Friday, December 27, 2013

Hole Punch Cloud Time Lapse Over Florida


hole punch cloud skyfall cloud fall-streak


A nice example of a Hole Punch Cloud or Skypunch or Fallstreak. Winter is the time of year when these type of clouds are most often observed in Florida. More info at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallstreak_hole

I filmed a "Cloud Waterfall" - another fascinating cloud formation over mountainous regions last August:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCqfuvueKyA

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Animals Bring "Joy To The World"



A few of the animals featured on "Backyard Birding and Beyond" in 2013 pass on their holiday greetings to bring "Joy to the World". 

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Black Vulture and Turkey Vulture Preening Behaviour



A preening Turkey Vulture and Black Vulture in the backyard are taking their appearance, hygiene, and feather maintenance very seriously. It is also unusual for two individual vultures of different species to spend the night roosting so closely together. I am always impressed with the quiet dignity of large vultures at roost. You might change your mind about vultures after watching these two attractive neat freaks. One has to look their best before heading out for a day of eating roadkill - which is a valuable service.

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Black Vulture and Turkey Vulture Preening


Baby Owls Say Humbug to Chipmunks Caroling "We Wish You A Merry Christmas"



Upbeat Chipmunks continuously singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" might get on some people's nerves. Here is a little holiday fun as the young Screech Owls are brought to the nest box entrance by the sounds of Chipmunk Carolers singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" .

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Eastern Screech Owlets Christmas Songs

Baby Owls Say Humbug to Chipmunks Caroling "We Wish You A Merry Christmas"

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Red Shouldered Hawk Mating Pair




Male and female Red Shouldered Hawks have just completed a "sky dance" over the backyard (which I missed filming)  and are resting high in a long-leaf pine tree. This would be a great place for a nest, but as you can hear the Blue Jays and squirrels are constantly sounding alarm trying their best to make them feel unwelcome in the neighborhood. Mating seems to be ahead of schedule this winter as a pair of Ospreys have also been "sky dancing" recently.

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Red Shouldered Hawk Long Leaf Pine Tree Florida


Painted Buntings (Greenies) in Stereo



The Painted Bunting population in the backyard has reached about 8 now and only 1 is a mature male in the classic Painted Bunting colors of blue, red, green, gray and yellow. The others are "greenies" - either females or immature males - the only all green or emerald and jade-colored songbird in the US. 

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Painted Buntings in Florida

Magnificent Turkey Vulture Wingspan



The largest visitor to the Backyard (an Eagle has never been filmed at rest) - is an impressive migrating Turkey Vulture that spent the night in the long-leaf pines behind the backyard and spent some time warming up in the morning sun before soaring to find the nearest roadkill. Seeing the full wingspan of nearly 6 feet was a delight - play this at full HD on a large screen.

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Turkey Vulture Wings and Wingspan





Sunday, December 15, 2013

Giant Leaf-Footed Bug - Amazing Insect Camouflage



This quite large and attractive Florida Leaf-Footed Bug ( a true bug) has at least two camouflage factors going for it. This particular large sub-species, which I think is Leptoglossus zonatus, I have not seen before, has the large leaf decorations on its feet and is likely a large male, but it also has markings on its body to make it look just like a resting moth with false eyes on the back of its head. If that doesn't work it can emit a foul odor as it is related to the stink bug. It needs the disguise and defense mechanisms because this bug is slow - - really slow and deliberate and it could care less that I am just inches away filming it. Watch as it searches a Brazilian Pepper Tree for green fruit, it wants unripe green berries not red ones.  While this class of bugs can be serious pests, especially the small ones that attack green fruit of gardens and citrus groves these big ones rarely reach the density to do serious damage. I have not had a problem with them on my mango trees. It is somewhat ironic that it is in this case it is attacking the invasive Brazilian Pepper and at the end you can see it using its long proboscis to pierce and suck the juices of the fruit.

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Leaf-Footed Bug - Amazing Insect Camouflage



Leaf-Footed Bug - Amazing Insect Camouflage

The signature "leaf-foot"

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Golden Fairy Club Mushroom - Coral Fungi



I was fortunate to notice this little patch of Golden Fairy Club Mushrooms (Clavulinopsis laeticolor) a type of Coral Fungi along the Mountain to Seas Trail. As you might guess it is not edible. In many miles of hiking only this tiny little patch was noticed - I had never seen it in the wild before. It was unusually wet in the Great Smoky Mountains this past summer and many varieties of fungi were noted. More to come.

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Golden Fairy Club Mushroom - Coral Fungi

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Squirrel Listener - Relaxing Nature Meditation



The Red Squirrel Listener - Relaxing Nature Meditation. Spend some quality time sharing  breakfast, tea or lunch at the creek-side home of the most attentive creature you'll ever encounter - the Squirrel Listener. Twelve minutes of up close undivided attention, eye contact, and the sounds of a small stream - you'll swear she is right in front of you.

