Posts Tagged ‘camouflage’

In the Rock Pile

Rocks edged all my gardens until I reduced the number of gardens and made a pile with the rocks.

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Obviously, spiders like the rock pile. The spiders living among the rocks are wolf spiders (which have a painful bite.)

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I wish I could’ve seen the spider spin this web. It’s so graceful in its simplicity.

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Some spiders will wait for passing prey in or near the mouth of the burrow.

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Taking their picture poses a problem too … they usually stay down in their tunnel.

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They do tend to blend in with their surroundings.

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Their drab coloring makes them difficult to see. They depend on camouflage for protection.

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They are nocturnal. All the webs in my rock pile are taken down every morning  and rebuilt later in the day.

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I never did get a good look at this spider … so I was never sure if this was an abdomen or egg sac.

The female carries her eggs in an egg sac, which is attached to her spinnerets. The newly-hatched young climb up on her back and stay there until they’re big enough to be on their own. I haven’t seen one with an egg sac or with young.

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And There I Was

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For some reason, I started thinking about snakes this morning,

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because I haven’t seen one in the yard this year.

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It brought back a memory of an encounter I had several years ago with a kingsnake.

Many many years ago, after I started birding, I still hadn’t seen a wild turkey. I’d heard them gobble. There was an area up the hill from my camper, where I’d seen a lot of turkey scratching. Dressed in camouflage, camera in hand, I got situated at the base of a tree that gave me a good view of the area.

There I sat … and sat … and dozed off. The wind started blowing … only it wasn’t the leaves rustling in the wind … it was a LONG kingsnake coming straight  for me. It hadn’t seen me in my camouflage. Somehow, I held my camera, got to my feet and stepped backwards several feet. The snake stopped when it came to where I’d been sitting because the ground was warm.  My hands shook to much to take a picture (The lens was zoomed in too close anyway.) The snake continued on, and I headed for the Blazer. It was in line to cross my lap if I’d been asleep.

Yard Residents

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The tiny frog jumped when I picked up a sandstone rock from a pile I was moving. It froze in place, confident in its camouflage. The dirt on it hid any markings it had.

I think it’s a chorus frog. My mind said “chorus frogs” when I’d hear frogs calling earlier this summer after dark.

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I first saw this kingsnake when I almost stepped on it.

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It continued on to the shrub border where it could disappear into the thick of things.

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Then yesterday, I walked toward the house and a frog jumped from the grass in front of me. It’s the same kind as the one above. The odd thing is that I don’t remember seeing these in the yard before. They were maybe an inch or so long.

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I was again moving rocks and this leopard frog jumped near me. Their call sounds like its laughing/chuckling.

A Two-Encounter Outing … Then More

The ice on the driveway finally melted enough I could get out safely.

So, what did Buffy and I do? We headed for a short outing at Stone Face.

“Is that a turkey?” was my repeating thought when I saw something dark in a big corn field. When I see turkeys in that field, there’s usually 15-20 of them.

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As I got closer, I could tell it was a raccoon. I stopped the truck, left the motor running, opened the door and took pictures.

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It kept feeding, totally unaware of me. The cold wind had me slowly in and out of the truck. The raccoon didn’t see me until I put the truck in reverse and backed toward a place where I could turn around. It took off at high speed toward the woods “way back yonder.”

 The final road to Stone Face was shaded and too icy to drive. I backed up to turn around again. As I approached the road where I planned to turn right, the road going up a small incline …. I saw an animal crossing the road. At first glance it looked similar to the partial albino otter I had in the yard last year. I got the truck stopped. The animal — a dingy blond, bushy tail, and its underside all black (not the tail) ….. a skunk! It disappeared into the thick of things before I could get a picture. Its fur was bushy, longish, backlit by the sun, and looked poofed by the wind.

I wish you could see the mental picture I filed in my memory of the encounter!

