Thursday, September 20, 2018

Michigan Species to Know - American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)

Here is a third Michigan species card - the American Beech (Fagus grandifolia).  Next week I will share a way that these can be used in the classroom.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Days of Summer - Day Eighty through Day Eighty-six

Summer is nearly at an end.  This is my next-to-last installment of my Days of Summer photography project.  I began this project on the Summer Solstice (21 June 2018) with the idea that I would photograph something in nature every day until the Fall Equinox (22 September 2018) and share one image from each day of the summer.  If you've missed the previous seventy-nine photographs, you can start to get caught with the images that I shared last week.

Day 80 (08 September) - Golden

This image of the sun shining through a Boxelder (Acer negundo) was photographed at Forest Hill Nature Area.  This is one of my favorite photos of the summer.  In addition to the sun, I like the contrast of the light sky with the band of dark trees on the horizon, the goldenrods lit up by the setting sun and the shadows in the foreground.

Day 81 (09 September) - Eastern Hemlock

We spend so much time looking down, sometimes we need to remember to look up.  This photograph was taken during a hike at the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy's (CWC) Audubon Woods Preserve.  Audubon Woods is my favorite CWC nature preserve.  On September 9th, I led a group on an off-trail hike at the preserve.  One of the sites that I led the group to was this small grove of Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) trees.  Most visitors to the preserves never leave the established trails and I wanted to show off some of my favorite sites in the woods including this grove.

Day 82 (10 September) - Milkweed Portrait

When I started this project I knew that it would be a challenge to take a good nature photo every day, especially once school started.  Fortunately there are many local parks and preserves that can be easily accessed within a few minutes distance from schools or the office.  On September 10th, I did my first school programs of the 2018-19 School Year.  This photo was taken in the field behind the Conservation District offices after completing my classroom presentations for the day.

Day 83 (11 September) - Ah-choo!

This picture was taken at Chipp-A-Waters Park in Mt. Pleasant.  This bumble bee (and a bunch of other insects) were eating pollen and nectar from Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) blossoms.  I took several pictures of this bee as it foraged, but this was my favorite.  I like how you can see the bee's long tongue as it sips nectar.  I have never found Sneezeweed growing wild in Mt. Pleasant.  These flowers were planted about a decade ago as part of restoration project.

Day 84 (12 September) - Fall Abstract

I photographed these poplar leaves at the Conservation District offices.  This trees has been changing color and dropping leaves for about a week.  I thought about cropping the right leaf out of the picture to make the picture more of an abstract image, but decided that I liked the contrast of color.

Day 85 (13 September) - Coral Mushrooms

Recent rains have caused fungi to fruit in every local woods.  This image of coral mushrooms was taken at the CWC's Sylvan Solace Preserve.  I think this is one of several species of Ramaria fungi - there are several yellow Ramaria species that can be difficult to tell apart.  I would have liked to have taken several more images of this mushroom, but the rains have also caused mosquito populations to explode!  I couldn't stop in one place for more than a few seconds.  I am generally pretty tolerant of mosquitos, but they are absolutely miserable right now.

Day 86 (14 September) - Bean Fields

The final image for the week was taken in southern Isabella County.  Mid-Michigan is farm country and soy beans are one of the major crops.  I really liked the color of the sky when I took this picture and wanted to find the simplest landscape that I could.  The row of trees blocked out more distant elements and let me focus on the field and sky without worrying about other distractions.  The color of the ripening bean fields, sky, and clouds remind me of an impressionist landscape painting.

