Welcome to the blog of Nature photographer Wayne Rundell, showcasing the greater Chequamegon Bay area located on the Southern Shores of Lake Superior. Please leave a comment, either public or private, or contact me if you have any questions. Enjoy!

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

July 15, 2017  •  1 Comment

We call them Hummingbird Moths because of how they fly and maneuver like a Hummingbird. They can quickly change flight direction flying left, right, up and down, and hover in front of a blossom. With their wings a blur and their rapid movements from one blossom to another, it's a wonder these moths are such a challenge to photograph. In this image we can see the wings as they appear almost motionless because of the use of a camera flash. Without the use of a flash, the wings would be difficult to freeze in position and they would be blurred. This particular moth is a Hummingbird Clear Wing and as you can see in the photo, there are clear windows in their wings which they are named after.

Behavior

While most sphinx moths fly at night, hummingbird moths fly during the day. They can be found in a wide variety of habitats, including open meadows, forest edges, and suburban gardens. They feed on flower nectar, dipping in a long thin proboscis.

Life Cycle

 

Hummingbird moths lay their eggs on plants. The mature caterpillars are plump, and yellowish green (or sometimes brownish), with the spiky tail horn typical of most sphinx moth caterpillars.

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Vesper Sparrow

July 07, 2017  •  2 Comments

Spend enough time out surrounded by nature and apply my "PPP" rule and you will be amazed at what you will begin to experience. Here a Vesper Sparrow is having a bath in the sand. This dirt bath is called dusting and is quite common across a wide range of bird species. 

For some species that live in areas where standing water is not readily available, dusting appears to substitute for water bathing. Birds create dust wallows by scraping the ground. They throw dust over their bodies and rub their heads in the wallow. The dust is first worked through the feathers and then shaken out. Wrens, House Sparrows, Wrentits, larks, game birds, and some raptors are among the North American birds known to dust. As with water bathing, different species tend to have somewhat different dusting routines.

Cool Facts

  • The songs of neighboring Vesper Sparrows tend to be similar; between regions, songs tend to show consistent differences. These patterns suggest that Vesper Sparrows learn songs from adult Vesper Sparrows. In one documented case, a Vesper Sparrow apparently learned to sing like a Bewick's Wren.
  • The Vesper Sparrow is the only member of its taxonomic genus. Based on analysis of morphology, plumage, and other factors, its closest relative is thought to be the Lark Sparrow.
  • The Vesper Sparrow responds quickly to changes in habitat; it is often the first species to occupy reclaimed mine sites and abandon old farm fields as they return to forest.

Oh...My "PPP" rule...Persistence, Patience, Practice. It's simple and it works.

Get outdoors!

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Red, White, and Blue

July 03, 2017  •  2 Comments

As you can see in todays image, birds are patriotic too. Here the Scarlet Tanager, Trumpeter Swan, and Indigo Bunting show off their colorful plumage that has existed in nature much longer than the American flag. These birds along with all others, take pride in their colors, and they have a lot to be proud of! If you are interested in learning more about birds and what is happening in the local avian community, visit the Chequamegon Audubon's Facebook page, give us a "like" and feel free to join our membership. We support the local community by cohosting programs at the Great Lakes Visitor Center along with Friends of North Pikes Creek and the Chequamegon Bay Birders Club. Currently we are looking into building Chimney Swift towers to help support a struggling population of Chimney Swifts. Know of anyone that would like to volunteer or an organization that would like to help? Let us know and we will work together to pull this project together.

  • The oldest Scarlet Tanager on record was a male, and at least 11 years, 11 months old. He was banded in Pennsylvania in 1990, and found in Texas in 2001.
  • The oldest known Trumpeter Swan was a female, and at least 26 years, 2 months old when she was identified by her bank in the wild, in Wisconsin. One captive individual lived to be 32.
  • The oldest recorded wild Indigo Bunting was a male, and at least 13 years, 3 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Ohio.

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Sedge Sprite

July 03, 2017  •  2 Comments

Dragonfly or Damselfly? Dragonflies, in general, are larger and more robust than damselflies. Dragonflies hold their wings out to the side when at rest, while damselflies usually fold their wings up over their back when at rest. (Spreadwing damselflies may hold their wings open partway or fold them over their backs.) In true dragonflies the head is rounded and the compound eyes touch each other at the top (except in one family). In damselflies, the head is wide, almost dumbbell-shaped. The space between the compound eyes is wider than the eye itself.

Damselflies, young and old, are carnivores. Their “long tibial (leg) spines, and wings held over abdomen when perched may indicate they are flycatchers.” Midges are probably a big part of their diet, and the aquatic naiads (the aquatic larva or nymph) feed on any small critters they can catch.

This is an image of a Damselfly and to be more specific a Sedge Sprite Damselfly. This species is one of the smallest Damselflies at less than one inch in length.

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Juvenile Ruffed Grouse

July 01, 2017  •  2 Comments

Saturday was a great time to be out in the woods soaking in the wonderful sounds and scents that early summer brings to the Northwoods. At times the fragrance of the wild berry blossoms were overwhelming the senses. We were lucky to come across not one, but two separate families of Ruffed Grouse. At only 1/3 the size of their mother these little rockets are incredibly fast fliers. We watched in amazement as one after another of these little birds popped up out of some short grass and flew off. Lucky for us, a couple landed in a nearby tree that gave us a decent look at them. In the following image, this little guy or gal is doing it best to show off it's crest...even though it is only one little feather. We were able to quickly capture a few images before mom's persistent calling drew the family into the thick forest to regroup.

Cool Facts

  • The early conservationist Aldo Leopold wrote of the Ruffed Grouse, “The autumn landscape in the north woods is the land, plus a red maple, plus a Ruffed Grouse. In terms of conventional physics, the grouse represents only a millionth of either the mass or the energy of an acre yet subtract the grouse and the whole thing is dead.”
  • Ruffed Grouse can digest bitter, often toxic plants that many birds can’t handle. Levels of defensive plant compounds in buds of quaking aspen, a major winter-time food source for Ruffed Grouse, reflect the cyclic rise and fall of grouse populations: they’re lowest when grouse densities are increasing, and highest when grouse densities decline.
  • The toes of Ruffed Grouse grow projections off their sides in winter, making them look like combs. The projections are believed to act as snowshoes to help the grouse walk across snow.

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