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This brought up another raccoon memory from way back when. Luckily, I made it out in one piece. I was standing/drawing in the woods, not far from a gravel road. Then I heard movement behind me … 4 young raccoons, walking in a straight line right towards me. Behind them came the mother, who was rooting around for food. None had spotted me. I moved, not wanting the adult to get too close.

She made an alarm noise. The young darted up the nearest young trees. She ran into the tall grasses. The young had no fear of me and were quite curious. They stayed where they were. She called to them. They stayed put. She kept calling, and they finally ran over to  her.

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Two days ago, Buffy and I went on the drive above. We made the same trip today. It was nice to have most of the ice melted. Cloudy weather’s no reason to stay home, especially after so much ice confinement.

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We headed for Stone Face again, this time on the highway and  then through the corn fields on a blacktop road. Geese flew all around. Large flocks were coming our direction from the north and east. They practically blackened the fields in places, and their honking increased.

We’ve had a lack of sunshine for a few days. I do apologize for the quality of all these pictures. I took them from a stopped truck. That it was still running, didn’t help much.

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And then …. and then… 37 “white pillows” off in a cornfield … swans. I was then on more ice than I wanted to be. I made one stop after another trying to get the best view.

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The road was mostly ice because of being shaded by woods along the south side of it. I eased up to turn around on the Stone Face road, and ended up going on up to the creek. Temperature was below freezing, and no sunlight left most of the ground in the woods with more slippery ice than uncovered leaves. Needless to say, we didn’t stay long.

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And then … on the way home … wild turkeys fed in a corn field. There were 20-30 of them. I didn’t count. They were scattered out and not close to the road.

Now you see why we make this drive often. It provides a short outing when I feel the need for one. Buffy’s always willing too.

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Both my sons automatically call me when they see something they know I’d want to see. This morning it was bald eagles. I immediately suited up and was out the door. My first thought (which I’m sure came from them), “Put the petal to the metal.” I stayed within the speed limit. Keith said there were two in the field and one circling to land.

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One eagle was fine with me. The morning was overcast, and the eagle was a ways out in the field. I never shut the engine off in a situation like this, because it usually alerts the subject to my presence and shortens the encounter. I eased the truck up when the eagle was bent over feeding.

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Oh my, what a good 4 days in terms of wildlife. The only thing I missed was a coyote (which I rarely see anyway).

There’s my excuse for another loop drive!

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Ended up I didn’t make another loop drive. This morning Buffy and I were on our way home from an outing, when I heard a distinctive bird call — sandhill cranes!

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They flew in a large formation and were gone in no time. Then behind me, came more calling. Another group headed our way. With their distance and height, I couldn’t see if they were on the camera display or not. I just aimed, tried to focus and took as many pictures as I could.

Now, yes, I’m sure this time …  this is the end of this blog!

American Woodcock

I hadn’t heard an American woodcock call for years until around the end of February when I’d go out in the evening to take orb pictures in the backyard.  Nasal “peent” calls came from our neighbor’s yard.

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My best friend took her 7-year-old granddaughter on a hike recently,

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and they were lucky enough to get close to an American woodcock. Woodcocks are secure in their camouflage and usually don’t fly when approached.

Therese was kind enough to share these pictures.

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  Male woodcocks give nasal “peent” calls from the ground at dusk and dawn, and slowly rotate as they call. They usually call from more open areas that have damp/wet areas. After calling, the male flies wide circles, as he spirals up and up, giving twittering calls as he goes. Next he spirals almost straight down,  giving “kissing” calls, and spiraling out at the last second to land and then begins calling again.

 They nest on the ground. If a nest is threatened, the adult will do a hurt-wing display to distract the predator/intruder away from the nest. My son was talking to a turkey hunter one year. The hunter had gotten too close to a woodcock nest. The parent started doing a hurt-wing display to attract him from the nest.  He also witnessed all the young doing a hurt-wing too. I would’ve like to see that!