Friday, December 30, 2011

Ruffed Grouse




And we're back!  Over the river and through the woods from Grandmother's house in Maine, where we spent the Christmas holiday.  Thanks to everyone at Little Pond for hosting our family for almost a full week. I think grandma, grandpa, great-grandma, and the aunts and uncles had fun playing with Brody and Weston.  Megan and I appreciated the help just looking after the kids- keeping tabs on them is a full time job!

During this trip, I had the opportunity to photograph this pair of ruffed grouse.  Relatively uncommon in Ohio, the ruffed grouse is a popular game bird species in Maine, where they are often referred to as "partridge".  My in-laws have told me they see grouse occasionally, but they had, up until this week, eluded me at Little Pond.

I had just come in from outside when Megan started whispering for me rather loudly from the other room.  I am well familiar with that loud whisper, so I grabbed my camera to see what she had spotted.  These birds were foraging in the grass just outside the house, apparently eating clover, as evidenced by the little bit hanging from the male's beak.  Megan spotted them out the window as she was coming down the stairs.

I only had about a minute, but I was able to get a fairly decent photograph of the female and a "blog-able" image of the male.  You'll be sure that I'll be on the look out for ruffed grouse the next time we visit Little Pond, Maine.

-Tom


Friday, December 23, 2011

Muskingum Dawn



It's hard to beat the gray.  It seems as if we've had quite a bit of it lately.  Rain, and few snowflakes, but little color or interesting winter weather so far.  There are those few magical moments, however, each morning, if we're lucky, when the sun rises up between the thick deck of clouds and the horizon.  I snapped this shot as the first light of day bathed across this typically harsh landscape in Muskingum County.

Merry Christmas- I'm hoping to catch a few snowflakes in Maine.

-Tom

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Muskingum Sunrise #2


I freaking love the Iphone.  I love it even more than last year, when Megan bought it for me as a Christmas gift.  I literally took about 30 seconds to capture this image Tuesday morning.  Yes, I did spend five minutes post-processing in Photoshop CS4 tonight, but I was just bringing out the tones captured by the phone.  We think of winter as being void of color, and for most of the day, that is true.  But sometimes, for a few minutes each morning, this happens.

-Tom

Friday, December 09, 2011

Muskingum Sunrise



It's been a while.  As our boys grow (Weston is closer to 3 than 2, and Brody is closer to 1 than 0), I find myself spending more time with them and Megan.  Tonight I took a few hours to organize my basement office and finally add all the photos I have taken in the DSLR-era to my lightroom catalog.

This morning I had the pleasure to witness this spectacular sunrise.  The tree?  It's a tulip poplar- Liriodendron tulipifera.  One of the first things I learned about trees from my grandfather was that tulip trees are always straight- I mean really straight.  They take advantage of tree fall gaps in forests and shoot up quickly before the canopy closes once again.  But when a tulip tree doesn't have competition and is growing on extremely poor soil, than you have things like this happening.  This would be a great tree to photograph the tulip-like flowers of this species.  Typically the flowers are 50 or so feet into the canopy, but on this tree, you could practically pick them from the ground.  I'll have to remember that come next June.

-Tom

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Warm Night in the Suburbs


Tonight I debated this question: Do I go outside and photograph something new, or work on older photos I have not yet processed?  Here's my answer.

-Tom

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Winter Birds

Female House Finch

Female House Sparrow

Song Sparrow


All of these birds took my instruction to "look to your left" quite well.

Tom

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Northern Cardinal


Today I again hosted "the lodge" at Deer Haven Preserve in Liberty Township, Delaware County.  This nature center is a great place to watch and photograph any bird that will come to a feeder.  This male cardinal caught my eye on a gray afternoon.  He kept preening his feathers- allowing the darker patches of underlying skin to show through.  It was interesting behavior to watch, but those two patches don't make for the best photograph.  Unlike a fashion photographer, I can't just yell "wardrobe!" and have three assistants rush in to re-arrange the feathers. 

-Tom

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Welcome the Gray






Fall is over- the only leaves that remain green are on the non-native bush honeysuckles. The landscape is devoid of color, but with the leaves gone, the underlying structure, patterns, and lines are revealed.

