Archive for December, 2012

Ladybug Beetles

A ladybug landed on the side of the house near the picture window in early November. It reminded me of swarms of ladybugs I found one fall while hiking along a sandstone bluff.

They  had swarmed where they planned to hibernate for the winter. These were at the mouth of a deep crevice that went way back into the sandstone.

This is the same “pile”of them as in the first picture. They were everywhere. Their body temperature remains the same as their surroundings.

They are known to congregate in swarms in houses too. I learned, when they used to get in my camper, that they don’t smell the best and that their tiny bite hurts. They will also gather in clusters under the bark and in crevices of trees.

Ladybugs are beetles, with over 5,000 species worldwide!

SNOW

This is what I woke to this morning, December 29.

The blizzard that started on Christmas evening left us 14 inches before it finally quit the later the next morning. We actually had a little melting yesterday morning. Then a light rain started, then went to freezing rain, then sleet and finally snow. Now we have six more inches.

IMG_5966 red

… I look out now at 10:30. A light snow falls again, and  the breezes increase enough to now knock snow off the branches.

IMG_5966 crop red

  It’s absolutely beautiful.

Chicken cooks for chicken salad. Dough rises for Basic White Bread and will soon fill the house with that wonderful bread-baking aroma.

It’s a good day.

Woven Nest

Two bird “cousins” that nest here in southern Illinois build similar nests. The Baltmore (or northern) oriole weaves its nest 15-30 feet high. I’ve only found two of them, and they were found in the winter when there were no leaves hide them. The males have a bright orange front, black back and head, and white wing bars.

IMG_0285 crop red alt

I found this woven nest last winter just north of where I park the truck at my rural property. I knew immediately it was an oriole nest. The back side of the nest had been torn from its other support. I didn’t think and just assumed it was a Baltimore oriole’s.

Then I later had a “duh” moment and looked up orchard orioles. They nest from 4 to 50 feet high, and this one was about 4 feet high. Both usually construct the nest in a forked terminal twig. Their nests are woven with strips of plant fiber, and are lined with fine grass, plant down and hair.

The way the nest was so tightly woven it made me wonder how they did that. They don’t have two hands like we do.

Nighttime Mist

Domesticity often gets in the way of my fun. Like tonight, while cooking supper. A front was coming through, a strong wind blew from the north, temperatures were dropping and a heavy mist fell … or should I say “blew.” I just had to hurry out to see how the  mist looked in nighttime pictures and if there were any orbs.

IMG_5423 red

I only saw 3 orbs in the picture above, and all of them are on the right side.

IMG_5426 red

This picture looks filled with only mist-produced orbs. I pointed the camera in all directions, except the north because of the wind direction. I didn’t want the camera lens to get wet.

IMG_5431 red

Looks like the orbs of from the emanations of spirit beings made themselves much larger so they wouldn’t be confused with the orbs caused by the heavy mist. Besides the orb on the back of the old garage, there’s one above it and to the right, and two above to the left.

IMG_5436 redAll these “orbs” resulted from the mist except the pale one at the top of the pine.

 It wasn’t 5 minutes and I was back to cooking. At least I felt much better learning what I learned.

———–

The above happened on Dec. 17. The following pictures were taken last night, the 20th. A strong weather pattern that hampered holiday traffic brought us strong winds gusting to 50 mph and dropping temperatures.

I just had to hurry out for a few pictures that might include orbs.

IMG_5604 red

Turned out that a light snow was falling. Amongst all this I found 2 small orbs. Obviously, the distance from the camera determined the size of the “snow orbs.” The wind also blew them enough to alter their shape.

IMG_5605 crop red

I snapped this picture less than a minute after the one above. Both are from the same direction, with this one being from further back. Six orbs appeared in it — one low on the right at the edge of the picture, another above the bush on the left and two faint ones in left side of the tree. I also suspect the two prominent round white ones are orbs too.

IMG_5606 red

A gray orb “hangs” in the lower right side of the pine tree.  Three or four minutes were enough time to satisfy my curiousity about the possiblity orbs in these conditions … besides, it was much warmer inside and a good movie had just come on.

Puttyroot Orchid

Buffy and I were walking toward the creek on my rural property, and I walked right up to a puttyroot orchid … last day of November.

It may only be a leaf, but it’s still an orchid.

Three more orchid leaves grew near the creek. The leaves will remain green all winter and then wilt about the same time the flowers bloom mid-May into June.

The flowers in this picture are a little past full bloom. Puttyroot orchids (Cymbidium hyemale) grow up to 20 inches tall. They grow in low, rich woods, along streams and in ravine bottoms here in southern Illinois. Their range covers northeastern U.S.  from Minnesota, part of Missouri and Tennessee.

Sometimes it’s easier to find the seed stalks of orchids than the flowering plant.

