Monday, August 30, 2010

Apples for Lunch

Lunch break nature photography today with the Canon D10.  Here's a quiz for you- Monarch or Viceroy? 


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Zizania Aquatica, Wild Rice

This morning, I joined a group of esteemed Botanists- Dan Boone, Jim Decker, Brian Riley and Jim McCormac on an exciting expedition near Bellfountaine, Ohio.  Along the way, we stopped to see a Zizania aquatica population discovered by my botanical sensei, Rick Gardner, a few years ago.  This state threatened grass grows right in the clear water of the silt bottomed Little Darby Creek.  I've looked for this plant in the Lake Erie Marshes for quite some time, but I've never found it.  It was once common along the coast, but now it's mostly gone due to anthropogenic changes in the Lake Erie ecosystem.  I'm glad that I got to see and photograph it today near Plain City.


I've also posted this at "Ohio Flora", a new blog all about Ohio's native and naturalized plants.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bad Day for Pondhawk, Good Day for Spider

Taken on my lunch break this past week with the Canon D10- Delaware Wildlife Area, Ashley, Ohio.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Clouded Sulphur

For some reason, I've never really seriously photographed butterflies, but now that I have a fantastic telephoto macro lens to do just that, I can't get enough.  I'm a newbie when it comes to identification, but I'm assuming that this is the common clouded sulphur, Colias philodice.  I have posted a super-duper large image at TA Photography.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Male Blue-fronted Dancer

The male blue-fronted dancer, Argia apicalis, has an intense turquoise blue color on the head, eyes, thorax, and very tip of the abdomen.  When viewed at close range, this color is just breathtaking.  Dozens of b males and females dotted the bank of the Olentangy yesterday at Kenney Park. 


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blue-fronted Dancer, Argia apicalis, Eats

This afternoon I headed to Kenney Park to see if any of the late season clubtails were flying.  Two years ago I photographed both the arrow and russet-tipped clubtails here- and both observations were county records.  This afternoon the light was fantastic, but I didn't see any dragonflies.  The usual damselflies abounded along the shore of the Olentangy, so I turned my camera towards them.  This is a blue form female blue-fronted dancer, Argia apicalis. It isn't hard to catch a damsel with a meal- now that I have my sigma 180 mm lens and I can get high magnification images without scaring them away, I'd say that about half the time I look at them through this lens, they're gobbling up an insect.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Oleander Aphids- Ladybird Beetles

All of this action is happening on swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, that I planted last fall in our backyard.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Good Morning, Delaware County

Many of you know that after nearly seven years of working in the 1960's era sprawl of Columbus, Ohio, I moved to a rural field office in Delaware County this past June.  Over the last few weeks I have been treated to several incredible sunrises on my daily commute.  This morning, I had my camera ready, and as I drove north on North Galena road headed towards Ashley, I had to stop and capture an image.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

"Roost Rings"

An eight-image animation of base reflectivity, starting at 6:12 AM and ending at 7:36 AM, August 2.

I wake up- the first thing I typically do is take a look outside to get a feel for the weather.  Cloudy- no wind, and no precipitation.  Is it going to rain today?

Recently, I've been visiting the website of the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Wilmington Ohio, for my daily weather predictions.  I particularly enjoy the area forecast discussion. You get a feel for just how much room for error is built into our daily forecasts.

But this morning, something new caught my eye.  A link titled "Roosting Birds Detected on NWS Doppler Radar".  After a quick click I was led to several animated radar maps showing expanding doughnut shaped patterns around NWS radar sites.  According to the NWS, the radar is recording the pattern of birds flying away from their roosts at dawn.  And they postulate that these birds are most likely purple martins.

At first, I questioned the doughnut pattern- why does it look like all the birds are radiating out from each station?  The meteorologist explains this by saying "The unique doughnut pattern of these roost rings is the result of the martins departing their roosting site in all directions, roughly in equal densities".  That doesn't explain the pattern to me, but he is saying that the pattern tells them that the birds are radiating out in all directions.  One last very interesting tidbit of information- in the map above, the author points out how the doughnuts begin first in the east, then gradually move west, corresponding with the rising sun. Pretty cool, eh?


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eastern Least Clubtail

Eastern least clubtail, Stylogomphus albistylus- Otisfield, Maine

While visiting Megan's parents in Maine last month, I wanted to make sure I make the arduous 1 mile trek (Ok, i'm kidding) down the highway to the Crooked River.  In the past, I had seen many interesting dragonflies there.  Rivers often harbor species completely different from bogs and ponds, and the Crooked did not dissapoint.  I had a wonderful time stalking and photographing the tiny Eastern Least Clubtail- from head to the tip of its abdomen, no longer than an inch and a half.

