Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nature Notes: Drought

When I first heard my city was in a drought, it surprised me until I started thinking about it. The evidence was certainly there when I walked on the trail leading up to Shelley Lake and saw the creek feeding into the lake was almost completely dry.
We had a relatively wet winter and spring but June has been abnormally hot. It's been gray for much of the month with very brief showers but no soaking rain like the spring ones.
The first two shots with the mostly dry rocks had a full creek with little waterfalls only a month or so ago.
The combination of cloudy days and at least a little rain as well as the soaking rains of winter and spring have meant that there is certainly a lot of greenery looking well and some flowers are also happy.
But there are also patches of dead grass and what looks like a mud puddle below was full of rushing deep waters not long ago.
The most dramatic example of the changes can be seen in the water coming out on the creek side of the Shelley Lake Dam. Below you can see the fairly slow stream of water coming out a few days ago.
Next is a shot I took in May where it's obvious there was more water coming out.
Then the shot I took in April gives the most dramatic example of how fast things change.
I thought I'd include one more April shot and this is of the water from the dam filling up the creek which is on the other side of the lake from the rocky one I started this post with.
Back to the present is a shot I took a few days ago of the same spot as the shot above, although my camera was angled differently so it didn't include the bridge.
The biggest factor is the unrelenting heat which has resulted in by far the hottest June I've ever seen.
It takes a lot of rain to keep up with this kind of heat and brief occasional showers don't get it. At least the brief showers have helped keep the wildflowers along the trail looking good.
For many summer flowers a little water seems to go a long way.
I think the bee feeding below looks like it's doing a split.
The geese seem to enjoy it when instead of the sandbars they have when there is plenty of water, they get a series of large islands to hang out on in the lake as shown below.
I kept watching for a turtle because something was fishing under the water and not coming up. You may be able to see the circles of water below which is one of the places where I was watching for a turtle.
I gave up on the turtle and continued on my walk, forgetting about it.
The ducks below were taking a break.
And one more shots of the ducks and geese enjoying their island estates.
When I had totally stopped looking for turtles and was ending my walk this enormous fellow appeared.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Today's Flowers: This week around my house

I'm doing another week of flowers around my yard. The yellow flower below is on stalks that are almost as tall as I am.
I started these years ago with a wildflower mix and I'm not sure what the yellow flowers are.
More and more coneflowers (echinacea) are flowering and it's fun seeing where they turn up.
In the fall I take their seedheads and sprinkle them around the yard.
Some of the echinacea plants survive the winter after their flowers have died, and then grow again in the spring. I also have new plants pop up from my sprinkling the dead flower's seeds.
Hibiscus is another one that pops up all over the place but since they grow into such big bushes, I don't encourage them except in certain areas.
I think they are pretty but the type of hibiscus we have are very invasive.
The fairy asters below are earlier than usual. Normally they don't bloom until the end of the summer into the fall.
I can't resist posting a bunch of the coneflower shots as they are all different.
I like them for myself but also for the wildlife.
I like the early morning light on the white hibiscus below.
The conflowers below were also shot in the morning light.
Next is a pink hibiscus catching the first rays of the morning.
The hibiscus is doing well but the hydrangea on the far right top corner of the shot below is shriveling in the heat.
Click for the home of today's flowers.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Photohunters: Card(s)

It is common for museums to have engraved metal name plates for some works of art (or it used to be), but I've noticed an increased use of cards for titles and information in many museums.
The card above goes with the art below. I took the photographs a few years ago at the NC Museum of Art. I realize in some ways this post is similar to my take on last week's information photohunt except last week I used large poster size cards at a old railroad town and this time I'm using shots from a museum.
Click for the home of photohunters.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nature Notes: If Looks Could Kill

I think it's safe to say that if looks could kill, the juvenile American robin below would have killed me.
The next shot is a little blurry but it goes with the if looks could kill theme.
I have discovered that if I stand on a chair in my living room, I am able to photograph the birds in my front yard bird bath.
It's very popular with the juvenile robins. You may have to look very closely to spot all three of the juvenile robins in the shot below.
From the angle I'm shooting from out the living room window, it looks like there are plants growing into the bird bath. That's just an illusion and the shot below that I took outside shows how it fits into the yard. The oak trees and sky are reflected in the water.
I think the reason the juvenile robins tend to stake out this bird bath is because they were born in nests built in the front overgrown bushes, almost as high as small trees would be.
I also see a few cardinals like the male cardinal below in this bird bath as well as chickadees.
I find it interesting to compare how robins look with their feathers all fluffed out as opposed to flattened.
This robin on my deck was about as puffed out as it could get.
Then another day I shot a robin on my deck all smoothed out and sleek.
Some of my echinacea is finally getting some color in its petals.
I don't know what kind of nest the abandoned one below is. It's much larger than wasp nests that I've seen. It had fallen down from somewhere.
I never realized just how much color is within a female cardinal. The shot below only gives a hint of it.
Then when the same female cardinal dove in to wash her head, I was astounded by all the color in her feathers.
There are more and more blackberries ripening which I enjoy as do the birds.
I don't know if the mourning dove below qualifies for an, if looks could kill, but I wouldn't want to cross it.
Click for the home of Nature Notes.