Archive for March, 2013

Water Has a Sense of Humor

Buffy and I hiked through the ravine on my rural property. More plants bloomed than I expected — which still wasn’t much with the lingering winter weather.

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We hiked along the creek on the way back to the trail. Again, the sky was a mix of clouds and sunshine.

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All the pictures were taken with my facing the sun. The camera did what it chose with varying results.

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 I learned when I got the pictures in the computer that water has a sense of humor. The following pictures were cropped from the various pictures.

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My Camera?

Buffy and I were on our way back to the truck. The sun occasionally peeked through the thin clouds. As usual, the running, bubbling, rolling water caught my attention. I started taking pictures. The sun was opposite me. I didn’t change any of the camera’s settings.

And then, and then something took over my camera, and these are some of the resulting pictures.

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I tried to have the sun reflecting on the water.

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Occasionally I succeeded. I have no explanation for the white star pulling the white of the light out behind it

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The sun wasn’t as bright in this one as I expected.

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Reflections on and around rocks took on interesting shapes.

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Many reflections turned into radiating stars or brilliant dots.

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The sun reflects in the lower right with a ring of deep red around it.

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Blue, for some reason, rims these reflections and

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orange rims mainly the reflections on the left. I wondered what the deciding factor was that created either the blue or orange rims.

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 And, yes, whoever was using the camera, also got orbs in several pictures.

This wasn’t the first time my camera took over with the picture effects. I can’t wait to see the results the next time it happens.

Spring Might be Coming?

A partly sunny day called for a hike at my rural property.

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The color of this stink bug made it stand out.

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A few blooming spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) were a pleasant surprise.

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Water still ran in the creek from recent rains.

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I cannot not photograph running water and all the patterns it creates.

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Only a few bluebell (Mertensia virginica) plants were above the leaf litter.

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Common chickweed (Stellaria media) grew in patches.

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Nothing boring about this water picture.

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Corydalis (Corydalis flavula) was the only yellow bloomer of the day.

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Spring cress (Cardamine bulbosa) was the most common bloomer of the day.

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This ground beetle was unexpected this early.

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The grass in the barrens looked unusual — the 20+ inch snowfall matted down the dried grass blades.

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.


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!

Along the Creek Bank

The sun divided its time between shining and hiding behind clouds, as the pictures show.

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I wish I knew what the trees thought about living on the edge of the creek. This is a wet-weather creek, which means it has more of a decline through the hills, and only has water during the wet times.

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Moss wouldn’t have a chance to grow on these low roots.

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like it does on this tree and the one in the next picture.

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This shows how rocky the ground is from ravine’s eroding over the eons.

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Future heavy rains and flash flooding might occasionally move a rock.

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I wondered what caused all the holes. The center looks like a face with a big forehead and a pointed chin.

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Buffy and I turned around here and headed back to the truck.

Looks Promising

Things are looking promising for the fox family to den under our barn this year.

I’d been working in the yard this afternoon and sat down to rest. Orange movement in the shrubby corner of the back corner of our 2-acre yard caught my attention. About the same time my presence caught its attention. It went back the way it came. At first it looked like a cat we have in the neighborhood.

It wasn’t long before it headed back toward the barn under more shrubby cover.

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The pair raised 4 kits in their den under our barn last summer. With them being so aware and on alert at all times, I had to take all my pictures through the picture window in my computer room. They would even see me in the house.

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Three were nursing here and the other one … maybe it was already full.

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I couldn’t fool them, even when in the house. She came to the water garden for a drink and let me know she knew I was watching her.

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Buffy knew they were under there,

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and wanted me to help get them out of her territory.


I took pictures of the family from May 9-24 last year.  According to my Mammals of Illinois book, foxes breed late January and in February.  Gestation period is 51 days, and the young are born in late March or in April. Since we live in southern Illinois, I figure they breed toward the end of March.

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  I sat down at the computer yesterday afternoon, looked out the window and there was a fox coming up from the back corner of our yard! I managed, in all my excitement, to get 3 pictures. It’s cautious actions before going under the barn let me know it sensed me.