I hope that you have been enjoying viewing this series of photographs as much as I have enjoyed capturing them.  I am into the final week of the project and I don't know what my next photographic journey will be.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Michigan Species to Know - Killdeer (Charadrius vociferous)

Here's a second page of the Michigan Species pages that I have been working on.  The goal behind these pages is not to be too complex but rather to provide just enough information for students to piece together the relationships between species and the roles that they play in the environment. When I have a few more posted I will share an example of how I am using these materials in the classroom.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Michigan Species to Know - White-Tailed Deer (Odocoilus virginianus)

Yesterday I did my first classroom programs of the school year.  I create most of the handouts and other materials that I use in my programs.  Right now I am working on a set of materials highlighting Michigan species.  I have over one hundred fifty animal species represented so far and am working on a similar number of plant species.  As the school year progresses I plan on sharing one or more of these every week.  Feel free to use these for any education purpose.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Bedtime for Bumbles...

Male bumblebees (or drones) live a life of leisure.  Their sisters (workers) spend their days collecting pollen and nectar to feed a growing brood back in the nest.  Queens, once they have produced enough workers, spend their time laying eggs.  The drones have no job as part of the hive.  Their only job in life is to find a a young queen and mate with her so she can produce fertile eggs.  Because the hive they hatch in already has a queen, they are kicked out of the nest as soon as they mature.  They spend the rest of their life hanging out in places where a young queen might appear.  In other words they spend the day hanging around flowers.

Where do they go at night?

They spend their nights in the same place they spend their days.  If you look closely at the picture above there is drone tucked in underneath the flower.  Here is a closer look.

Not every drone works this hard at finding a resting place for the night.  In the same section of our garden I noticed three additional bumble bee drones.  These three had all decided just to sleep atop the flowers upon which they had most recently been feeding.

On cold nights these bees become very sluggish and docile.  If it is cold enough they become unable to fly.  It's okay to pick up drones - they cannot sting!  In fact drones lack a stinger.  The stinger is an adaptation of the body part a female bee uses to lay eggs (the ovipositor).  Drones never had ovipositors so they have no stingers.  These slugging drones may walk around on your hand in an attempt to get away or they may sit in place and vibrate their wings to generate enough heat in their muscles to fly.  In other words, they shiver when they are cold just like we do.

The next time you are outdoors early on a late summer morning see if you can find some sleepy bumble bees.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Days of Summer - Day Seventy-three through Day Seventy-nine

For many people, Labor Day Weekend marked the unofficial end of summer.  I say we still have two full weeks remaining!  Here is installment eleven of The Days of Summer, my summer photography project.  If you've been following along, you've already seen parts one through ten.  If you just stumbled upon this blog for the first time...  Welcome!  You can get caught up on previous parts of the project starting here.  I started this project on the Summer Solstice (June 21st) and am photographing every day until the Fall Equinox (September 22nd).  So far I have taken more than ten thousand photos this summer, but I have only shared seventy-two images to date (one image to represent each day of my summer).

Here are the images for Day 73 through Day 79.  Enjoy!

Day 73 (01 September) - Native bee on Rudbeckia laciniata

This image of a small native bee (less than 1/4 inch long) on a Cut-leaved Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) was photographed late in the day in our home pollinator garden.  This image was cropped to a square to focus on the bee and flower and eliminate some of the background.

Day 74 (02 September) - Golden fields 

This photograph was taken at my go to site for photography this summer, Forest Hill Nature Area.  Goldenrods are now in full bloom.  I like several things about this image.  First the colors - golden flowers, green leaves, dark green trees, and the blue of the sky.  I also like the lines of this image - the curve of the plants in the meadow mirrored by the treeline and the radiating clouds.  Finally I like the pattern of the clouds themselves.

Day 75 (03 September) - The beginning of the end of summer

Labor Day may not be the official end of summer, but it seemed as if a switch flipped on September 1st.  Many plants that were in bloom stopped and their leaves began to change from green to yellow or brown.  This image of a Riverbank Grape (Vitis riparia) and Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum sp.) was another image taken at Forest Hill Nature Area.

