Ferns on the forest floor amid fallen tree trunks. Their color and shape stood out from an otherwise drab background, and monochrome seems the better way to display them.
Last week, in Prairie Sun Redux I posted a photo of three Rudbeckia Prairie Sun which had bloomed after their predecessors had been eaten by deer. Well, those deer also ate them and there is no bud left to bloom for the rest of the year. Sigh.
Only milkweed and Cosmos flowers remain. Here are a few shots of them at the height of the season.
There are definitely two Monarch butterflies in our backyard. We have been seeing them fluttering back and forth among the pink milkweed plants, or flying in tandem up and down. As soon as I got home yesterday, they swung by the glass patio door, challenging me to come out and take their pictures.
A few weeks ago, our Rudbeckia Prairie Sun flowers were all eaten by deer. However, the plants continued sending up more flowers and yesterday I took the following photo of them. Their colors are not as vibrant and intense as the earlier ones, but they still put on a good show this second time around.
While driving at the Edwin B Forsythe Wildlife Refuge this past Sunday, I saw a few Monarch butterflies from time to time. What made me stop and take the following pictures is the intense orange of the milkweed flowers (Asclepias Tuberosa) which perfectly matched the Monarch’s colors. There were many other weeds around the area, but the Monarchs did not mind.
Usually I photograph lotus blossoms in early morning, but yesterday I arrived at the pond around 2 PM. Sunlight was falling almost straight down on top of the flowers. Looking at the results, I thought a monochrome rendering of the images would be appropriate.
Finally, a monochrome dragonfly shot, taken about the same time.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a name that is more appropriate for the male bird who does indeed have a throat seemingly adorned with rubies under the proper lighting. He lives in our area and comes to the feeder, but never at the same time as the two females. In fact male and female hummingbirds do not share the same nest like many other birds do.
Today, in the afternoon, lighting was good and perfect for photographing him.
Three years ago, I planted pink milkweed, Asclepias Incarnata, in the back of our house to attract and help Monarch butterflies, whose number has been in decline in recent years. The first year several came, and then there were Monarch caterpillars crawling on the milkweed plants. Then after a few days they disappeared, maybe eaten by the many birds flying around our bird feeder. Last year, not one single Monarch showed up.
This year, at least one did appear, captured in the following photos.
The following birds are regular visitors to our backyard, and here are some shots of them near the bird feeder.
This year a band of Blue Jays have come swarming in our neighborhood. You can tell when they come as all the smaller birds have to scatter out of their way. Fortunately, they don’t eat everything at once and they leave enough food for others.
Turtle (or Mourning) Doves are always there also, not as aggressive as Blue Jays, but persistent. They will perch on high branches and patiently wait their turn. The one below flew down to our deck to check out some scattered sunflower seeds.
The Downy Woodpeckers are also always there, no matter what season it is.
A regular summer visitor is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, very small and very territorial. The following female will attack attack any other hummingbird that tries to use the special feeder I put out for hummingbirds. It even tried to shoo away bigger birds.
The male Ruby-throated Hummingbird either comes out in late evening, or when I am not home. So far I have seen him but it’s been too dark to photograph him.
It was 101 °F (38 °C) when I got out of work this afternoon. The following photos of a handsome Northern Cardinal who has been coming to our bird feeder is illustrative of the red hot summer we have been enduring over these past few days.
Cooling rains are coming this weekend.
This is in response to a challenge by Paula at the following link: https://bopaula.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/black-white-sunday-after-and-before-2/
Which version do you prefer?
This morning started with fog, followed by rain, then finally sunshine. After making sure the sun was there to stay, I went to the lotus pond near our house to photograph this year’s flowers. There were not many yet, it’s still too early for them.
There were many dragonflies flying around the pond. The Eastern Amberwings darted here and there, their orange color contrasting sharply with the green lotus leaves.
Rudbeckia Prairie Sun is supposed to be deer resistant. However, they are now all gone, including buds that had not opened yet. At the height they were cut, I am suspecting that the deer ate them. All I have left is this picture, taken the day before they disappeared.
Yesterday, in late afternoon, Fawns came back to our backyard to graze and eat the still green fruit from our peach tree. They were not the only visitors.
