Sunday, January 31, 2010

Birds from the Belize trip

I'm thinking of making a "nature only" blog, worked on it yesterday but when it came to custom designing the layout worldpress wants you to pay $15 a year.... So guess I'll stick to blogger any thoughts??

Anyway Belize was very nice, we found just over 100 bird species and for me 55 new species! My favorite place we stayed was Clarissa Falls , Chena the owner took us birding and her brother took us out at night to see Northern Potoos in the pasture on the fences. If you want to experience Belize Clarissa Falls Resort is the place to visit.
Northern Potoo, Nyctibius jamaicensis they perch on posts and dead trees to camouflage themselves. We found this one from a 1/4 mile away with a strong flashlight, the eyes can be seen easily with the flashlight. We drove up and approached this guy from 4-5 foot away and he stayed on the post the entire time.

The White-necked Puffbird, Notharchus hyperrhynchus was the first bird I photographed in Belize.
Not my best photo, yet a beautiful bird. This is an  Violaceous Trogon, Trogon violaceus
I didn't get the photos I wanted of the Northern Ja├žana, Jacana spinosa. When they get ready to fly they lift the wings up and you get delighted with pale yellow undersides of the wings.
This is an Collared Aracari, Pteroglossus torquatus, it is a tucan. They feed on palm berries next to the bathroom at Clarrissa Falls. We saw the Keel-billed Toucan eating the same berries as well.
The Brown Jay, Cyanocorax morio was the first new bird we IDed in Belize. At 16 inches it is a huge and noisy Jay. The last evening I was in Belize a small flock of them flew in out in the open along the road I was walking on and allowed me several photos.
We saw lots of new kingfishers like this Ringed Kingfisher, Megaceryle torquata. I think I have seen this one from a distance in southern Texas years ago.
The Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Aramides cajanea was the last new bird I saw in Belize. Good thing I'm tall was the pond it was in was blocked with bushes and I barely got a clear photo of it.
A small flock of Groove-billed Ani, Crotophaga sulcirostris entertained the heck out of me while walking a small road the last evening we were there. They chased and mocked each other to no end, to my delight.

I still have 3 hawk species to post so do stay tuned! Once I get the butterfly IDs right there will be a lot of them too.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Contest the Winners Are?

Not sure if the pink flamingo floated yesterday or this morning. So I have the winners.

Shady Gardener of Does Everything Grow Better in My Neighbor's Yard?
Stuart and Alice of Bluebird Meadows
Grace Peterson of Gardening With Grace
Di of Voice in the Garden
Jeremy and Jenny of  The Mountains Are Growing With Chile

Shady won because the flamingo fell over on the date she picked. The rest were the closest guesses to when the pink flamingo floated. So the winners please contact me with your address so I can send your prizes when I get back from Belize.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Time to check garden center for sales!

Yesterday I was in Home Depot in Chapel Hill/ Durham and the garden center was pretty empty of plants. I looked around and found 3 varieties of one gallon camellias for $3.33 each marked down from $9.99 each. So I picked out one of each of these Camellia sasanqua Maiden's Blush (pink), Camellia japonica Rosehill Red and a locally developed Camellia japonica Turandot. I was not familiar with any of these varieties and after looking them up on the net I was pretty happy.

Just wanted to put out the word some deals might be out there to be had.

I'll be heading to Belize on Friday!

One thing  we all need to think about is helping with the relief effort in Haiti. Meg and I support the American Friends Service Committee you can give online or call 1-888-588-2372 I heard on the news tonight that the credit card companies were making a fortune charging up to  3% fees for donation transactions. A check can be sent and 100% of your donation can be utilized by sending your check to:

AFSC Haiti Crisis Fund
1501 Cherry St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102

The American Red Cross and  Doctors Without Borders are also excellent places to donate as well.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Pink Flamingo Contest is still on!

The contest is still on, the pink flamingo is still standing out in the middle of our pond! The ice still covers to entire pond, two days ago it looked like there was open water on one side.
I'll recap the details on the contest:
The first 4 people to guess the date the Pink Flamingo floats in the pond wins a copy of my interactive CD book on the Butterflies of the Carolinas andVirginias. This CD covers every butterfly found in the Carolinas and the Virginias with excellent photos of every butterfly, 95 % of those taken by yours truly.

The flamingo is resting in mulch and the date(s) closest to when the flamingo and mulch float apart in the pond wins the contest.

So far we have these 18 entries:

Dave Jan 16
Shady Jan 17
Grace Jan 19
Di Jan 20
Tom Jan 22
Catherine Jan 22
Ginger Jan 24
Kim and Victoria Jan 28
Noelle Jan 29
Kathleen Jan 30
Meg Jan 30
Nancy Feb 3
Tina Feb 4
Ali Feb 13
Rosey Feb 14
Neil Jean Feb 28
Les March 7
Janet March 15

So those of you that have not guessed yet please leave a comment to when you think it'll float.

Both of these photos were taken about 9AM this morning January 16th.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Contest: Guess when the Flamingo floats

I thought a little contest would be in order! The first 4 people to guess the date the Pink Flamingo floats in the pond wins a copy of my interactive CD book on the Butterflies of the Carolinas & Virginias.

Please leave a comment with contact info or E mail me You must live in the US to win in this contest.

