Ring-billed Gulls


Three photo favorites of Ring-billed Gulls taken along Lake Michigan’s coastline in the past week.

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Ring-billed Gull

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Ring-billed Gull

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Ring-billed Gull

They enjoyed the pretty weather along with me!


Walking With Nature

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”  – John Muir

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Eastern Chipmunk

“It feels good to be lost in the right direction.”  – Author Unknown

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Thistle

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” – Aristotle

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Green Heron

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” – Vincent Van Gogh

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Ruby Meadowhawk (?)

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” – John Muir

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Stinging Nettle

 

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

 

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Verbena hastata (American vervain, blue vervain or swamp verbena)
(Thank you, Eliza, for the ID!)

 

Remember…..

“Time spent amongst trees is never wasted time.” – Katrina Mayer

 

Black-capped Chickadee

 

When I hear chickadees, they make me smile.  They tell you who they are, you just have to find them in their hiding.

Chick-a-dee-dee-dee…..   The more ‘dee’ notes in a chickadee’s call, the higher the threat level being called.

The chickadees I’ve photographed before have been in the southeast U.S., and I’ve always ID’d them as Carolina Chickadees who primarily range there.

Although there are range crossovers, the Black-capped Chickadee’s range is primarily higher north in the U.S.  I’ve been able to see the difference in the wingbars to now be able to ID and say I’ve captured this new-to-me chickadee finally.

Welcome to my bird lifer list, #208 the Black-capped Chickadee!

 

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Black-capped Chickadee

 

How lucky I was this Black-capped Chickadee came out of hiding just long enough for a click click!

 

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Black-capped Chickadee

 

 

A Mallard and A Lighthouse

 

Meandering along Lake Michigan’s coastline, there are numerous lighthouses along the way. We didn’t seek them out, but I did take photos if we stopped around them.  I liked this one, the bright red Charlevoix South Pierhead Lighthouse.  ‘Cuz red is my favorite color!

 

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Charlevoix South Pierhead Lighthouse, Michigan

 

At a barrier of rocks near the base of the lighthouse, I had passed a young lady, a female Mallard, who was nervously watching the passerbys.

 

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Female Mallard

 

 

After I finished with the lighthouse, I went back over to Ms. Mallard to find she had been able to calm down for a little snooze.

Such a beautiful, peaceful scene!

 

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Female Mallard – Safe and Asleep

 

 

Mackinac Bridge

 

After the latest fiasco with the Indiana motorhome manufacturer now fixing something they damaged, we desperately needed a change of scenery.  Our 41st anniversary was a few days ago, so we’ve escaped to upper Michigan for a week or so, to explore and sight-see.  We had no idea Michigan’s upper peninsula was so beautiful!

Here’s a photo I took of the Mackinac Bridge that crosses the Straits of Mackinac, connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

 

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Mackinac Bridge, Straits of Mackinac, Michigan
Currently the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world

 

(I’m in the process of playing catch up with the internet and blogs so bear with me.  It was nice to take a short break; but, oh my, it put me way behind!)

 

 

American Alligators Part 3 – Juveniles

(Continuing with Part 3 of an American Alligator three-part series)

 

American Alligator juveniles are tiny replicas of their parents.  They are so cute!

 

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American Alligator juvenile, approx. 4-6 months old

 

The adult female alligator lays 32 to 46 eggs in late June/early July, with hatching occurring late August/early September.

Alligator hatchlings are 6 to 8 inches long with orange/yellow cross-bands against black for effective camouflage that lasts until maturity. 

 

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American Alligator juvenile, 4-6 months old, sitting on Momma’s back

 

Hatchlings grow rapidly, especially during their first four years, sometimes averaging more than one foot of growth for each year of life.  They attain sub-adult stage at four years old.

 

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American Alligator juvenile

 

Juvenile alligators are very vulnerable to predators (birds, raccoons, bobcats, and other alligators) and will live close to Mom for at least their first two years of life. 

 

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American Alligator juvenile

 

From an average clutch size of 35, it is estimated only 4 alligators will reach maturity (at 6 years female, 7 years male).  This estimate is actually for a growing alligator population.

 

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American Alligator juvenile

 

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American Alligator juvenile closeup of the banding

 

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American Alligator juvenile

 

Cute until they get 6 to 10 to 15 feet long!

I hope you enjoyed my three part photo series and the bits of info, sharing the fascinating and, yes, dangerous American Alligator.

Here’s a map of where American Alligators are located in the United States.  They are more widespread than I thought!

