Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wholly Macro in Wholly Natural Today

As you may have noticed, I've made some changes to the blog, most noteably, the name. "Michele's Phlog" was too generic and didn't really let potential readers know what to expect. I came up with "Wholly Natural" because it's a better descriptor of my aim for the blog and as I emerge from being wholly immersed in nature I hope to splash you all with at least a little of what I've seen and learned:)

Of late, I've had the opportunity to do some macro photography which I find very exciting yet aggravating. Birds and mammals are hard enough to capture as they move about, but bugs are, well, buggers!! There's also that issue with limited depth of field but, as with my telephotography, I'm working on it.

A very small bee gathering pollen.

A baby grasshopper (on the mystery flower)?

Another small bee happy for some pollen!

A pair of tiger beetles playing leapfrog.

P.S. If anyone can identify the purple flower above, I would greatly appreciate it. As it is, I have the best minds in the botany business working on it:) Thanks Linda and Jerry!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Very Tardy Oriole Update

Papa Oriole looking at me as if to say, "Are you still here?"

Well, it's been a busy week and I've been meaning to post this for some time now. My 11 month old grandson was in the hospital for three days (he's home now and doing fine) and I was also preparing for my presentation at the Presque Isle Audubon Society Member's Night meeting. Enough excuses, here is the promised update on the orioles:

As of Friday the babes have all fledged! This is bittersweet time for me as I will miss watching mom and dad flying in and out of the nest and the raucous sound the babes made as they were fed a juicy caterpillar or hairy spider. It was fun but a bit nerve wracking watching them take wing. They certainly weren't very graceful at first and with each lift off I wondered if they were going to make it to the next branch. Mom and Dad's job got a little harder as each of the fledglings found their respective ways around the yard and naturally they all fledged in different directions. Despite their new found (albeit rough) flight skills they remain dependent on mom and dad for meals and direction (Sounds like my 20 year old!) The babes would call when they got hungry and I was fortunate enough to find a couple of them as they called and were fed by mom or dad.

Papa Oriole feeds the last hold out in the nest.

Mama Oriole feeds the very first fledgling. S/He fledged a full day before his siblings.

This is the first fledgling, I called him Jack because all his siblings in the nest were getting fed before him and I kept saying, "Poor guy, they aren't giving you jack!"

This is one of the last fledglings. Shortly after I shot this he climbed back in to the nest.

There are many nests along the creek right now. I don't know exactly where or what birds they all are because they are so well-hidden. The only way that I even know they are there is the telltale chirping of the babies as they are fed. It's amazing how loud they can be! I look forward now to watching the babies grow and hope that next year they come back and build their own nests as the great cycle of life in the gully continues.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mallard Ballet at Dobbin's Landing

I had just planned on throwing some bread and rolls away that were left from a picnic we had had the weekend before when my husband came up with the great idea of taking our daughter and grandson down to Dobbin's Landing to feed the ducks! While they enjoyed the feast I noticed some of the ducks sticking their heads under the water and coming up to spread their wings and dry off. The sun was starting to go down and the light played nicely off the beautiful mallards. I thought I'd like to get a few shots of this activity and waited and watched for a duck that seemed to be "dunking" itself. My patience paid off and I did get a few shots of this Mallard Ballet.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Update on the Gully Orioles

It seems that the young orioles must've hatched as mom and dad were very busy bringing in yummy bugs and caterpillars every ten minutes or so. It was fun to watch (and shoot) all the activity. Mom would bring in her bug, feed the brood and listen for Dad's signal call and then fly out leaving room for him to bring his offering to the young 'ns. Check out the slide show I've added in the sidebar for some more pics:) Click on the pics for a full-sized slide show.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Life in The Gully-Part One of Many (I hope)

Gully-A gully is a landform created by running water eroding sharply into soil, typically on a hillside. Gullies resemble large ditches or small valleys, but are meters to tens of meters in depth and width.

Yes, that's where we live, my hubby and I, in a gully created by Six Mile Creek (which runs about 100 feet from our house). We affectionately call our neighborhood, which is comprised of our home and those of four other families, The Gully. 80 feet below the main road and accessible only by a narrow and often rutted one lane dirt drive, it is truly secluded...yet only 5 minutes from our local WalMart. Yes, the best of both worlds:)

My Neighbors to the north :)

Our House

The Gully is truly idyllic and never fails to amaze me with the variety of birds and wildlife it has to offer. I guess the diverse habitat: the creek, pine-oak forest, grassy areas, marshy areas, etc... the gully is comprised of attracts this cornucopia of creatures.

Just yesterday I was walking along the drive beyond my house, which leads to my neighbor's yard, and was surprised by this green heron that flew up into a nearby tulip tree. He didn't stick around long but it was a very nice surpise to see him at all. I've seen plenty of great blues on the creek but never a green before.

I also spotted not one but two active Baltimore Oriole nests as well as two song sparrows. I think the sparrows were tending to hatchlings because they stuck close by a low shrub and occasionally flew into the shrub with a bug.

Besides these beauties I also saw a common yellow throat, a pair of scarlet tanagers, a red-eyed vireo, , a few cedar waxwings, the resident kingfisher pair(my nemesis, more on that later), the usual robins, catbirds, grosbeaks, house wrens, mourning doves, assorted sparrows, cardinals, tons of blue jays, and the list goes on and on-and this, believe it or not, was all within two hours!

I hope to get out this weekend and get a few more shots of the orioles as well as a sneaky hooded warbler who has been evading me! I'll keep you posted!