As of Sunday the ice in the pond was at least 4 inches thick. When will it melt and the pink flamingo end up floating? The flamingo is resting in mulch on the ice.

Hey can you believe I got Meg out on the pond on Sunday night!

Dot walking over the big cracks in the ice!

Our house as seen from the pond!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Crazy Curling on a pond in Durham, NC

The curling match between old friends really happened today in Durham, NC. Let me tell you these were not crazy young adults, I was among friends that were around my age (early 50s) to a few years older. The pond was larger than mine and we had nine people on the pond at one time.

Did the ice crack? Yes it did and often, it took me 30 minutes to get the nerve to join them as at 240 lbs I was the heaviest person on the ice.

That is me tossing my first curl. The water jugs were just thought up before the event since we did not have granite curling rocks. The blue bucket is the goal when tossing from the other side. You play this game kind of like shuffleboard.

X was our team, note the x mark on my 'rock'.

Barney a Canadian who has actually curled in a league!

You can't curl your rock without having someone brush away the ice along with the rock.

Ken on his knees after tossing his rock, he was on my team.

That is Roger another Canadian and the only player in skates! The white pipe there is the other goal, we did lots of improvising.

This is Jon he was on my team also. He is not from Belgium!

David from Australia. I was very glad to see him well again, the pond is in his neighborhood.

Ken from the USA is action!

Roger in action once again. Our team lost because when we reached 10 points to win, the rules required us to win by two points and since they had 9 points we played on and they scored enough to win the game. We were on the ice for 2 1/2 hours playing, what a hoot. I was surprised no one stopped in to see what we were doing as a good number of cars went by.

A view of the playing field once we were finished playing! It'll be probably a decade before we can have another match like this one as it is warming up all this coming week and ice like this does not happen very often in Durham.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Randy on Ice!

Several firsts today! My image on this blog and Meg's photography of me on the blog. This morning with the temps in the teens I walked out on the pond. For those of you that are not familiar with our pond it is egg shaped and about 60-75 foot across and about 4 1/2 to 5 foot deep at the moment. We are just north of Durham, North Carolina and we are in the Southeastern United States.

The ice is pretty deep at least 8 inches maybe more. Dot was not willing to stay on the ice, maybe she 'is' smarter than I am? Meg had a hard time getting this photo as Dot would not stay still.

Near the center of the pond! The ice was very sound here.

Yikes it's cracking!!! Did I forget to mention the 30 foot long crack about 3 inches deep in the center of the pond? I saw it days ago, but it sounded like a gun shot when I stepped on it!

All the way accross, the last 15 feet was a bit faster walking after hearing the crack!

This photo shows the big crack in the ice. The red arrow on the left is where I stepped and heard the cracking. The other arrow shows a right turn in the crack.

Tomorrow I've been invited to join in on a curling match on a smaller pond in Durham. We are going to use gallon jugs filled half way with ice as curling stones. It will be an international event with the USA, Canada and Australia being present and Denmark perhaps too. In the morning it'll be 16 or 17 degrees and what looks like the end of these mornings with teen temperatures. Next week the afternoons will be pushing into 50 degrees. so I doubt we'll be walking on any more ponds.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I walked out

on the pond this morning! Only moved out to about a foot deep. Tomorrow I'll walk out further and Sunday I hope to walk across the pond. Lived here 12 years and only once the pond was 'skated on', we are in the south folks! The rain barrel has ice about 8 inches thick.

I recall my dad telling me of a cold winter in southern Ohio where people were driving trucks a mile across the Ohio River to Kentucky.

Then in 1977 I recall personally walking out on the Ohio River about 50 feet, my friend Louie went out over 100 foot, the river was not frozen over, so it was pretty risky. One night it got down to -26 degrees F I went on a date and the car over heated. I walked 1/4 mile to get water in a gallon jug and could not pour the water out of the jug! If I recall correctly the entire month of February 1977 in Cincinnati never went above 0 degrees?

Meg was working on a sheep farm in PA in 1977 she says it was terrible trying to do anything for the sheep.

The only good thing I can say about this cold air right now is the mud is frozen and the porch I'm building is not covered in mud. I did have to wipe frost off from the lumber to mark it before cutting it.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Western Dragonflies Part 1

I trust everyone had a better start of the new year than I did? Saturday night I ate at a restaurant  with the family. Sunday morning I had food poisoning all the way home from Charleston WV to home. Not much fun to say the least.

On the brighter side I did get to meet two new members of our family! Hailey my almost 2 month old grand niece and  Landon my 4 month old grand nephew!

Been thinking about the images I took in Yosemite this past summer and realized I did not cover the dragonflies on this blog. They were hard to find compared to the butterflies.

I'm not 100% sure on this ID I believe it is an immature  female
Red-Veined Meadowhawk, Sympetrum madidum

This meadowhawk on the barbed wire acted the same as a Variegated Meadowhawk, Sympetrum corruptum that I found on barbed wire in the Sierra Nevada Mountains about 8 years ago. I looked at all my field guides and finally concluded it was a Red-veined Meadowhawk which was an entirely new species for me.

Variegated Meadowhawk, Sympetrum corruptum male. The lower abdomen spots and tri-colored stigmas were helpful to get this ID. The almost mated pair shown below were found on the way out of Yosemite at a lower elevation.

More to come soon, sure beats the temperatures in the  teens we are getting every morning!