The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Category Archives: Birds

See ya, 2010…

All right, all right, I give.  2010 is tout fini and the holidays are over (wah!).  Tomorrow marks the start of the new term; I’m teaching and have coursework of my own. 

I consider 2010 to be my first “real” year of blogging; though I have dabbled since ’09 it wasn’t until last January that I felt the pieces pulling together and then sat back and watched this little speck of the blogosphere grow into something a little more cohesive (though perhaps still just as rambly).  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working on posts, taking pictures, and sharing my interests with you.  In fact, you, my readers, are the most surprising and wonderful thing to have developed out of this hobby of mine; I never imagined that I would find a home among a group of such interesting, intelligent and talented scientists, naturalists, and outdoorsy-types.  I value your readership, your comments, your insights: thank you.

Now I’m going to indulge in a bit of copy-cattery (a sign of flattery!): some of you have been doing different versions of  “2010 in Review” posts, and I’m diggin’ it.  So here is my version.  See ya, 2010!

Some blog stats

Visitors in 2010: 18,965 (!!!)

Most Visited Post:  Goldenrod gall fly 

My Favourite Post: Crocodile!

Best Search Engine Terms: this was a toss-up between “dork dweeb nerd” and “Spider in Canada that is black and white and has thorn looking things on legs”.  Sorta sums this whole blog right up, those.

Favourite Photographs

Best Adult Beetle Photo

Best Larva Photo

Best Other Insect Photo

Best Non-insect Arthropod Photo

Best Mammal Photo

Best Bird Photo

Best Plant Photo

As I’ve searched through my posts from the past year, I’ve realized that I’ve got a ton of other photos tucked away that never made it on the blog.  I think I’m going to start a weekly feature (Foto Friday? Wordless Wednesday? Something along those lines) where I just post some of my favourite pics without worrying so much about accompanying text; it’ll be a nice project for the winter months.

Anyways, here’s to 2011!  I wish you all an exciting and fulfilling year!

Nature Photography Tips – Part 1

Listen up, kids.  Today’s Tip is a doozy.

Tip #1: If you don’t bring the camera you can’t take pictures of nature.

For example, let’s say you’re walking in the woods with the dogs, blissed out on all the white floofiness of everything, when you hear a cacophony of screaming blue jays.  You don’t think much about it; jays are pretty common-place.  But something causes you to look up, and you realize the jays are not screaming at YOU, they’re screaming at THIS:

*INSERT AWESOME PHOTO OF OMG AN AMAZING HUGE OWL IN PLAIN SIGHT STARING CALMLY RIGHT BACK AT YOU*

Ah, see how that works?  No camera = no awesome photo = very very sad you and no picture to accompany ranty self-pitying blog post.

So, kids, remember: ALWAYS BRING THE FRACKING CAMERA.

AUGH.

Boy, this is galling…

Cheek-adees

These guys were just too funny.

I was out and about at the Bird Sanctuary.  I passed first over a long, lichen-encrusted boardwalk that stretched across a lovely cattail mash.  The red-winged blackbirds and grackles strutted and argued, and I heard the distinctive cry of a red-tailed hawk overhead.   Then the trail lead through a small thicket of maple trees.  It was there that they first appeared:  about a dozen black-capped chickadees, seemily vying for the best vantage from which to observe my actions.

 

They perched a mere arms’ length away and peered at me.  Occasionally one would swoop at me for a closer look, all fluttering wings and curiosity, without a hint of aggression or defensive behaviour.  They didn’t stir when I raised my arms to point my camera at them.   

Thinking it was a fluke, I stood like a statue and observed them for some time. Then, wanting to continue my explorations, I carried on down the trail. When I next paused to take a closer look at a tree, I found myself once again surrounded by little black-headed birds. This time one flew to the ground and hopped right up to my feet. I laughed.

Later on, in the forest, I paused to roll a log nestled in fall leaves. No sooner had I removed my hand from the log, when another Chickadee swooped out of nowhere and perched upon it. I rather fancied that he cocked his head to better see the dark earth and wriggling things below.

Honest to goodness, it was like having small children tagging along for the journey, endearingly pestering with questions: “Whatcha doing?”  “What’s that?”  I know Chickadees are normally not terribly shy around humans, but this cheeky group took it to another level. It totally cracked me up.

Bird Sanctua…OMGSHINY

South of my home, there is a swath of land that has been designated a migratory bird sanctuary.  It provides a variety of habitats, from cattail marshes to mature hardwood forest, and boasts an impressive bird list.  There are walking trails and an interpretive centre, and it’s open year-round to visitors at no cost.   I have not spent nearly as much time poking around in it as I should since it is only a 20 minute drive from my home.   

I was working in my little home office this morning and couldn’t help but notice that it was sunny and warm and FRACKING GORGEOUS outside.  So I did what any serious, conscientious grad student would do:   I ceremoniously swept the pile of reading off my desk, grabbed my camera and binoculars and hit the road.   The sanctuary was calling me.   

(Don’t look at me like that, you know you would have done the same.) 

The St. Lawrence River demarks the southern limit of the sanctuary.  While the shoreline and small inland bodies of water are still largely frozen over, the widest parts are moving freely and welcoming our waterfowl back home for the summer.  The Canada Geese are back in droves: 

 

Yep, that’s you guys down there (you know who you are).  Heck, we’re practically neighbours! 

I spotted my first Mallard Duck pair of the season.  They were very suspicious and coy and did not appreciate the paparazzi.  The Red-winged Blackbirds have also returned; they filled the air with their cocky KONK-A-REEEEEE, and strutted about the tips of trees and cattails, all “I’m too sexy for my epaulets”.    Ring-billed Gulls screamed and circled overhead.  I could hear Killdeer crying in the distance, and watched American Tree Sparrows dance through the branches on either side of the trail.  A few Robins hopped and pecked at the softening terrain.  

I wonder what else I would have seen and heard had I walked more than 100 yards down the path.  I got distracted.  There were LOGS on the ground!  Basking in sunshine! Unfrozen!  Moveable! 

MUST….FLIP…LOGS…AND…LOOK…FOR…BUGS…. 

!!! 

I’m a slave to my entomophily.  Arthrophily.  Invertephi…whatever, you know what I mean. 

Slugs!  

 

Slug eggs!  And a millipede! 

 

Red Velvet Mite! 

 

Green Bug!  

GREEN!!!1!

Oh, wait: that’s a little plant.   That’s right folks, the first sprig of spring!  I don’t know what the heck it’s going to be (something monocot-ey that grows in groups in a little sunny opening at the edge of a forest – perhaps a day lily?), but it surely is a welcome sight.

And don’t get me started about the beetles, my friends.  Not “just” larvae, but BEETLES.    For serious.

Stay tuned.

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