 Day 76 (04 September) - A feast of thistles

This image of a male American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) was taken at Chipp-A-Waters Park.  American Goldfinches feed almost exclusively on seeds and thistles are one of their favorite sources of food.  Goldfinches have been my nemesis bird this summer.  I have not been able to get near enough to photograph one this summer.  Until now.  I started photographing this bird from about thirty feet and slowly walked up on it (never moving my camera from my eye) until I was only about five feet away.  It was fun to watch him tossing clumps of thistledown into the air as he foraged for seeds.  The hardest part was choosing which photo I liked best.

Day 77 (05 September) - In the pines, in the pines, where the sun never shines

This is another image from Chipp-A-Waters Park.  I photographed this Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) in a pine plantation near the west edge of the park.  This image is all about light and shadow.

Day 78 (06 September) - Tag!  You're it!

Our first Monarch of 2018 has emerged from its chrysalis.  It was tagged and released into our home native pollinator garden.  As most of them do when released, it promptly flew up into a tree and perched out of sight and out of reach.

Day 79 (07 September) - Dewdrops

This morning we woke up to a world soaked with dew/fog/rain or some combination of the three.  After dropping Shara off at work, but before heading to the office, I stopped at Mill Pond Park with the hope of getting a few good images.  This picture of dewdrops on an orbweaver web was my favorite.  I did adjust both the light and color on this image - dropping down the light and bringing up the color to help the dewdrops pop out from the background.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

On Wild Apples

Almost all wild apples are handsome. They cannot be too gnarly and crabbed and rusty to look at. 
                                                                     -  Henry David Thoreau
                                                                        "Wild Apples"
                                                                        The Atlantic
                                                                        November 1862

Right now is apple season in Mid-Michigan.  An apple can be stored for 16 months or more (but that doesn't mean they should be).  A stored apple loses its flavor, dries out, and becomes "mealy".  Fresh, local apples can be found from late-July through late-October or even into November.  They are fresh, juicy, crisp, and perfect.

Go to the store and get some apples.

Better yet.  Go to the farmers market.

Even better, visit the orchard and pick some up.

Best of all, pick your own.  It's too late to plant apple trees now, but if you plant them in the Spring you can be enjoying your own apples within two or three years.

Try a variety that you are not familiar with.  There are so many apple varieties beyond Red Delicious, Macintosh, and Honey Crisp.  I like Braeburn, Matsu, Pink Lady, and Ginger Gold.

My favorite apples are from trees that I find growing along roadsides or in the woods.  Trees that were self-seeded or planted in orchards long ago and then abandoned.  The apples found on these abandoned or wild trees will not be "perfect".  They might have rust, scabs, or worm holes.  They will probably be small.  They are usually lumpy and misshapen.

To continue the above quote from Thoreau:

The gnarliest will have some redeeming traits even to the eye. You will discover some evening redness dashed or sprinkled on some protuberance or in some cavity. It is rare that the summer lets an apple go without streaking or spotting it on some part of its sphere. It will have some red stains, commemorating the mornings and evenings it has witnessed; some dark and rusty blotches, in memory of the clouds and foggy, mildewy days that have passed over it; and a spacious field of green reflecting the general face of Nature,—green even as the fields; or a yellow ground, which implies a milder flavor,—yellow as the harvest, or russet as the hills.

But what these wild apples lack in classic looks, they more than make up for in flavor! The best apples that I have ever eaten were from an abandoned farm near Sleeping Bear Dunes.  I don't have any idea what kind they are, but they are crisp, sweet and tart, and juicy.  My second favorite apples grow on a tree in a local park.  Thoreau addresses the taste of wild apples in another section of his essay

These apples have hung in the wind and frost and rain till they have absorbed the qualities of the weather or season, and thus are highly seasoned, and they pierce and sting and permeate us with their spirit. They must be eaten in season, accordingly,—that is, out-of-doors.

Yesterday I picked and ate one of the apples shown in the picture above and they stuck an idea into my head that has been working around for a few weeks.  Wild apples are wonderful fresh, but they are even better pressed into cider.  The cider that you can buy in stores usually lacks dimensions of flavor as it has been created to ensure a consistent flavor.  The cider from wild apples is often as wild as the apples themselves - tart, acidic, sweet?  You never know until it's made.

