7. heinäkuuta 2022

Where are all my odes?

So far, this has been an incredibly dry and hot summer, but that hasn't necessarily stopped the dragonflies from showing up in the past. This is Texas, it's always hot and usually dry, unless it's flooded. This summer, however, I feel like I'm seeing fewer species of dragonflies (and almost no butterflies- where are those guys?) and fewer numbers of the species I am seeing. Usually, on my favorite trails, there are plenty of eastern pondhawks and common whitetails; this year, I'm seeing them but not as many. I've only seen one or two roseate skimmers since the February 2021 Snowmageddon. The spring plains clubtails definitely weren't as plentiful as they've been in the past.

Don't get me wrong; I'm still finding some great dragonflies- a flame skimmer several weeks ago, common sanddragons in a hidden stream in a little suburban pond/fishing spot, some lovely cobra clubtails. A few days ago I found a gorgeous regal darner that basically flew up in front of me and settled nicely for the camera. But it seems like this year the dragonflies are later to appear and there are fewer of them.

Is it me? Am I imagining something that isn't there? Is it the drought? The heat (I don't think it's the heat)? Is it a lingering effect of the legendary February 2021 Icemageddon, or the not quite as legendary but still very cold (for this Texan, anyway) 2022 Icemageddon? Am I losing my dragonfly hunting skills, such as they are? I will admit that my vision isn't quite what it was a decade ago. I hope this isn't a sign of summers to come.

Lähetetty 7. heinäkuuta 2022 00:32 käyttäjältä jblinde jblinde | 4 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

12. toukokuuta 2016

500 Observations

Yesterday, I hit 500 observations with a monarch butterfly perched on a Texas thistle.

I consider this a milestone. 500 is a lot of observations, representing a considerable amount of time spent outside. My offspring have tolerated this obsession, getting really into it at times and at other times rolling their eyes with impatience while I try for "just one picture". I've learned that no one believes me when I say "I'll be gone only an hour".

I've learned quite a bit since @mchlfx got me started. I started out not knowing very much and now I know more, but I still have so much to learn. Sometimes I guess, and I guess wrong- as a perfectionist that's hard to accept but I'm working on it. Nature can be tricky sometimes. I absolutely appreciate all the people who have ID'd for me, given me hints, and corrected my boo-boos.

I've accepted that there are some aspects of nature I like much better than others. I love butterflies, flowering plants, fungi, skinks, and birds, although it's hard to get good bird shots with an iPhone. Dragonflies and damselflies are gorgeous but, like birds, hard to document. I am learning to appreciate snakes and spiders. I'm starting to get excited about road kill, but I could do without dead fish left alongside the trail. Crawly bugs and mosquitoes, not a fan. Poison ivy, no way.

I've acquired several field guides. Last year, my kids gave me field guides for Christmas. Some mothers get jewelry; I get books on how to identify spiders.

I'm looking forward to getting my next 500 observations. I plan to start today.

Lähetetty 12. toukokuuta 2016 11:45 käyttäjältä jblinde jblinde | 5 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

23. elokuuta 2015

Communing with Nature

I think this is an incredibly cool observation, but I can't get a picture to back it up with my iPhone (well, I did get a picture, but it's not very good). For the last three weeks, I've been waking up early and hiking on a favorite trail, using the spot where it is temporarily flooded out as a stopping/water break /breathe and enjoy the great outdoors point. The first time I was there, I was just sitting and all of a sudden, a beaver head popped up and swam for a few feet, then he dove back down into the water. I hung out for awhile to see if he would make a reappareance, but he didn't. That was the day I also saw three cottonmouth snakes in the vicinity.

The second week- a repeat of the first. Sat for a few minutes, looked over, saw beaver. No cottonmouth snakes this time, although I am sure they are there.

Yesterday, I went out there again- school starts Monday and I needed some nature time before dealing with that chaos- and I saw the beaver not once, but three times. He would appear right before me (when I made my one attempt at photographic documentation)- then a few minutes later, he'd reappear over to the right, swimming in the open- then I'd hear a splash and catch sight of him again over to the left, hidden by some trees. I'm told it is unusual for them to be so active during the day, so I feel honored that he's gracing my water break with his presence.

Lähetetty 23. elokuuta 2015 19:32 käyttäjältä jblinde jblinde | 2 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

17. toukokuuta 2015

One Hundred Observations

I hit one hundred observations today, which seems like something of a milestone even though it is one hundred observations, not one hundred correct ID's. I am often wrong, especially when it comes to fungi, and on dragonflies and butterflies I have no idea. When my kids go to outdoors places with me, and I start pulling out the phone, I may or may not sometimes get comments like "MOM! we're here to HIKE, not take pictures for your iNat page!'. Which is, when you think about it, somewhat funny from two adolescents who can't apparently go anywhere without an iPad.

However, I have noticed that I am seeing more "stuff" when I hit the trails. It could just be that it's spring/early summer, and there is a lot of "stuff" to see. However, I also think that quite a bit of what I am seeing was always there, and I'm starting to get better at seeing it. Which is, I think, quite cool.

Lähetetty 17. toukokuuta 2015 20:23 käyttäjältä jblinde jblinde | 2 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti

13. toukokuuta 2015

A very cool Mother's Day present

My 14 year old daughter made me a hand-made "Guide to Unique Fungi Around the World". She took the time to research, hand-write, and illustrate information on 26 fungi that she thought were fascinating- and she included her thoughts as to why they were fascinating in the book. She said that she didn't think her art was very good, but as a completely objective art connoiseur (cough) I thought she did very well.

I've gotten interested in fungi- they're interesting, they're everywhere, they're easy to photograph with a phone (unlike birds, which won't stay still no matter how hard I plead), and making spore prints is fun although I still feel "leave no trace" guilty every time I take one out of the ground. They're a heck of a challenge to identify. However, the best part of it is that my kids have gotten into it, too. When we go walk the dog, we all look for mushrooms- and we've found a couple of good ones; a puffball and a false green parasol. We took a knife to the puffball to see what was inside and my teenagers- teenagers!- were practically jumping up and down to see what would happen.

That's why my daughter's gift means so much to me- I love it because she made it, but she told me after she gave it to me that she liked doing it, and that she found out that there are a "lot of cool mushrooms out there". Youth interested in nature. That's my mother's day gift.

Lähetetty 13. toukokuuta 2015 21:14 käyttäjältä jblinde jblinde | 1 kommentti | Jätä kommentti

24. helmikuuta 2015

Icy Day at Home

I have found a new use for iNaturalist that the developers may not have foreseen- entertaining kids at home during an ice day.

While I was entering some observations yesterday, I decided to show my son a picture of a very cute hispid cotton rat that someone had taken. He looked at it, eyes wide, and exclaimed "oh, so cute! It looks like a hamster!" (he loves hamsters).

Then we looked at more pictures- cottontails, squirrels, skunks, a kingfisher, a great egret, a great blue heron. A cardinal. A bluebird. Ducks. Quite a few things neither of us knew.

It wasn't as good as actually going outside. But it was a great substitute for a walk in the woods on a very cold icy day.

Lähetetty 24. helmikuuta 2015 14:36 käyttäjältä jblinde jblinde | 0 kommenttia | Jätä kommentti