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Map courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Program

 

(Part 1 “Adults” here, and Part 2 “Closeups” here)

 

 

American Alligators Part 2 – Close-Ups

 

(Continuing with Part 2 of an American Alligator three-part series)

Today’s Crocodylians (alligators, gharials and crocodiles) have been around for about 85 million years.  Crocodylians are the last living representatives of the Crocodylomorpha, an even bigger, more diverse group of creatures that goes back to the Triassic age, originating over 205 million years ago.

So that’s where they get their prehistoric look?!!  😉

I had a memorable encounter with this American Alligator who was alongside at the end of a boardwalk I had followed, about a half mile deep in the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve.

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American Alligator

 

It was a great opportunity to safely capture close-ups of this alligator.

 

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American Alligator

 

Now the eye.  See the reflection of the boardwalk I was standing on?  😲

 

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American Alligator Eye

 

I processed these next two close-ups in B&W.

 

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American Alligator in B&W

 

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American Alligator in B&W

 

When I finished taking a few photos, I turned away and took a couple steps to view the alligator hole, when this alligator suddenly sprinted alongside me into the hole with a tremendous splash.  The fast force and the noise was so startling, I screamed at the top of my lungs!  Thank goodness no one else was around on the boardwalk to hear me. 😅   I looked for the alligator, and it had disappeared into the deep water.  Gone.

I won’t forget that adrenaline experience!  It took me a few minutes to regain my composure and slow down my heart.  😊

Fact:  Alligators can do a quick running spurt on land at 11 mph.  In the water, they can swim 20 mph!

Next post will be the last of my American Alligator series with Part 3, showing off the American Alligators cute side with the juveniles!

(Part 1 here if you missed it!)

 

 

American Alligators Part 1 – Adults & Habitat

My last posts have shared wildlife elegance and cuteness with birds, a Monarch and a chipmunk.

Now let’s go for some danger in a three-part series. All while in the comfort of your chair. 🙂

And for me, safely from the other side of the canals when I photographed these this past winter in Florida.

 

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American Alligator in habitat

 

American Alligators are considered adults at about 6 feet long and grow up to about 10 feet for females and 15 feet for males, and weighing 600 to 1,000 lbs. In the wild, they are estimated to live 35-50 years.

 

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“Big ‘Ole Fella”

 

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“Lounging Louie”

 

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“You wanna judge my laziness?”

 

Where the waters are deep, you can find alligators ‘just hanging around’ in the afternoons. It sure looks comfortable!

 

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American Alligator sunning

 

While they sun, I’ve seen small fish feed off an alligator’s tail.

 

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Fish feeding off an Alligator’s tail

 

For sure, the fish didn’t feed near the alligator’s head, or they might be a snack!

 

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Fish feeding off an Alligator’s tail

 

And finally, I did come across this alligator that WAS on my side of the canal, along the dirt road I was traveling. S/he never moved. What a beauty! I took a photo with my wide angle lens.

 

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American Alligator

 

And another with my zoom lens.

 

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American Alligator

 

A Fact: Alligator teeth are actually not sharp for tearing but rounded for grabbing and holding. For the kill, it is their crushing jaw with a biting strength of 2,125 pounds per square inch that does the work – enough to bite through steel.

ALWAYS respect alligators. Stay a safe distance. With 1.2 million alligators in Florida alone, officials there constantly remind people to never harass or feed them and report nuisance alligators to the FWC for capture and relocation if possible.

Watch for my next post, “Alligators Part 2: Close-Ups”!

Barn Swallows

 

I tried photographing Barn Swallows during a two-week period back in May.

They are quite the acrobats!  And quite the challenge!

Here are five shots I liked the best.

 

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Barn Swallow

 

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Barn Swallow

 

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Barn Swallows

 

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Barn Swallow

 

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Barn Swallow collecting nesting materials

 

Barn Swallows are the most abundant and widely distributed swallow species in the world.   They breed throughout the Northern Hemisphere and winter in much of the Southern Hemisphere.

 

 

Tricolored Heron Takes A Bath

 

I love capturing bird behavior, including they’re taking time for a bath.

So how does a long-legged shorebird take a bath in shallow water?

This Tricolored Heron shows it’s not difficult!

 

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Tricolored Heron squats down to begin a quick bath

 

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Tricolored Heron swooshing its body in the water

 

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Not getting those wings wet

 

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Wingspread for balance standing back up

 

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Tricolored Heron feeling more refreshed

 

Still not sure how they keep their white feathers so clean!  😉

 

 

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