Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Kayaking the (a)Mazon River

My kayaking skills were limited to lakes and canals until this past weekend. I've never taken on currents and swift moving water, so the adventure scheduled for Sunday was welcomed with great anticipation. The Mazon River is not much more than a creek, because of its shallow depths and narrow banks in most places. There were 4 of us explorers who have never routed this river section, so what was around every bend would be a surprise. We didn't even know if the river was deep enough, although the recent rains should keep us from getting our feet wet, at least, so we thought... Anyway, we lugged our vessels to our starting position and shoved off...

The day was a perfect 70-something degree day, with light winds & low humidity, making the sky ever-so-blue with big poofy clouds.

As we rode the slow current, leaning back with our feet up and relaxed, we soaked in the suns rays, and mother natures beauty all around us.

It wasn't slow and lazy all the way though. In many parts, the water would turn swift, and the excitement began. Now I'm not saying that these rapids were world class, not even close, but they were tricky. The rocks, or should I say boulders, were difficult obstacles hidden under the water everywhere. Sometimes, we would drop 4 feet or so, within the rapids before it smoothed out. There were a few times I did get marooned on top, pushing on the rocks to set myself free. And once, I did need assistance from fellow kayaker Rob, who rescued me from atop of a particularly tight spot. The photo below depicts a gentler section, but one that did hang me up. It was tough to choose a route thru the obstacles, and sometimes your choices went wrong.

We found a great spot to stop for lunch, and this is where I found the Gar Minnow.

It was the best day I ever had kayaking, and the plan for this weekend is to put back in, and continue down the Mazon River from exactly where we left off. I can't wait!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another Weird Baby

There seems to be a theme running with my blog posts lately--Tiny baby creatures of the weird variety, not typical of your every day spring arrivals such as birds, deer, fox, etc. Nope, I haven't seen any of those just listed this year as of yet...and I usually do...I've been scouting my favorite spots, but haven't seen a fawn, a kit, nothing!
This year has proven to be strange weather-wise also. Unseasonable cold spells, frequent storms of a severe magnitude, temperatures ranging from 40 degrees at night to 90 degrees at noon in the same day-simply put--just downright bizarre!
Anyway, to make my point, this year is not typical in any fashion. The creatures are weird, the weather is weird-is there a connection? Don't be silly, that's ridiculous...Get on with the weird baby already, will ya!--O.K:

My newest "baby" to add to my weird collection is a Longnose Gar.

I went kayaking (photos to come later) with some friends and stopped at some large rocks for lunch. Noticing the minnows in the water, I spotted a minnow that just wasn't the same as all the other minnows. It was about 2 inches long, and upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a gar. Cool! I grabbed the macro and flopped on my belly for a closeup. Interesting! We all watched it swim in the shallows and looked for more. There wasn't any. Was this guy the lone survivor? Did all of it's siblings become lunch in the fish foodchain? Who knows, and what might his fate be? Chances are probably not too favorable. That's nature...weird!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Praying for Mantis

I was watering my plants on the deck yesterday, when I discovered a tiny little creature on the step. Recalling a previous encounter with a Praying Mantis Nymph a few years ago, I hoped it was another one. If it was, this one was much much smaller. I looked closer, but being so small, I couldn't tell. The head was smaller then my eyes could focus, because it was literally the size of a pinhead. I ran inside, put on my macro lens and focused in:

I measured my fingernail, and if I added an 1/8th inch, I am thinking this lil guy is a half inch long. make for a fun picture, I grabbed a leaf of a plant and picked him up.

It was difficult to shoot with one hand.

Trying to focus on his tiny lil head was a major ordeal.

I never knew if he was in focus or not, but I loved seeing his beady little eyes in different positions.

I felt like he was a friend I needed to take care of...

My macro lens focuses to 1 1/2 inches away, but I wish I had more, because he reminds me of E.T.

I would change up the angles and backgrounds and had so much fun with him...

and then I decided on a flower...and thats where it all went wrong...

I put him on a petal, and started shooting. The flower plant was in a large pot that was too heavy to pick up so I slid it around for better angles. I decided to pull the pot closer, hit a bump, and the flower shook back and forth causing my new lil friend to be catapulted into the heavens. I gasped as I did it, feeling horrible for his fate. I looked around the immediate area and couldn't find him.

For dramatical purposes, I must share a weakness:

I am NOT a bug person. I hate them actually. I have rules on how to get a bug off me if the problem arises. First: Always get the bug off immediately. Second: Tell me there WAS a bug on me and that you just saved my life. Always in that order! My point is...I liked my nymph. It's a first, believe me! He was my buddy for 15 minutes or so, and I miss him...I hope he flew to safety and is o.k....I am praying for Mantis...

Note: A nymph is what an immature mantis is called. A nymph is very similar to its parents except it's much smaller and has no wings.
The praying mantis is named for its prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests the position of prayer. The larger group of these insects is more properly called the praying mantids. Mantis refers to the genus mantis, to which only some praying mantids belong.

By any name, these fascinating insects are formidable predators. They have triangular heads poised on a long "neck," or elongated thorax. Mantids can turn their heads 180 degrees to scan their surroundings with two large compound eyes and three other simple eyes located between them.

Typically green or brown and well camouflaged on the plants among which they live, mantis lie in ambush or patiently stalk their quarry. They use their front legs to snare their prey with reflexes so quick that they are difficult to see with the naked eye. Their legs are further equipped with spikes for snaring prey and pinning it in place.

Moths, crickets, grasshoppers, flies, and other insects are usually the unfortunate recipients of unwanted mantid attention. However, the insects will also eat others of their own kind. The most famous example of this is the notorious mating behavior of the adult female, who sometimes eats her mate just after—or even during—mating. Yet this behavior seems not to deter males from reproduction.