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Red Squirrel nature meditation

The Squirrel Listener - Relaxing Nature Meditation

Free Range Cattle in Florida




A small herd of free range cows ( cattle ) block the road on public land in Florida. Out looking for birds, but couldn't resist filming these attractive cows that were reluctant to get out of the "road". Cows love to make eye contact, one wonders what they are thinking, and they would win a staring contest. There are all sorts of ethical, environmental and health issues revolving around various methods of raising cattle for food - that's certainly not my area of expertise. But cattle raised in this fashion out in the open within family/social units no doubt live better lives.

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Free Range Cows Cattle in Florida



Sunday, December 8, 2013

Green Lacewing Larvae or "Trash Bug" Uses Prey's Dead Bodies as Camouflage



 Green Lacewing Larvae Uses Prey's Dead Bodies as Camouflage


A Green Lacewing Larvae uses its prey's corpses as camouflage. I noticed this strange creature moving on our Mango Tree and took a closer look. When it is still you can not see it as it attaches the bodies of ants, aphids, small beetles and some of the smallest spiders I've ever seen to its back in a pattern to blend in with the mottled tree bark of the Mango tree. How it does this must be an amazing sight - there are literally dozens of dead bugs attached to its back.  The larvae is known to attach debris to itself and is sometimes called the "trash bug". This blog goes into more detail on this fascinating insect. Apparently sightings of this behavior are  rare as the disguise is so effective. In the video you will see how the bug blends right in with the tree trunk. And this little bug really moves fast even though it is extremely top-heavy, so it is difficult to get clear video and stills without injuring it - I briefly captured the bug for filming and then returned it to the tree to continue its beneficial work of preying on aphids and the like. This is one of the most beneficial of insects and one can buy the larvae to help control insects on fruit trees and gardens. I do not use pesticides on the trees as it indiscriminately kills beneficial insects - I just let nature take its course. "Whistling Down the Road" courtesy of YouTube audio library.

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 Green Lacewing Larvae Uses Prey's Dead Bodies as Camouflage

 The clearest picture of the dozens of dead insect bodies that make up the camouflage of the Green Lacewing Larvae.

Adult Green Lacewing of Florida (UF/IFAS photo)

 Green Lacewing Larvae Uses Prey's Dead Bodies as Camouflage

 Green Lacewing Larvae Uses Prey's Dead Bodies as Camouflage

Effective disguise on a Mango tree

 Green Lacewing Larvae Uses Prey's Dead Bodies as Camouflage


Black Capped Chickadee in Eastern Hemlock Tree



Video: Black Capped Chickadee in Eastern Hemlock Tree

A Black Capped Chickadee eating larvae on an Eastern Hemlock Tree in the Great Smoky Mountains. Nice to get a shot of a Chickadee eating natural food and also working to give the Hemlock Tree a little help as they are endangered trees in the high mountains. Chickadees feeding don't sit still long.

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Black Capped Chickadee in Eastern Hemlock Tree


Blue Jay Trains Human To Hand Feed It A Peanut !



Hand Feeding a Blue Jay


The narrative on the video tells the story. I trained a Blue Jay to eat peanuts from my hand - not just any peanuts, but healthy roasted and unsalted ones that I should be eating myself. Of course it's always nice to gain the trust of a wild animal, it is good for their survival that they have a natural wariness. But then it occurred to me that I was the one that had been "trained" to give the Jay a tasty peanut - and on its conditions. I'm not falling for that anymore, it has to come to me! We'll see who wins this battle of willpower? These are huge Blue Jays, it just may be that the Jay is too big to land on my hand and bend and easily get a peanut.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

SpaceX Falcon 9 Successfully Launches SES-8 Commercial Satellite from Cape Canaveral



SpaceX Falcon 9 Successfully Launches SES-8 Commercial Satellite from Cape Canaveral December 3, 2013. Just a gorgeous launch of the new Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral after sunset - the absolute best time for a picturesque launch with blue/black skies and the sun still shining on objects at very high altitude. And this one didn't disappoint. Although early on I had the camera at the wrong setting for light metering/balance and had trouble focusing as the sky was nearly dark with an intense spot of light, but recovered to get some great shots of the progress of the launch with booster firing and separation and then the boosters and fairings etc falling back into the sea as the loud sound of the launch reaches the camera.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Successfully Launches SES-8 Commercial Satellite
SpaceX Falcon 9 Successfully Launches SES-8 Commercial Satellite from Cape Canaveral



SpaceX Falcon 9 Successfully Launches SES-8 Commercial Satellite


SpaceX Falcon 9 Successfully Launches SES-8 Commercial Satellite




















Sunday, December 1, 2013

Talking Baby Squirrels



Red Squirrel Babies Talking while eating - or perhaps chattering and babbling would be a better description. Only a Squirrel Whisperer would know for sure, but it probably has something to do with "their space". These are three of the five cutest baby squirrels that are only one week out of the nest box https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAsnmZ1j5ac  and as you can see they are still getting along great - not!

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                                                                      You Talking to Me?


                                                                        What are they talking about