Monday, January 31, 2011

Cardinal Collage... Mr. and Mrs. in snow... Winter 2011

I just cannot resist the cardinals... especially in winter when their colors stand out so beautifully in the gloom. Later in the week, I'll post some full size views of these beautiful birds but thought you might like to see them enjoying my newest squirrel proof feeder and posing on my snowy deck rail.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tropical Butterfly... something warm for a cold day...

Orange Tiger butterfly
In the Washington, DC Metropolitan area, a little bit of snow often results in school closings... and when schools close... many other things get canceled as a result. Our garden club meeting has been canceled for today because of a little bit of snow falling overnight. It has changed to rain (maybe freezing rain) so roads might be slippery... but out my window I can see our street is mostly clear and cars going up and down.

The above is a long way around to introducing this image... something to warm us all in winter... an Orange Tiger (Dryadula phaetusa) butterfly! Also known as Banded Orange Heliconian and the sole representative of its species according to Wikipedia, it is "native from Brazil to central Mexico, and in summer it can be found rarely as far north as central Kansas." I photographed this one in the Butterfly Conservatory of the National Museum of American History in New York City during a December visit.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Squirrel in snow... First snow of 2011!

squirrel in snow
Although we didn't get that much snow a week or so ago, this squirrel is covered in it! She (I think this one is female) had been searching around in the snow-covered deck to see if she could find some seed dropped by the birds... stopping to take a look at me... she posed so prettily!

If you've never seen a squirrel with this coloring before, I'm not surprised. She looks like a mix of black squirrel (common in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US) and American Red squirrel. According to Wikipedia, black squirrels are a melanistic variety of the eastern gray squirrel, individual black squirrels can exist wherever gray squirrels live. Gray mating pairs may produce black offspring, and in areas with high concentrations of black squirrels, mixed litters are common. In our area, black squirrels are VERY common as are Eastern gray squirrels and American Red squirrels. Intermingling is not surprising!

If you want to watch a slide show of squirrels trying to crack the code to my "Squirrel-proof" feeders, use the link in the News Items box at top right.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Birds and peanuts... two for your viewing pleasure!

blue jay with peanut
I bought some unshelled, raw peanuts at the Wild Bird Center the other day and waited until I had some time to spend in front of my kitchen window before scattering a few on the deck table to see whether or not the Blue Jays would stop by to dine. They really are not interested in the seed provided in my bird feeders.

The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) in the above image came in for a very quick grab, several times... then OFF he would fly to hide in the holly tree before coming back for another peanut. It was very hard to capture the action so I'll try again another day... this is the best image from my first experiment using peanuts to entice the jays!

Imagine my surprise to discover that not only did the Blue Jays enjoy the peanuts... but Mrs. Cardinal stopped by too to help herself (image below). How she managed to eat the peanut is a mystery because once she got a good hold on it... off she went!

Female Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) with peanut.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A snowy winter collage... January 2011

collage with plants and cardinal
Another collage experiment! These images are, clockwise from top left, a small portion of Leucothoe during our recent, light snowfall; masterful Mr. Cardinal strutting on our deck, an extreme close-up of Rosemary with snow and another extreme close-up of Nandina berries with snow.

The extreme close-ups were taken with a 105mm macro lens and the 36mm extension tube (from a set of 3 Kenko extension tubes) on my Nikon D90.

The snowfall the other day didn't amount to much but still lent itself to experiments in photography. Next time it snows, I hope to make it out before the snow stops falling and starts melting... would LOVE to capture some individual snowflakes one of these days.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Variable Cracker Butterfly... Butterfly Conservatory Image...

Variable Cracker butterfly dining on orange segments
There is quite a lot of information on the "Blue Cracker" butterfly to be found when searching for butterflies similar to this one. BUT, when a search was done on the scientific name for the so-called Blue Cracker, MANY references to the Red Cracker butterfly were found... but none of those images had the "red bar" on the fore-wing that this butterfly has.

More exhaustive searching around on Google finally turned up an image that looks very similar to this one, leading me to believe this is Hamadryas feronia, commonly called the Variable Cracker. The "cracker" part of the name refers to the noise the male of this butterfly species makes as part of their territorial display. Isn't he just gorgeous?! (I certainly have no idea if it is a he or a she butterfly... either way... I'm quite pleased with how this turned out!)