Leaf-footed Bug, Species Acanthocephala terminalisLeaf-footed Bug, Species Acanthocephala terminalis

Green Lynx Spider?

This spider caught my eye because of the red “X” on its back. Does anyone know if Green Lynx Spider, Species Peucetia viridans, is the correct ID?

Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus #1

I’m backtracking a bit to July 22nd and one of my absolute, all-time favorite finds. This is a male Eastern Hercules Beetle, species Dynastes tityus, commonly known as a Rhinoceros Beetle or Unicorn Beetle. The most obvious difference between the male and the female is that males have the two pincer-like horns whereas females do not.

Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus #2

I had to laugh when this one made its way up to the nail because it seemed to get stuck there. Then again, I could have blinded the poor thing with the flash from my camera. I really hate using a flash to photograph wildlife for that reason; but the long exposure photos just weren’t turning out all that great, not to mention he was squirming around making it difficult to get a nice still shot. Case in point, this 2 second exposure (below) has a nice dramatic feel; but the detail leaves a lot to be desired.

Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus #3

Within the first few weeks of us moving here, I began seeing these regularly. Prior to seeing this live beetle climbing the light-pole on July 22nd, I found a dead one at the base of another light-pole that was perfectly intact, minus its right tarsus. I kept it because… well… they’re just cool and I totally geek out over bugs. Unfortunately, we didn’t have internet yet at that time; and I didn’t know how to properly preserve it for mounting.

Eastern Hercules Beetle, Dynastes tityus, Ventral View

I pulled it back out today to photograph a ventral view (above) and noticed that it’s not faring all that well. Next time I find one, I’ll know because today I’ve found a plethora of information online for mounting beetles and butterflies. I’m not going to kill them in order to do this, though. I simply don’t have the heart to do that.

Pickerel Frog, Rana palustris

And last but not least, I happened to notice this pickerel frog while photographing the Eastern Hercules Beetle. This photo was a happy accident, far better than I expected as I was shooting blind. It was the only one I took because I scooted the frog on its way so I wouldn’t accidentally step on it. It seemed thoroughly grateful to get away. They can jump quite high!

For more details and information about the Eastern Hercules Beetle visit:

Side note: by now I should seriously know better than to go outdoors and not take my camera because I had the funniest encounter with a small butterfly this afternoon. First, it enthusiastically climbed onto my finger and appeared to be licking it. After a few moments of this, it flew away. A couple of minutes later, it fluttered all around me and landed on my nose! I broke out into a fit of giggles thoroughly enjoying this rare opportunity to be so up close and personal with the friendliest of butterflies. Have I said lately how much I LOVE the new home? ;)

Hello! How’s everybody doing? It’s been a while and with good reason. David and I finally moved. Yay! Needless to say, it’s been an extremely busy summer — hence the long absence from WordPress. Moving took a lot out of me, physically and emotionally; so I took a bit of extra time for myself. The new place is pure awesomeness because it’s exactly what I was holding out for — a gorgeous country setting! I’m so excited to finally have a yard that we can actually use and enjoy. I’m taking advantage of every opportunity to be outdoors, exploring my new surroundings. I’m also thrilled to have neighbors who are so much more respectful and courteous. A huge improvement over our last living situation.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #1 Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #2

Our neighbors have a puppy who brought us a gift yesterday morning while we were sitting outside enjoying the fresh air, an Eastern Box Turtle. Well… David rescued it from her. I stayed outside with it most of the afternoon to see if it was okay.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #3

It was closed up tight in its shell, my guess, traumatized by its playful predator; so it took quite a while for it to finally open up and stick its head out — a female with the most beautiful brown eyes. She appeared uninjured, thankfully.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #4

I took a few initial photos of her and headed inside for some water and fruit to see if she would eat. She wouldn’t. Maybe she just didn’t care for cantaloupe.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #5

Before long she realized I wasn’t a threat and began to get antsy to be on her way.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #6

One of the bonuses of this piece of property is that there is a small patch of forest with a creek running at the property line. The creek is only a short hike away; so I decided it would be best to free my new little friend down there, hopefully giving her a head start at evasion from her canine huntress.