-Tom

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Big Run Preserve Sneak-Peek







Ben Gelber, meterologist for our local NBC affiliate, recently interviewed my friend Frank about the future Big Run Preserve in Delaware County. I haven't been there, but from Frank's interview, it looks like it is a spectacular area.  I've always wondered if any of the ravines of the Olentangy between Columbus and the city of Delaware had red-backed salamanders- and now I know.  I commend Ben Gelber for spotlighting central Ohio's natural history.  You may remember his piece from 2009 on Gypsy Moths at Highbanks Metropark that featured yours truly.

-Tom

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tech Highs and Lows

I had been on a roll, photography wise, through October. Recently, several things have conspired against me that have resulted in a throttling of my creative flow.

First, I had a memory card go bad. And it was the second time that this memory card had failed. It became corrupted on a trip to Maine but I was able to recover the lost images that included my best dragonfly-in-flight image to date. but this time I had no such luck. I'm throwing the card in the trash. Technology fail #1.

Late last week, we upgraded to Time Warner's Road Runner Extreme cable internet service. It was great for a few hours. I mean speedy, you might even call it Ferarri fast. But then we would keep getting breaks in the internet flow about once very hour. It was maddening- I had to troubleshoot everything- the cable modem, our router, our uninterrupted power supply, our cables. When I finally determined the problem wasn't on our end, Megan called Time Warner. They gave her the typical "there is intermittent service in your area and the technicians are out working on the problem". What a load of B.S.!  When our service continued to be wonky the next day, Time Warner came out and replaced our cable modem. Technology fail #2.

Couple the two tech fails with two 2:40 a.m. wake-up calls this week, and I've been thrown far from my creative groove. I'm looking to find it again this weekend.

-Tom

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Red Maple





I grew up in a house surrounded by red maples. The acidic clay soils of NE Ohio are perfect for this species. I rarely see red maples in a natural setting in Central Ohio, but this morning we walked through a large grove of them at Highbanks Metropark. Perhaps the shale bedrock is thick enough to produce acidic soils that support red maple.

Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Twisted Sporophyte


The stalk of this moss sporophyte was twisted- all the other stalks on this clump were sticking straight up.

Which leads me to ask......

Do you dare to be different?

-Tom

***Update:  Apparently, I liked the name "twisted gametophyte"  too much, because I screwed up my plant anatomy.  Shame on me.  The twisted part is the sporophyte!  Duh.....

-Tom

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Last Quarter Crescent Moon


I took a few macro photos of moss today, but when I loaded up my memory card into light room, I saw this image.  When did I take that?  How quickly my memory fades.  This was the scene very early yesterday morning, before sunrise.  A perfect crescent moon- I would have completely forgotten this memory had I not photographed it.

-Tom

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Turkey Tail Fungus


Today the whole family visited my grandmother's house in Akron Ohio.  I wouldn't think of her house on the hill in the Kenmore neighborhood to be a place where I would find a nature photograph worthy of posting here, but I did.  When I was growing up, my grandparents had three massive norway maples in the front yard.  One still stands, one was replaced with a red maple, and the stump of another still remains.  The turkey tail fungus adorning this stump was just too intricate not to photograph.

-Tom

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Time to Build an Arc?


It's pretty hard to believe that the sun was shining earlier this week.... it's been raining for two days straight!

-Tom

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Giant Foxtail



Grasses are hard to identify, right?  Well- here's one that everyone should learn to recognize.  You've surely seen it before.  There aren't many grasses that have these seed heads that look like a fox's tail.  The most common ones in Ohio are in the genus Setaria.  This particular species, which can grow to four feet or so, is Setaria faberi, the giant foxtail.  At the Delaware Wildlife Area, there's a fallow field which was dense with this species- as if it was planted.

Learn this grass, impress your friends with your nerdy botanical knowledge. Giant goxtail- Setaria faberi.

-Tom

p.s.- This is a non-native species, but its not considered particularly invasive.

PPS.  This is published post number 1000 at The Ohio Nature Blog, which I've been pecking away at since 2006.  I've been working on a retrospective that was to be post number 1000, but in my tiredness I forgot that the milestone was creeping up.

