Ontario Wanderer asked about the chrysalis of the Black Swallowtail so I went back into the swamp to try to get a picture. If the pictures look a little shaky, you can blame the mosquitoes - I got swarmed by skeeters and gnats!

Black swallowtail chrysalis, view two


The ever elusive Great Blue Heron. Just can't get close enough to get a good picture...such is life.

A little something furry for SQMojo! Caught him red-handed, stealing sunflower seeds from the platform feeder.


Wandering Around on a Sunday Morning

This mushroom, as yet unidentified, was over nine inches across. Quite impressive.

A black swallowtail cat preparing to pupate. (Papilio polyxenes)

Such a shock of red amongst the greens and grays of the swamp.

So red, it'll hurt your eyes! Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).

A freshwater bryozoan. Common name: The Blob. Scientific name: Pectinatella magnifica
This is actually of colony of tiny individuals. If you look very, very closely, you can see the tentacles of individual animals.

Chillin' by the pond, a green treefrog (Hyla cinerea) clings to a bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) sapling.

All in all, a very satisfying way to spend the morning. And no, the house isn't clean. But you knew that already, didn't you?


So Easily Distracted

Okay, I confess, the house is only marginally cleaner than it was this morning. A couple of floors have been mopped, some laundry has been done, the cat litter has been changed, and the snake cages are clean...sadly, only a tiny drop in the ocean of housework that needs to be done...

But how can one be expected to clean house when there are interesting things to see just outside the kitchen window? And Mr. Swamp and I don't really care if the house is clean...

Early evening in the yard. A hispid cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus) busy cleaning up the sunflower seeds the birds dropped during the day. I like cotton rats. They're cute. (I do not have such a warm and fuzzy feeling for Norway or Black Rats -- they enter the yard at their own risk.)

Suppertime at the feeder outside the kitchen window. This is the largest of four feeders - it has a 96 ounce capacity and they are emptying it daily. During the height of the season they emptied it twice a day.

A quick drink...

And off she went...

A Classic Case of Procrastination

My house is a train wreck. I fully expect the health department to come and condemn it any day now...so what do I do instead of cleaning house? I poke around the yard and pry into the lives of the little critters that share my space. (Hopefully, the clutter police aren't monitoring my blog.)

Happy hunting...a Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) climbs the heartnut tree. I always enjoy watching mantids. They are very impressive insects.

Trumpet Creeper Pyralid Moth, Clydonopteron tecomae. I noticed these moths for the first time last September. We had quite a few to emerge from the seed pods of one of the many trumpet creeper vines (Campsis radicans) that grow out in the yard.

Some type of wasp with some type of caterpillar -- I can give you a definite ID on the tree, it's a sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua). Perhaps I can persuade my spouse to determine the true identity of this wasp -- afterall, since it is in our yard, it will go on his species list. Besides, he is much more patient than I when it comes to keying out insects.

And one shot from yesterday...a June Bug, Cotinis nitida

Now, I absolutely must go clean the house...really.


It was so beautiful out today that at lunchtime I grabbed a canoe and headed out onto the pond. Have you ever loved a place so much that it actually hurts? :)

Another view.

A little garden out in the pond.


Isn't he the cutest thing? One of the robberflies.

I think these may be lacewing eggs.

You never know when someone's watching...


Living the Good Life

A deluxe deck over a private pond...how lucky can a green frog be? The deck is made of the finest weathered pine, the pond is an oasis of rainwater under a protective blanket of duckweed. (Alright...so it's just an old board over an abandoned kiddie pool...I've been reading real estate ads, okay?)

Little fingers of fungi

Now how did a wasp pupa manage to get out of its case and into this spider web...hmmm?

I've got my eye(s) on you!

There Goes the Neighborhood

The carpenter bee has no consideration for others in the neighborhood...especially the spider that lives downstairs.



A little green garden at the base of a bald cypress


Dog Days Indeed

This cicada was having a very bad day -- but at least the hornet was happy.

Even the shade is weary...it's HOT here.

"Frankly, I am not amused." A young Painted Turtle, Chrysemys picta.


Stir Crazy

Too much paperwork and not enough outdoor work this week. It's been making me a little stir crazy so I took a fifteen minute break this afternoon and headed outside for a breath of air.

Before I got out the door, my co-worker glanced out the window to see a red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) munching on some tasty tid-bit. I grabbed the camera, fired up that optic zoom and snapped a picture through one very dirty window. The hawk was about 60 feet away -- I think I'm liking this optical zoom :-)

Oh, I know you wouldn't have been able to tell what it was if I hadn't told you, but I am still pleased with the clarity. Makes me think of wonderous possibilities!

Once outside, I happened upon this blue-tailed skink. It's either a five-lined skink or a southeastern five-lined skink...I'm inclined to think it's the southeastern (Eumeces inexpectus) because the head stripes and the middorsal stripe don't connect. Whichever it is, its tail will change color as it ages, losing that brilliant blue hue. There has been no shortage of skinks this year, they're everywhere.

This one was sunning about three feet away from the blue-tail.

It appears to be a female broadhead skink (Eumeces laticeps) and she seems to have had a hard life.

Nubbin...where's the tail?

Out by the gate, where a light burns each night, I found the remains of a bat's meal. There were numerous moth wings scattered around on the ground. This particular one appears to be from an Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis).

Down near the pond I found a cluster of groundnut (Apios americana) in bloom. The root is edible, but I've never tried it.

As I was heading back in to tackle more paperwork, I noticed a female Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans).

Worn and tattered, but still active, she was patrolling along the edge of the pond. Somehow, I found that inspiring.


My New Camera

I don't have time today to do a proper post, but I thought I would show you a few pictures taken this morning with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5. All were shots taken by hand without the benefit of a tripod. Three of the photos were shot using the macro feature, the fourth was taken on the program setting with the camera zoomed to 12x. The clarity of the last shot was much better than what a 12x digital zoom would have provided.

I'll be back later in the week to either praise or curse the camera, depending on how things go :-)

The featured critters, from top to bottom:

Bald-faced Hornet, Dolichovespula maculata
Slaty Skimmer, Libellula incesta
Banded Tussock Moth, Halysidota tessellaris
Eastern Comma, Polygonia comma

Using teleMacro from a distance of 3 feet

With teleMacro zoom feature -- I was about 3 and a half feet away

On macro setting from about 2 inches away

From 15 feet away


A Shout Out...

...to son number one! 23 today, a grown man...a fine man. We love you.

Happy Birthday! Celebrate!!

Have another banana! Just try to get more of it into your mouth this time ;-)


Out and About Today

Some of the critters out and about today --

Juvenile Black Racer (Coluber constrictor). We're used to seeing these snakes on the ground, but this one was about four feet above the ground, resting on a dried lespedeza stem.

Yellownecked caterpillars (Datana ministra) in a defensive posture. The red one on the right is younger than the black ones. If you look at the black one you will notice it was caught in a "private" moment. That blackish blob on its posterior end is a fresh frass (i.e. poop)

Pine woods treefrog (Hyla femoralis).


Mimosa, Albizia julibrissin, an introduced species with a tendency to be invasive.