Entries to Win Afghan

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Five-Five - I Had to Do It

My laptop decided to have serious issues tonight. And my desktop USB ports only work when I take it to the repair shop, so... no new picture. There were beautiful clouds accompanying our thunderstorms tonight, but I can't get the pix to the computer.

So, I decided to play a 5-5 game. I went to drive C:, opened the 5th folder, and its 5th folder, and would have chosen the 5th picture. But there was only one, so here it is. I wasn't planning to do an ad... but that's what you get.

The picture turned out to be the cover (full spread) of my Devotions for Hikers booklet. I recently reduced the eBook price to 99 cents, so it's a very good deal in that format.

cover of Devotions for Hikers

Although the entries are keyed off of things like walking and following a trail, the ten essays really are pertinent to anyone's Christian walk.

If you are interested, it's available at Smashwords, no special reader required, but they also support reader formats if you have one.

I suspect that tomorrow morning will be spent at the computer shop.

And now I have to unplug from the internet again- more thunder. Will respond to comments tomorrow.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Here Comes 2004

What? Are we traveling backwards in time? Nope, just finding another of my loves in my own backyard. Here she comes!

Marquette Rail

Marquette Rail

Marquette Rail

Do you think you've seen this recently? You have- follow the link to see a picture of the same engine from a few days ago. What's the big deal? Most of the engines they run do not carry this nice paint scheme.

See Today's Good Views

Friday, July 29, 2011

Robber Fly- Only 7000 Cousins

robber fly

I learned something interesting with this picture. First, the parts I already knew. This fly was flitting around on some flowers, but then landed on this bracken fern. I noted that it looks a lot like a bumblebee. However, it has only two wings, not four- therefore, not a bee. It also doesn't fly like a bee. If an insect is sitting on a leaf like this, it's probably not a bee at all. It was definitely a fly- Order Diptera (two wings). After that, I was at the end of my knowledge and had to go hunting.

Flies that look like bees are robber flies. They are in the genus Laphria. But there are more genera which are all called robber flies in the family Asilidae. Worldwide, there are more than 7100 species of them. They are noted for having a long proboscis which they use to stab victims. They then inject a neurotoxin to kill the prey. The saliva also dissolves the internal organs of the victim, and the robber fly sucks this meal back through the proboscis. Yum.

To see another kind of robber fly, Ratty once posted a picture of a Giant Robber Fly

Most of these cousins have to get by with sharing the same common name. I think this one's formal name is Laphria thoracica

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pinwheels or Parachutes?

Today I found a little mushroom in my kingdom. It's not rare, really, but I haven't seen it before. One of its names is Pinwheel Mushroom. It's a tiny find. The largest pinwheel is about 3/8 inch across.

pinwheel mushroom

Look at the adorable dark stems. This clump was on a slope, so it was easier to get a side view.

pinwheel mushroom

It has another name, the collared parachute. Look underneath-- the gills don't attach to the stem, but to a collar around it. It usually grows in deciduous woods.

pinwheel mushroom

To be specific, it's Marasmius rotula. It's very similar to one called horsehair mushroom, but that one has a thinner cap and usually grows on conifer detritus or rotting logs.

I'm always smiling when I find something new where I walk every day.

If you like this post, or the enlargements on the photo pages, it would be nice to click the +1 button.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Today's Good Views

Today I had a list of work assignments. I saw a number of back roads, REALLY back roads, that I'd never seen before. Took one wrong unmarked two-track, but didn't know it was the wrong one till I got back to a real road and was not where I wanted to be. Saw two lakes that I never previously knew existed-- one is totally private, so I'll probably never see it again. Both were hardly more than ponds... no great pictures there.

It was such a mixed bag, I'll just share my two favorite captures of the day. The very best would have been two sandhill cranes in my own field. But I didn't have the camera with me because it was raining, so I had left it in the house while walking Maggie. Hopefully the cranes will visit again. I also saw another red-headed woodpecker, a red-tailed hawk swooping low, and a turkey with a brood of chicks, but couldn't get pictures of those, either.

So, you will have to settle for things that move more slowly. First is the one Marquette Rail engine that they have painted in their yellow and maroon scheme. This is the same line that runs in back of my house, but this picture was taken about 10 miles away.