Forest Creek

I stayed down there with her for the better part of an hour. At first, she remained closed-up tight in her shell. While I waited to be sure she made her escape, I stacked rocks in the creek — total Zen. It’s so relaxing down there (well, minus the mosquitoes).

Stone Balancing 8.16.14

I made it to 8 rocks again before Ms. Turtle decided to poke her head out and check out the surroundings.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #7

It took her a little while longer before she was ready to move along, so I gave her some space while I photographed spiders and a number of Ebony Jewelwing damselflies (correct ID?). They were all over the place out there!

Unknown Spider Spider

A quick update (8.21.2014): Today I was looking through some spider photos and found the one on the left-hand side. This is Spined Micrathena, Species Micrathena gracilis.

Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)

I also had the pleasure of seeing a Pileated Woodpecker for the first time. I was in awe of its size! I’ve heard these birds ever since we moved in, but I wasn’t for certain what it was until seeing it yesterday. Honestly, their vocalizations cause me to imagine a prehistoric creature like a pterodactyl or they sound like something you would hear in a tropical rain forest. When I began researching what bird made this unique sound, my first thought was Cooper’s Hawk. After finally seeing it, however, I know for certain that it is a Pileated Woodpecker. I’m truly wishing I had a camera with a telephoto lens to photograph this beauty. I didn’t manage a photo of the woodpecker, but I did capture its vocalizations in a couple of video clips (below).

Eventually, this lovely turtle cautiously began her journey to wherever turtles go, swimming across the creek to the other side. I bid her farewell and thanked her for her patience with me. I hope she has a nice long life. Maybe I’ll see her again someday.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) #8

 

A Special Note: I made a mistake yesterday that I feel incredibly ashamed to admit now; however, I feel that it is important to mention it so that others do not make the same mistake. I tagged this turtle with a purple smiley face, so I would know it’s her should I see her again.

This is a VERY BAD idea!

Granted it was a small tag, and the paint I used should eventually wear off; but concern entered my mind immediately after I released her because I realized that it could possibly make her more visible to predators. If I ever see her again, I will make sure the paint is very carefully and completely removed.

It was an honest mistake. I don’t know what I was thinking. Okay, that’s the point — I wasn’t thinking! I had heard of people tagging turtles in this way and wasn’t thinking about the possible consequences of doing so. After researching the unwise practice today while writing this post, I was a little more than disturbed by the extent to which people are painting turtle shells, especially given the reasons for NOT doing so which include:

  1. making the turtle more visible to predators
  2. preventing the turtle’s shell from breathing
  3. preventing the turtle’s shell from needed UV rays that help it grow
  4. toxicity of paints used

I’m sure there are other reasons, but those are reason enough to pass this information along. NEVER paint a turtle’s shell.

Also, to reiterate an earlier post from a few years ago, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency:

“In Tennessee, no one is allowed to keep any animal as a pet taken from the wild, which to many people’s surprise includes tadpoles, frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, baby birds, squirrels, raccoons, and young deer. If the animal is injured, call the nearest of TWRA’s four Regional Offices for a list of permitted rehabilitators, who will keep the animal until it can be returned to the wild. If it cannot be returned, the rehabilitator will turn the animal over to someone with a special Educator’s Permit, who may be able to use the animal in a classroom or teaching setting.”

