Wednesday, April 30, 2008

24 Hours in South Carolina

Megan and I had a great time in South Carolina, getting to spend plenty of time with my Mom and Brother. My dad was back in Ohio-he's been having chronic abdominal pain and didn't make the trip. No fun.

One of the things that I try to do when I first arrive at a new place is to take note of the first bird species I see. On Saturday morning, the first bird was a Eurasian collared dove. While we were waiting for 50 ridiculous minutes for our shuttle van to pick us up, I watched this bird make several trips from its oak tree nest to a flower bed. It would carefully look for the right type of material, and then it would fly down the airport pickup road and fly up into the tree. We had flown into Columbia, S.C. as it was much cheaper than leaving Columbus. And we flew from Dayton, probably right over Abe Lincoln's house!

After a two hour drive to Seabrook, we picked up our condo keys and headed to the place. The neighbor had parked his car in our driveway, which caused somewhat of a ruckus- we couldn't park in the driveway. We called security, etc. etc., the guy moved his car. All the while I noticed this green treefrog sleeping on the railing o f the entrance stairs to the condo. What an awesome creature. More on these later. So we arrived about two, and I had a few minutes to photograph whatever was around the condo.

Can you see the ant lion?

Then, it was off to the wedding, held at 6:15 on Friday evening.

Best of luck to the bride and groom, Amy and Jason!

The sun goes down in the west......

....and after a rousing good party, I woke the next morning to see the sun coming up behind the palm trees, golf course, and salt marsh, looking to the east.

Some type of resurrection fern?

The tree frogs were basking in the early morning sunshine.

And the male anoles were flapping their dewlaps to woo female anoles.

And this bee caught my eye.

And a great-crested flycatcher was nesting next door- in a cavity built right into the side of the condo.

And to end on a sad note, this cedar waxwing crashed into the condo next door, and I saw it flutter down, land in the soft pine straw and live oak leaf litter, and breathe its last breaths! How sad. What a beautiful bird.

And that was our Friday and Saturday morning on Seabrook Island!

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Fantasy Land of Seabrook Island

The island that Megan, my Mom, my brother, and myself traveled to this weekend for my cousin's wedding really was a fantasy land. A gated, private island, catering to those with more resources than ourselves! Wow, what huge houses there are on this island, built right into the dunes and and around the swales of what once was a pristine, natural area. It is still fairly intact, and the beach there is the only place along the South Carolina shore where sand is actually accumulating. These are images from our walk along the shore Saturday evening. Storms were threatening, so I left the big gun at home (my XTI and bag) and shot these images with Megan's Kodak p850, a very serviceable 5 megapixel super zoom. Take a close look at each photo. There is a life bird for me in one of them, see if you can spot it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ant Wars Fought in Columbus, Ohio

In our backyard, there is one certain spot on our limestone patio where tiny ants congregate in a huge mass. I've never really thought much about it, or observed them, really. That was until last week. Over the winter I purchased the Canon EFS 60 mm macro lens, which allows me to get very tight shots of very small things. I thought I'd try it out on the ants. I didn't really go into this trying to study them, I just wanted to get pictures. But after a while, it became evident what was going on.

Can you see what is going on here?

The ants looked as if they were all in direct hand to hand- or rather mandible to mandible combat. Every ant seemed to be locked up with another. Fascinating stuff. I wonder why they were doing this? I wonder what species of ant this is? Since taking these photos, I've paid more attention to the ants that I have found under rolled logs, and the diversity of species is quite fascinating.

Also- Megan and I are in South Carolina right now (for my cousin Amy's wedding), although as I'm writing this we haven't gotten there! I'm trying out blogger's auto post feature. I may drop in a few SC pictures here and there.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sky Watch Friday- Spring Comes to the Olentangy

Monday morning, April 21, 2008. I waited a while on the gravel bar of the Olentangy River for the clouds to position themselves just right for this photograph. There was a gentle breeze beginning to pick up after a still and calm morning. Winds from the southwest, and the fluffy cumulus clouds were moving from right to left in this image. Things are greening up so quickly here around Columbus, even though I took this photo at the beginning of the week, this scene is so much greener now. Happy Sky Watch Friday.

Wildflowers Continued- Toadshade Trillium

These are probably one of the common trilliums of forests in central and western Ohio. As I was posting this, an idea popped into my head. I really should pose an American toad below the leaves of this little plant! Trillium sessile is really quite a descriptive scientific name, since the flower has no noticeable stalk whatsover- we botanists call this condidtion "sessile", although the latin name is pronounced SESSILEE.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Furry Woodland Creature

April 21, 2008.

The best image of a fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) that I have managed to get to date. I was scoping out some map turtles on the bank of the Olentangy when this creature came running my way. It was quite surprised when it saw me, but it stuck around for about 30 seconds, allowing me to fire two salvos with my camera. Looking at this relatively cute looking, fluffy animal almost makes me forget a warm early summer evening last year when Megan and I watched from below as fox squirrel raided a blue-gray gnatcatcher's nest with both parents scolding the creature as it ate their eggs.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Yellow Trout Lily- and a Friend

I was setting up to take this shot of a yellow trout lily, Erythronium americanum, when I noticed this tiny little insect lurking at the top of the flower. It was quite patient and let me take several shots at various angles before flying away. Here along the Olentangy, the white trout lilies outnumber the yellow species by 100 to 1. Albidum seems to prefer sandy soils along rivers and streams, so check in those habitats if you haven't seen the white trout lily. And as far as this insect goes, I think may be quite helpful. I will post the photo and see what others are able to do with it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The White Fawn Lily, or Trout Lily, or Dog's Tooth Violet, or Adder's Tounge or....

This plant has quite a few names, but the safest thing to call it is Erythronium albidum, and I usually go with the name white trout-lily. The population along the Olentangy is doing fantastic this year. In fact, the wildlflower display is much more abundant that one year ago, when we had a very early spring warmup following by a killing frost that wiped out many flowers for the year. Our wait for spring has been arduous, but now that spring has literally sprung, the wait was certainly worth it! I'd be curious to hear any other names that this species is given. I remember my high school biology teacher joking around saying this is the plant that caused scientists to use standardized latin names- to simply avoid confusion with so many common names. The coloration in this plant is a pale white almost fading to lilac. It is certainly beautiful. Next post- the yellow trout lily.

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