings respond with a chatter of squeaking. The parent then flies to the box, typically alighting on top of it, and when the moment is right, quickly ducks down and into the cavity. Having nesting birds in the backyard was certainly something I was not expecting when we moved here. I wonder when they'll fledge? I'll be keeping an eye out.

Tomorrow I'll crop some of the photos to show just exactly what types of insects that these tiny parents are feeding to their babies.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Meeting the New Neighbors

This neighbor surely looks familiar. Our wires appear to be a raceway for this furry creature. Lana, I know you are going to love this shot.

Tomorrow, another neighbor, this one you'll all hopefully love, a neighbor that hopefully will really get Wren's attention.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

I wasn't gone for long

A few quick shots, courtesy of my mom, an occasional commenter here. Here we are pulling the truck into our old front yard, my dad is directing me back. He did a fantastic job.
All magically loaded up, now the truck is at our new house. Here you can see our super duper friends that today, doubled as our moving crew. They were absolutely awesome and we owe them big time. We got our whole three bedroom house moved in under four hours.
And this is one of my mom's shots of our fabulous bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa). It is huge. Our house is two stories, a good 18 feet tall probably. She did a fantastic job of capturing the massiveness of this specimen tree. It mesmerizes me as we sit on the deck and look up at it. It is quite awesome.

And here is my brother and I last weekend scraping away wallpaper glue from our family room wall. This is the project that I've been blogging about so much. That same wall now has a layer of primer on it and several layers of joint compound. It is quite amazing for me to look back at this shot and think just how much work I've done.

We're in the house. My new blogging locale is in my basement, which several of our movers and even my aunt labeled "The Man Cave". I miss my little back bedroom that looked out on the backyard, but I think I'll be able to figure something out. Like getting the laptop to actually connect to our wireless router, and then I can blog from the backyard. That would be cool.

For those of you that don't know the Columbus area, we've moved about three miles north of our house in the beechwold neighborhood to the city of Worthington, which predates the city of Columbus, although now this little burb is mostly surrounded by Columbus. We're in the suburbs, sort of. Our house was built in 1966, really when suburbs were just starting to ramp up. I'm not a five minute walk from the river anymore, but I am a five minute bike ride. We'll be getting out and exploring more of the Olentangy as time allows. It should be great fun. And there sure is plenty of work around the house. Boxes to unpack, things to organize, and of course, I can't forget about that little family room project I started!


P.S. I uploaded these pictures at full resolution. Clicking them will reveal the entire image with more detail.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Taking a Break

Hi everyone. Megan and I are swamped with this moving business. What craziness it is, and it is unbelievable how much stuff there is still left to pack before Saturday. Look for me to be up and blogging again at the end of next week.


Sunday, July 20, 2008


Twelve days ago, I wasn't ready to see the creature that had landed on our wet carpet that we had pulled out of our basement and laid outside next to our house. I looked down, and sure enough, clinging the fuchsia colored carpeting, laid a dripping wet cicada. Not the periodical kind, like I had photographed earlier this year in southern Ohio, but the honest to goodness summer is progressing and is almost over type of cicada. Had we really advanced this far? I can remember how we were all just complaining that spring would never come, and now, here, on our crappy wet carpeting, was a sign that we're on the back end of summer.

I'm speculating that this individual was a recent hatch, since I had not heard a single characteristic buzzing sound that usually alerts me that the height of summer has arrived. It clung to the carpet, it could not fly because it was so wet, and possibly it had not fully hardened after its hatch. What a great photo opportunity, I thought. I grabbed the camera and flash, and went to town, snapping away at various angles. Notice the water droplet still clinging to its left eye.

Satisfied that I had successfully photographed it on the carpeting, I wanted to get this creature in a more natural surrounding, so I gently picked it up and placed it on some box-elder leaves, and continued to fire away. The insect has several parts that really fascinated me- the orange spheres grouped in triangle on the top of its head, the tiny antennae, and its horizontally striped face.

After a little research on bugguide, I think my photos match up fairly well to images of the dog day cicada, Tibicen canicularis. Megan and I have now started to hear male cicadas (the females don't sing) at our new place. Perhaps the nymphs live under our yard and suck the juices from our bur oak tree. I think we're happy to provide them with a little food, as long as they let me photograph them every once in a while.

