Saturday, March 31, 2012

Things Aren't Always What They Seem

Sometimes it's simply that we miss something. For instance the bee below has a friend off to the side I didn't notice until today.

Sometimes we think we're looking at a certain thing, but really we're not. The long-legged fly below has the markings and body shape of a bee. His green metalic color can be a give away, but not necessarily. There are bees with similar coloring.

Sometimes we know exactly what we're looking at. It's obvious. Just like the ladybug below with the cool spot of sunshine reflecting off its shell.

Perhaps, though, what might not be so obvious in the above shot is how old the ladybug is. Note the husk below. It's the shell of a ladybug pupae. Apparently my friend above had just hatched.

PS - I thought the ladybug pupae on the leaves were a different kind of ladybug larvae. If I remember correctly, some of them were moving. I wished I had realized what they were because I would have waited longer to see if some of them would emerge while I was there. Win some, lose some and know better next time:)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Return to Silken Skein Falls

While I have yet to make the hike back to the falls again, I do have plenty of photos from last summer. With spring nearly firmly planted, I thought I would post these in honor of spring fever. Here's to many return trips.

Moss Growing by Falls

Lower Half of Falls

Upper Half of Falls

Creek Bed

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Awesome Summer Finds

These are some of the treasures I found while out on a hike this past July. We were actually out geocaching. We yet have to find that treasure. Fall and Winter forced an intermission to our hunt. If we ever find what we started to look for, I'm sure it will show up in a later post.

Even so, I was quite pleased with what I found along the way. Many miniature friends. A grasshopper caught in quite a nice candid pose as he clings to a stalk of wild grass. A two for one when I took a shot of a brown skipper, a spittle bug was but a few grass blades away. An earwig trying to blend into the bud of a goatsbeard. And my absolute favorite - an ant farm.

Yes, I'm a geek. Whenever I find ants farming aphids, the immediate area knows about it as I start to scream like a little girl. Some girls had a fuss over the Beatles, I'll have a fuss over a beetle. Yeah, terrible pun, so I'll just end there before it gets worse!

Spittle Bug and Brown Skipper

Grass Hopper on Grass

Earwig on Goatsbeard

Ants Farming Aphids

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Got My Flower Fix

One of the things I miss during winter is the flowers. And winter can last a long time here in Montana. Fortunately for me, we decided to visit the Botanical Gardens during our stay in Denver.

I lived in Denver for four years and never once went down to see the gardens. That was a big mistake. I have to say this is one of the coolest places I have ever been to. I put it up there with the Wilbur D. May Arboretum in Reno. Got a little homesick for that place I must admit. Even so, Denver's gardens are their own unique kind of awesomeness. Well worth the trip if you ever happen to visit.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Peacocks at the Zoo

We had the pleasure of going to Denver for our spring break. What a blast. One of our favorite spots to visit is the zoo, and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. As in perfect summer weather. It was that warm.

One of my favorite animals at the zoo are the peacocks. They pretty much have the run of the place. (Well, that and the geese which leads to some interesting stand offs.) I love watching them strut around the park and get into all kinds of interesting places. As you can tell, they don't shy away from perching on fences near the animal enclosures. They even get into the enclosures. The best part is I was able to catch one of the peacocks in take off mode. I'm always amazed when the focus and lighting work so well on such spontaneous shots. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

How I Became an Amateur Archeologist

Or perhaps more accurately, how I attempted to become an amateur paleontologist. In what seems like a lifetime ago, one of our favorite hiking spots in Reno was a place called Thomas Creek Trail. On the way back from one of our weekly hikes, my son and I spotted something poking out of the dirt. Out of curiosity we began to dig around the protrusion. At first I thought that it might be a child's shoe due to the plastic feel and the shape of the object. At this point our excavation efforts had only afforded us a view of the eye socket and part of the cheekbone. The strip of cheekbone looked like a shoe strap to me. (In fact, I'm not even sure they still make the kind of shoes I'm thinking of. And they were probably made of vinyl not plastic. All I remember is those dress shoes with a strap that I wore as a small child were not very flexible or comfortable.)

Completely intrigued now and somewhat confounded as to why the shoe would not come loose out of the dirt, I became obsessed with freeing my prize. My son long ago gave up out of boredom. He was only 4 or so, you can see the attention span may not last that long. I was not about to give up though. He'd have to learn some patience. (Yeah, not really working my parent brain there.) This darn shoe! Wait. Is it a shoe? That's a pretty long foot for a kid. Hey, wait, those are teeth. Cool! I've found a skull. Probably belonging to a deer. And hey here's the spinal column. Well, now it's just a matter of time, clearly this poor animal hadn't been buried very deep. I wonder if they'll let me take it home. Hum.

Yeah, I never got much farther than that. Turns out, the body was buried at an angle, and beyond the skull, it went deeper into the ground. I also was having a bear of a time digging around a large rock that seemed to have the skeleton wrapped around it. I decided it was time to give up the ghost and head home before my poor neglected child mutinied on me.

Still, I wondered if I might be able to return with better tools. Trust me, a dig needs something more than a few large river rocks for shovels. I called the Wildlife Department and asked if I could keep it if I was willing to dig it up. The nice officer told me that it was all mine. He thought that it had probably been poached and quickly buried. Hum. My thought was it got caught in the flood waters earlier that year and was killed and buried in the silt. He's probably right, though. He is the professional. Either way it's a sad deal.

I never did make it back to dig the skeleton out. We were about two weeks out from moving to Bozeman, so I had to forgo that adventure for the more realistic excitement of packing up the house. Oh, well, not sure what I would have done with it anyway.

This is the fourth story in the Adventure Series. You'll find story three here. From there you can follow the links backwards to the other stories if you like.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What Do Zebras and Spiders Have in Common?

In this case, they share a name. This little fellow that I found crawling on my window this past fall is a Zebra Jumping Spider. They're quite common around here. Fourtunately, they are one of my favorite spiders. Just because they look so cool. I think they're cute and adorable, but I realize not everyone shares that view. Also they are incredibly easy to identify. They are also incredibly easy to photograph. Unlike other jumping spiders, they will sit still for a shot or two before leaping off.