Wednesday, July 18, 2018

July 15, 2018: Spiders and Insects at Circle B Bar Nature Preserve

Learning to find sac spiders hiding in blades of grass

July 14, 2018: Snowy Egrets and Ospreys fishing

A morning at Circle B Bar Nature Preserve, watching snowy egrets skim over the water and catching a fish.   At the same time Osprey's feeding on larger prey.

Snowy Egret FIshing

Osprey Fishing:  dive and grab

Friday, June 29, 2018

June 29, 2018 . Falcon 9 CRS 15 launch

Early morning launch (05:41 ) of Falcon 9

Composite of  4 90 sec exposures

T +0 --> T + 90 sec

T + 90 --> T + 180

T + 180 --> T + 270

T + 270 --> T + 360

T + 360 --> T + 450 (not used in the composite

Monday, May 7, 2018

May 6. 2018: Watching a Delaware Skipper Caterpillar make a shelter

An adventure at Circle B Bar Nature Preserve.  

I went expecting to see lots of marsh birds catching fish, but the most interesting was a skipper caterpillar making a shelter.   She was on a blade of grass and attached a silk strand to one edge,  Then extended the strand and connected to the other edge.  She then shuttled back and forth, increasing the tension and pulling the edges together.  

After a while she moved up the blade about an inch and started another "pull the edges together".  This time, she was able to pull the edges quite close to each other.  Then she retreated to the 1st strand, and continued tensioning until the edges were in close proximity.

I did not have my macro lens with me (only my bird lens) - all the photos and videos were from my phone.

Tensioning the 1st strand of silk.  Shuttling back and forth, somehow increasing the tension in order to create a concave home by pulling the edges together 

Starting the 2nd strand

Tensioning the 2nd strand

Anterior view of tensioning process

Tensioning the 2nd strand

An anterior view of the shuttle action

Friday, April 27, 2018

April 25: Eating is a noisy business

Great Blue Herons

Great Blue Heron chicks have a big job.  They must learn to eat, they must learn to fly and they must learn to fish for meals.   How do they learn?   I've some ideas (more like speculation) drawn from my watching them for the past 5 months.

In the video,  watch her neck.  It seems like she is trying to regurgitate a fish (how it gets to her bill is a mystery to me).  She opens her mouth, as if trying to regurgitate, swallows some and all the while, the chick is grabbing her bill and trying to bring it down to the floor of the nest.  Finally, she succeeds in regurgitating the fish and the 2 chick smakes crazy noises as they fight over the fish.

It seems that flying is an exercise of balancing on air.  The chicks first venture out on a limb and use their wings to stabilize themselves.  Next, is wing assisted jumping.  Below is a sequence of images showing the chick hopping to another limb and releasing their grasp on a limb.  Almost flying

Initiating a wing assisted hop.  Grasping a limb to launch from

Releasing grasp and flying (sort of STOL)

In STOL (short takeoff and landing) flight

Alighting on another limb (can't see her grasp)

Learning to eat:  Grabbing mom's bill to encourage a fresh fish to emerge

Chick (right) grabbing mom's (left) bill

Chick (right) grabbing mom's (left) bill

I think mom is trying to move the fish up her neck.  In video she looks to be choking - a prelude to regurgitation

Continuation of the bill biting

 I think what is happening is that mom is regurgitating a fish onto the floor of the nest.  The chick sees this and make a huge noise trying to eat it (see above video).   I think the chick is learning to see a small fish so that when he/she is wading, it will recognize it and try to grab it.
Aggressive bill biting.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

April 21, 2018: Watching great blue herons grow up

I've been watching the herons since mid November when they had started nest building and pairing.  We're now close to the end of the cycle - with the kids learning to fly (balancing on air).  They venture away from the nest and practice balancing by flapping their wings.  Some times they jump up a short distance.  All is all, its great fun to watch.

Slow motion of balancing on a small limb

Balancing under the watchful eye of a neighbor - then a dueling match starts with 2 juvenile herons from the left nest, with the single juvenile heron from the right nest

Here the mom (right) has brought some fresh fish for the little (actually not so little) one.  She regurgitates it onto the floor of the nest and the little one eats it.  It does not take long before the little one realized that food always comes from mom's mouth. So here is advance feeding where the little one grabs mom's beak and drags it down into the nest.   Second try is successful - mom waits a bit and then flies off for more fishing.

And some stills of not only the herons but the other activities around my spot (Osprey, Eagle, Duck family, Anhinga and Great Blue Heron behavior).