20 June 2009

deer and cows and sheep, oh my!

As the title suggests, Matt and I have seen more mammals/ungulates lately than anything else. Even bipedal hominids, which is something of an anomaly for us!

Most of June has passed uneventfully, with a few key exceptions of Matt finding a Black-capped Vireo nest and our trip to Buffalo, NY for a former roomie's wedding at the Buffalo and Erie Botanical Gardens. Robyn is one of the most brilliant examples of genius that I know and it must have taken her quite a bit of courage (and faith) to ask me to don a dress. I must say, for grungy field folk, we do clean up remarkably well! It should be noted that my sister independently asked two dear friends to document my bridesmaid-ness.

Dave and Robyn

The public "Buffalo" album has a selection of relevant photos courtesy of Stephanie Golmon, a dear friend from college, who documented some remarkable "firsts" for Matt and myself. We fed each other wedding cake (Robyn & Dave's, of course), danced our first dance, and are still talking after our first plane trip together... very long story there, involving a 12 hr delay en route to Buffalo. So, yes, you can take the birders and scrub them down and dress them up - but they will still find a way to delight in wildlife:

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis), John, Matt, Heidi - photo by Stephanie Golmon

Among the dear friends present were Froggi and John, from the St. Louis area. Froggi is the first person that made me think that I could possibly be normal - or that other people like me were out there. So there's documentation of my documentation and there's a very happy Froggi, flinging cake icing to the gulls. Both photos below are by Stephanie Golmon.

Now back to the actual title of the post - Matt and I most recently ventured down to Rocksprings, TX for another vireo run on Thursday. What we saw along the road was pretty normal, but everything was fenced in. Cows, goats, some exotic deer-creatures, a few donkeys and llamas. Friday morning's drive down to the property, however, included unfenced bunnies, unfenced cows, ~15 unfenced sheep and the ubiquitous deer.

At some point I need to post some damselfly photos from our previous Rocksprings/Junction/S. Llano River State Park trip, we had a few very cooperative subjects. Until next post, happy trails!

07 June 2009

Flight of the Bumblebee..

... Or Not.

The Animal Kingdom is full of mimicry. This is particularly true of class Hexapoda (insects). Heidi and I were killing time at the Carleen Bright Arboretum; a nearby location that we sometimes hit for butterflies and other bugs.

The above picture was taken on 30 May 2009. This particular insect is a bumblebee mimic. It is actually a moth belonging one of my favorite Lepidopteran (butterfly & moth) families : Sphingidae. "Sphingids" are often referred to as Sphinx moths or Hawk moths.

This species is (Hemaris diffinis) "Snowberry Clearwing." This bug is a day-flying sphinx moth that is an excellent mimic of a bumble bee. It, however, hovers in front of blossoms rather than landing on them.

The following pictures of H. diffinis were taken back on 27 July 2007 at Carleen Bright Arboretum. Not long after I took these photos I found out they were the first documented records of this species in McLennan County. It is ofcourse highly unlikely that this was the first occurrence of this species in the county. There are not too many people (compared to birds, for example) into entomology (study of insects), and so there are huge gaps of documentation for insect species.

I wonder if composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was inspired by a bumblebee....or a moth.

01 June 2009

so you couldn't make it...

So you couldn't make it to [Abilene/Houston]... well, you're in luck!

The Abilene reception was covered with remarkably little press, but the photos are over at See Trail's Picasa "Abilene Reception" album. Francine, one of our amazing hostesses, came up with a snazzy little idea that is great for reader feedback (if any of you are so inclined!)

The Houston reception was quite well covered, with huge thanks to many attendees who came and took pictures - especially Gavin, my brother-in-law, whose kindness and generosity in being tech support for the photosharing was absolutely essential to surviving the weekend!

There are something like 160 pictures in the album, so the slide show may not be for the slow-loading connections, if that's your case, here's the album link for Kindli's Flickr site.

So here's your chance to be part of the madness (even if you *were* there) - give us advice! Marriage, relationship, cooking, birding, whatever... just use the first letter of each of our names to do so ;-)
M make snow angels together
A always make sure your shoelaces are tied
T take life one day at a time
T take out the trash (we've gotten this one numerous times now)
H hug daily
E enjoy the quiet times
I interpretive dance: do it!
D do not eat fondue in bed
I iguanas do not make good pillows

...so please comment (with a name so we can give you credit!) and we'll fill out our leftover "Advice for Matt and Heidi" forms and we'll add you to the scrapbook!

EDIT: Matt would like to gently remind our dear readers that this *is* a public forum and we would request that all advice be kept tastefully moderated within the family-friendly context of an "R" rating or less. Any such comments should be kept to yourself, respectfully.