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Archive for August, 2014

It is very rare to see a Rufous Hummingbird here in Arkansas. The last one I saw and also photographed was two years and one month ago. This mature adult male came in on Tuesday and I have seen him at the feeder about 2 dozen times since. I have not seen him this morning though so far. He is larger than Ruby Throat hummingbirds and much more aggressive. They are a “sight to see” but I’m sure the western US birders would love to see a Ruby Throat, too. I have about one hundred hummingbirds at four feeders and Im sure that is the attraction. I understand, but have not seen these “out of range” hummingbirds as late a December here in Arkansas.

I am rebuilding a deck that I fell through in June, and he has found a lookout from which to chase others on a new post. Taken up close with a Canon 1DS Mark III and a Canon EF300L f/4.0 IS lens @ 1/2000 of a second, coming very close (within 10 feet) to me:

 

Male Rufous Hummingbird

Male Rufous Hummingbird

 

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The deer were out grazing and active last evening. It was warm and I had the sprinkler on; they were first curious about it and then got closer and closer to be sprayed and try to  drink. There was one large buck and 3 does and a fawn. I caught one doe making a 25-30+ foot leap and landing across the driveway, using a Canon 1DS with Canon EF 600L f/4.0 IS lens.

 

 

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I took this photo yesterday morning from the northern Boston Mountains looking north-east toward the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri. The heralding of a hot day to come.

 

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Just a photo of what I think is one of our most handsome wild birds taken across Murray Road. As always singing “Drink your Tea” very loudly:

 

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A week ago I drove out Parker’s Ridge, south of Deer, Arkansas. After 15 miles of rugged gravel road with tight turns in large Shortleaf Pine forests; I reached the end of Parker’s Ridge and began a 3 miles, 1,600 foot (elevation fall) downhill ride in low gear to the river. The switchbacks began on this rugged road; 27 in all – with a 300 to 600 drop to my right (west). Bluffs bean to appear on my left side (East) and the road narrowed for the last 1.5 miles and became very steep and wet in places, and dangerous. But I m,are it to the bottom and was rewarded with a bridge crossing the beautiful Piney River. I did not see another vehicle or person; only about 20 deer. I fully expected to see a bear or two, but did not.

 

Downhill to the Piney River

Downhill to the Piney River

 

 

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About a month old now, and their tail almost fully grown, these baby ruby throats are now feeding at flowers; honey-suckle, and Butterfly bushes, Petunias, and very soon Lobelia. They spent much of their feeding time at the feeders — until this week. The feeders are full and still have 20-30 hummingbirds at any time, mostly adults, but I have noticed a change in the juveniles, honing their nectar feeding skills at succulent flowers. They will be leaving in less than a month and I believe this will be a necessary skill for their long migrations. This bird is a juvenile Male and has (not viewable in photo) 2-3 red spots on the left side of his throat. He has also chased adult males away from the bush on may occasions; establishing dominance. I took these with the Giant Swallowtail photos I took yesterday.  Sorry, I did not have great light in this photo as it was taken a 1/2500th of a second, with a Canon 70D and a Canon EF300L f 2.8 IS lens:

 

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After last years bust (think I only saw one Monarch all summer and fall), this week has been a blessing. I saw 5 on Tuesday, 7 on Wednesday, 7 on Thursday, 5 on Friday and 3 already today, Saturday). Of course Im not constantly looking and am gone much of the day. They are using Butterfly bushes and Snakeweed for nectar this mid summer.  Im hoping the crises is mending itself; photos taken Thursday with a Canon 1DS and a Canon EF300L f/2.8 IS:

 

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Mixing in within the other months, skippers and butterflies, were a few Sphinx Moths, one very large. They are quite skittish, so I used a long lens to capture this, the largest one (wingspan 5-6″). I used a Canon 400 f/4.0 DO IS with extension tube in the late afternoon with a Canon 1DS Mark III:

Some hawk moths, such as the hummingbird hawk moth or the white-lined sphinx, hover in midair while they feed on nectar from flowers, so are sometimes mistaken for hummingbirds. This hovering capability is only known to have evolved four times in nectar feeders: in hummingbirds, certain bats, hoverflies, and these sphingids (an example of convergent evolution). Sphingids have been much studied for their flying ability, especially their ability to move rapidly from side to side while hovering, called ‘swing-hovering’ or ‘side-slipping.’ This is thought to have evolved to deal with ambush predators that lie in wait in flowers.

 

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I was taking photos of some Monarchs (which I did see last summer and fall); when the unusual Moth flew in. I have seen them before but never got a good photo of them. The tail is interesting; almost like a crawfish !!


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Saw these 3 in the road on the way home this morning: taken with Canon 50D with 100mm lens. They seem to like in a culvert pipe under the road.

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