Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Like A Duck to Water.

A local mooch of a mallard hen spent an afternoon napping in one of the bird baths at work. (Never mind the large lake across the street...) Of course I had to take her picture!

She wasn't too happy with me pointing a camera at her,
but I caught one last departing shot...

And I made sure to get a close up...

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spring Blues.

Hmm, why are so many of my spring flower photos in shades of blue...? Here, a dwarf columbine (a tiny plant with full-sized flowers), "wild" violet (that only exists in my planters, but is very happy there, away from grazing deer [mostly--one pot did lose a third of its plants to a long-legged muncher before I inadvertently chased the doe out of the "garden" by walking out my front door last summer]) and Forget Me Not (a small plant with even smaller wee tiny flowers).

(Love a columbine's jester cap.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Bizarre Bee Fly Behavior, cont.

So I went back to check on the torpid bee flies of the previous post later that afternoon... It had "warmed up" to all of 54°F but was still overcast, windy and damp. The fly on the thorn stem hadn't moved, but the one on the tall grass had moved around 180° to the other side of the stem. (I did not merely flip the photo, honest!)

The chance to take more photographs allowed me to notice that what I had believed were barbs on the fly's proboscis were really its antennae!

Same fly, nearly the same photo, but with natural light. I don't like using flash, but sometimes macro photography demands it. (Especially when the photographer is still learning how to work her camera out of "automatic everything" mode...)

I have a guess as to why just this one was encouraged to move; note the two new residents that had appeared at the top of the grass stem... Goodness knows, ticks make me wiggle.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pay Attention.

Now, I'm not the most observant person in the world… Door frames still occasionally give me trouble, and just this past week I nearly impaled my forehead on a branch of a tree I was trimming. (It's ok, the scar won't show.) But sometimes things do jump out at me.

The trick to finding something unusual is to become familiar with the, well, familiar. When you know what is supposed to be there, the out of place will stand out.

This was demonstrated to me most vividly this morning. Our refuse and recycling collectors have been coming at a ridiculous (to me) hour of the morning recently. I mean, I am a morning person and I'm up, but not necessarily out (especially not as I get older) at the break of dawn. So I was a good girl, got my butt in gear early and hauled everything out to the curb. Early. (I live in a rural area but on a main highway; putting out the garbage and recyclables the evening before is not a good idea. You really don't want raccoons, trash, bottles and/or garbage cans scattered across a blind curve…) As I was already up and out, I changed out the hummingbird feeders as well. I decided to add a feeder to a window that hadn't had one, and as I walked around the corner of the house, the top of a dried sprig of grass caught my eye as being not quite right. Wrong color, wrong pattern, wrong texture. I took a closer look and when I realized what I saw, I did my so-glad-I-live-alone-and-away-from-neighbors chortling, mumbling, gleeful cackling. Mostly it was repeatedly chanting "must get the camera must get the camera must get the camera"...

Bizarre bee fly death ritual???

I thought perhaps this was just a one-off, but as I was taking photos, I found another one!

As it was a typical Cape May spring day--a breezy, damp and chill 44° (hey, at least we made it above freezing for the first time in days)--I'm assuming this is just what bee flies do when it's too cold for critters with no internal thermoregulation mechanisms who have misjudged the arrival of Spring.

I'm assuming they are alive--I didn't want to warm either one up to make sure, as the weather continues to go downhill as the day goes by.

Oh, and the trash collectors? They hadn't made it 'round when I left the house at 9am.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lion's Teeth.

Dent de león… Tooth of the lion. Or in good old vernacular, the humble (or not so humble) Dandelion. I happen to love dandelions.

[To truly appreciate these flowers, you simply must
click on a photo to big-ify them all... Wow.]

I'm not much of a yellow person, but dandelions are the perfect shade of yellow. The leaves are good for salads, apparently. (I've never got up the nerve to try--they're a bit fuzzy!) Dandelions have been used for wine, too, by all accounts.

I know dandelion greens were a great treat for the pet rabbit I once had.

And, thanks to my having kept a few in my plant pots even though the rabbit passed on years ago, they proved the perfect subject for some practice with my macro lens.

Amazing what shooting on a tripod and with depth-of-field control will do for a close-up photo… (As my photographer friends have been telling me for ages.)

And they are a good food source for wee little wingéd things, too.

(That's a dandelion, for crying out loud. It's spectacular! Who knew?)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

More spring beauty.

Like the forsythia, the flowering cherry is another ornamental I must admit I enjoy having around...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring beauties...