-Tom

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Big Bluestem, Canada Goldenrod



Where has the week gone?  After a day of rain, yesterday's semi-sunny day seems a distant memory.  I'm on dad duty the next four days while Megan heads to California.  Wish me luck!

-Tom

Friday, October 07, 2011

It's Harvest Time


Before dawn this morning, the combines were rolling across the fields of Delaware County.  The soybean harvest has begun- soon this field will nothing but stubble.

I love Google Plus.  This evening, between period breaks of the Bluejackets game, I posted several versions of this same scene.  This one came out as the most interesting.  If you haven't joined Google+, I highly recommend it.  It's an amazing place to see what photographers and nature lovers are discovering and creating.

Tom


Thursday, October 06, 2011

The Bald Eagle Soars

Bald Eagle soars over Delaware County, October 6, 2011.

So I'm driving home from work this evening.  I take the back roads, mostly county and township routes through corn, soybeans, and woods.  I look up, down, and around, because I never know what I'm going to find.  As I was driving the Subaru tonight though, I looked up at a group of swirling turkey vultures.  The lowest one baffled me for a second, because it had a white head.  BALD EAGLE! I slam on the breaks, back up the car, park on a farm lane, and get whip out the telephoto lens.   It's still gliding above me, and I fire off a salvo of images before it slowly drifts out of camera range.

Everyone loves the American bald eagle.  In fact, my posts on the eagles of Highbanks Metropark are the most visited pages on my entire blog (which is quickly approaching 1000 published posts).

Eagles can be seen across Ohio.  And although I see them often, I rarely get such a treat on my drive home.

-Tom

(After closer inspection of this photo, this bird may have a red band on its left leg- what do you think?  I'll check some of my other photos to see if I can confirm the presence of a band)



Wednesday, October 05, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs



Our first family computer, my first computer, was an Apple IIe.  We gave it up for a windows machine around 1994.

I came back to the apple world 2009, when I received the magical Ipod touch- and I haven't looked back.

Megan bought me an iphone last Christmas, which is perhaps the most amazing camera I've ever owned. 

The Ipad was next...when I'm at home, it's rarely more than five feet from me.

Steve Jobs, thank you for just being you. And thank you for sharing your vision with the world.

-Tom

Monday, October 03, 2011

Autumn Leaves




Thank you to River Mud, Scott, and Beyond my Garden for chiming in on yesterday's barrier island post.  Today, it's just pretty pictures. Happy fall.

-Tom


Sunday, October 02, 2011

Across the Midway Inlet to Litchfield Beach


I find it fairly amazing how many of the Atlantic barrier islands are lined with homes.  Yes, it's a fantastic place to spend a week, year, or a lifetime, but these places are dynamic. Sand moves.  I can't complain though- We did rent a barrier island home for a week.  Yes, the cottage was probably 80-100 years old and had survived many hurricanes over the years, but that's just a wink in the history of our world.

Our weekend was busy and kid-filled!  My DSLR didn't even come out of the bag- but I'll have more images of Ohio's progression towards the peak of fall this week.

-Tom

Friday, September 30, 2011

Red Admiral Underwing


Also from yesterday- There are so many cool things out right now. Here's a bonus morning post that I actually scheduled to go up this morning last night before I went to bed.  Have a great weekend.

-Tom

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Autumn Bouquet


Yesterday an image from my morning commute, and today, a photograph from my lunch break, this time with the "big gun".

How many species you can identify?  I don't have an answer...but I'm counting them up myself!

-Tom

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Point and Shoot

Delaware County, Ohio
I love the times around the equinoxes.  Why?  Because I'm traveling to work just before and just after sunrise.  This can lead to some absolutely incredible photographic opportunities.  Today I just had to stop the car and snap this image with my Canon D10 point and shoot. 

This roadway was built with the expectations that it would be home to shops, offices, and condos.  But the recession hit, and now there is nothing but a fancy roadway meandering through a chopped down forest that is now starting to grow back. 



