Guttenberg Idyl

I spent most of June on the river with my brother Mark. We had a great time and a visit from his son Austin. [Gallery]

There were lots of birds! To start we had this fellow right outside our front door for several mornings…

The Gray Catbird is related to Mockingbirds, and it shows!

The Turtles were on the march to lay their eggs…

There were several storms the first week, most with afternoon rainbows. Check out this HDR Panorama… [click to enlarge]

I went up to Pike’s Peak State Park for a walk in the woods. Very pleasant, few people, not many flowers, lots of ferns…


We had a family gathering for my Aunt Katherine’s 90th Birthday

Mark, Austin and I ventured over to Glen Haven, Wisconsin to partake of Taco Night and a friendly game of billiards…

A pair of Red-Winged Blackbirds had a nest in one of our shrubs. The young birds were up and out about ten days after hatching. I couldn’t get real close because the momma bird was very upset with me (and rightfully so!).

⇐ click to enlarge


Dickcissel
Yellow Warbler
American Redstart

I saw Indigo Buntings and Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks three or four times when I was cycling on the backroads. Other birds included…

Austin and I went over to the Motor Mill and it was unexpectedly open for tours! We went from the basement to the attic. It is a very cool building!

I now have a much better idea of how it worked. They think there was a wooden dam and a flume wall that brought the water into the basement (lower right below the grass) where it turned three vertical turbines (two for the grindstones and one for everything else). This Diagram gives some sense of the complexity inside.

After our tour we took a pleasant bike ride on the Pony Hollow Trail and ran into this Eastern Bluebird family…

It was a great day! Even the rain held off until we were off the trail.

In Pursuit of Pitcher Plants 2017

We decided to take a week-end trip to the Panhandle to see if we could find Pitcher Plants. We were not disappointed! [Gallery] Here I am standing along Highway 65 in the Apalachicola National Forest

 

Those are Trumpet-Leaf Pitcher Plants that grew and bloomed between pretty severe mowing and spraying (see below). Here’s a closeup of the flower and insect-trapping pitcher…

Next we drove to Wright Lake and took a long hike. We were surprised to see Lupines blooming under the pine trees…

 

There were many burned patches in various states of recovery. In one we found this interesting flower. It starts out all white and then “burns up” with purple (or perhaps the other way round?). Adapted to follow fire into cleared areas I think.

 

There were little clusters of pitcher plants here and there, and then we found this large group in a damp semi-open area…

The next day we went back for a second look along Highway 65 and bumped into Tim (not his real name) who is somewhat of an expert on carnivorous plants. He helped us find these beautiful Purple Pitcher Plant blooms…

Unfortunately whatever entity maintains that bit of highway is very aggressive with spraying herbicides to keep the growth down. There were dried up and dead pitcher plants in abundance. <frown> Tim said he had been coming to the area since 1971 and there used to be magnificent spring displays along this road. The flowers above were down in the bushes beyond the spraying.

After that we poked around a bit back in the woods but didn’t find any more pitchers. I did find another type of carnivorous plant, the Sundew

There were thousands in a “borrow pit” area. No chlorophyll but lots of little hairs each with a drop of sticky glue. You can see the remains of a few ants if you look close. There was also this strange plant, I have no idea what it is…

 

Looks like a cross between a fern and a sundew!


A week later we visited Buck Island Pond and saw a third species, the Hooded Pitcher Plant


There are more photos of a fourth species, the White-Top Pitcher Plant, I took in 2013 in a separate gallery.

 

Enjoy!

Birds of Sweetwater Wetlands 2017

It doesn’t get better than this! Recent outing to the Sweetwater Wetlands Park was packed with birds, including the Limpkin above. (I saw more limpkin in one hour than I’ve seen elsewhere in my entire life!) [Gallery]

Here’s a stunning Anhinga drying his wings. (I think this is a young male just molting into adult plumage.)

 

There were many Blue-Winged Teal on their way north mixed in with the local gallinules.

And the real surprise, a pair of American Bittern! (It’s only one of the most cryptic birds in North America.)

There were about a dozen Sandhill Cranes moving about and trumpeting.

Many male Red-Winged Blackbirds were out defending their territories.

And finally one of my favorites, a Pied-Billed Grebe having a stretch.

Go to the entire gallery for more!