Alas, they are not native plants but good old-fashioned, cultivated garden blooms. Sure are pretty, though, so I can understand the lure. The first two are hold-outs in the garden at one of my work places, an old Cape May home. Although I didn't put it in, I am responsible for the totally out-of-control state of forsythia in my yard; I never seem to get around to pruning it (although the increasing shade as the trees mature is taking care of some it for me)...

Scilla siberica, Siberian Squill.

An anemone.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Nosy Neighbor.

When you live in a rural area, you never know who might be peering at you over the fence...

This lovely was very curious as to who was splashing around behind the hedgerow. (I was outside mucking about to see if my saturated backyard, inaccessible most of the year because of the ticks [still came in with near a couple of dozen], was anywhere close to becoming a vernal wetland. Jury is still out on that, but given the number of young ticks--more than adults!--I won't be making many more forays back there any time soon.)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

African Violets.

I wanted primroses. I was under the (perhaps erroneous) delusion that primroses have a better chance of survival under my care than African Violets (which, to be honest, I haven't done too badly with in the past). I searched for primroses. I could not find primroses. Turns out I decided I wanted primroses a good month or more after primroses were available in the retail stores… Oops.

So I ended up with African Violets anyway. Half-priced African Violets, tis true, but that makes them no less deserving of care. And they were in splendid shape for clearance flowers.

Three weeks and counting, and I only forgot about them for a week. A week which they survived. (It doesn't hurt to let them go a little bit dry every now and then. Overwatering is actually more likely to kill houseplants than underwatering.)

They aren't in a window where I can enjoy them in the normal run of things, so I decided to play with my macro lens and my two favorite Photoshop filters, Watercolor and Dry Brush. And the photos will last forever, no matter how well (or not) I do by the plants.

The blue isn't really blue; it's more standard African Violet purple. And the pink isn't really hot pink, it's more burgundy. Whatever.)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hello, My Name is Wren...

And I am a Crazy Cat Lady. (Stop sniggering, you people who have a rough idea of how many cats I own.) I am an environmental biologist who lives in a rural area in one of the most biologically diverse counties on the Eastern Seaboard--if possession is nine tenths the law, then any cat that is spotted in my yard more than a few times is mine and inside it comes if it passes some subconscious prompting in my gut that says "yup, that's a good one". Domestic cats are house cats: They belong inside for their own protection and for that of the native wildlife outside, and that's all I'm saying about that issue.

Corson: King of the Beasts.

I'm also a failed foster parent. (No surprise there.) I hit true CCL status in one fell swoop, with one fateful visit to a certain shelter some years ago. (To look at a dog, if you can believe it. Turns out I didn't need to go looking for a dog either; one of those showed up too, literally on my doorstep, a couple of years later.) My fault that I didn't put two and two together soon enough when I was told that the one female foster--the one-more-than-I-planned-on after adopting a cat and agreeing to foster two more, "can you take her too? no one else will"--had escaped the shelter the week before and "oh, she was acting like she was in heat". I got four in exactly nine weeks from the AWOL call, sure enough… (Owning cats from start to finish was an amazing experience, I must admit, and I took responsibility for all of the fosters and the extras.)

Only the second sniff of outside air since being brought inside...

Not that I wasn't already well on my way to Crazy Cat Lady status before that, mind you…

Favorite Pastime. (Yes, he is lying down.)

I also happen to keep a pet carrier in my truck, ready for whatever I find alive lying along the road that shouldn't be. A wandering day of errands a couple of months ago found me using that carrier for the first time. (The loon, my last rescue, wouldn't fit in it.)

Well, what else was I to do with a friendly stray oozing puss from his side when I found him at a garden shop where no one was doing more than giving him some food and water occasionally? (Even the shelter they had contacted wasn't trying very hard to collect him. It's an understatement to say that we have a Cat Problem in the county…)

Even the vet went "Eew" over that mess. Hah! The photo below is Corson seven weeks later. Fastest damn healer I've had--and as a multi-cat household, we are well-versed in abscesses... As he was fixed (and otherwise healthy and well-socialized, the only good things about his situation), I live in hope that he had a rabies vaccine at some point (to my knowledge, around here a rabies vaccine always comes with a sterilization). He was given a booster and so far is doing beautifully. We'll need a follow-up check for Feline Leukemia and FIV, but I have high hopes there, too.

Cory-Cat has now been officially welcomed into the house by means of having, much to his disgust, a camera shoved in his face for a photo session.

I am NOT amused.

Strike a pose. Vogue.

How can you resist that face?