Then in March we were hitting 87 (F) and the like for about three weeks. Now it's April and we're more on track with 'normal' weather, which is to say days in the 50s and 60s nights in the 40s and 50s, occasionally in the 30s.
All of this has conspired to *really* muck with nature.
A lot of flowers are blooming two weeks to a month early. The trees never really shut down for the winter so the pollen counts are in the astronomical ranges. My allergies are insane and people I know who have never had seasonal/pollen allergies are starting to feel congested and wheezy.
But all the same... it's now spring in earnest and the start of my personal 'photography year'. I wanted to go out and do some shooting in March, but I managed to break my camera.
Actually, according to the very, very nice guy at International Camera who fixed it, I didn't *break* it per se. It was a thing that apparently happens to Canon dSLRs on occasion - the shutter broke. It's really, really hard to take pictures when you don't have an operational shutter. But they repaired it for me quickly and much more inexpensively than I had feared it would be. So if you're in Chicago and you need to get a camera fixed, I highly recommend them. The building they're located in is just a tiny bit dilapidated and creepy, but the guy running the shop is incredibly nice and they do great work.
So once I was up and shooting again, I went down to Tennessee to visit my little niece and nephew. While I was out there I harassed my father into taking me to a state park so we could do some shooting. He's working on 3D shooting, with a pocket 3D camera.
I'm not terribly interested in 3D yet, mostly because most people don't own the technology to properly view a 3D picture, so I'm not sure what I could do with a 3D shot if I had one.
I've done my first tour of both the Magic Hedge and the North Pond as well. It's clearly early on in the season and most of what I found both places are year-round dwellers and some of those early-popping flowers I mentioned before.
As the weather has warmed up I've been thinking about what my goals will be for this year. My plan last year was to get 50 new species. Unfortunately starting a new job last fall kind of derailed me before I got there.
So I think this year, I'm going to again shoot for 50 new species. I'd like to get 200 total species blogged this year.
I also want to get to at least ten new locations for shooting. I started with my Tennessee shoot at Bledsoe Creek State Park. (And for the record, I give this park an overall B grade. A few things I wouldn't see at home, more species earlier in the spring, but at least on this trip, nothing *spectacular*.)
I'm going to set up a master post for species I've posted in the past couple years to help me keep track, but another good place I've found for tracking and talking about wildlife spotting is projectnoah.org. You can follow me and my spottings here.
So for right now, I'm tossing up a few of the better shots from Bledsoe Creek State Park in Tennessee. The next few posts after that will be me trying to organize my sightings so I know what's new and what's not. :)
|Eastern Tailed Blue (2012 - 001)|
|Blue Jay (2012 - 002)|
A Blue Jay! Okay, I admit, a stellar blue jay shot is one of my bucket list photographs. This shot is okay, but one day I want to get one that's truly awesome. I'm a huge fan of finding blue in nature, since there's so little of it.
|White-Tailed Deer (2012 - 003)|
White Tailed Deer. I'm told there are a ton of these in this particular park, but this is the only one we saw all day. She's pretty small, so we're guessing she's young, but mom was nowhere to be seen.
|Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (female) - (2012 - 004)|
So I'm still working on my Blue Jay shots, but I have to say, this is about as good a shot of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail as I'm ever going to get. This particular butterfly is female - you can tell by the blue 'chevrons' on her hindwings.
|Mosquito (male) - (2012 - 005)|
This is one of the biggest mosquitos I've ever seen in my life. The leaf in that picture is about the size of my hand. So that mosquito's body length is about 2 or 2.5 inches. I'm told that these huge ones are all male and therefore do not bite people. I have to figure there's some truth to that, because for all of these I saw out there I emerged from the woods without one bite.
|Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly (2012 - 006)|
This Pipevine Swallowtail was hanging out with the Tiger Swallowtail above. At first I thought it was a black morph female Tiger, but then she opened her wings and I could see the white dots and the large sections of iridescent blue on her back.
|Muscovy Duck* (2012 - 007)|
This was a new species for me for sure. This face that only a mother could love belongs to a Muscovy Duck. We don't have those in Chicago (though I may have spotted a hybrid one yesterday at the North Pond... I'm working on an identification for that one.) These are pretty large ducks. In fact between the red faces and their size my dad's first reaction to the small flock of them we saw was, "Look! Turkeys!"
|Unknown caterpillar (2012 - U001)|
|Snail (2012 - 008)|
|Hairy Woodpecker (2012 - 009)|
I know I've seen these at the Magic Hedge before, but I don't think I ever got a picture this clear. This is a hairy woodpecker. I love how you can see the band of yellow on his beak.
So that's ten pictures for this post.
In summary, for my goals:
Total Identified Species Sited for the Year: 9
Total Unidentified Species Sited for the Year: 1
Total New Species: 1
Eastern Tailed Blue Butterfly
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly
* - New Species