Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve - 4.15.12 - Post 5

Alrighty then.  Last post for this new place.

Dandelion (039 - 2012)
So I talked the other day about being more conscious of shooting the common birds.  There are also a few common plants I need to think about too.

One of the more ubiquitous wildflowers out here is the dandelion.  In fact, it's so ubiquitous, it's considered a weed.  But let's face it, all a weed is is a wild plant that's growing somewhere you don't want it.  I love that these are growing inside an old tree stump.

Celandine Poppy (040 - 2012)

I'm getting better with the flowers.  This is a Celandine Poppy.  I find it interesting because I'm not used to seeing flowers with only four petals.  It's the same reasons I find the Trilliums interesting.  They have three.
Nobody new here, just another Blue Jay.  Still working at a *good* Blue Jay shot.  But the reason I'm including this guy is that as I was walking I heard this incredibly loud screech.  I was sure there had to be hawk or an owl or other large predator bird doing it.  I had seen something that looked vaguely hawkish off in the distance over the river.  But when I finally got close, I realized it was this guy.  I could not believe a body this small could make a noise that loud!

He actually moved from tree to tree quite a bit as another photographer and I tracked him, but he stayed pretty well in view despite all that moving.
Bellwort (041 - 2012)

For some reason I got it in my head that I'd already blogged these at some point, but if I did, I can't find it now.  So I'm guessing I didn't.

These are bellwort.  An interesting little yellow flower that hangs upside down.

No actual species here, I'm not even sure what the tree is, but I love the evidence of beavers here.  I'm also slightly amazed that the tree hasn't fallen yet.

So that's Fullersburg!  I want to go back out there in May when migration is more thoroughly underway.  It was a nice park with a lot to see and not an insane amount of people to compete with.

Total Identified Species Sited for the Year: 41
Total Unidentified Species Sited for the Year: 1
Total New Species: 23

Celandine Poppy*

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve - 4.15.12 - Post 4

Here we go again! :)  More Fullersburg Woods spottings.

One of the real stories of the day was the sheer flocks of Red Admiral butterflies.  I mean, I could stand on the path and look at some of the nearby flowers and there would be six or seven of these guys floating around.  I'd walk 20 feet down the path, look at some flowers and see six or seven more.  And the whole place was like that.

Red Admiral Butterfly (035 - 2012)
Red Admirals aren't uncommon in the area, but we tend to get a lot more Monarchs and Painted Ladies and smaller butterflies in the Whites and Sulphur families.  So the large number of these guys was notable.  And they aren't just hanging out in forest preserves - which is the only places I've seen them before - they're around the block I live on!  I've seen them in really busy Chicago neighborhoods.  The news is even covering the abundance of these guys, there's so many.
Now one of the nicer things about being in 'the middle of nowhere' in the middle of Northern Illinois, is that I can still get cell phone reception out there.  So I googled Red Admiral caterpillars, to know what I was looking for, but even then I didn't see any. :(  I'll keep looking though.

There were also herds of little white butterflies that didn't, from what I could see, have the black spot that marks a Cabbage White.  But not one of them would land for more than half a second.  Not one.  So maybe if I go back out there next month I'll have better luck with those.

This is another flower that was tricky to research.  Turns out it's a Wild Geranium.  It's about an inch across, so it's a pretty small flower. 
Wild Geranium (036 - 2012)

I love the clarity of this shot.  The clear dark veins in the petals, the anthers that are bright yellow with pollen.

Great Black Wasp (037 - 2012)

The bees and wasps are slowly making their way out.  This Great Black Wasp was hanging out near the Red Admiral Butterflies

I need to start working on using a fill flash when I'm outside just to let the camera move a little faster.  This could have bee a really cool shot if the ISO were lower and the shutter was a bit faster.  You can see the hairs on the wasp's feet, but where his wings were moving a bit and his antennae were clearly moving, there's too much blur.
 And this is where I wish I had my tripod.  This Great Blue Heron was just hanging out on this downed tree on the other side of the river for a very, very long time.

I would have loved to have been able to use a narrower aperture to get this guy, because clearly there's too much light here and there's still blur, which means the shutter was open too long to be done well hand-held.

The heron was itching and moving and ducking around to stretch as I was watching.  Here you can see the length of his neck, even if it is all folded up under his head.
Great Blue Heron (038 - 2012)

Here you can see him scratching an itch on his head.  It made his white crown pop up.

On a photography note, you can really tell the difference between the shooting modes I was using.  In the first two I was on 'action' mode and let the camera make the decisions for me.  It chose f5.6 at 1/200th of a second.  It also clearly changed the setting of the white balance and it upped the ISO to 200.

On this one, you can see that it looks much greener.  This was done on Av (aperture priority mode, meaning I set the ISO, the white balance and the f-stop, the camera chose the shutter speed).  I had it on ISO 100, the white balance was set for a cloudy day and the f-stop was 5.6 here also.  The shutter speed was a much slower 1/50th.  You can clearly see what the difference is between the two white-balance settings.  The first one has a lot more blue and this one is a lot more yellow.  Honestly, I think the true light values were somewhere in between.

Okay, one more post on this walk then I need to double back around and do the North Pond walk that I actually did between the last Magic Hedge trip and this trip.

Total Identified Species Sited for the Year: 38
Total Unidentified Species Sited for the Year: 1
Total New Species: 20

Red Admiral Butterfly
Wild Geranium*
Great Black Wasp
Great Blue Heron