It looks like I'm pressing cider this year.  I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Upcoming Event - Monarch Butterfly Celebration (Saturday 15 September 2018, 12:00PM - 4:00PM)

Join me on Saturday September 15th from 12:00PM (noon) to 4:00PM at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways for the annual Monarch Butterfly Celebration.  I will be handing out pollinator posters and information on pollinator conservation. 

I will also (hopefully) have Monarch butterflies to release on that date.  We have been collecting caterpillars from the wild for the past week and have about sixty in various states of metamorphosis.  The majority of our Monarch are now in chrysalises and should be emerging as adults a day or two in the days around the Butterfly Celebration.  Every butterfly that we release will be tagged as part of the Monarch Watch Tagging Program.

Here are a few pics from the Monarch currently residing in our home.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Welcome back teachers and students!

Welcome back to school for the 2018 - 2019 school year!  For many local students today is the first day of classes.  Other students started last week.  A few (like my nieces and nephew) started the week before last.  I've been hard at work scheduling school programs.  So far I have almost three hundred programs booked for the school year.  My first school programs will be next week (unless I schedule something for later this week.  I have lots of plans for this blog this school year.  My goal is to post something new every day of the school year; I certainly have enough photographs!

For now though, I am going to answer a question that students across the nation are asked on the first day of school.

How did you spend your summer vacation?

I did not spend my entire summer indoors.

I chased birds. And butterflies.  And dragonflies.  And bees.

I was enamored by bees this summer and spent long moments watching them gather nectar and pollen from the flowers in our garden.

I watched fireflies.

I set up lights in the woods and waited for moths.

I watched clouds.

I watched sunsets and moonrises.

I sat in a lawn chair and watched a meteor shower until my neck ached.  We saw three blazing fireballs and many smaller meteors.

I sat on the front porch and watched the rain.

I took many, many photographs.  So many photographs.  Over ten thousand in all.  Some of them are among the best photos of my life.  During the process I got much better at using my camera.

I spent time with friends and family.

I laughed.  Sometimes at myself.

I talked for hours about everything.

I played games.

I stayed up late.

I slept in.

I ate some great meals.

I tried new foods.

I cooked new things.

I ate dessert.

I traveled.

I attended two concerts.

I went to a county fair.

I visited museums and archeological sites and at least on lighthouse.

I hiked in local parks and preserves.

I led hikes for other people.

I volunteered hours of my time to help remove invasive species.

I pulled weeds in gardens.

I picked up trash.

I taught about trees and forests at two summer camps.

I read a lot.  Books.  Magazines.  Newspapers.  Online journals.  Blogs.  I read about science and history.  I read science fiction and fantasy.  I read about hunting and fishing and hiking canoeing and travel.  I still have piles of books waiting to be read.

I bought new field guides.  And new copies of old field guides.

I used my field guides to identify everything from wasps to spiders to wildflowers to lichen.

I saw species that were new to me.  Mostly insects and wildflowers, but a couple birds too.

I got bit by mosquitos.  And flies.  And stung by a couple sweat bees - my fault, not theirs.

I walked through thistles and nettles and rosebushes and blackberries.

I did not get any major rashes from poison ivy.  Somehow.  I definitely walked through enough of it.

I got wet feet.

I got wet clothes.

I fell down.

I got scratches and scrapes and bumps and bruises.

I was outdoors every day this summer.

I had a great summer.

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Days of Summer - Day Sixty-six through Day Seventy-two

This is part ten of my Days of Summer photography project.  It's hard to believe that August has passed and we are into September.  I started this project on the Summer Solstice (21 June 2018) and have just under three weeks remaining until the Fall Equinox (22 September 2018).  Photographing every day has been both incredibly rewarding and a grind.  I have taken some of the best photos of my life, but there have also been days when I did not want to pick up a camera at all. When I reach the end I plan to compile all the photographs into one long post, but if you can't wait here is the previous installment.