Monday, September 26, 2011

The Widefooted Treehopper

Campylenchia latipes- Widefooted Treehopper

I apologize for jumping between states.  South Carolina offered so many awesome photographic opportunities.  There are enough images that I'm excited about that I'll probably be sprinkling them in now and then for the next few weeks.  But now we're headed back to Ohio.

One of the great challenges for any photographer is to find interesting subjects close to where you are.  I once heard that there are a lifetime of amazing photographic opportunities only a mile from where you live.  I don't need to travel to South Carolina to find amazing images- the opportunities in our own backyard are limitless.

Take this widefooted treehopper, for example.  One evening last week when it wasn't raining, Megan and I were running Weston around the backyard.  I stopped to examine the patch of Canada goldenrod  that I have let grow up along our back fence.  One stem of goldenrod had a thorn.  Canada goldenrod with a thorn?  How could that be possible?

After I moved in closer, I saw that this "thorn" was actually a treehopper.  The diversity of these tiny little bugs is amazing. And the mimicry that that this particular species possesses is even cooler.  What great camouflage.  But you can't fool us-  we botanists know Canada goldenrod doesn't have thorns!

-Tom

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunset over the Salt Marsh, Pawleys Island


Have a great week. Here is a view across the salt marsh towards the north causeway at Pawleys Island, South Carolina.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Lodge at Deer Haven Preserve








About once a month I volunteer at a nature center called "The Lodge at Deer Haven Preserve". I'm here now, actually, typing and photographing with my IPhone. Most central Ohioans are well aware of the Franklin County Metroparks, but Delaware County also has a fantastic park district. The system in this County is known as the Delaware Preservation Parks.

The Lodge here at Deer Have Preserve is a fantastic place to watch birds. The nature center is open - every day from 12-5 pm. I'll be here today until 2:30.

-Tom

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's Autumn


Can you believe it?  The vegetation doesn't lie- I snapped this view of the various colors of Virginia creeper leaves just yesterday.  I've been experimenting with my super wide angle lens to photograph plants- The bets way to view this photograph?  Bury your nose in the screen, just like you were botanizing this little patch of ground.

-Tom

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Eastern Garter Snake


We've got snakes in our yew bushes at the office.  Two of them- I would gander a male and a female, as we saw them pretty tightly intertwined the other day. I snapped this shot on Monday.  I've started bringing my full set of camera gear to work.  Why the heck not?  I can get everything to fit in a shoulder bag.

At home we have been experiencing the let-down of a post vacation week.  AND we all have caught colds.  Yippee! I've got plenty of things on my mind and I've been using the camera to document autumn.  That's right, goodbye summer, hello fall!

-Tom


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Nighttime at Pawleys Island





Our time at the beach is almost over. The reality of a return trip has set in. Just how tall has our front grass grown while we were away? Will the drive back with two kids under three be as smooth as the drive here?

Over the past week I have enjoyed a little night time photography- something I rarely do back in Columbus. A trip to the beach with relatively little light pollution makes me want to use the dark sky and the light of the moon to make photographs.




Making images from the relatively dim light of an almost full moon can be a frustrating experience but the results using long exposures can be quite rewarding.




Our time here at our "shabby" little cottage on Pawleys island is almost over. It's back to Ohio for us!

-Tom


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Life's a Beach





We made it to Pawleys Island, South Carolina. Now, if we can get the kids to bed, we might just be able to relax!

I'm posting this evening with my iPhone- my 7d hasn't even made it out if the bag. It's so easy to be spontaneously creative wig my phone. This image, this text, all done with a phone!

-Tom

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Did I Photograph a Dragonfly Pooing?


Don't adjust your monitors, eyeglasses, or contact lenses.  The photo above is horribly out of focus.  But as I was going through the literally hundreds (about 900 to be exact) frames that I shot of these darners at Little Pond, Maine, one in particular caught my attention.  It had a little pinkish thing hanging from the tip of its abdomen.  What the heck is it?



Here is the next frame immediately afterwards-  This one is in focus, not only the dragonfly, but also the foreign object.  I'm definitely not an expert on dragonfly poo, but I'm just saying....what else could it be?  Megan, the resident poo-ologist in the house, says poo.  What do you?

-Tom