Marquette Rail engine 2004

The second picture is an unexpected view. We have some little hills, but not very many places where you can actually get a view. I've showed you a few, and today I found another. It was a complete surprise to me. I'd never been on this road before. It has the unimaginative name of State Road, and it's just a wide sand road that goes along a power line. But not in a straight line, and it is quite hilly. I was really surprised to come to the top of one, and to be able to see this view to the west.

wooded hills view

That's the scoop for today. They can't all produce spectacular images.

American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacation

This whole week there are extra volunteers working on our boardwalk project. The American Hiking Society organizes Volunteer Vacations all over the U.S. and we are privileged to have a crew here helping us.

Sadly, I'm so busy this week that I only had this one day to go out with them. We did a lot of this:

carrying boards

I got a chance to talk with quite a few people. There were some from Michigan who were looking for an opportunity close to home. But there was a lady from California, and a man from Rhode Island who have done several of these VVs. There were two people from Chicago suburbs.

And we did a lot of this:

setting posts

There are two posts every 8 feet, and each of them has to be plumb, and set in a deep hole. Oh yes, those holes had to be dug. I managed to shame one guy into letting me try a hole. After watching me do two he said, "I can see that you've done this before."

Well, yes. Why do we have to keep re-training guys that some of us girls are happier with a post hole digger than with a purse? I gave him a fake kick in the butt, and got a good grin out of him.

The next picture was taken last Saturday. You can see that this one section was just two lines of posts in the woods.

lines of posts

Look how much has been accomplished already. Here's the same section today:


I'm glad I got to go help a little bit. My contribution to this boardwalk project has been minimal, compared to a core group from the chapter, but at least I'll get to say that I participated.

See Spirit of the Woods Work Day

Monday, July 25, 2011

This Male Widow is not a Widower

male widow skimmer dragonfly

Do you remember the female Widow Skimmer dragonfly? I had been seeing the males, but hadn't gotten one to hold still long enough to capture a picture. That's makes it sound like I had something to do with it! Ha! They do whatever they want and I run around and chase them. Maggie does her part by walking ahead of me and making them fly before I can get close enough to use the camera.

But I'm pretty happy with these. And this is the first dragonfly that I've captured images of both sexes. With the white band outside of the dark patches, there is no illusion of a butterfly at all. A number of dragonflies have chalky white patches like this, and the pattern shows the species.

male widow skimmer dragonfly

See It's a Butterfly, It's a Dragonfly, It's a Widow for the female widow skimmer dragonfly

Added Google plus

This is just an extra note- scroll down for the fun post. I have added the Google Plus 1 button to my posts. If you especially like one of my entries, it would be nice if you click the button. If you want to belong to the Google +1 network, just send me your email (to jhy@t-one.net) and I'll send you an invite. So far, I like the way it's set up.

Read How to Add Google +1 Button to Blog Posts

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Twin Trouble

This must have been a fantastic year for twin fawns. Almost every whitetail deer family I see has twins. Including the family in my lawn. This one says, "I'm very cute."

whitetail fawn

The other one says, "I'm a little shy."

whitetail fawn

"But look at my lovely ears and eyelashes."

whitetail fawn

"Who cares, I can catch my tail."

whitetail fawn

The person behind the camera says, "Adorable now, goodbye flowers later."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Spirit of the Woods Work Day

Today was a work day for the trail group. We're still working on that huge boardwalk project in Sterling Marsh. You'll probably hear more about that next week.

digging post holes

There's so much to do! Some sections are still only just begun. The first thing that has to happen is digging post holes. That's really hard work!

building boardwalk

This section is much closer to completion. I chose this picture for two reasons. First of all, it really shows the process. The decking boards are attached from the bottom of the picture back to the break, and only laid out beyond there. A couple of people were screwing those down. The other reason I chose this one is because it shows Loren, whom regular readers will recognize. She's working on the edge railing.

drilling holes

Here's someone else you may recognize. Yup, I was drilling holes for the bolts that hold the railing on. We had a meeting in the late afternoon, and then I walked for a bit after that.

yellow fingers

This little grouping of beauties gave me a smile! No IDs- this picture is just about the music of the woods. I went for a quick swim when I got home in an attempt to cool off. The water is so warm that even though it's refreshing, I would need to stay in the water a lot longer to really cool down, but it still felt good.