Day 66 (25 August 2018) - Sunset at Forest Hill Nature Area

On August 26th, we headed out to Forest Hill Nature Area to participate in a public bird-banding event.  While waiting for birds to be caught I made a quick circuit of the property to try to photograph several Sandhill Cranes that could be heard on one of the hills.  The cranes (as always) were wary and while I has able to get several photos from a distance, none of them were very high quality.  Instead my favorite image of the day was this one of the seed heads of Big Bluestem Grass silhouetted against the setting sun.

Day 67 (27 August 2018) - Spotted Touch-me-not

This picture of a raindrop on a Spotted Touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis) flower was taken during a hike at the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy's Hall's Lake Natural Area.  Spotted Touch-me-not is also known as Jewelweed for the way raindrops bead up on its leaves like so many miniature jewels.  This image has been cropped from a horizontal to a vertical format and the brightness of the image has been adjusted to tone down the highlights.

Day 68 (27 August 2018) - Yellow-collared Scape Moth on Blue Vervain

This image of a Yellow-collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) on a Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) flower was taken at Forest Hill Nature Area.  A wasp mimic, this day-flying moth is a common sight in late summer as it nectars enthusiastically in the restored grassland at Forest Hill.  Blue Vervain is one of my favorite wildflowers.  It's individual flowers are tiny, but each plant may have hundreds of individual blooms.  Large patches of this plant can paint fields, shorelines, and ditches purple.

Day 69 (28 August 2018) - Black Saddlebags in flight

Several days recently have been spent indoors, at my desk, preparing for the new school year.  On these days, my time sent outdoors has been short.  Outdoor time is not always measured in length, but in moments.  On this day, I walked into the field behind the office.  As I walked, a mixed swarm dragonflies flew overhead hawking at small flying insects.  I spent more than a few minutes trying to photograph them in flight.  This picture of a Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) was my best image of the bunch.

Day 70 (29 August 2018) - Turbines

On August 29th, I drove to St. Charles, MI for a meeting on a generally dreary day.  Driving back from the meeting, somewhere in eastern Gratiot County, I stopped to take a few photographs of wind turbines against a cloudy sky.  I took this image over a corn field by standing on the running boards of my truck and photographing over the cab.  I like this picture because of the brooding dark-banded clouds and the upright lines of the wind turbine.

Day 71 (30 August 2018) - Oleander Aphids

This image was another taken at the office.  Some days there is an obvious star photograph; on other days, all the photos feel like duds.  This was one of those days.  I do like the pop of color provided by these bright orange Oleander Aphids (Aphis nerii) feeding on a Common Milkweed stalk, but otherwise I am not enamored by this picture.  I was shooting images of aphids because I spend so much attention on Monarch butterflies and I wanted to get photos of some of the other species that depend on milkweeds.  This picture has been cropped from a horizontal to a vertical format.  I feel like I could have cropped it further, but I thought it would lose some context. 

Day 72 (31 August 2018) - Habitat

This final photograph for the week was photographed on private land near Winn, MI.  This property is owned by a member of the Board of Directors for the Isabella Conservation District and open to the the public for hunting through the MI DNR's Hunting Access Program (HAP). 

I visit this property a couple of times each summer for a very specific kind of hunting.  I am hunting for Monarch caterpillars.  The property is a perfect Monarch habitat with a mix of milkweed and nectar plants.  Right now the Common and Lance-leafed Goldenrod are both in bloom and the Sky Blue Aster is just beginning to flower.  Mix in several species from the mint family, Joe-pye Weed, Water Smartweed, and some hawkweeds and it's a pollinator paradise.

I have visited this place twice in the past three days and have come away with 21 caterpillars.  One of them is hiding in the picture above.  I would never have noticed this caterpillar if I had not knelt down to photograph a bee as it passed from one goldenrod bloom to another.

