Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy New Year!

Click to enlarge. 
My creature of the year award for 2013 goes to ...

The rosy maple moth, Dryocampa rubicunda, of Atsion Lake, New Jersey. The furry pink and yellow adult in the pictures was photographed in April. The larval stage of the rosy maple moth feeds on maple leaves.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Holidays!

A differential grasshopper, Melanoplus differentialis, photographed last summer. Click to enlarge. 
This grasshopper is also called a herringbone grasshopper for its boldly patterned hind legs. The local population is underground now -- overwintering as eggs. They'll be dormant for a few more months, then hatch when warm weather returns. (Hopefully they won't be fooled by the current warm spell in New York City.)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dabbling Ducks

A few pairs of dabbling ducks. Dabblers do not dive to feed. Instead, they tip over at the water surface with their heads underwater and their tails in the air.
Blue-winged teal, Anas discors. The male has a distinctive white crescent on the face. Click to enlarge. 
Northern shoveler ducks, Anas clypeata, famous for the large bill. The colorful male is on the right and behind the relatively drab but equally big-beaked female. 
The familiar mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos. The green-headed male has a clear yellow bill. 
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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Summer Birds, Winter Birds

An osprey, Pandion haliaetus. Click to enlarge.
Some birds fly south away from us in winter. Others fly south to us.

Osprey leave the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, where the above picture was taken, in early September. They spend the winter along the coasts of Central America and southern North America, and throughout much of South America.

Two male northern pintail ducks, Anas acuta

Northern pintail ducks breed in summer in Northern Eurasia, Alaska, and across Canada. They fly south to spend the winter along the east and west coasts of North America and across the southern half of the United States and into South America. Some pintails, like the ones in this photo, end up at the Forsythe Refuge in south Jersey.

The ospreys are gone, but the pintails are back. Yay!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Hooded Mergansers

A pair of hooded mergansers, Lophodytes cucullatus, in the foreground. The female on the left has a cinnamon colored crest. The male's white hood is expandable. 
Running on the water for takeoff. 
Click to enlarge. 
Birdwatchers call them "hoodies." I saw this pair and lots more of them at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville, New Jersey, on the day after Thanksgiving. The little ducks are about 20 inches long, have a wingspan of about two feet, and weigh between one and two pounds. They are found throughout the eastern half of the United States and in the Pacific northwest year round, and in various parts of North America for winter and breeding. (Click here to see a map if you are interested.) Hoodies are diving ducks, likely to disappear while you are watching them and reappear at a distance in any direction. Underwater they catch fish, crustaceans, and insects, or pick up mollusks and vegetation.