Monarchs in Motion

Warm sunny days are fueling carpets of wildflowers in abandoned fields. Nectaring butterflies – monarchs, painted ladys and others – complete the scene as they dart, flutter and glide about in a continuous and purposeful manner. It all seems right. And September is a wonderful time of year to be alive.

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Photos by NB Hunter (September, 2017). © All Rights Reserved.

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Deer Watching in Late Summer

Non-consumptive recreation activities associated with white-tailed deer peak in late summer and early fall. Deer feed continuously and are often visible in good light. Fully developed antlers are on full display, more visible than ever while still covered in velvet. Regardless of your recreation choices – binoculars,  conventional cameras, motion-detecting trail cameras, or simply viewing for pleasure – it is the best time of year to observe, appreciate and learn about these magnificent members of the deer family.

PS: These deer are in various stage of molting, a process that insures thermoregulation, and some camouflage as well,  through the seasons. The thin, reddish-brown summer coat is giving way to a thick, dark winter coat that features hollow hair and a thick underfur.

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Photos by NB Hunter (August 30 – September 16, 2017). © All Rights Reserved.

Continuous Bloom for Butterflies

When the cool nights and shorter days of late summer arrive, priorities shift dramatically to subjects like white-tailed deer and preparation for winter. Aside from the occasional Monarch flitting about in fields of asters and goldenrods, butterfly photography is an afterthought.

A recent field trip and opportunity to observe butterflies in a cultivated landscape reminded me that there’s still a lot going on in butterfly world! And, most important, a landscape with continuous bloom into late summer can attract and nourish a wide variety of insects at a critical time. The host plants in this post are Sedum (‘Autumn Joy’) and Butterfly Bush.

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Tiger Swallowtail on Sedum (1 of 2)

 

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Red-spotted Purple on Sedum (the red spots are on the underside of the wing)

 

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Sulphur butterfly in a sea of plenty

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Battle-worn Black Swallowtail on Butterfly Bush

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Fritillary on Butterfly Bush

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Monarch on Sedum

Photos by NB Hunter (August 26-27, 2017). © All Rights Reserved.

August Colors and Details

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Sub-adult Wood Frog out and about on a rainy day

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White-tail fawn foraging in cultivated fields

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Bumblebee feasting on Touch-me-not (Jewelweed)

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Teasel at ground level, the 6-foot stalk flattened by flood waters 

 

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Clearwing Hummingbird Moth on Phlox (1 of 2)

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Small pool of spring water that has quenched the thirst of 3 dogs during 30 years of trail walking

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White Admiral, wings upright and showing its true colors

Photos by NB Hunter (August, 2017). © All Rights Reserved.

Snakes Around the House

I enjoy working on the house and property in mid summer, when the weather is warm and friendly. And, I’m not alone in my fondness for warm weather. Seventeen species of snakes are endemic to New York State. At least three of them – all nonpoisonous and harmless – live around the house (stone foundation; compost pile; deep, leafy mulch; loose stone walls, etc.). July is their month to see and be seen!

I’m tripping over garter snakes, and every so often get a glimpse of the beautiful, but secretive, milk snake.

They’re in the lawn…

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The firewood pile…

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The blueberry patch…

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And, just this morning, inside the cellar ….. at eye level!

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This milk snake, a young adult about two feet long, was investigating a shelf in the stone foundation of the cellar where sawdust had accumulated during the installation of a furnace vent. Rodents are a dietary staple, so I’m hoping it eats well (and stays in the stone foundation)!

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“The Essence of Wildlife Photography” by Mike Biggs, IN “Whitetail Rites of Autumn” by Charles Alsheimer:

“Wildlife photography consists of a series of repeated attempts by a crazed individual to obtain impossible photos of unpredictable subjects performing unlikely behaviors under outrageous circumstances.”

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Small Farms and Cultivated Fields: Priceless

In late spring patches and ribbons of vivid colors are dominant in open landscapes. The spectacular, multi-colored bloom is Dame’s Rocket, a garden escapee gone wild.

Invariably, my interest in this wildflower opens my eyes to the visual resources beyond the bloom. Fields, mostly cultivated fields on local dairy farms, become a subject of interest.

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Dame’s Rocket in full bloom 

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Front to back: Dame’s Rocket, grain fields and woodlands (8June2017)

The appeal of cultivated fields is much more than the dynamic beauty of line, color and texture through the seasons. They’re wildlife magnets, providing critical habitat for a host of opportunistic birds and mammals.

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Buck in velvet, foraging on new growth following the first cutting of hay (27June2017)

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Hen turkey foraging in a hay field; there might be youngsters underfoot, chasing hoppers {1July2017)

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Lingering storm clouds after days of torrential rains and damaging flood waters (1July2017)

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Red-winged blackbird foraging in a field of barley (1July2017)

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A hay field colonized by wild black mustard (30June2017)

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Orchard grass, a common forage plant in hay fields (27June2017)

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Grosbeak Sightings

The Rose-breasted grosbeak population in Central New York seems to be quite healthy, as everyone has been talking about summer residents and sightings at bird feeders well beyond the Spring migration. I’ve observed two nesting pairs on our 30-acre natural area and often see a female around the feeders. Here she is, in morning light.

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Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.