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Days of Summer - Day Fifty-nine through Day Sixty-five

Here is installment nine of my Days of Summer photo project - I am trying to catch up, but I have been very busy with scheduling school program  I started this project on the Summer Solstice (21 June 2018) with a photo from a sunrise hike at the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy's Bundy Hill Preserve.  My plan is to photograph something every day until the Fall Equinox (22 September 2018) and share one image from each day.  I am currently in week ten of the project.  To see the previous installments click here.
Day 59 (18 August 2018) - American Robin feathers

This image was photographed at my parent's home in Clinton County.  While searching for something to photograph, I found a dead American Robin lying on the ground on a mowed path through the woods.  This picture shows some of the feathers on its back and wings, with just a tiny bit of orange from its neck at the bottom left of the image.

Day 60 (19 August 2018) - Woodpecker holes in a birch trunk

This picture was taken at the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy's Hall's Lake Natural Area during a stewardship outing.  I noticed this log while searching the woods for Autumn Olive (an invasive species) and went back to photograph it later.  These holes were probably originally created by a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  Now a Hairy Woodpecker was taking advantage of the easy access to search for insects in the rotting trunk.

Day 61 (20 August 2018) - Goldenrod Soldier Beetles on Rosinweed

This image was taken in our home native pollinator garden.  At any given time (especially during late summer) I can find dozens pollinators in our garden.  This year, for the first time, I noticed an influx of Goldenrod Soldier Beetles.  This mating pair was crawling around on one of the Rosinweed plants.  This image has been cropped from a horizontal to a vertical format.

Day 62 (21 August 2018) - Bombus impatiens on Purple Coneflower

I love bees, especially bumble bees!  This image of a Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens) was taken at the Forest Hill Nature Area.  I cropped the image to a square just because I thought it looked best in this format.

Day 63 (22 August 2018) - Storm clouds

This picture was taken at Chipp-A-Waters Park in Mt. Pleasant late in the day.  This image reminds me of the froth created by waves crashing on a beach.

Day 64 (23 August 2018) - Monarch caterpillar

This Monarch (Danaus plexippus) on a Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) was photographed in the field next to the Isabella Conservation District office.  On days that I spend a lot of time in the office, sometimes I just need to go outside for a few minutes.

Day 65 (24 August 2018) - Native Pollinator Garden at Winn Elementary

The Isabella Conservation District planted and currently helps maintain native pollinator gardens at two local schools and the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum.  With school starting, I spent a couple hours pulling weeds and moving "volunteer" plants from pathways at the Winn Elementary School Garden.  The Leopold bench in the picture was one of six constructed with students back in 2013.  They were all recently repainted in the school colors.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Days of Summer - Day Fifty-two through Day Fifty-eight

It's a little late, but here is installment eight of my Days of Summer photo project.  This project started on the Summer Solstice (21 June 2018) and will continue until the Fall Equinox (22 September 2018).  The intent of this project is to get outdoors every day and photograph something in nature.  I am picking one photograph from each day to share as part of this project.  To see the previous installments click here.

On to the photos!

Day 52 (11 August 2018) - My what big ears you have!

This image of a fawn was taken at Forest Hill Nature Area.  While photographing bees and butterflies among the wildflowers of Forest Hill's native grassland restoration I noticed a pair of fawn watching me.  Sometimes, if you move slowly and carefully, you can walk right up to a deer without scaring it away.  Over the course of several minutes i was able to walk to within about 20 yards of this fawn.  This picture was taken when it turned to watch a car pass on nearby Rich Road.  I picked this image because of the pattern created by the veins on the back of the fawn's ears.  They remind me of a butterflies wings.  Check the picture for Day 58 (below) if you don't believe me.

Day 53 (12 August 2018) - Perseid Meteor

On August 12, Shara and I went back to Forest Hill to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower (and hopefully to get a few photos).  We saw several spectacular fireballs crossing the sky, but unfortunately they were no in the direction that my camera was pointed at the time.  I did manage to get several lesser meteors on camera.  To see the meteor in this image click on the photo to enlarge it.  The meteor is just above the band of clouds near the left side of the image.