The Red Fox perked up every time I pressed the shutter on my camera.
The Red Fox, with a peach in its mouth, suddenly took off and ran into the woods. My panning skills could be much improved, but you get the idea.
This Spring I planted from seeds a new flower called Rudbeckia Prairie Sun, a cousin of the Black-eyed Susan of yesteryear. It has started to bloom after only a few months, just like a Cosmos. Here are some shots of the stunning first bloom that eclipses all the Cosmos flowers in sheer beauty and vigor.
It rained again last evening. Early today I went out and found our summer flowers in full bloom, still in the shade or gently caressed by rays from a sunrise that was not yet too hot. It was a feast for the eyes, and for my macro lens.
I saw Cowbirds for the first time this year. They looked like House Finches, but were visibly bigger.
Female Cowbirds are brood parasites, laying their eggs in other birds’ nests, and letting their children be raised by other birds. These new Cowbirds appeared with the bunch of House Finches that we usually see around our bird feeder, so maybe they had House Finches as surrogate parents and siblings.
For comparison, here’s a shot of a male House Finch.
Because of their aggressive brood parasitism, Cowbirds are said to be a threat to other bird specie by overwhelming and outgrowing them
Late this afternoon, two fawns wandered through our backyard behind their mother, and laid down on the grass, innocent and with not a worry in the world.
They stayed there for long time, perhaps even settling in for the night. Tired of waiting for them to stand up and move around, I took a picture of one of our roses.
Along the walkways at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, I only had to look over the railings to see frogs, turtles, and beautiful wildflowers which added vibrant colors to the green (vegetation) and blackness (water) of the swamp.
(11-Jun-2017: Eliza Waters gave me pointers on the names of the turtles and flowers and I have updated this post accordingly.)
At first I thought this was a rock, but then it moved very slowly. It was a Snapping Turtle.
There was another more recognizable Eastern Painted Turtle which only poked its head above the water. It was smaller than the one above.
A handsome Green Frog was basking in the early morning sun.
Lately our weather has been nothing but rain and clouds, so I have not gone out much, relying on the birds around our bird feeder to pose for photographs. They did not disappoint.
This last one is not a bird, although it would like to be one to get at the food.
There are Red Foxes in a wooded corner of our backyard for many years now. A few years ago, there were six of them, but this year we only have two that I can see, a mother and her cub. Being Foxes, they are naturally shy and I had to take the following photos from about 300 ft (100 m) away. However, the evening sunlight was bright and directed perfectly at the spot.
For several years, I’ve put up birdhouses in the hope of attracting Bluebirds. I must have placed them in the wrong places, because no Bluebird came, and only Chickadees and House Wrens have taken advantage of my birdhouses. Yesterday, I saw an energetic House Wren busy building its nest inside one of the birdhouses.
House Wrens are mostly plain brown, but they sing well and are one of the most common birds in North America and South America.
The Sharp-shinned Hawk landed on a tree branch in our backyard, about 100 ft (30 m) away. It stayed there for a good ten minutes, allowing me to go get my camera, tripod, and set up. It was late evening on a cloudy day, forcing me to bump up the ISO to 1000, then to 2000.
Here are some monochrome photos to highlight this Horseshoe Crab season. Currently, the populations of Horseshoe Crabs, as well as of the birds that eat their eggs, Red Knots, Dunlins, Semipalmated Sandpiper, and Ruddy Turnstone, are all supposed to be in decline. There is no single cause and probably many unknowns as well.
Today was peak season for Horseshoe Crabs. I had never seen so many as evidenced by the following photos taken at Fortescue, NJ on the Delaware Bay.
The Great Blue Heron did not seem to join in the egg feast that other birds were indulging in.
A lady who was monitoring the beach to make sure people did not go near the birds told me that Horseshoe Crabs were late this year, probably because of cooler weather and abundant rain. However, migratory birds like the Red Knot landed in New Jersey at their regular time and could not find enough eggs to eat! They rely on the eggs to fuel themselves for their 9,000 mi journey (15,000 km), and alarms are going up about their fate this year. They are way underweight at the mid point of their migration.