Archive for May, 2014

Red-eared Slider

Buffy insisted I take her for a short walk-about at Ingram Hill cemetery before the day warmed much more. We go there often for short outings and the long view.

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A red-eared slider rested near the parking area.

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It patiently posed while I took pictures.

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A red-eared slider’s shell (carapace) measures from 5-8 inches long. They’re active from March until the middle of October here in southern Illinois.

This turtle was headed north.  There’s a small body of water down the hill to the east. He may have a long, long walk to water.

Obviously, he has patience, perseverance and determination.


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This picture shows another red-eared slider that was on the edge of the highway in front of our house one spring. Older male red-ears sometimes have excess black pigment which obscures most or all of the patterns. This is called “melanism.” The brown on him is dried mud.


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Evening light through catalpa tree

Brown Thasher

Buffy and I often make a morning loop walk around the back back of our 2-acre yard. This morning we rounded the corner of the house. Buffy took off full speed for the groundhog eating its breakfast. As usual, it made it under the barn before Buffy got down there.

It wasn’t long before I spotted two young rabbits feeding back near the shrub border. They saw us and hopped into the thick of things.

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A brown thrasher stayed ahead of us, sometimes on the ground and others low in the shrub border.

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They usually stay hidden in thick vegetation, not leading humans on their walk around the backyard.

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Brown thrashers nest up to 4 feet above the ground, and occasionally on the ground.  My impression was that it was leading me away from its nest in my attempt to get pictures of it.

A brown thrasher’s song impersonates other bird songs. They repeat each note/phrase two times, not a varying number like mockingbirds do.

Robin Nest

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A tangle of honeysuckle vines concealed the robin nest.

Wild Cherry Mystery

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My experience with wild cherry trees mainly centers around the caterpillars of the red spotted purple butterfly. They don’t eat enough of the leaves to make their existence overly obvious.

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 Tent caterpillars eat emerging leaves; there’s no remnants of any web.

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So, what ate leaves and green berries in a wild cherry tree  growing in the shrub border on the south side of our yard?

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Wonder if it could be deer? They do go through the yard during the night.  I wouldn’t think they’d “pick” each green cherry off.


I’m open to any suggestions to this mystery.

Shasta Daisy

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Evening light

Dragonfly Whisperer?

Almost all the dragonflies I’ve see this spring were the ones that insisted on flying all the time.

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Then this morning, there hung a dragonfly in a honeysuckle tangle in our backyard. I started taking pictures, moving closer with each one. It did not move. I thought it might be dead, especially with me getting so close.

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My to-be last picture was too close, and it left before I could take the picture.

It made me wonder if I might (for this short time) be a dragonfly whisperer. They usually aren’t tolerant of people

I’m not positive, but I think it was a female prince baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca princeps). The males have blue eyes. They measure 5-8cm.

Eastern Box Turtles

Chance encounters don’t always provide the ideal conditions for taking pictures.

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I went down to the barn to get a trowel to plant a Mother’s Day present … and interrupted two box turtles, appearing to have mating on their mind.

The turtles were near the northwest front corner of the barn.

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 The male was so far unsuccessful in his advances. You can tell the male by his red eyes. Females have brown eyes.

Naturally, I had on a white t-shirt with flowers on the front.  Since I had Buffy too, we backed out and went in the house so I could change. Buffy stayed in the house.

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Only the female remained when I went back out.

The range of eastern box turtle varies from 1/2 to 10 acres (usually less than 2). They’re about 10 years old before they begin breeding. The females don’t need to mate every year because they can store sperm up to four years.

Once while camping, I watched a female lay eggs in a hole she had dug and then methodically cover them up.


Years ago, I was walking along the rugged road to my rural property. Shallow water ran in the ditch. There were two box turtles mating … she was under water; he wasn’t.

You can probably imagine my thoughts on that.



A Heart

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The heart of a flower…

Toad Corner

 A toad has set up residence near the side door of our house. I occasionally jump when it jumps. Obviously, it does blend in quite well.

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   American toads usually spend the day in piles of leaves, under rocks and logs, or in loose soil.

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   I came around the corner of the house this morning — three hops, and it disappeared in the leaves.

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 Mating took place almost 2 months ago. So, it might be checking out the neighborhood.

They’re active at dusk, and feed at night on insects and earthworms.