Sunday, June 28, 2020

Turkey Vulture

A turkey vulture showing off its good side.
The other side is pretty much the same. Notice how you can see right through the nose. It has no septum! The big nostrils plus a big olfactory lobe contribute to the turkey vulture's good sense of smell, which is uncommon among birds; it helps them locate the carrion they eat. Click to enlarge.
Grooming a feather. Keeping clean.
The red featherless face might not look great to us, but it makes it easier to clean up after sticking one's head inside carrion.
The turkey vulture. Well designed.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Happy Father's Day and Happy Solstice

It's a two holiday weekend. Here is a handsome male mallard to wish everyone a happy father's day. Click to enlarge.
And a summer flower for the solstice that marks the longest day of the year. Remember in December when the sun was setting before 5:00? Around here, it's setting just after 8:30 these days. Yay! 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Puddling Butterflies

Two of many spicebush swallowtail butterflies that I saw during a socially distanced walk in a park this week. Click to enlarge.
I was at this lovely spot in the New Jersey pine barrens.
When I noticed little dark things fluttering on the shore of the lake.
They turned out to be spicebush swallowtail butterflies congregating on the mud to suck up minerals. The behavior is called mud-puddling or just puddling. Other insects puddle, but it is conspicuous and cool when big butterflies like this do it.
They flew up when I got too close.
But settled back down again.
I love stumbling upon things like this!
So pretty.
And there were dozens more butterflies around. Sometimes you are just lucky and end up in a park on a spicebush swallowtail puddling day.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Pitcher Plant Flowers

I found purple pitcher plants flowering in the rain last week on the edge of a bog in the New Jersey pine barrens.
Downward facing flowers with thick red petals.
I had to crawl underneath to see a face.
Gracefully curving stems.
A strange pterodactyl of a flower.
Click on the photos to enlarge. 
The insect-trapping pitchers at the base of the flowers are well developed, too. Note the new little ball of a flower beginning to rise on a red stem in the left rear of the photo.  Pitcher plants -- one of many great things to see in the Jersey pine barrens.