Ripple Variations

  Buffy wanted to visit Jones Lake so she could play in the water. I wasn’t about to argue with her. The sky gradually clouded, and a wind blew as we walked along the lake trail.

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Wind pushed the water into ripples.

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 Blue sky, and sunlit and shadowed clouds created endless designs.

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 Underwater objects could occasionally be seen too,

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and added designs from below.

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I didn’t know what to expect with each picture I took because of the water’s rapid movements.

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Lakes among  snowy mountains?

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An underwater jungle?

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A shrubby plant reflected as a shrubby plant.

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Surface alien beings?

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The alien’s homeland?

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Then I came to a cove with tree and shrub reflections coming toward me.

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The reflections moved SO fast.

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A water creature saying “farewell?”


While putting this blog together, I began to wonder …

am I observant or easily amused?

Sapsucker Evidence

I learned about yellow-bellied sapsuckers when the kids were young. The box elder tree in our front yard was young too, and we decorated it with treats for the birds every Christmas. The “menu”  included orange halves, which  attracted a sapsucker, a woodpecker.

 IMG_3489 redThat’s when I learned that they drill rows of holes in trees to get the sap flowing. They then drink the sap and also eat the insects that come to it. The ooziing holes are also a good place to see overwintering butterflies sipping sap on warm winter days.

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I have never seen a tree with anywhere near as many holes as this one!

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The rows of holes went all the way to the top! I roughly estimated the tree to be about 40 feet tall.  The tree still looked like is was alive.

I wondered if this tree was used as a sapsucker convention center.

Along the Creek

Every hike along this small creek varies from the recent weather, the weather of the day and probably from my mood too.

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Small creeks hold just as much enjoyment and intrigue as larger ones.

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Rippling water created constantly changing patterns of light and shadow.

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This creek has more than its share of petrified wood for some reason. Petrified wood always fascinates me that wood became stone through a loooong process.

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Green algae made quite a contrast with drab colors of winter.

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 I just paused and took it all in before

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going in closer to photograph falling water

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and ice formations.

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As you can tell, movement of light and shadows fascinate me.

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As do bubbles. It’s hard to tell in this picture, but each bubble I photograph had my reflection on it.

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A thin layer of clear ice covered a shallow pool off to the side of the creek.

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It’s obvious why artists use nature for inspiration.

Not Just Any Petrified Wood

That person in blue sitting HIGH on a roadcut is me in Kansas in October 2003.

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Why, you ask, was I sitting way up there? There was a good reason, otherwise, I for sure wouldn’t risk bodily harm.

My oldest son was in the Army and stationed at Fort Riley. He did extensive fossil hunting while out there. He invited me and my husband out so I could have some of the fun too. My husband wasn’t quite as interested in fossils and did other things.

Keith carefully got me down to our intended destination on the shale road cut. Then he realized he’d forgotten his pick and went on down the hill, as only a coordinated person could (and that a mother couldn’t watch).

 I was afraid to breathe and kept one heel dug in. If I started sliding, there’d be no stopping until I reached the bottom.

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Look close and you will now see

something that shouldn’t be.

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Impressed? I was. This is petrified driftwood, not petrified wood, but petrified driftwood! Keith found it when driving by one day. He saw something dark sticking out with an oxidized rusty stain coming down from it. He climbed up and found the petrified wood.

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This area was under water during the Permian Age 229-251 million years ago. A log/tree floated 400-500 miles out into the sea, sank and became petrified … instead of rotting. The trees at that time were still deciduous, like the tree ferns, and had softer wood that shouldn’t have held together to float that far. It had to then have been buried then by some natural event for it to have petrified.

So, that makes this petrified wood an unique preservation.

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These next 3 pictures are from my fossil collection.

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They contain a lot of iron and are heavy for their size. The black with crystals sparkles more than shows in the picture.

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This is my biggest piece and measures almost 7 inches tall.


I will occasionally post other blogs with fossils from that trip, including ones from the Niobrara Chalk.