Monday, October 24, 2011

So Far, Amazing!

Apparently my $28 a night Motel 6 wants extra money for wifi, so I'll make this quick from my phone. I saw 65 species of butterflies just at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas today. Best was a Pale-Spotted Leafwing, a new one in NA even for Glassberg. Also 9 life birds. Green Jays kick ass, no other way to put it. Kiskadees are right up there too. I have a ton of bfly pics but will have to wait till Im home to post. South Padre tomorrow for Reddish Egret and some costal birding. Peace!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Texas Soon

For those who actually read this blog, you may realize I haven't had very exciting updates recently (besides the Gannet chase). Fear not, for I journey to Texas on Sunday, with a full-day butterfly count on the 24th at Bentsen, with Jeff Glassberg the leader. It is sure not to disappoint, plus I'll be birding and butterflying heavily for a week in the valley, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An Epic Chase

Who would leave Lansing at 2:30am, drive (or ride technically) 5 hours to Whitefish Point to be there by sunrise, stand at the point all day hoping a certain bird flys by (Gannet *cough cough*), then ride back to Lansing? THIS guy! I hopped a ride with Adam, Caleb and Rick and so started the "Northern Gannet at WPBO" chase that will be remembered forever.

We got to WPBO before sunrise and hit the point, where a few other birders joined us. There was an impressive loon flight, mostly Common but respectable numbers of Red-throated, and a pretty decent Aythya flight as well. As great as it was watching the duck/loon flight, the number of Northern Gannets in the first few hours was 0. Eventually the flight died, as did our optimism that the bird would show. 2pm went by, the time when the Gannet was seen the day before we were there, and still no bird.

At this time, most of us had resorted to throwing stones at a hole in a stump near the waterbird shack, or throwing stones to see who could throw further, or throwing stones at further out driftwood, or throwing up rocks and trying to hit them with other rocks before the first rock hit the ground. There was one person, however, who did not participate in the games, but continued to intently scan the horizon. His name was Adam.

While I was (ashamedly) lying on my back on the gravel, fighting off fatigue and playing with my phone, Adam jumped up to his scope. Seconds later, "GOT IT!" was yelled, and stones were put down and every eye was on every scope. The glorious beast that is the Northern Gannet was shearwatering across the horizon, providing distant, but identifiable looks. This was at 4:35pm. 

We came, we saw, we conquered, and then we ate victory pizza. Victory pizza is pizza you eat to celebrate a great victory, and if there was ever a time for victory pizza, it was now. We absolutely demolished 2 large pizzas from B.C. pizza in St. Ignace in a matter of minutes. We then settled in for a long ride/drive back to Lansing, where I slept for a good 12 hours before starting the next day.

Overall, it was a gorgeous day on Lake Superior, with good company and good birds as well. Now, time to crack down and finish studying for the GRE next week... unless something else rare shows up.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Walking Stick!

While visiting family near Kalkaska, MI, I went to Rugg Pond Natural Area to give the macro lens a workout. In the parking lot, climbing on a car, was a Northern Walking Stick (Diapheromera femorta) doing a poor job of blending in. Having never seen a single Phasmatodea of any kind, I was quite excited. I eventually moved it to an area where it could camo in, but not before doing a photo-shoot. I'm still getting the hang of this macro lens, and the lighting wasn't great, but here is what I came away with.
Northern Walking Stick- A little out of habitat.
Blending In.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Cool Caterpillar

Stopped at Lake Lansing North with my dad today to do some birding and enjoy the beautiful weather. Spotted a perfect non-avian specimen for some practice macro photography, but I had to use my stock flash and it created some weird effects. Nonetheless, came away with a half-decent picture, but I know I can do better with a monopod and an external flash.

What we have here is what is known as a Lace-capped Caterpillar, the larva of the White-streaked Prominent moth. I haven't ever seen the moth (that I know of...) or the caterpillar, and it was quite a looker!
A little out of focus at some areas, a steady monopod sure would have helped here.
Three weeks until Texas. Pray for rain!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Up Close and Personal

It was only a matter of time before I dove into macro photography. I recently acquired a Tamron 90mm Di macro lens and hit the ground running. It is already quite obvious I'll need an external flash, but here is what I was able to get within a few minutes in my dads backyard.
This stink/shield bug (pentatomidea) was relaxing and stayed still long enough for me to practice on him.
This is a fly.
I'll be looking forward to using this on the butterflies in Texas!