Day 54 (13 August 2018) - Lunch

This picture of a Black-and-Yellow Argiope spider (Argiope aurentia) was photographed in its web at Mill Pond Park in Mt. Pleasant.  I was actually photographing a different Argiope when I glanced to the right and spotted this lady less than a meter away.  This picture shows the underside of the spider as she perches on her web near a silk-wrapped insect that she will make a meal of later.  Again, this picture is best viewed by clicking on it.  If you look close you can see a line of silk emerging from her spinnerets.

Day 55 (14 August 2018) - A Different Kind of Grasshopper

This is my second grasshopper image that I have shared as part of this project.  I photographed a Carolina Locust at Chipp-A-Waters Park on Day 41.  This grasshopper was also photographed at Chipp-A-Waters park, but this grasshopper belongs to a different species.  This is a Differential Grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis).  This grasshopper allowed me to creep very close and photograph it with my longest lens from just under a meter away (the minimum focusing distance for this lens).

Day 56 (15 August 2018) - Gotcha!

While working on this project, there have been days when I have had a difficult time selecting a picture to share.  Sometimes I don't like any of the pictures all that much; other times I have too many photos that I like.  On other occasions, I have known right away which photo was going to be the "winner" for the day.  This picture of a Jagged Ambush Bug with a European Honeybee was an easy choice.  I captured this image at Forest Hill Nature Area late in the day.  The sun was almost on the horizon and I was heading back to my truck to meet Shara when I glanced at this Lance-leaf Goldenrod as I was passing it by.

Day 57 (16 August 2018) - Rainy Day Boxelder

This picture was also taken at Forest Hill Nature Area.  It is easy to stop here on my way home from Mt. Pleasant.  August 16th was kind of a "blah" day for photography.  It was cloudy all day and threatened rain while I was at Forest Hill.  I probably would have been better off photographing something up close rather than landscapes, but I thought this image of a Boxelder (Acer negundo) against the gray sky best represented the day.

Day 58 (17 August 2018) -  Monarch on Rosinweed

The final image in this set was taken in our home native pollinator garden.  It seems to be a very good year for Monarch butterflies here in Mid-Michigan.  We have repeatedly had one visiting our plants.  In the past we have noticed maybe one or two Monarchs in our garden each year.  This year they are an almost daily visitor.  We do have some milkweed plants (the Monarch's only larval host plant), but right now the main attraction is nectar especially from Cup Plant and Rosinweed.  These two plant species are attracting dozens of bumble bees and hundreds of honey bees in addition to the butterfly visitors.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Days of Summer - Day Forty-five through Day Fifty-one

This is part seven of my Days of Summer photography project.   Beginning with the Summer Solstice (21 June 2018) and ending with the Fall Equinox (22 September 2018), I am making it a point to get outdoors and photograph something every single day.  One photograph from each day is being selected for this project and shared here.

The previous installments of this project can be found at the links below:

Part Six
Part Five
Part Four
Part Three
Part Two
Part One

I hope you enjoy the photos from this past week - one of them might be quite a surprise.

Day 45 (04 August 2018) - A Banded Bird

The first image of the week was taken at Forest Hill Nature Area.  If you look closely at This female Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) you might notice that her left leg sports a band.  Between this picture and several others of this bird I was able to make out a couple numbers on the band.  With that information, I contacted Mike Bishop at Alma College - he is running a banding project at Forest Hill.  With the numbers I gave him, Mike was able to narrow it down to one of two birds that he banded on June 28th of this year.  We both thought this was pretty cool.

This photograph has been cropped into a landscape format - taking some off the top and bottom of the image.  I just thought it was the most appealing of all the different crops that I tried.  I like how the bird looks like she is about the launch herself at the goldenrod to the left of the image.