Monday, October 31, 2011

Mischief Night.

Oh now that's just not fair… (The low was actually 29 overnight; this thermometer occasionally resets its high/low readings by itself.) Don't think I'm not grateful that the foot (+/-) of snow missed us, but below freezing? Is this really necessary? Before October is over? (And while I'm whining, where did October go, anyway? I still want it to be September. Early September, preferably.)

Although as demonstrated last year, frost does make for pretty pictures.

Guess we'll find out how cold-hardy geraniums really are...

And the miniature roses sure mis-timed their late bloom.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hallowe'en the Mother Nature way.

How marvelously appropriate that just before All Hallow's Eve a Black Witch was found in Cape May…

Thanks to Jim McCormac's blog (thank you, Jim!), I knew exactly what was going on when the Cape May Brit suddenly exclaimed "Black Witch at the lighthouse!!!" and raced out the door. I was the only person running out the door right behind him. And I had both cameras with me. ("Never leave home without them." Seriously, it's become a mantra.) Oh, happy, happy day!

Also known as Mariposa de la Muerte * (it just gets better and better…), this tropical moth is common in Central and South America and "regularly present" (according to my Peterson's Eastern Moths) in southern Florida and southern Texas. It happens to be an acknowledged far-north-reaching roamer as well, hence her presence (the creamy pink bands indicate this is a female) in Cape May Point State Park on October 28, 2011. (See the Butterflies and Moths of NA page for a public-reported sightings map--note that this isn't [yet] a complete or comprehensive records data set.)

This is a big moth--about the size of a Cecropia, one of our native giant silkworm moths.

Oh, my… ::sigh:: 

* Alas, all the glorious yet inexplicably and horribly maligned wildlife destined to become harbingers of death! Legend says that if Mariposa de la Muerte (yes, of course I spent the rest of the day practicing my accent on this delicious name) visits when one is sick or lands in all four corners of the house, death results.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cold katydid.

While bringing houseplants inside in anticipation of a drop in temperatures too great for the tropicals (even if they've been bred far beyond their original hot and humid loving ancestors, and seemed to like the cool wet spell, they have their limits) I disturbed this katydid. As you can see, it's a different species than the conehead from last month. I made a token attempt at an id, but had no luck other than a probable Scudderia. Sorry, I didn't get a good photo of its private parts...


Can't imagine that geraniums are tasty, even to such a vegetarian, but the contrasting colors sure made a pretty picture.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What a difference...

...less than twelve hours makes.

Must be Autumn!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Photo Walk.


I finally made it to the last (three more in November!) CMBO-sponsored photo walk of the season with Scott Whittle. 

Don't think that's quite what the sign meant, Scott… (What he's actually doing is taking his own advice and getting a different angle on the preening mallards to give more depth, and therefore more interest, to his photograph.)

It turned out to be a very lovely late October morning, well worth hauling myself out of bed an hour earlier than usual and despite what turned out to be a very brisk west-northwesterly wind by the time I made it to the Point. 

A wind which meant the birds that were around (aside from the hawks and of course there were a lot of them because I'd forgotten to grab the binoculars which were right next to the camera bag…) were getting tossed about quite a bit. Even getting floral shots took more luck than finesse.

Oh. We were supposed to be taking photos of birds?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fruit of, Spines.

As promised, Prickly Pear fruit:

Edible by many critters, including people (although I haven't tried one myself).

Thursday, October 20, 2011



Okaaaay... Probably the best photo I have ever taken (not even tweaked, only cropped) and it's a totally incidental shot (second of two) taken while photographing the wheelbug. And nope, I don't really give a gnat's a$$ as to what kind of skipper it is. *lol*

If you look really closely, you can see where the sun is making a rainbow in the fur just behind its head.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I'm renaming the fruit of the sweetgum tree: dragonball!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fungus Amungus.

It's been a good year for mushrooms--once we had some rain at the end of the summer, anyway. I made a token attempt to identify some of the interesting things but gave up. I'm not really concerned about what to call them since I have no plans whatsoever to taste any, even were I starving...

New, perhaps? and relatively small.

Waaaay past their prime. *lol*

Nice little clump peaking out of the scruffy back yard.

Another patch of the same.

