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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Spiders, Etc. at the Flatwoods (Updated)

It wasn't oppressively hot after work the other day, so Charles & I went for another hike at the local, endangered-but-protected, wet longleaf pine savanna, the Abita Creek Flatwoods Preserve. The golden orb weavers are starting to show considerable numbers.
For those who don't like spiders (Travis,) I'll post them at the end (& warn you when we get there,) so you can skip them.

Male Ebony jewelwing. Sorry for the blur, but he was far away in a dark spot.

Update, 9/25/10; Male atlantic grasshopper (thanks to David J. Ferguson for the ID.)

Georgia satyr on mystery flower. Thanks to renowned Louisiana lepidopterist, Vernon Antoine Brou, for the ID.

Some kind of wild pea (I'm still awaiting a formal ID on this, as well. Suggestions always welcome.)

Male blue dasher.

Female blue dasher.

Some kind of bidens. After some years of searching & requesting input from others, I'm still at a loss as to the particular species.

This sunset denotes the end of the non-spider portion of this post.

Black & yellow garden spider (apologies for the blur. It was the best I could do.)

Golden orb weaver. The female is the larger & brighter of the pair.

Female golden orb weaver in web.

Here a female golden orb weaver has caught a cicada (often mistakenly referred to as "locusts,") with a fly conveniently perched on it. The small spider above her is a male golden orb weaver. If you follow my link on the cicada, it will bring you to a page with time-lapse photography of one specimen molting it's shell.

Here's some good news regarding TNC's work toward restoring longleaf pine savannas in my area. Read more about the East Gulf Coastal Plain.

In other good news, it appears that the vestibular migraine diagnosis is correct. Within days of changing my diet I felt so much better. I haven't had vertigo since then and any lingering dizziness is rapidly fading. Thank you, oh, THANK you, Dr. Moloney!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bogue Chitto NWR and More

A few weeks back, Charles and I got up at dawn to go to Bogue Chitto Nat'l Wildlife Refuge (at Lock 1.) Most of the refuge is only accessible via boat, which we don't have. Unfortunately the very short nature trail seemed primarily used as a kid's hangout & fishermen's bathroom, which was sad to see (and smell!) Needless to say, we didn't stay long.

Lock 1

A view from the trail.

Trumpet vine flowers & remnants.

Nymph of a Carolina grasshopper. Thanks to David Ferguson for the ID!

On our way out, a flock of black vultures were perched in the trees along the road.

On the way home we stopped by the Abita Creek Flatwoods Preserve, where we spotted this large, red-tailed hawk.

Unfortunately, by then it was so humid I couldn't keep my lens from fogging up.

In other news, I was recently interviewed about Abita Artists, the local art group I founded in 2008 & still run. The resulting article was published in Sunday's newspaper.

In yet other news, on Monday I saw a renowned ENT specialist about my dizziness and vertigo problems (again.) All of my tests came back normal (again.) However, the repeated "vestibular neuronitis" diagnosis I've been given for 15 years has been replaced by possible "diet-induced vestibular migraine." I have a long list of foods & drinks to avoid for this month, a calcium channel blocker prescription to take daily and a book to read. Considering my symptoms, history and test results, the doctor strongly believes it could be nothing else. Considering everything I've learned in the past 2 days, I strongly believe he's right. If I feel better by the end of the month, the problem is not only solved, but reversible, as well. Finally!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Shouts to the Blogroll, Pt. 2

In this segment of "Shouts to the Blogroll" (blogs I like to visit,) I'm featuring birders & other nature nuts...

Abbe's World of Wildlife (Also an artist.)
Abraham Lincoln's Blog (Yes, he's related to that Abraham Lincoln.)
Birds & Nature Photography by Tabib.
Just Nature Photos from Eileen
Ladybug's Leaf (Lovely photos and philosophical quotes.)
Nature in the Ozarks (I met this blogger a couple of years back.)
osage + orange (Not just a blogger, but a volunteer towards conservation efforts.)
photosbyisabelle (A colleague of mine at the library.)
The Birds in the Meadow
The Brownstone Birding Blog
troutbirder (I think the Brownstone Birder led me to this blog.)

Tonight Charles and I are going to see comedian Brian Regan at the Mahalia Jackson Theater in New Orleans. He cracks us up & we haven't done something like this in quite a while, so I'm sure we'll have a great time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sunset & Snake

Here are some shots of sunset, taken from my yard the other day.

A little while back, Charles took this picture of a Southern black racer, 3-4' long, in our backyard. (I forgot to post it!)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Photo Buffet

In response to some of the questions I get, please note that colored text contains a link to another site for more information on that subject. Now here are a variety of recent photos...

The first two feature a couple of common whitetail dragonflies that seem to like hanging out on and around the walkway at the bottom of our front steps.

The female was the first to arrive.

After a week or two, this male decided to join her.

Although we still have at least 2 dozen cardinals around, the blue jays are still increasing in numbers. Our highest recent count is 11.

In related news, a photo of a cardinal and a pair of blue jays at one of our feeders was recently featured on the front page of the St. Tammany News.

Rain on a banana leaf.

Down the dusty, gravel road from our house.

Monday, August 9, 2010

More from Northlake & Other Stuff

As previously promised, here are some more shots from our morning hike at Northlake Nature Center the other day;

Pickerelweed in the bayou.

Charles pointed out the way the light was hitting this rain-darkened branch, which was kind of cool.

Looking down from a raised viewing platform.

Some lovely turkey tail fungus.

This bronze frog had no problem posing for the camera. We also caught a glimpse of a little blue heron (my first sighting,) which had no intention of posing for the camera.

Rain on saw palmetto.

Afterwards we went out for breakfast at the Broken Egg Cafe in Mandeville, LA. Outside a banana tree was blooming.

I've never seen banana flowers before. They're huge!

In other news, I'm pleased to announce that my recent book review of "Masters of Deception" garnered me an IBRC recognition award.

Astronomically speaking...
The Perseid meteor shower--best of the summer--is almost upon us; Aug. 11-13th. This year the moon is not going to be a problem (so lets hope for clear skies!) For an extra-special, related treat, click here.
Today's the New Moon and Venus and Saturn are in conjunction.
Wed., Aug. 11th, Mercury is in conjunction with the Moon.
Fri., Aug. 13th Venus, Mars and Saturn will all be in conjunction with the Moon.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Insects at Northlake

Because of recent rains, it'd "cooled off" here some since yesterday, so Charles and I went for an early hike at Northlake Nature Center. Of course, "cooled off" here is still pretty brutal (even now it's about 99F with humidity. This is our "cooled off.") At least there was an occasional breeze. I'm breaking up the photos from our hike (& breakfast, afterwards,) into 2 posts. This first one focuses on some of the insects we saw...

The rains had raised the level of the bayou significantly. As a result, a colony of big, black ants were traveling all along a fallen log, carrying larva to higher ground.

One of a few North American millipedes. This one's about 4" long (depending on your display settings, this photo's about life size.)

One of dozens of blue dashers.

Possibly a laughter moth caterpillar. If you can refute this, please do leave me a comment.

A blue mud dauber, hunter of the dreaded black widow spider.

A small, banded woolly bear caterpillar.

Okay, okay, so these 2 Louisiana crawfish are technically crustaceans. We still know them as mudbugs (as well as "the other white meat.")

More pictures next time--stay tuned!
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