Happy cicada watching-


Saturday, July 19, 2008

House with a Tree- A New Blog

Hi All-

I'm going to keep writing about our house experience here, but I have also decided to start a new blog dedicated to our house fixing-up experience so I can concentrate on natural history here at Ohio nature.

It is called "House With a Tree" Megan came up with the name. You wouldn't believe how difficult it is coming up with a blogspot name, we had to be creative, and I think she did well.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wallpaper Glue is our Friend

Tonight we are back again at our home after visiting our new house and working like crazy to remove wallpaper glue from the family room. Fortunately, the paper peeled off without any problem. Unfortunately, all the glue stuck to the walls and not the paper. There must be a millimeter of glue on the walls! We're using wallpaper remover to soak the glue, then using scrapers and sponges to take it off. It is a long, slow process!


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The House is Ours

I'm writing this evening before Megan and I are off to bed. This is the Ohio Nature Blog, but it is also my blog, so expect to see a healthy dose of house stories to come. Today at 7:00 we walked into our new house for the first time as homeowners.

Tonights update: After wanting to tear wallpaper off the walls for weeks, we started peeling off the stuff in our new family room. It came of quite easily, with only a few patches where we ripped off the paper on the drywall. The glue, that is another story. A few sprays of wallpaper remover, a sponge, and a putty knife takes it off, but this process is time consuming and takes a ton of elbow grease.

Tonight I also attacked the upstairs shower in our master bath. Loose tiles are no more. They are smashed and laying on the floor. I'm guessing this tiny shower still had the original tiles, and the tile has been leaking for a long time. The drywall was so soft behind the tiles it had mostly just crumbled away. Mildewy, damp drywall, and even damp insulation all made the lower six inches of the shower really quite nasty. I'm just not sure why the former owners didn't address the problem sooner- the tiles were really loose, I pried some of them away with just a screwdriver!

We're so happy to be in our house, it really feels like home. We've already met two of our neighbors, and we're unbelievably excited about our gigantic burr oak tree (four feet in diameter at breast height) in the back yard, a tree which we are finding the neighbors also love. We're excited to be in our house. It already feels like home, even though we haven't moved our belongings in or slept there yet. We did it, we're homeowners, and wow does it feel great.


Monday, July 14, 2008

A Pinkish Beetle

Yesterday morning I hopped out of bed at about six a.m. and headed over to the parking lot to take a few images of the old Woolco/Big Lots/Burlington Coat Factory demolition that is going on at Graceland Shopping Center. The light was not very good, but I did manage to produce the HDR image above. I'm starting to get the hang of HDR. I purposely made this scene more surreal than realistic. I'm pushing the limits to see what I like and what I can't stand, and I'm thinking I pushed it just a bit too much. It is cool looking, but the results don't look like the scene that I was actually photographing.

After taking several bracketed exposures at different angles, I went down to the field behind the demolition site. Can you believe that most of my pictures come from the fields, forest, and river that are just 500-1000 feet west of this area of destruction?

The field this morning was covered with dew, the cloud cover was heavy, and the insects were wet and slow moving. This very cool pinkish beetle really caught my eye. I'm not sure if this is a lady beetle. It seems slightly more oblong and pinkish. This is surely a picture for

This time, I've uploaded two crops of the same image so you can get a better view of the detail of the insect. In the field, I hadn't noticed the tiny plant part that had attached itself to the beetle. Can you see it? Perhaps this came from the plant it was crawling on, Daucus carota or wild carrot or Queen Anne's lace. I'm always amazed how I'm still seeing fascinating new creatures in this park after studying and photographing it for over two years. I can't wait to see what we find when we move to our new house. There is no doubt that I will return often to Kenney Park to see what fascinating creatures I can photograph, ones just as bright and spectacular as this pinkish beetle.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Waiting No More

Thanks to Mary, I uploaded the final photo at full resolution. Clicking this image will reveal more detail.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lying in Wait

It turns out that Megan and I have another crab spider species lurking amongst the shrubbery of our yard. This one was lurking in our front yard. Just take a look at those eyes.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Photographic Journey to and through Slate Run

A few mile west of the park entrance, we came across this lovely field of dairy cows. This even brought Megan's camera out. She loves cows.

And then it was on to the park, first a trip through wetlands, then fields, and to the farm, and back again.

This week's Sky Watch Friday Image