Saturday, August 18, 2012

Rather B Birdin: Juniper Titmouse

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This adorable little guy is a Juniper Titmouse (Baeolophus ridgwayi) and shows why they have their name, sitting in a juniper bush. It opened the seed by hammering it against the branch.

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I took those photos at Dead Horse Point State Park. The titmice (there were at least two) were very curious and not at all shy.

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More birds at I'd Rather Be Birdin'

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

ABC Wednesday: E is for Eeew

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A Aristolochia grandiflora flower, also called Pelican Flower of Dutchman's Pipe.

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It's quite beautiful, so why eew? Because it has a distinct carrion scent that attracts insects like flies or beetles. The smell is very noticeable and not all that pleasant.

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The insects walk into the flower and become trapped there for a day. On the first day, the flower is ready to be pollinated and on the second day, it deposits pollen on its unwilling guests who are then let go. To do that, the flower moves into a more horizontal position.

Photos were taken at Burgers Zoo, Arnhem. See what else E stands for at ABC Wednesday

Sources:
German Wikipedia
Uni Kiel
Gardening With Wilson

Nature Notes: Zion Canyon

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A view into Zion Canyon, formed by the Virgin River. It's a gorgeous place the names the Mormon settlers gave to the rock formations show that they ere equally impressed: the Three Patriarchs, Angels Landing, Court of the Patriarchs ect.

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Since I was jetlagged anyway, I got up early and arrived at the park around 5am to watch the sun rise over the huge sandstone formations. I had the park almost to myself for more than an hour, not bad for a place that is normally so crowded.

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Zion National Park is a very popular destination and it was fairly crowded. But there's a lot to do and miles and miles of trails where you will be alone with nature for much of the time. As someone who doesn't drive (I made the trip with my parents who rented an RV) I appreciated the public transport system with shuttle buses that run every 10 minutes at peak times from 5 am to late in the evening. They'll get you everywhere you want to go, starting in Springdale (driving in the park with your own vehicle is not possible).

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The Riverside Walk, a two mile hike along the river, very popular and easy. From there you have access to the Narrows trail, which will take you about eight hours. I'd love to hike there one day, but this time we only had one full day at Zion and I'm also not sure I'm in shape for such a hike.

Nature Notes is hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I'd Rather B Birdin': Camping Bird

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A couple of birds I saw at the KOA campground in Flagstaff, AZ. Birding from the lawnchair next to the RV for the win.
This one is an Acorn Woodpecker, Melanerpes formicivorus.They store acorns in holes they make into trees, so-called granay trees, and can gather up enough to fill a hole tree. They live in groups and it's not uncommon for a whole group to tend to such a tree.

I didn't hear it call, but Woody Woodpecker's call was probably modelled after the Acorn Woodpecker's call.

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A Common Grackle, Quiscalus quiscula, at least I think it is. Above is a male, although you cannot see the iridescent feathers and below is what I believe to be a juvenile.

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More birds at I'd Rather B Birdin'

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

D is for Dipper

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An American Dipper or Water Ouzel (Cinclus mexicanus) browsing the waters of the Virgin River at Zion National Park, Utah. It didn't go for a dive, but pecked around the stones, perfectly comfortable admist the rushing water. Dippers can swim and dive very well. Their nictitating membrane allows them to see underwater and they can close their nostils with scales.

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They feed on insects and will live only near unpolluted water. To keep warm, their plumage is very thick and extra oily so it doesn't get wet at all, even diving during their winter is not a problem for them, as long as the water is free of ice.

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I also saw this little guy at Zion, can anyone identify the species for me? He was very skittish and I didn't manage to get a better photo, I'm sorry.

Sources:
All About Birds
South Dakota Birds
Wikipedia

A post for ABC Wednesday and Nature Notes

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I'd Rather B Birdin': Storks

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A black stork (Ciconia nigra) at Wildpark Eekholt, a zoo that keeps only animals native to Germany/Europe.

Black storks are a bit smaller than White Storks and a lot more shy, they also prefer to live in wooded areas, as long as water is present. They migrate to Africa and Asia for the winter.

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The black stork was said to be a companion of Odin in Norse mythology and in Sweden, they are stil sometimes called Odinsvala, swallow of Odin. In contrast to the white stork, a bird usually seen as lucky, the black stork was often considered to bring bad luck.

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A pair of white storks (Ciconia ciconia) nesting at Eekholt. The zoo keeps a number of captive storks, but there are also wild storks who raise their chicks there.

More birds at I'd Rather B Birdin

Sources:
Wikipedia (German and English)
Arkive