Gotcha!

Butterflies and dragonflies in flight can be mesmerizing.  However, their erratic flight styles can drive you crazy when trying to capture them in pixels, whether panning with a real viewfinder or even worse, trying to pan using a digital viewfinder and its fraction-of-a-second lag (and no drive or burst function).

Well, a little spray and pray with the shutter yielded my favorite shot of the morning as this red-spotted purple moved through the canopy of the valley forest.

butterfly flying.
TAKING FLIGHT – Red-spotted purple flits among trees in the valley forest.

The nectar games

When the competition at the feeder was too rough, some hummingbirds opted to find nectar in the wildflowers below. The competition there was pretty good too — what with all those butterflies, bees and other pollinators. Here, a hummingbird goes for what must be the juiciest flower in the garden, since the butterfly was already there.

7-26 HB-Butterfly8-Edit
7-26 HB-Butterfly7-Edit

Voila!

A red-spotted purple emerges from its chrysalis July 22, a week after the photo on the left was taken. What a treat to catch this event just before having to start the morning commute.

red-spotted purple emerges from chrysalis
Before and after. 

Coleman Creek

Coleman Creek is  an urban creek, encompassed in parts by the campus of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the neighboring Cooperative Extension Service headquarters. There’s a fairly broad bit of woodlands on either side of the creek at the extension service side. The green areas support small populations of foxes, coyotes, raccoons, red-tailed hawks, kingfishers, various rodentia, stray dogs, bobcats, and at times, camps set up by the homeless.

The creek itself supports fish, turtles, freshwater mussels and crawdads. It is a welcome oasis and a tremendous natural resource right in the middle of town.

Fish in creek
SCHOOLING — Cardinal shiners swirl around in the clear water.
Open shell on stone.
REMAINS OF THE DINNER – Open freshwater mussel shell is all that remains of some raccoon’s dinner.
vertebra, crawdad shell on rock.
LEFT ON THE CREEKSIDE – A vertebra and the bleached shell of a crawfish on a rock in Coleman Creek in Little Rock.

Do you speak yellow?

This little goldfinch seemed to be communing with his floral equivalent.

Goldfinch and yellow flower
Goldfinch makes an early Saturday visit.
Goldfinch pair
The goldfinch was actually keeping up with a love interest — hiding in the lower right hand corner of the image.

The stripper

The squirrels on the UA-Little Rock campus are used to people — hundreds of people — tromping past at any particular time of day.

Squirrel with bark shreds in mouth
SHREDS — Maybe cypress bark tastes good?

Generally, however, they will hop away to maintain a safe distance should a human make too close an approach. Not so with one squirrel, who was intent on a strange activity — stripping bark from a cypress tree. The squirrel hopped down, ripped up a mouthful of mulch, then hopped back up the tree (mouth empty) to begin ripping and stripping again.

I have a query in to our local extension wildlife and forestry specialists about this odd behavior. It’s been noted elsewhere, according to the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management. There are multiple theories for this behavior, such as the need for nutrients or water. (this spring, however, there is no shortage of either for  this scholarly squirrel). Reason 5 may be the most accurate:  “We may never have a complete understanding of why bark-stripping occurs.”

Squirrel chewing bark
STRIPPER — This gray squirrel was busy grabbing shreds of bark from a cypress tree.
Cypress with bald spots
SEEING RED — Reddish areas show where the bark-stripping squirrel has gone to town all over this tree.

Birdland

Been a while since we posted. We had a couple rounds of heavy winter weather and being trapped away from home for days at a time. Nice to be back home. Between bouts of wintry mix, the birds came out and did what birds do.