Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bon voyage, Midtown

While my allergies may dictate that you can't live at our house anymore, you will always live in my heart.

Goodbye, my Pretty Girl.

AKA: Midnight
Blobbo Cat
Baby Seal
Midnight Elizabeth Kittykattersons

Thanks to the Bagley family for giving her a loving new home.
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Sunday, July 6, 2008

It's gettin' squirrely out here!

One of the advantages to living in the woods like we do is that you often see really cool things if you keep your eyes and ears open, whether it be a little toad camouflaged in the leaves, some freakishly huge mushroom, or things that go bump (or shriek) in the night.

Of course we're all familiar with the standard grey squirrel - they're standard fixtures of the rural and suburban environment in Ohio. They've actually become quite a nuisance on our property over the last few years, helping themselves to the seed in the feeders that are meant to be for the birds.

A grey squirrel looking cute and innocent, before he hops onto one of the bird feeders for a meal.

I'm sure we're all much less familiar with flying squirrels, which I learned are the most common squirrel in the state of Ohio (thanks again to the Ohio DNR website for the info). These squirrels are nocturnal, so you'd have to be spending some serious time outdoors at night to encounter these little numbers. Or, hope they come to your bird feeders the same way their larger cousins do!

We were first alerted to the presence of the flying squirrel when we heard motion out on one of the bird feeders way after dark. We turned on the porch light, and there it was.

Several nights later, Dave heard activity again, and yelled for me to come look, because now there were two of them! (Sorry about the "devil" eyes - I guess the red-eye reduction feature in the camera doesn't work on animals.)

They really seem to be quite fearless, and I was able to get about an arm's length away from them.

Even with my camera flashing in their faces, they paid no attention to me and stayed focused on the task at hand - emptying our bird feeder.

I was amazed when a third squirrel showed up and made his way on to the feeder. This was getting ridiculous.

As you can see, 3 really IS a crowd.

Eventually there was a little tussle and one of them fell off (no worries, they glide through the air, so no one was hurt). He quickly came back, but went over to the corn, which is what we WANT the squirrels to eat if they must dine at our outdoor critter table!

Caught red-handed.

And enjoying his catch.

Now we hear them chattering out in the dark almost every night, and wake up to empty ears of squirrel corn. I'm sure they've been in our neck of the woods for some time and we just never knew it, but it would seem they are here to stay.

And by the way, this was our entertainment for the evening on July the 4th. Who needs fireworks?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Flutter Color

When I got home today, I thought to myself "I should go take some pictures." It was a beautiful, sunny, not-too-hot afternoon, and some of my favorite flowers are in bloom right now.

Now, it can be a gamble for good photos when I tell myself that I "should" go take some pictures. Even when I have a specific idea or concept that I'm trying to capture, it's still pot-luck, but the "I should do this" thought tends to stifle creativity and my photographic "eye." Still, I thought I would give it a try. After all, practice only makes you better. Armed with my tripod, I set out on a little photo safari just across the road. I was rewarded for my efforts.

Here is one of my favorite flowers, Deptford Pink. It's very petite, and can be easy to miss. But if you're looking close to the ground, the very deep color will eventually catch your eye. This flower is a member of the Carnation family.

Another colorful summer favorite is Butterfly Weed, a member of the Milkweed family. This flower provided me with some beautiful photos today.

As the name implies, Butterflies are attracted to this plant.

This butterfly is the Spicebush Swallowtail (thanks to the Ohio DNR website for helping me with the ID - it would seem that a butterfly field guide may be the next one to add to my ever-growing collection of field guides).

I absolutely love the blue coloring on this butterfly - zooming in offers an enhanced view.

And take a look at the coloring underneath - amazing.

Butterflies weren't the only interesting insect though - I saw a couple of cool dragonflies flitting around just behind the Butterfly Weed. Luckily the tripod offered me some nice steady shots, crisp enough for zooming in on the details of this guy.

I'll be honest, dragonflies gross me out a little bit. I don't know why, they just do. However, I became less grossed out by them when we were on vacation up in Michigan a few weeks ago and we actually witnessed dragonflies hatching at lake's edge. I even let one walk around on my hand. Maybe it was the physical contact that helped make them less gross - after all, I didn't get cooties from it or anything! Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the hatching.

In looking online to try to get an ID for this guy, I was stunned to learn just how many different species of dragonflies (and damselflies) there are. As best I can tell, this is a male Widow Skimmer. (ID courtesy of dragonflies.org)

No insects here, just a little bunch of Black-eyed Susans next to the road.

And here's some Common Milkweed, cousin to the Butterfly Weed.

To think, I almost didn't go outside to take any pictures today! I'm glad I listened to my gut and just got out there.