Females regularly lay hundreds of eggs in a small case, and nymphs hatch looking much like tiny versions of their parents.

Source: National Geographic

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What's in My Yard These Days

My yard visitors are infrequent, but who I can depend on, is this juvenile female Downy Woodpecker...

...and this bunny.

I also get a Red-Bellied, along with a Cardinal pair, plenty of Grackles and various Sparrows. I miss migration season...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I forgot about my 1 year anniversary. No, not of the romantical kind, but of the bloggy kind...I started this blog a year ago on June 6th. Since then, I have posted 157 times. Last month was my big hurrah for posting every single day in the month and then some, but then it all dried up.

Well. I do have something exciting: I was driving to my sisters for a Birthday/Dads Day party on sunday, when I came across 2 turkeys on the side of the road. Pretty cool, but not THAT exciting really, until.......I saw a bunch of baby turkeys with them. Now I ask you, how cool is that? Pretty-freakin-cool, I say!!!!!!! But wait....I left my camera at home....Dammit!!!!!! Finally something good to shoot, and I was lazy...I don't know what is worse, not getting the shot because I have no equipment, or not getting the shot because the subject matter flushed, which would have been the likely scenario since my driving speed was about 60. I would have had to turn around to attempt the shot and they were heading toward the woods a few feet from the road. Anyway, I saw them, which is what matters. I got to thinking after that, that I had never even thought about baby turkeys before-like...EVER! I have never seen a photo of them on any blog that I frequent, so I decided to google them. I found a handful, but that was it. It must be a very rare sight that I was lucky enough to witness. I should be grateful, and I am for the memory, I just crave the proof. Still....Dammit!

As I rode through the countryside, on my journey to my sisters house, I saw another unique site. A Wind Farm! I've never seen one before, so looking up that these massive turbines was amazing. Hmmm, I don't have my camera...Dammit! Thats twice now on the same trip. I ask myself what I have learned from this, and my answer is--Quit being so lazy! So, my mid-year resolution is born.

I went out to the area again yesterday because the day was gorgeous and I was addicted to the clouds in the sky. I thought it would make for a great photo.

I also took a picture of an old Ford Truck that is atop of a hill, which made for another sky picture.

Since I haven't had creatures to photograph, I am showcasing some old stuff and new stuff for a spin to Hannibal's Animals. There are no limitations...

Monday, June 9, 2008


I don't know my butterflies but couldn't resist this opportunity to shoot him. He was a pretty small guy with plenty of interesting markings.

Note: This is my 43rd consecutive post in 43 days, but the time has come that I am all out of "stuff". Hopefully the weather will bring more in the coming days, but if you don't see anything in a few days it's not for lack of trying. I am very thirsty for something good and am looking...Stay Tuned...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

On Guard

Tree Swallows are such gorgeous birds. I can't help but fire off a few shots when opportunity knocks. The irridescent blues are irresistible.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Eastern Towhee

I've seen 2 Towhees this spring, but came up with only one o.k. photo, and luckily you can see the red eye.

The Eastern Towhee has red eyes across most of its range, but the towhees in Florida and extreme southern Georgia have pale straw-colored eyes. Eye color is variable from southern Alabama to southeastern North Carolina, with the most variability in Georgia and coastal South Carolina. This pattern may reflect the fact that the pale-eyed form, which was isolated when Florida was an island during the Pleistocene era, is now coming back in contact with the red-eyed form of the mainland.
Source: All About Birds

Friday, June 6, 2008

Splish Splash!

I haven't taken a shot in over a week, so I am into the last of my reserves...This photo was interesting because of the timing...The bill just breaks the surface in an attempt for morning breakfast...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

White-breasted Nuthatch

A common bird of deciduous forests and wooded suburbs, the White-breasted Nuthatch can be seen hopping headfirst down the trunks of trees in search of insect food. It frequents bird feeders and takes sunflower seeds off to the side of a tree, where it wedges them into a crevice and hammers them open. (Source: All About Birds)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Coopers Hawk

A medium-sized hawk of the forest, the Cooper's Hawk specializes in eating birds. It is built for fast flight through the obstacle course of trees and limbs. Dashing through vegetation to catch birds is a rather dangerous lifestyle. A recent study found that 23 percent of all Cooper's Hawks examined had healed fractures in the bones of the chest, especially of the furcula or wishbone. A Cooper's Hawk captures a bird with its feet, and will squeeze it repeatedly to kill it. It does not bite the prey to kill it in the fashion of falcons, but holds it away from its body until it dies. It has been known to drown its prey, holding a bird under water until it stops moving. (Source: All About Birds)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Wood Duck Perch

Ah.....The Wood Duck...I hate to love them, but I do...I stalk them every year, and come up with crap, well...not the close ups I dream of...Anyway...This one flew into a tree for a different perspective.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cooperative Blue Jay

Traveling down the main road at Mazonia, I passed by a Blue Jay that was very close to the road. I turned around, came up next to it and took some shots.

He was pretty meek about me and my camera, so I took a few more as he hopped from limb to limb.
I love cooperative birds, when I can leave without scaring anything.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Another Pine Squirrel

Before this Spring, I had never seen a Pine Squirrel. Now that I have, it seems I see them quite frequently, but of course, I am looking for them...This one caught my eye as I was observing some Blue Jays. It still shocks me to see just how little they actually are. When I took a few shots, I noticed a weird whiteness to one of his eyes. It looks as if it has a cataract, although when blown up, it seems to be on the outside of the lens. Weird!?! Hope it can see properly...