6/12/2014 @ 11:07 PM CST

6/12/2014 @ 11:07 PM CST — 6 second-long-exposure

I popped outside real quick to snap a few photos of the moon tonight because it’s so beautiful. Look closely at the photo above. Can you find the trail of a lightning bug? That was a happy accident. ;) The one below wasn’t one of my favorites (the other two are) due to the slight blur; but it was the only one I snapped at exactly 11:12 pm which was the “official” time that I found for the moon to be at its fullest. “For anyone living in or eastward of the Eastern time zone, it falls on Friday the 13th.” [Source: Tomorrow's Friday the 13th full moon is so rare, it won't happen again until 2049]

Full Moon on 6/12/2014 @ 11:12 PM CST

Full Moon on 6/12/2014 @ 11:12 PM CST — 5 second-long-exposure

 6/12/2014 @ 11:14 PM CST

6/12/2014 @ 11:14 PM CST — 3.2 second-long-exposure

Cat Hunting Blackbird

Cat Hunting Blackbird
Mixed Media – Primarily ballpoint ink pen with a small amount of colored pencil and yellow marker
Size: 8.5″x11″
2014

I began this drawing last Thursday with a very quick, rough sketch while exploring recent photos on Flickr. A couple of photos I saw by two different people, close together in the Photostream — almost side-by-side — sparked my imagination. The coincidental placement of these two images inspired me to combine what I imagined to be happening into one drawing.

The result is a kind of massive Zentangle, brightly colored with a slight abstract quality that I’m very pleased with. I spent a total of 18.5 hours on this drawing over the course of the last week. This was so enjoyable that I find myself at a loss today with nothing to work on. Onward to find more inspiration!

And speaking of Blackbirds, I have to share Kary Johnson‘s video that I ran across last week also titled simply, Blackbird. Enjoy! ;)

Orchard Orbweaver #1

Every year we get these beauties on our north facing porch. The family grows each year. Right now, there are several this size (about the size of a nickel, legs included) and a few spiderlings, no bigger than an eraser tip. The spiderlings are lighter colored. They almost appear white, until you look very closely. They were much too small for my camera to focus on, but I got a few decent photos of the adults.

 

 Orchard Orbweaver #2

These are commonly known as Orchard Orbweavers. I’m fairly certain that this particular species is Leucauge venusta, but both Leucauge venusta and Leucauge argyra are very similar. I may have to go out and take a closer look again to be completely sure. I’ll have to wait for the next sunny day, though, which from the look of the forecast won’t be any time soon.

Orchard Orbweaver #3

Although this image could have been a bit crisper, I’m pretty pleased with this photo of the colorful underside. Oh, what I would give for the capability to take macros of arachnids and insects. They’re quite beautiful when you take the time to look. ;)

Narceus americanus/annularis complex #1

Hiking at Burgess Falls over this past weekend, David and I saw a countless number of these millipedes (Narceus americanus/annularis complex). I think this was the first one that he spotted. After that, it was like a scavenger hunt, calling out to each other, “Found another one!” Seriously, we lost count of how many we saw out there. They were everywhere! I thought these two photos fit the Weekly Photo Challenge: Twist.

Narceus americanus/annularis complex #2

Bonus: a short video clip. One of these days, I’ll learn to hold a camera still while taking video! At least, I hope.

I love to watch their legs move. They’re like waves. This one was quick, and I kept turning him back around, trying to get a better photo. I thanked the millipede for its patience with me as we parted ways. It was last seen crossing a three-inch gap between rocks, back end on one rock as the front end grabbed the other. Fascinating creatures.

Snail on Moss Covered Rock

Small. Snail. Slow glide. Hunting, searching, foraging. Alien eyes peering all around. Do you see me as I see you? Carrying your home on your back to hide from any who may attack…. (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13….)

Feel free to continue the sequence in the comments below. ;)

Carpenter Ant with Slug

I don’t often use the black and white setting on my digital camera. Anytime I do, like in this photo, I have to adjust the blacks and whites post-production for better contrast; so this one has been edited. I was in the mood to try something different. I’m fairly pleased with the end result.

On a side note, the slug and ant looked as if they were conversing. The ant never touched the slug, just stood there for a while before moving on down the log.