Friday, October 25, 2013

School Days

Small Mammal Response to Forest Succession                    24 October 2013

An arboreal mouse of the genus Peromyscus...

Year thirteen of a small mammal community study with my Ecology students continues to go very well.  We are looking very carefully at habitat use by a variety of small mammals in Polk County, Wisconsin.  Safety protocol is very strict, and the mammals are measured, marked with permanent green dye (on the belly) and released.  Short-tailed shrews remain a habitat generalist after all of these years.  Meadow voles are only found in the brushy grasslands and beneath the low pine bows of our oldfield /early forest succession area.   Red-backed voles remain a rodent of the tamarack and sphagnum bogs.   But the mice of genus Peromyscus, formerly a rodent of the upland forest and bog lowland forest tracts of our school forest, are finally colonizing the oldfield/early forest succession area!  The secret to this colonization is quite likely the size of the white pines, as many are now reaching 14 to 17 years of age.  With their size they are providing plenty of arboreal structure and, recently, dead snags! We continue to see a variety of tail patterns in our Peromyscus, implying that they are hybrids, and while we could clearly call the population white-footed mice by their size, most have the tail pattern of the deer mouse.   This population is very different in body size and body build than those of the Saint Croix River Valley in the same county!  Surely, this species complex is still poorly understood!

The picture was taken with the spectacular Carl Zeiss optics of the Nokia Lumia 928 smart phone! We do live in amazing times! 

Up With the Sun

Each Day a Treasure                           13 October 2013

Dawn, Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area, Sandhill Cranes in flight...

Time passes.  We are mere passengers and witnesses to its passing.   Sometimes it rips by relentlessly and ruthlessly with no hope for stopping it.  Runaway Train.  Sometimes it flows slowly, mercifully, allowing the moments to sink in, allowing us great repose.  We become authors of our lives, writing our stories but revising as time dictates.  Time passes in so many ways as life moves along in lurches.  This morning, in the rising sun, my own time stood still.

Sunrise Sandhill Crane flights, North end of the Refuge

We are humans, gifted with thought and creativity, gifted in crafting our futures.  The human memory is a powerful force, helping us to predict, with at least some certainty, the future.  It is in our predictive powers that we meld our past, present and future, authoring the deeper details of our lives.  We are very capable of making avenues toward "repeats."  As we gather more and more memory in life, we become capable of revisiting annual events, chasing the seasons, improving upon what we have done before.  

Trumpeter Swans and Sanhill Cranes

Trumpeter Swans

Sandhill Cranes, family group in flight.  Wisconsin Sandhill Cranes have made a tremendous recovery and are becoming a common sight.  Adults teach the young the migratory routes, and family groups are close-knit. Like people, families of Sandhill Cranes pass on a rich culture of learning. 

We become capable of imagining a better opportunity, hypothesizing about the missing details.  For those of us living as closely to nature as we can in this day and age, our predictive powers bring us to the same haunts year after year, chasing the same natural phenology, making opportunities and arriving at temporal intersections that we have come to understand.  We hunt the patterns, and, as we learn from our mistakes, we adjust and improve.   Our greatest power comes in the form of synthesis as we learn to incorporate smaller pieces of new knowledge into our older sets of knowledge, thriving in surprising and new scenarios.

American Bittern, protective "freeze" pose 

American Bittern hunting...

In this way, I celebrate my aging mind and body.  With more memories, I feel wiser.  Simply said, I know how to find things now, how to create my opportunities.  Everything in life is an experience. Every day is a treasure to be invested and to be used again as a memory.  Every day is a treasure that builds possibilities for the future.  Every day, lived in the moment, is a treasure.

White-breasted Nuthatch and Autumn colors

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Autumn female preening

Eastern Tiger Salamander

These memories were made on October 13, 2013 at Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area.  All images were made with a refurbished Canon 7D (now in my possession for nearly a year and surviving much), and a Canon 300mm f4 L IS lens.   The bittern was completely unexpected and provided an unusual opportunity! As I chased the new season with my past experiences, I learned many new things!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Time Flies Like a Hummingbird! Pura Vida! Costa Rica Part IV

Let the Images Speak                                    15 July 2013

Savegre Reserve, cloud forest and river

Magnificent Hummingbird, Savegre Reserve

Savegre Reserve, thoughtful moment on the river

Cloud Forest, Savegre Reserve

Endemic Yellow-winged Vireos, Savegre Reserve

Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Savegre Reserve

Scintillant Hummingbird, Savegre Reserve

Green Violet-Ear hummingbirds contesting a perch

Magnificent Hummingbird, Savegre Reserve

Violet Saberwing hummingbird, middle elevation cloud forests

Green-crowned Brilliant hummingbird, middle elevation cloud forests

Green Violet-ear, Savegre Reserve

Resplendent Quetzal, Savegre Reserve

Green-crowned Brilliant

Green-crowned Brilliant, detail

Green Violet-ear, Savegre Reserve

Slaty Flowerpiercer

Magnificent Hummingbird, Savegre Reserve

Magnificent Hummingbird and lichens, Savegre Reserve

Rufous-collared Sparrow and Green-crowned Brilliant

Boat-billed Heron, early morning, Pacific Coast, Hacienda Baru

Sunrise with a strangler fig, Pacific Coast, Hacienda Baru

All images were photographed on the same day, July 15, 2013.  We awoke at Hacienda Baru and turned in for the evening at Savegre Reserve, Spa and Hotel.   Many of the bird images were made as I saw and experienced the species for my first time!  Pura Vida!