Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bird Bonanza

Here's a wide view of the bird haven I was exploring in the last post. There's really no current to the water, its separated from the main river by the stretch of rocks and trees to the right.

When birds have crests, like this Cedar Waxwing, Justin tells me they have "hair-do's." I like how the silhouette put focus on this guy's 'do :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

SPS: More from the Township

We revisited East Donegal Twp Park Thursday evening. This time I came a little more prepared for birding, but I still managed to take mostly "sasquatch" pictures, where you can only make out something blurry and obscured in the trees, far in the distance :)

But on the way to the bird area (a backwater eddy in the river), I found a lovely reflection in a shallow pool. The presence of, well, pond scum, gave certain areas a watercolor effect.

This bird is blurry, but not obscured, so he makes the blog. Quite a few great blue herons showed up to fish in the shallow water - the first time we visited the park, I counted 10 or 11 that flew by us within the space of about two minutes.

And here's one that's obscured but relatively in focus. The mystery bird of the evening was this fellow, later identified as an immature black-crowned night heron. They are much smaller than the great blues, and this one stuck to the shoreline. So mostly I could see bits and pieces of bird through the heavy vegetation.

Through the course of about an hour, we were able to see several great blues, a group of Canada geese, a mama mallard and her brood, the black-crowned night heron, two green herons, a great egret, a kingfisher, and the normal complement of swallows, finches, etc. This place is definitely on my bird hang-out list now!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fulton Flora & Fauna

Some more photos from our last stay at my parent's:

Alert deer heads emerging from a field is a classic Fulton County scene.

This flower probably has an official name, but we always knew it as Butter-and-eggs. I guess that name comes from the colors of the flower. I like the smell of the plant - not the flower, but the foliage.

Chicory could be called a roadside weed, but it is also one of the reasons that blue is my favorite color. I was always frustrated by the fact that chicory blooms only last for about half a day, and fade quickly when cut. I just had to view them in their natural habitat :)

And here's how I took advantage of Mom & Dad's hummingbird portrait studio. These little guys were fascinating to watch!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

SPS: Joseph E. Ibberson Natural Area

We visited Ibberson, which is north of Harrisburg, about this time last summer. There was a small area planted with coneflower and other wildflowers, and I was able to capture a butterfly sampling the wares. I like this photo because both the butterfly and the flower look a little worse for the wear.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Midnight Marauders

This last weekend, Ansel (the cat) alerted us to some activity outside the dining room window at Mom's house: bandits at the bird feeders!

I have never seen a flying squirrel up close and in person before. They are not shy when peanuts are at stake. We were at the window, talking loudly and shining a flashlight - we even opened it slightly, about two feet away from them - and it didn't slow the thievery at all. The cat was about to burst :) I got the photos by going out on the deck and leaning out around the corner of the house.

Here you can see the extra skin that stretches along their sides, enabling them to glide from perch to perch. I have to admit, the squirrels are the quintessential "cute" animals - fuzzy bodies, gigantic eyes, endearing antics. But, when they started scurrying up and down the chimney at lightning speed, they looked like dark flying shadows and came across as something out of a scary movie :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

SPS: East Donegal Riverfront Park

Last Saturday, we went for the first time to the Township park three or four miles down the road from us. In the summer, the Susquehanna river runs wide and very low through this area, exposing a lot of rock that is usually under water at other times of the year.

Here's a general view. I am sure that the rocks I am standing on are underwater, or near to it, when the river is high, but now they are far above the water level.

In a cleft in the rocks, a stranded puddle bubbled with bright green algae. It looks like something from another planet.

I think I remember learning, in school, that holes like these form in river bottoms when smaller, rounded rocks become stuck in a depression. The current then agitates the rock, turning it around and around, and slowly a hole is drilled. Some of these are over a foot deep, it must've taken generations to form them!

Lastly, I found a butterfly checking out the clover in the park's picnic area. Anyone know what kind it is? This one's unfamiliar to me.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

SPS goes Floral

I don't know what type of yellow wildflowers these are, but they are entwined with a yucca plant in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah. A nearby sign said this type of yucca only grows in a small area in southwestern Utah.

In Zion, shooting stars could be found wherever the waterfalls were. These flowers, and others, cling to walls to take advantage of the moisture seeping out, and form "hanging gardens" on the rock faces.

And here is another yellow wildflower I do not know the name of - must be something about that color :) This one was on the floor of Zion Canyon. Since we were there during spring, we were able to spy quite a collection of blooms.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I wanna know why ...

... when there is a curb like this, I have to walk along the top of it, even though I tend to gawk too much and lose my balance? I just can't resist :)