These clubtails are known from Ohio too- but I've never seen them.  Rocky streams seem to be a good place to find them, and Rosche, Semroc, and Gilbert say they can be seen on the Grand River and Conneaut Creek in northeast Ohio.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Ohio Flora

I've gone and done it- I have created another blog.  Right now, this blog is an idea- it's an idea to get you excited about native plants. Please take a minute to welcome "Ohio Flora" to the blogosphere.

I need your help though with this blog- if you have just an inkling of interest in Ohio plants- and you like to write, or take pictures, or both, I would absolutely LOVE your help.  Maybe you don't have time for your own blog, but maybe a post every so often at Ohio Flora would fulfill your creative needs?

If so- please let me know by just dropping me an e-mail  hiramtom at yahoo dot com !


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wedge-shaped Beetle

Wedge-shaped Beetle, Macrosiagon limbata
Thank you bug guide!  Smith Cemetery, Union County, Ohio, this past weekend on a field trip for the Midwest Native Plant Conference.  Male- indicated by the long feathery antennae.


Sunday, August 08, 2010


 Thank you for all of your insightful comments on my last natural play post.  This is a topic that I'll be bringing back time to time, and your input and thoughts will help guide me in the future. 

Today I help lead a field trip to Bigelow and Smith Cemetery State Nature Preserves along with Judy Semroc and Larry Rosche.  They're some of my favorite people to be in the field with, and I had a blast despite the blazing heat- hopefully the other field trips for the Midwest Native Plant Conference had fun trips today as well.

For today's quick post, here is a huge grasshopper munching on the stem of Giant Ragweed at Bigelow Cemetery.  Normally I see these types of grasshoppers when they are young and small, but this one was downright giant.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Columbus Metroparks Natural Play Areas

The Last Child in the Woods?

I'm lucky- as a natural resources professional for the good part of the past ten years- I've never really been confined to trails.  Yeah, sure, when I visit our local Metroparks with my family, I've got to stay on the trails, or do I?

Responding the the rising sentiment laid out in Richard Louv's "The Last Child in the Woods", in which he argues today's children suffer from a nature deficit disorder, the Columbus Metroparks have created what they call natural play areas.  At least ten acres in size, these areas are designated places where children and their families can go off trail, climb trees, look for bugs, to play in streams, and pick up sticks (please note that Weston is firmly holding onto a stick in each of the photos I have posted here).

We felt Weston, now 17 months, might finally be ready to explore an area like this.  Megan and I drove him to the Highbanks Metropark natural play area this past Saturday, and with a little guidance, let him explore the area.

"Play in a Stream, Climb Trees and Rocks, Look for Bugs and Worms"

Weston loved it- and we came slightly unprepared.  But those white New Balances won't fit in a month, so we let him get them all wet.  At one point he went marching into the Olentangy.

Towards the end of our visit, and after I had pointed out poison ivy and several patches of itch inducing wood nettle, Megan told me she wouldn't feel comfortable bringing Weston here by herself- she would worry about him getting poison ivy or nettle stings. It really brought home the point- today's parents are just afraid to let their kids play in the woods, fearing horrible insect bites, ticks, West Nile Virus, rashes, broken bones, abductions, and just about anything bad we can possibly think of.  

I grew up on the outskirts of a suburb of Akron, but we were lucky to have a piece of city owned land behind our house that was slated to be a developed park, but to this day remains a natural area. It was my natural playground, and it was in my backyard.  The house that Weston now claims as his own is surrounded by grassy yards.  Since I want to give Weston the opportunity to love the natural world, I'm excited about these natural play areas- hopefully other parents will find these places as well-  I hope Weston  won't be the last child in the woods.


Sunday, August 01, 2010

Cardinal Flower

Just over a year ago I purchased a flat of butterfly garden plugs from the Ohio Prairie Nursery  at the Midwest Native Plant Conference.  One plant in the flat was Lobelia cardinalis, or cardinal flower.  This native Ohio plant is found in swamps and wet woods- it's just an amazing species, and I'm happy to have it in my yard.

While photographing our backyard wrens, I noticed that I could photograph our cardinal flower against the navy blue background of my neighbor's shed- the deep reds and complementary blues made for quite a contrast.

This upcoming weekend I'll be attending the Midwest Native Plant Conference once again on Sunday morning, and I'll be co-leading a field trip with keynote speaker Judy Semroc.  I've had the fortune to be in the field with Judy at least a dozen times or so, and I can't wait to photograph the prairie forbs of the Darby Plains with her this Sunday.