Playing with focal point...

And orientation.

Mushrooms might be good little subjects, unlikely to move or be moved by an errant breeze, but you have to be fast when shooting in early morning light!

Lookee what I found when I relocated that black widow:


There have been even more fungi I didn't photograph--giant puffballs, a huge patch of big 'shrooms right alongside one of our major roads... No wonder so many people are fascinated by these things.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Copper Frog.

(She really was copper-colored. I didn't filter for tint, just texture [Dry Brush]. I had a few shots of other chocolate mint frogs--dark brown with those bright green spots--but I can't for the life of me find them on any of my memory cards. *grrr*)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Closer Look.

Hmmm, those wheel bug photos didn't quite do the wicked beastie justice…


How about this?

It's in this shot. See it? I do have to wonder if the buckeyes noticed it. (I can't decide if its front-legs-pulled-back position was preparation for a grab, or the equivalent of throwing up one's arms and screaming "eeeeek!". I would think being mobbed by butterflies would be disconcerting for anyone...)

The wheel bug was in the same aster bush as it was last week; I had the camera and am really, really glad I stopped to see if it might still be around. ::grinning a very, very smug grin::

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why I Take a Camera Almost Everywhere.

Stopped to check my mail (forgetting it was a national holiday) after getting home after sunset last night. Noticed an odd fluttering in the shrubs when I went back to the truck. Something rather large was flying around the honeysuckle. (A few branches put out blooms this time of year.) I totally understand why people sometimes mistake sphinx moths for hummingbirds; I sure as heck did at first.

A closer look--click photo to bigify--at this photo (lightly tweaked to bring the moth into focus--these things are fast, and it didn't like the camera's focus-light) explains why the winged thing was so far away from the flowers: look at that tongue! Hee-hee, its eye even reflects pink…

H@ly ^*%&ing #$%t. Snapped six "frames" and one was THE shot: cropped but not tweaked. (I really must learn some more swear words for situations like this. Bad enough I was standing in my drive hopping up and down squeaking, "I got it! I got it! I got it!". *sigh* If the neighbors didn't already know I'm nuts…)

Ready for its name? (Oh yeah, I looked this one up.) It's a good one: Pink-spotted Hawk Moth. (Only one of its family with pink on the abdomen, according to my Peterson Eastern Moth Guide; its cousins, like the Tomato Hornworm, have yellow spots.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chilled Out.

Mornings have been chilly lately, and I'm not the only one affected. Been loving them though, not the least reason being that they slow down the flying things really well.

Found this snowberry clearwing, aka hummingbird moth (many people mistake them for "baby" hummingbirds), under my deck umbrella one chilly morning a few weeks ago. Didn't want it waking up only to batter itself to bits under the canopy (they typically have that hairless spot on their back), so I took advantage of its near-frozen state to get a few photos that would be nearly impossible under other circumstances.

When disturbed, clearwings flicker their tail, um, feathers. Rather like a miffed cat thwapping its tail, I suppose...

Well, it was cold! That was the best it could do.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Seek And Ye Shall Find.

I had just enough goldenrod blooming in the yard (or rather, growing up between the bricks of my front path, of all places) that I knew there should be a crab spider in there somewhere, not counting the itty bitty one I put there after rescuing it from my beverage cup.

See? Told you.

Another way to find (typically crab) spiders in blossoms is to look for nectaring insects that aren't moving.

 Hmmm, this looks suspicious.

Hah! Quite likely the same crab spider as above, late afternoon instead of early morning. Good girl…

This looks like the wee one I found on my beverage cup and put in the goldenrod the week before. With lunch. Hooray!

And sometimes you find surprising things when you aren't looking… Had the truck washed and serviced and when I was re-stashing all the miscellaneous stuff I feel necessary to tote about in it, I found this poor thing wrapped up in one of the cargo blankets:

She was very pale (even for a crab spider) and moving slowly but she was still moving (*phew*), and seemed very grateful to be placed in a goldenrod flower-spray when I was done fiddling with her. 

Later that evening… *&%$ warblers. I think a redstart ate all my spiders!!!

Alas, this might be the last of my spider photos for the year. *sigh* Still have some beautiful butterflies to share with you, though!