Monday, December 29, 2008

Middleton Spider

While we were visiting Middleton Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina, we observed many of these spiders. I have no idea what kind of spider it is. Anyone care to enlighten us on this type of spider?

Update: LB advises that this is a Golden Silk Orb-Weaver.
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Sammy the Squirrel Burying Nuts

One day in late summer, I decided to have some fun with this squirrel that we call Sammy. I put out several almonds and let him go to work. Sure enough as soon as he discovered the nuts, he grabbed one and began to dig a hole. This sequence of photos shows him digging a hole, putting the nut in the hole, and then covering it with dirt. Now that winter is here, I wonder if Sammy or some other squirrel has enjoyed the nut yet.


On the way to the Pickering Creak Audubon Center, we came across one of the many ospreys nesting in and around the Chesapeake Bay. This is a majestic raptor that enjoys nesting on the many navigation buoys in the creeks and the bay. This one was about 20 yards off of a bridge just before the town of St. Michael's, Maryland - hey, if you are going to the Eastern Shore where else do you stop for lunch?

More From Pickering Creek

The Pickering Center also has other wildlife besides birds. Here are two of the butterflies that were very numerous this summer. The one clearly had a tough summer.
And, then there is the small lizard.

Pickering Creek Audubon Center

This summer, we again took a quick road trip to the Pickering Creek Audubon Center on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. These photos show a number of Stilt Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers, and Lesser Yellowlegs.

The third photo shows a pair of Lesser Yellowleg. I am relying on the posted siting of this bird, as it summers in Northern Canada and winters along the eastern US Atlantic coast.

More Hummers

So here are the hummingbird that I was getting close-ups of when one came in the house.

If you look closely at the last photo, you'll notice this hummer is sticking out her tongue - how else do you get nectar from the flower and sugar water from the feeder?

As always, if you click on the photo, you'll get a soomed in copy.

Hummingbird in the House

One day, I decided to attempt some close-ups of the hummingbirds feeding near the window. To get the best photo, I opened the window to the porch. After about five minutes and lots of photos, I took up another position - forgetting to close the window.

As the more aggressive hummer returned, he bumped another one into the open window. We had a hummingbird in the house. The in-house hummer immediately went to the highest level (the ceiling) and had no way to get out. For the next 15 minutes, I struggled with how to get the hummer out, while the hummer struggled with exhaustion. During one point the hummer took a rest in one of my wife's summer wreaths hanging on the wall.
Eventually, I opened the tops of the windows (versus the normal bottoms)and used a small broom to encourage the hummer to leave, which he eventually did.


My wife is a great lover of bunnies - in the wild, in artwork, in almost any form. This one was observed at the Pickering Creek Audubon Center.
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Hummingbirds Arrive

The hummingbirds did not arrive to the Habitat during the summer of 2008 until very late July. When they arrived, they arrived in number and were seen at the near-window feeder about once an hour. When they would fight for position at the feeder, they provided entertainment. The slowly began to head south for the winter. The last hummingbird was seen on September 30.
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Hundred Hawk Day

We began the second day of our Christmas road trip from the Colvin Run Habitat to Frisco, Texas, by leaving Memphis, Tennessee. By the time we arrived in Frisco, we had counted 105 hawks of various types, sizes, and colors - all while we were traveling at 70 mph along I40 and I30. The highest hawk density was between Memphis and Little Rock, Arkansas, where we observed an average of one hawk every 2 minutes = 52 hawks in 107 miles. In the bright sunshine and brilliant blue skies, spotting them in small groups of trees and on posts and rails was quite easy. Maybe ten were observed in flight.

A good number were hawks that we are familiar with - red-tails, red-shoulders, even a few sharp-shinned hawks. On three occasions, we observed red-tails swooping down from a post or tree to grab a small rodent. On two of these observations, the red-tail was parallel to the line of our travel. On one of these observations though, the hawk came right to left across the road to grab something on a very wide median - no problem as the hawk was well in front of us. However, after picking up the prey, the hawk made a U-turn and came back across the road. At that point, I had to swerve the car to avoid taking out the hawk with my windshield.

There were several hawks observed that are not frequently seen in the Habitat or on the East Coast. I believe that on two occasions, we believe we observed Golden Eagles. Even though we had observed several red-tailed hawks of considerable size, the size of these golden eagles was remarkable. Their all brown exteriors was in stark contrast to the white, white/brown, or reddish brown breasts of the other perched raptors. A quick bit of research showed that while the golden eagles do not nest in Arkansas, they do winter in Arkansas. We hope we got the observation correct.


While on vacation in Charleston, South Carolina, and visiting Middleton Plantation (which gave us the ship in the harbor exploding scene in The Patriot)), we observed these two peacocks. Clearly, they are not native to the plantation, but do live throughout the plantation. It was very interesting to see them nesting on the ground.

P.S. For frequent readers, demands in the office struck again, so we have not posted for some time. I am about to post a number of photos from the late summer and fall. The posting date will not reflect the date the photo was taken.
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