See Trail Work Day

Friday, July 22, 2011

An Alien Snail, Yes Really

Hackert Lake

It's been so hot that I've gone swimming three times this week. There's a nice little inland lake about three miles from me. It's Hackert Lake. Loretta and I went for a dip on Tuesday, and then I went yesterday and today.

floating snail shell

There were quite a few floating snail shells. I had to fake this picture, because I couldn't swim with the camera, and it doesn't really give the effect. What they looked like was large brown bubbles- not a lot of them, but just one here, and one there. I had to pick one up to discover it was a shell (empty).

mystery snail shell

Maybe some of you already know what this is, but I had to look it up. This is a Chinese Mystery Snail, Viviparus malleatus. The reason you might know, while I don't, is that if you have an aquarium, these are really popular to clean the tanks of algae.

It's alien, not as "from another planet," but as "doesn't belong in the wild here." There is a native Viviparus, but it's Viviparus georgianus, and it has bands that go around the shell, instead of lengthwise stripes.

However, I couldn't find any information that said they were becoming a problem where they have become naturalized, so that is good.

mystery snail shell

Some child found a good use for one- to decorate a castle!

White-faced Meadowhawk

female white-faced meadowhawk

Isn't this a beauty! I'm pretty sure it's a white-faced meadowhawk, Sympetrum obstrusum. There's a discussion going on Bugguide.net about the ID, so I might have to change it. It's a female for sure. The males are red if this ID is right. The other best candidate species would have a blue male.

female white-faced meadowhawk

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Karner Blue Habitat

Today was my second and last day volunteering for the Karner Blue Butterfly count. I worked with Erin again, and that was fun because we had learned that we work well together. We checked three sites today, but didn't see any of the butterflies. That may only mean that they haven't emerged yet in those plots.

It's still blazing hot here. We were glad enough that it didn't take all day to finish. Actual temps were over 90, with the heat index over 100.

I thought I'd show you what the Karner Blues like in terms of habitat. The key component is the presence of Wild Lupine. The first picture shows one of the butterflies on those leaves. They lay their eggs on the lupine, and the larvae eat the leaves.

karner blue butterfly on wild lupine

They also have favorite flowers for nectar to feed on when they are adults. This was new information to me. First is Horsemint, Monarda Punctata. I think it looks odd- like the flowers aren't flowers but pale leaves.

photo label

Their other favorite is more common, just wild Yarrow, Achillea millefolium.

wild yarrow

All of these plants grow primarily out in the open. The most typical kind of site we surveyed was an old glacial kettle hole. You can tell in the lowest area there is a little more moisture because different kinds of plants grow there, even though it's not a lake any more. Prairie plants will grow in these, yes even in Michigan.

dry kettle hole

The other ecosystem the Karner Blues like is savannah. That is typically open grassy areas with an overstory of scattered trees so that sun can still reach the ground. This is a typical Midwest oak savannah. Most of the ones in Michigan have disappeared, but the Forest Service has been doing some controlled burns to open them up again. This little space looks like it hasn't needed burning. Again, the important thing is that the plants the butterflies like can grow.

oak savannah

I did see some other interesting things, and got pix of some of them. They may show up here over the coming days if I need something good to use.

See Counting Karner Blues

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Prehistoric Mis-Timing?

cicada shell
What is this? Am I working on my own version of Jurassic Park? Not exactly, but it is very strange. Not so strange in what it is-- it's the shed skin of the final nymph instar of the cicada. In this picture, it really looks like it came from another planet, don't you think?

What's strange is that it doesn't belong here this year. Cicadas spend most of their lives underground. The emerge from the ground and fly around mating and laying eggs once every so often. Some species are seen once every 17 years, others have a 13-year cycle. There is no brood that is supposed to emerge in Michigan in 2011. This means that this one individual has somehow gotten out of sync.

Here's the back view of the skin- you can see the split in the back where the winged adult emerged.

cicada shell

I can't tell what species this is from just the shell. Maybe experts can. The genus is Magicicada. Indiana and Illinois are supposed to have emergences this year, so maybe this is a stray.

17-Year Cicadas