Sunday, January 19, 2020

Longer Days

Winter persists here with snow squalls, gray skies, and biting winds. But here's an encouraging sign that easier seasons are coming. Remember the winter solstice on December 21, 2019? On that day the sun set in Philadelphia at 4:38 pm. Today's sunset will be at 5:04. We've picked up 26 minutes of day length in 30 days. Click on the photo to enlarge the little group of house sparrows in the snow.
I'll take another sunset reading 30 days from now. Before you know it we will be nestling into warm sand at the beach like this gull.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Wishing For Butterflies

Maybe it's the unreasonably warm January day. It was 67F in Philadelphia today. Maybe it's the accumulation of gray days so far this winter. Something is making me wish I could take my camera and go out stalking butterflies. Of course there are none. They're dormant or gone, so I'm settling for looking at pictures. This is the cabbage white, Pieris rapae.     Click to enlarge.
An American snout, Libytheana carinenta.
An American lady, Vanessa virginiensis.
A variegated fritillary, Euptoieta claudia.
A monarch, Danaus plexippus.

Carl Sagan once said: "We are like butterflies who flitter for a day and think it is forever."

I miss the moths, too.
The rosy maple moth,  Dryocampa rubicunda,
The yellow-collared scape moth, Cisseps fulvicollis.

.... and the caterpillars. 

Stinging rose moth caterpillar, Parasa indetermina.
Io moth caterpillar, Automeris io.
And the gregarious milkweed tussock moth caterpillars,
Euchaetes egle. Just another few months and they'll all be back.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Creature of the Year Award

Competition was stiff for the 2019 Urban Wildlife Guide Creature of the Year Award. Congratulations to this adorable Eastern Screech Owl, wildlife ambassador at Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford, New Jersey, and Creature of the Year! Click on the photo to enlarge. Click here to visit Cedar Run's webpage. Click here to visit my blog about the Eastern Screech Owl.
In the event that the owl is unable to fulfill the duties of Creature of the Year, the first runner up, this lovely yellow stinging rose caterpillar, will step in. Congratulations! Click here for my 2019 blog about the stinging rose caterpillar.
 Happy New Year and good wishes to all for a wonderful 2020.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Happy 2020 to All!

Domestic geese on a pond near me. The one in the center with neck outstretched is very bossy. Click to enlarge.

Here's a thought for the New Year from the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson: 

Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering 'it will be happier'...” 

And more geese. Don't they look like they are gossiping about the white one?

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Winter Solstice!

Winter is here! Autumn officially ended last night. The shortest day of the year will soon be behind us and we'll begin to see increasingly longer days and shorter nights from now until Spring. Here is a quote from the painter Andrew Wyeth in appreciation of the season.

I do an awful lot of thinking and dreaming about things in the past and the future - the timelessness of the rocks and the hills - all the people who have existed there. I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it,
the whole story doesn't show." 

Click on the photos to enlarge. 

Merry Christmas to all!
And to all, a shorter night!  

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Butterfly Wing Kaleidoscopes

Take a cold rainy day, a few pictures of butterflies, and Photoshop. Isolate, duplicate, cut, paste, flip, and before you know it you have a collection of beautiful butterfly wing kaleidoscopic images. Well, I do. Here's one. Click to enlarge.
This one was made from bits of monarch and tiger swallowtail wings and a purple flower that made it into the photo.
A relatively simple image like this...
Can be repeated to make this. Pretty, isn't it?
This simple one, repeated, makes...
This! Like rich brocaded fabric.
Here are some of my butterfly models. The ubiquitous cabbage white, Pieris rapae.

The lovely Eastern tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus.
And this acrobatic upside-down Red-spotted purple, Limenitis arthemis.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Snow Geese

Last week I picked a cold sunny day to visit the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Galloway on the New Jersey shore near Atlantic City. Click here for the refuge website. 
Forsythe features an 8-mile drive around freshwater pools and saltwater marsh. At this time of year you can spot interesting winter ducks along the way. And you will spot large flocks of big white birds from a distance. Click the photos to enlarge.
Get closer and you'll see they are snow geese, our winter visitors. You can't miss them; big white birds with black wingtips and pink bills in big noisy groups. 
There are lots and lots of them at Forsythe Refuge right now.
They're flying overhead.
And they are milling about eating the plants, honking and whistling and leaving goose footprints in the mud.
Lots of goose footprints in the mud! The place looks like goose central station.
If you would like to see a lot of snow geese, and take a turn around a lovely salt marsh, now is a good time for Edwin B. Forsythe Refuge.