Puttyroots orchids can grow in patches and only a few bloom. There used to be a large dense patch of them along the road to a place Buffy and I visit often. There were 50-plus leaves in an oval. They were visible from the road if a person knew where to look. I visited every year … the patch “disappeared” six or seven years ago. Native orchids don’t transplant well at all. What a loss and a shame!

Oh What a Night!

December 13 and oh, what a night!

The sky was clear, the temperature in the 30’s. Being new moon meant no moonlight to overpower the stars or the Geminid meteor shower.  I bundled up in my heavy winter Gortex outfit and headed out at 9p.m. My only gear was flashlight, camera and lawnchair.  By the time Orion reached overhead there were so many stars visible that it was hard to find.

My first activity was making a loop of the backyard, taking pictures, hoping to capture orbs.

IMG_5060 red

Orbs were numerous! I wondered if it was because of the new moon, the 12-12-12 portal the day before, the meteor shower or all three combined.

The tree on the left in the picture above is a large elm, and for some reason it usually has more orbs than the other trees in the yard.

Orbs are thought to be emanations from spiritual beings according to Dr. Klaus Heinemann. He’s co-authored two books — The Orb Project and Orbs, Their Mission and Messages of Hope. I have the latter. For some reason orbs are able to be photographed with a digital camera and flash.

When I first started taking orb pictures the orbs were darker, and the didn’t show as much. Then lately I read to be sure to use the nighttime setting on your camera. I didn’t know I had such a thing. I found it and now the orbs show much better.

Since learning that, I go out most nights and some mornings. I’ve taken pictures when it’s just getting light or just getting dark, and when it is dark. I’ve experimented with clear skies and cloudy. I’m new at this and have a lot to learn. Now I’m waiting for increasing moonlight.

IMG_5114 red

This view goes across part of the back of our backyard. We have 2 acres. There’s a blue orb on the left just above the barn roof and a green one at the upper edge of the picture above the blue one. Dust particles can cause orbs in pictures. They are usually brighter and lack any interior details. Dr. Heinemann says the air-born particles must be within 4 inches of the camera to make the orbs.

Orbs are spheres, not disks

IMG_5119 red

 A lot more of the orbs will show in these pictures if viewed in a room with low light. The orbs above and to the right of the old garage are in/around a hackberry tree. The bright white orb below the window was square. I captured it on the back of the house in 3 pictures that night.

IMG_5122 red

The picture above shows orbs over my what my husband calls my “weed patch.” I only took 133 pictures that night in 4 picture-taking sessions. The number of orbs varied in each session. The orb numbers declined by the fourth time.

I have commonly taken a picture that ended up with a lot of orbs, and immediatley taken another picture of the same area and there’d being only a few.

IMG_5125 red

Orbs usually congregate around the pine too. I included this picture to show the bright blue orb to the side of the tree and a pink one above. Another picture that night had a bright pink one over a small branch. I’ve gotten pictures of blue, turquoise, pink, orange, shades of green, white, and this night even a few earth-tone ones. A blue orb of a certain size shows up in a lot of my pictures. There must be a reason.

In my less than 2 months of taking orb pictures, I’ve never gotten anywhere near this many orbs. Not all the pictures were as crowded with orbs; the average was still way above previous experiences.

After 2 hours of all this fun … I saw 34 meteors. I realized too late that I would’ve seen more if I had been laying on the ground in a different location.

But,

OH what a night!

Backyard Eagle Encounter

I was sitting at the computer by the picture window that looks out over our backyard. An eagle circled and went back over the strip pit. Another adult bald eagle did the same. I called my mother to “nanner nanner.” One eagle returned. I got off the phone, grabbed my camera and hurried outside.

The other eagle returned too. They circled here and there, heading north and returning, back and forth over the old strip pit behind the house and returning. A strong south wind blew, blowing cumulus clouds to the north, speeding the eagles’ flight and complicating picture-taking.

IMG_3986 crop red

They’d disappear and return. I’d occasionally hear one of their  eek” calls. I lost concept of time. Nothing but waiting for them,  and watching them, trying to get pictures. Then a 3rd adult eagle joined them. They didn’t sound to pleased about that. Heard occasional “eeeek” calls.

IMG_3991 crop red

I did pause occasionally to breathe. They were closer than they look in the pictures. If I zoomed in too much I couldn’t find them before they were too far off. The back and forth behind the strip pit, and flights to the north and back continued.

IMG_3997 crop red

Obviously, the first 2 were a mated pair and the third an intruder. This got me wondering when they mate in southern Illinois and lay their eggs. Big birds obviously take longer to reach maturity.

Great horned owls begin nesting here in southern Illinois at the end of January. Bald eagles incubate their eggs 35 days, and the eaglets fly at 70-75 days. That’s roughly over 3 months.  I couldn’t find the information I wanted online. I’ll file these questions in my brain somewhere and maybe will learn the answers sometime.