Sunday, September 23, 2018

Lake Mendota from the ground

I got down low with my camera as I layed on the ground to get the greatest impact of a wave coming in. This was my favorite experience of taking pictures down low.

The lake was beautiful that day. The sun was out and birds were singing in the trees behind me. Mallards were swimming and gulls flew overhead. 

Waves. Know how they are formed?  Wind. Wind's energy moves over the water and can create small ripples if it is strong enough. 

How to take this type of photo

First of all, it is important to position yourself at eye level with what you are looking taking a photo of. By doing this, you get the greatest impact. Take several photos to make sure you get the photo you have in mind. Also take it at different angles. It's fun to sort through your photos and see what you actually got. When the subject is moving, it's important to have options to sort through. Remember to wear appropriate clothing when you know you will be getting in different positions to protect yourself.

Showing people your view of a wave reaching shore is what photography is all about. It's unique. It shows the world how you see it. Taking a camera to your eye and getting the photo shows us a view we have never seen before.  See the detail and look for what's hidden. Remember that many things live in and on the water. What do you see?

The photo you take can wow you and the world. As I said, each photographer has a different view and angle on life. If you're tall, you will have a better eye view of things that are hidden from those who are short. A case in point is: you are at a local pond and there is are a lot of trees, bushes and wildflowers growing close to the pond making it impossible for those who are short to see what's on the water. Believe me, I have had this experience many times. It's frustrating but you learn what equipment  you need. A stool works wonders for height problems. There are also pathways to the pond and this is one reason why jeans are a good thing to wear.

The world around us is beautiful. Take in the small things. Enjoy the view.


Burian, PK & Caputo, R. (1999). National Geographic Field Guide: Secrets to Making Great Pictures.

National Geographic Magazine. 125th Anniversary Collector's Edition. (2013).

Monday, September 17, 2018

Karner Blue Butterfly
(Lycaeides melissa samuelis)

My husband and I were at Owen Park when we saw this beauty. This butterfly is 1" big. I noticed a flash of blue out of the corner of my eye. That was the first time we ever saw a karner blue butterfly. It sat on the flower and let me take photos. When taking nature photos, it's important to respect the subject. We didn't talk. This is how I was able to get this photo. How exciting it was! It's always fun to see a butterfly or bird we haven't seen. This one was very special to us.

Karner blue butterflies love lupine. Due to destruction of habitat where wild lupine grows, the karner blue butterfly is endangered. Humans have caused destruction of property for many birds, butterflies and animals. Some people think it's important to build new homes, build apartment buildings, condos, shops and restaurants out in the country where the beauty of the land was heartwarming. Have you noticed how warm it is when you walk on blacktop or cement instead of grass with trees for shade? We have made the karner blue butterfly endangered. Our needs/wants have come ahead of what's good for the planet.

Going outside and enjoying the karner blue butterfly, when you see one, is an amazing thing. Our world is special. It's an unknown.  In order to enjoy the beauty of nature, we need to rethink our wants and needs.

Remember: the karner blue butterfly is 1" big. People have sighted it for over 100 years. It was named after Karner, New York where it was first seen.

The karner blue butterfly is really beautiful. Their lifespan is two weeks.

Keep your eyes open. Maybe you'll see a karner blue butterfly!

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.



Thursday, September 13, 2018

Painted Turtles
(Chrysemys picta)

I went to my favorite pond this morning to relax. It was a gorgeous day. Cool, sunny and low winds. Walking by the pond, I saw these two painted turtles sunning themselves on this log. This is one reason I go to the pond. I enjoy seeing turtles sunning themselves. They looked so content. One slight movement and I knew they would jump from the log and hide in the water. Have you seen the painted turtles? 

Turns out they have been on earth for over 15 million years. They live in ponds and other marshy areas. Ever notice how sometimes you see bubbles on top of the water? That's a turtle or turtles breathing. They need air as well as water to survive.

Did you know that they don't have teeth? They eat using the rim of their mouth as it is sharp and serrated. What they eat is varied. They enjoy plants, fish, insects and more.

They have poor hearing but can smell really well. Touching is how they communicate.

There's a lot more to learn about the painted turtle. All I know is that I have enjoyed them for many years. I enjoy how they turn their heads and sometimes look at me. I enjoy them when they stack themselves on logs filled with other turtles. I have seen as many as 20 turtles on one log. Now that was fun to see!

Find a pond near you and see if you can see a painted turtle.




Sunday, September 9, 2018

Antheraea Polyphemus Moth

This beauty was right outside my door early one morning. When I opened the door to bring the paper in, it stayed there. I walked around the butterfly and took photos at a variety of angles. When doing this, I was very quiet and respectful to the moth. What a hairy body! What a feathery antennae! He was such a beauty! The colors were lovely. See the eye in each bottom wing? They help them hide from predators. 

