Monday, October 29, 2012

Huricane Sandy Claims a Tall Ship. One I've boarded.

So if you're anywhere near the U.S. right now, you know we're battling a hurricane that's being felt throughout a full 1/3 of the country.

Tomorrow I plan to go take pictures of the way the extreme weather is churning up Lake Michigan here in Chicago, but I wanted to take a minute to note that we've had what is assumed to be two fatalities already and one ship lost.  The HMS Bounty sank in Hurricane Sandy earlier today.

In August of 2010 I attended the Tall Ships Festival at Navy Pier as a Media Guest and I toured the Bounty.  It was a replica of the ship used in the movie "Mutiny on the Bounty" and more recently it was used in "Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest" before becoming part of the Tall Ships Tour.  The Bounty was probably the most popular attraction at the festival.  I noted on my blog posts in 2010 that at one point the line just to board her was over four hours long.

Most of the crew were able to get into survival suits and board lifeboats before she went down. Two crewmembers are unaccounted for.  They're certain they left the ship before she sank, but they didn't make it to the lifeboats.  My thoughts are with them and their families.

Here are a few of the shots I got on board this amazing ship:

Some of the media news coverage of the loss of the ship

ABC News
CNN News
Video of the rescue of 14 of the 16 crew

Update:  Of the two missing persons, one has been found and rescued, but is - at last report - unresponsive.  The remaining missing person, somewhat fittingly, is the Captain.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Corkscrew Swamp - 10.7.12 - Post 5

One last creeper, and then, a truly weird thing... the only bird for this trip. 

Spotted Orb Weaver (053 - 2012)
This is a Spotted Orb Weaver.  They were *everywhere* in the swamp.  Which makes sense since their endemic in the southeastern U.S. - again, something I won't find in Illinois.  The neat thing about this shot is that you can see that the first segment of his legs are red where as the rest are black and white.
This is not a shy spider.  They make huge webs you could see from the boardwalk and then sit right in the middle of them.  Sometimes you'd find them or their web hanging right in front of you.
I like this shot because even though the web is hard to see, the spots (from his name) are easier.  Look at the white stripe right down the middle of his abdomen.  He has gray spots down the white line.
Pileated Woodpecker (054 - 2012)

And then there was my one major bird find for this trip.  There were a few other birds, but none of them photographed well.  I may fight with them later, but for now, there's this Pileated Woodpecker.
These guys have the weirdest range.  Up the U.S. West Coast, through a swath of lower Canada and then down through the northern Midwest and Eastern states all the way down to the top of Florida.  But nothing through the Southeast, most of Texas or the Northern U.S. around Wyoming, the Dakotas and Montana area.  And he was drilling and drilling and drilling.  I hope he found some awesome bugs for all the work he was doing.  They are in Illinois, but I don't think I've seen one here yet.

Okay, reptiles and amphibians are next and last.  For this shoot.  There were many, many, many more pictures taken while I was in Florida.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Corkscrew Swamp - 10.7.12 - Post 4

OkayI think this is the last group of true insects for this trip.  I have some spider shots to do soon, but as we all know, spiders aren't insects.

Ruddy Daggerwing Butterfly (052 - 2012)
This is a Ruddy Daggerwing.  And it was ruddy difficult to Google!  This is probably due to the fact that when you Google "orange butterfly with black lines" you get Monarchs up the ying-yang.  It's not helped by the fact that this particular species has a pretty small habitat so there just aren't a lot of pictures of them or articles about them out there compared to the Monarch or Red Admiral or a Sulphur, which are everywhere and much easier to find on the net.  South Florida and the Florida Keys seem to be about their whole range.  So, totally one I wouldn't be able to get up here in Chicago!

Paper Wasp (053 - 2012)
I'm still waiting for my "That can puncture you; you should FLEE" response to return.  Instead, when I saw this, I was all, "Oh look!  A *brown* wasp!"  We have yellow-jackets-o-plenty up here, but this was new.  It's one of the 22 types of Paper Wasps we have in the US. Anyone care to tell me which wasp I witnessed? :)

Female Yellow Dasher

Remember the blue dragonfly in the last post?  Here's his girlfriend.  Well, I don't know if it was *his* girlfriend, but this is the female of that species.  I called attention to the yellow spot on the male Blue Dasher's abdomen... the female takes that to the extreme.  She's pretty much all yellow.  And as you can see, she was pretty mellow. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Corkscrew Swamp - 10.07.12 - Post 3

Okay, now that the dolphin detour is over, I can get back to Corkscrew Swamp.

Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar (050 - 2012)
Near as I can figure, this is a Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar.  It's a lot like the White-Marked Tussock that I showed the other day.  Obviously, this one is white and the 'hair' patterns are different, but the over-all effect is pretty similar.
Here's another one.  Like the White-Marked, these caterpillars tended to travel in herds and also they can do you some damage if you think "oh cute, little fuzzy guy!" and try to pet him.
I thought this is a plain old Eastern Pondhawk, of which we have a ton in Chicago.  But it was awfully small, so I dug a little deeper and it turns out that it's a Blue Dasher.  You can tell by the yellow on the thorax and the lower part of the abdomen.
Phaon Crescent Butterfly (051 - 2012)

There are a truly ridiculous number of small orange and brown/black butterflies in the world.  Best I can figure this is a Phaon Crescent.  It's about an inch and a half across, when the wings are spred, it has white antennae with black tips.  (If I've got this wrong, feel free to correct me. :)

I didn't realize how many bugs I had from this trip.  So... more insects tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bucket List Shot - Bottlenose Dolphon - 10.08.12

Okay, I'm going to finish Corkscrew Swamp, but I had to pop out to post this one shot.

This is, somewhat obviously, a Common Bottlenose Dolphin.

I took about 500 shots yesterday at Stump Pass (Englewood, Florida) but this was the best one.  And really, it's one of my bucket list shots - a good, clear shot of a dolphin breaching. 

We were really surprised to see them so close to the shore - maybe fifty yards from the beach we were standing on - and for so long, given the horrible Red Tide that's going on right now.  But we stood there for what had to be half an hour watching a pod of at least five of them.  I'll edit a few more of the shots that show their dorsal fins and such, but I had to get up this one.  I'm ridiculously pleased with it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Corkscrew Swamp - 10.7.12 - Post 2

The Bugs of Corkscrew Swamp.

I got a start yesterday with some of the bugs I saw, so I figured that I'd wrap up with them first.

Swamp Darner Dragonfly (047 - 2012)
So here's a dragonfly you don't see in Chicago.  It's a Swamp Darner.  And while Chicago was built on a swamp, we definitely don't qualify as one now.  I hate that this shot is backlit.  Normally when I shoot, I get half a dozen frames or so at time to try and get one without shake or in order to try getting the light at a different angle. This is the *only* frame I got of this guy.  So it's clear, but horrible lighting.  Blergh.

Palamedes Swallowtail (048 - 2012)
This is a cool find for me.  It's a Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly.  It looks a bit like the Giant or even the Tiger's black morph, but there's no blue and no bar across the middle of the wings.  This butterfly has a pretty narrow habitat band going from the Gulf coast areas of Texas around Florida and up to about West Virginia (seasonally, further south more often).  So I won't find these at home!

Queen Butterflies (049 - 2012)
These are Queen Butterflies.  We found tons of these guys clustered up at one point of the trail.  Probably fifty of them all together.  And a lot of them were very interested in this dead plant you see in the picture.  These are the three that stayed after we accidentally spooked several more off of it.  I cannot imagine what brought all these butterflies to a dead plant.

Okay!  Three more bugs tomorrow! :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Corkscrew Swamp, Everglades, FL - 10.7.12 - Post 1

I know, I know, it's like I fell off the face of the internet.  Short version: new day job, long hours, successful craft and art shop.  No time to blog.  In fact, very little time to shoot.

But I made the time to get down to Florida while I could this week and I'm doing as much shooting as humanly possible in my four and a half days down here.

Yesterday we went to an amazing place called The Octogon.  No, it has nothing to do with Mixed Martial Arts... but I'll talk about them later.

Today was Corkscrew Swamp.  Corkscrew is part of the Everglades and is a pretty amazing place with wildlife unlike anything you get to see in the great 'wilderness' of Chicago.

So I'm going to start off with a few of the highlights from what I saw today.

White Marked Tussock Moth Caterpilar (044 - 2012)
 This is a White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar.  He's kind of creepy-cute, but that's pretty deceptive... he's venomous.  Not poisonous (meaning you get sick only if you eat it), but venomous.  Don't pet him!


There were a great many of them down a particular sub-path on the boardwalk.  We had to be careful where we leaned over the railings that we didn't get got! 
Just a quick little video of them scampering along the wood.  It's only 11 seconds.

White-Tailed Deer (045 - 2012)
These deer were adorable!  They were so small we thought at first they were Key Deer, but Key Deer actually only live on the, you know, Florida Keys.  So they're White-Tailed Deer, according to the checklist you can download from the site's website.  Anyway there were a couple of them out in the grasses.  This one stayed pretty close to us.  Here she's looking at me like, "Really, I'm eating here.  Do you have to watch?"

Eastern Lubber Grasshopper (046 - 2012)
 One last critter for this post.  A great big, very bright yellow-orange grasshopper!  An Eastern Lubber Grasshopper to be exact.
 He was pretty mellow about us walking around him and taking pictures of him.    I love that if you look carefully (and, you know, blow the picture up to full size), you can see his mandibles folded up against his face!

So there's three quick new species for this trip.  I have oh so terribly many more pictures to sort, edit and post.  This is barely even a drop in a bucket.  But hey, I have to start somewhere!