Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sorghastrum nutans

Indian Grass!

It's not quite from today, but close- from Friday, again, taken on the Delaware Wildlife Area.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

21 Months and Counting

Weston at 21+ Months plus little creative Photoshop work.
It's hard not to say that Weston looks like me- we both share a dark complexion and brown eyes, while Megan's eyes are hazel and her skin quite fair.  But when I look at this picture of Weston that I took last weekend- I can't stopped being reminded of Megan. Weston's mouth, his nose, it's all hers.  It's hard to believe that in about two and a half months, we'll be welcoming another human being into the world.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Mallard, Belted Kingfisher

I have been remiss to capture any photographs of Delaware County the past two workdays, so this evening, I'm posting two images that I captured on Sunday afternoon, just before I photographed the great blue heron.  This drake mallard was doing its best to swim upstream through a riffle on the opposite bank, while this female belted kingfisher was perched high above the river, ready to dive for a fish.

Ohio and the rest of the east is experiencing frigid temperatures.  A few years ago at this time, I was still able to photograph autumn meadowhawks, but now everything is absolutely frigid- we're headed for a low of 14 tonight. Stay warm!


Monday, December 06, 2010

Great Blue Heron

Yesterday afternoon I returned to my old stomping grounds- Kenney Park. I went there looking for deer, but didn't find any. This great blue heron made the short trip down High Street worth my time.


Sunday, December 05, 2010

It's a Mast Year

Red Oak Acorns, November 2010,  Munroe Falls, Ohio
Not long after the start of this year's deer bow season in Ohio, which opened September 25, I started reading reports that Ohio was experiencing a "mast year".   For some reason(s) that are not entirely understood, some years, most every oak tree in a forest will produce a bumper crop of acorns, far more than normal. During a mast year event, the woods can just be littered with acorns.

But why is this event called a "mast year"?  A little searching through online dictionaries and I found the answer- this usage of the word "mast" most likely derives from an old English word that meant food.  So a mast year is when the woods is full of food, and in the case of this year's deer season, full of food for deer.  And that brings me back to the deer season.  The number of deer harvested during the early archery season was down- a fact attributed by many to the deer staying put in the woods and feasting on the bumper crop of acorns, instead  running out into fields and farmland to search for leftover corn and soybeans.  I'm not sure if I buy this argument, but I recently visited my parents house and experienced this "mast" event first hand.

They're lucky enough to have a nice red oak in their backyard.  When I was growing up, I remember finding a few acorns underneath this tree- maybe five or six per year.  The gray squirrels got all the other ones. So I was absolutely shocked to see the pile that had formed at the base of this tree.  Granted- my dad had raked the acorns off the lawn and moved them all closer together, but what a bonanza of acorns.

Why does this happen?  The prevailing theory seems to go like this: In one year, if you flood the woods with many more acorns than the squirrels, deer, and other wildlife can eat, than there is an actual chance of getting some of those extra acorns to germinate and eventually become trees.  By in large though, from my brief research this morning, there is much that needs to be learned about this phenomenon.

My hand with "mast"
This morning I asked this question-  Is it just Ohio's oaks that are experiencing a mast year?  After a quick search for "mast year" at the newspaper article search, I found stories from Florida to Connecticut and New York to Chicago.  I can't make the argument that the phenomenon is happening across the eastern U.S.  Perhaps every year there are places that experience local mast events. Still, I was surprised to see so many articles.  Maybe something unusual is going on, or quite possibly, it could just be a coincidence.  Needless to say, my interest is definitely piqued- I'm starting to see a whole PhD dissertation developing in my brain.....

My question to you is- are you having a "mast year" in your neck of the woods?


Friday, December 03, 2010

Morning Sky

A simple image of this morning's sky with the sun trying to clear the low clouds in the east.  Have a great weekend.


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Welcome Winter

Do you know why I know it is winter?  Upon arriving at work this morning all our door locks were frozen!  We eventually got in- but not before I was seriously regretting leaving my gloves at home.  There's something about the first subzero temperatures that surprises me each winter, and this morning was no different.  I thought I didn't need gloves- and I was wrong.

Although my morning and evening commutes were draped with clouds, central Ohio was treated to a quite nice mid-day sunshine event.  As winter drags on, sunny scenes like this one will decrease as we plunge into the gray abyss that is winter here in Ohio.  It's hard to believe that this field will be warm and full of soybeans in only six months or so.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Nature in Manhattan

It isn't too difficult to capture a traditional nature photograph in Manhattan.  When I need a little dose of nature, I head to the northern section of Central Park.  There are quite a few forested areas, with giant native trees- These areas are mostly fenced and signs are posted letting park visitors know that these are natural areas.  While walking along "The Ravine" which eventually leads to this waterfall, I saw a Cooper's hawk, tufted titmice and chickadees, and a flock of about 20 white-throated sparrows.  Not bad for an island where most people live in tiny brick, concrete, and steel boxes stacked on top of each other.