Do you know this moth has a wingspan of more than 5 inches! It's true. They only eat when they are in their larval stage as they have no mouth as an adult moth. 

They are named after Cyclops, a Greek myth. 

There was only one such moth that morning. That one moth started my day on a special note. He wasn't there long after I left. As the sun came up higher in the sky, it flew away. This moth is nocturnal and lives only 5 or 6 days. When it's dark out and your outdoor lights are on, they are drawn to them. 

When you go out in the morning, what do you see?



Saturday, September 1, 2018

Keep Your Eyes Open

Going outside is so very relaxing. I listen to the birds and insects. My eyes are wide open as they take in the beauty of life. You never know what you will see. That's the magic of being outside.

How great it feels to have the sun shining down onto me. The concert of birds fills me with joy. What a beautiful sound! Even the frogs/toads and crickets have a way of putting a smile on my face.

This beauty was on a cone flower by our pond. At first it was hard to notice but then my eyes focused and I watched this beauty for several minutes. For some reason, he wasn't scared. He let me take photos of him and was still there later as I walked away. I had never seen a frog/toad on top of a cone flower! How spectacular he looked. It was one of those special moments you don't forget.

Taking time to get outside helps me relax. There's nothing like it. Do you go outside to relax? Take a walk? Stroll? Run? If so, do you take the time to really see and hear the world around you? What do you enjoy most of getting outside?

Our world is beautiful. Take the time to enjoy what we have. The flood waters have changed our view and life. The destruction has raised havoc. May the world heal.

Now to get outside.

Thanks for visiting. Have a great day!


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Red-tailed Hawk
Buteo jamaicensis

I'll never forget the first time I saw a Red-tailed Hawk. We were driving down a country road. Sitting on a pole, was a Red-tailed Hawk. It was magnificent. So large and domineering. It was sitting there watching for prey. 

Each time we go out, we keep our eyes open for the raptor. The Red-tailed Hawk is a raptor (bird of prey). The female is larger than the male. How beautiful they are when they fly overhead, circling an area, looking for food. I was at a local park awhile back when I watched one land on a pole in the park and watched for its next meal. They are very good at finding food. They eat a variety of food including, but not limited to, rodents, birds, small animals, and insects.

This Red-tailed Hawk was sitting on a tree at the local arboretum. It was very close to the road. Notice how this hawk is looking right at me. It was quite an experience!

Did you know that they live for 21 years and mate for life? Yes, it's quite amazing. They return to their nests each year, adding to the nest. They can fly as fast as 121 mph. Amazing!

There is a lot to learn about this beautiful hawk. This is just a window to their world. 

Have you enjoyed watching them? What do you like about them?

Thank you for visiting and have a nice day!



Baughman, M (ed). Reference Atlas to the Birds of North America. National Geographic.

Dunn, JL & Alderferer, J. Field Guide to the Birds of North America (6th ed). National Geographic

Kaufman, K. (1996). Lives of North American Birds. Houghton Mifflin Co.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Gray Catbirds
(Dumetella Carolinensis)

Birds have always been a favorite of mine. As I said before, I love going outside and listening to them sing. The Gray Catbird's song is one such song I enjoy. It's unique, that's for sure! It sounds like a cat and that is why it's called a Gray Catbird. It mews. Yes, I am serious. Have you heard a mewing sound when you are outside and don't see a cat? Look in the trees and bushes. You just might find yourself looking at one. 

I'll never forget the first time I heard and then saw a Gray Catbird. My husband and I were at the local zoo. The Catbird was sitting on the fence which we were passing. How nice it was to see the bird that was mewing! It was a fun moment.

As you can see above, Gray Catbirds are gray with a black cap. Underneath their tail, they have a brown patch. They are 8.5" long and have a short straight beak. Their legs are somewhat long and they have broad, rounded wings. 

Some say Gray Catbirds are related to the thrush as both birds are ground feeders and build their nests in the shape of a cup. This is the most common nest style. Their nests could be anywhere. They could be on the ground or be up high up on a tree. 

What do they eat? They enjoy ants, beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars and moths. They also enjoy fruit when it is available. These include, but are not limited to, holly berries, cherries, elderberries, poison ivy, and blackberries. They also damage gardens which have strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and grapes.

They usually have 4 eggs. The eggs are incubated for 12-13 days. Both mom and dad feed their babies. At about day 10 or 11, the young fly away. They have hatchlings twice a year.

Okay, I could go on and on about the Gray Catbird. This opens your window to something different. Go outside and listen. 

Have a great day!

Thanks for visiting,



Baughman, M. "Reference Atlas to the Birds of North America." National Geographic.

Kaufman, K. "Lives of North American Birds." Houghton Mifflin.

Kaufman, K. Notebook.