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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Crops & Clips: July, 2012 Meme Mashup

This month's potpourri gathered from the archives features photos taken three years ago, in July, 2012. Actually it is a scavenger hunt, as at that time I did not seek to portray each of these memes (CRITTERS, SKY, REFLECTION, FENCE, MACRO). Let's see how far I need to go into the month to find at least one of each. If I can get them all I will have won the game seven months in a row.


We started the month at our second home in NE Illinois, where most of the birds were still busy raising their families. My first photo of the month, on July 5, 2012, featured this abundant warbler of the prairies, appropriately named Common Yellowthroat:

Common Yellowthroat 3-20120705

Two days later, along the street next to our condo I encountered two majestic raptors, a Red-tailed Hawk...

Red-tailed Hawk 5-20120707

...and an American Kestrel:

American Kestrel male 4-20120707

A cute baby Tree Swallow posed for me atop its nest box on July 10:

Tree Swallow 2-20120710

On the same day a male Indigo Bunting thrilled me with its color:

Indigo Bunting 20120710

A Dickcissel sang to us on July 17, just before we returned to our Florida home:

Dickcissel 3-20120717

Back in Florida on July 24, a beautiful eight-point White-tailed buck emerged from the side of the path into our local wetlands:

Whitetail deer buck 20120724

At the local rookery, a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nestling crouched low, also on July 24, 2012:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nestling 2-20120724

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

 Linking to I Heart Macro by Laura



I caught my first reflection of the month on July 12, when a Bald Eagle carried off a duckling at nearby Nelson Lake:

Eagle carries away duckling - enhanced 20120712




A visit from our Illinois granddaughters at the end of July saved me from the disaster of not having randomly included any fences this month's photos (July 27, 2012):

Nieta 20120727

In fairness, I also must show our younger Nieta. They were here before embarking on a Caribbean cruise to celebrate their Miami cousin's QuinceaƱera (fifteenth birthday):

Nieta with ibises 2-20120727

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 



I finally captured a skyscape from the back patio as clouds moved in from the ocean at sunrise, July 30, one day before the deadline I set for this game:

Sunrise HDR 20120730

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display


Thursday, June 25, 2015

What has four legs and flies?

Here is a riddle to start your day:

(Q.) Which CRITTER has four legs and flies? 
(A.) The classic answer is "a horse, of course!" (And we don't mean the mythical Pegasus)

If you answered that it was this male Julia heliconian butterfly as it prepares for a landing on a Lantana flower, you would have been wrong. Its proboscis is already extending in anticipation of the sweet taste of nectar, and its landing gear are down. 

Count those legs-- four! But why is this the wrong answer? Stay tuned to find out.

Julia on approach 20150103

Another answer might be pairs of two-legged creatures with wings. Maybe this is cheating because the riddle implies that it seeks the identity of a single creature. Anyway, here are a few couples who, arguably, meet the description. Can you distinguish the males from females?

Mottled Duck males tend to be bigger and have yellowish mostly clear bills:

Mottled Ducks 3-20130209

Pileated Woodpecker males have a red forehead and mustache streak, but both are gray or black in females:

Pileated Woodpecker 20120930

Pileated Woodpecker 2-2008_12_04

The red on the nape and head of male Red-bellied Woodpeckers extends all the way to the forehead, but the female's forecrown is light gray:

Red-bellied Woodpeckers pair 20140427

Least Tern sexes are similar and best determined by behavior.  Males (in the foreground) usually seem to have a brighter yellow bill:

Least Tern pair interactions 05-20140410

Bald Eagle males are noticeably smaller than females and their gape usually extends no more than halfway under the eye, while that of the female (in foreground) may reach past the center of the eye:

Bald Eagle face comparison 20150312

We happen to know that the male in this pair of Burrowing Owls looks as if he has a beard. He also seems to have a deeper "frown," but these are individual characteristics. Normally the female is darker during breeding season because the slightly larger male stands guard outside the burrow and his feathers are more exposed to the bleaching effect of sunlight:

Burrowing Owl pair portrait 20131114

In these Mew Gulls it is anybody's guess as to which is the male. Both have brightest yellow bills during breeding season. This photo was taken in June, 2011 in Denali National Park, Alaska:

Mew Gulls (Larus canus) 2-20110619

From their behavior, we know that the Killdeer on the left is the male. He repeatedly expanded the upper ring on his neck as a courtship gesture:

Killdeers courting 20110412

Mallards-- no problem finding the colorful drake here!:

Mallard Pair 20090427

House Finches-- who wears the brightest coat?:

House Finch pair 20130115

The sexes of Green Herons are very similar, but we think the one presently incubating the eggs is the male because its legs were bright red, not described as a reliable indicator. This pair is exchanging incubation duties:

Green Heron pair exchanging incubation duty 20120325

Male Yellow-crowned Night-Herons are said to be slightly larger than females, but this is a toss-up:

Yellow-crowned Night Heron pair displaying 91-20120304

The male Mourning Dove on a FENCE is all puffed up:

Mourning Dove Pair 2008_08_01

These Purple Swamphens share four legs (not counting those  in the REFLECTION) but sexes are similar:

Purple Swamphens 01-20141030

To be concise, the riddle should have asked: "What has six legs, two wings but only four feet?" That might have been a real puzzler, keeping you on the edge of your seat to hear the answer. The Julia heloconian indeed fits this description.

Top MACRO view, male Julia:

Male Julia Heliconian 20090321

Top view, female Julia:

Julia female 20111217

Side view, male also shows four legs...

Julia heliconian male 20140824

As does this side view of a female:

Julia Heliconian female 20120808

The Julia belongs to the group of brush-footed butterflies or four-legged butterflies. Many species are brightly colored but their under-wings are often dull and may look like dead leaves, as in the case of this species.

In adults, the first pair of legs are much shorter than the other four legs, and are not used for walking. The front legs do not have feet, just little brushes of hairs that are used for smelling and tasting. Like parts of their mouth,they can be so small as to be practically invisible.

Rain Clouds moved into the SKY over the lake a little after sunrise:

Clouds over lake HDR 20150415

A bonus photo-- we have just returned from a rail trip in Canada. This is the view of Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta. It is taken from the window of our room in the Fairmont Chalet. The sun is breaking through the clouds. The Upper Victoria Glacier is visible in the background. The Lower glacier extended well into the lake in the early part of the 20th Century, but now has retreated up and to the right of the mountain.

Lake Louise 1935PM 20150619

As the lake is fed by outflow of the glaciers, it takes on an emerald color, due to the suspended "glacier dust"  or "rock flour" which is scoured from the limestone as the ice moves down. Depending upon sky conditions, the water may appear any color from gray to deep blue or green.

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to I Heart Macro by Laura


Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display