Friday, November 28, 2014

Morning Visit: Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk

November 17th, 2014. A juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk has visited the bird feeders on several occasions – without much luck. On this morning, I saw a flash of white and saw it alight on a thin branch just as it was getting light. There wasn’t enough light to even think about photographs. 

Later in the morning it flew in again and settled on another branch for a few minutes. The branch was only about ¾-inches in diameter and the hawk ‘tucked’ its tail in to maintain its balance - compare with the position of its tail when standing on the ground here. I think the hawk was aware of my presence judging by what appears to be a quizzical look on its face in the last image.

Related posts: 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sparselobe or Southern Grapefern (Botrychium biternatum)

November 17th, 2014. I spotted these as I was riding out one morning and didn’t want to stop; I’m usually tired when I come back and forget about things close to home. The fertile fronds on which the sporangia - that resemble a cluster of grapes – were still green. By the time I remembered them again, the sporangia had ripened to a yellowish color. 

I counted about 8 to 10 plants in a small area along the embankment and at the bottom of the drainage area. They had been hidden in the grass and only exposed when the county mowers made their Fall pass along the road. 

There were 8 plants in this field. You might be able to spot one of the larger fertile fronds at the right edge of the large shadow just right of center. Another plant is located just right and just a little higher up the slope.

One of the larger plants. 

A closer view of a fertile frond.

A couple of smaller plants with well-developed fertile fronds.

I’ve seen this species most frequently in wooded areas where they were shaded with some sun exposure. I was surprised and pleased to find these plants in such an exposed area although they were shaded from full exposure to the sun by the grass growing around them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bamboo Culms

November 17th, 2014 
Bamboo Culms 
Walton County, Georgia

These are culms (stalks) of an agressively spreading species of bamboo – Golden Bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea). This particular stand is kept in check by annual mowing. Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) will build nests and raise young in these bamboo stands and White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) will bed down in a stand.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) Seedhead

November 14th, 2014
Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) Seedhead 
Walton County, Georgia

It’s the time of year to play ‘What wildflower was that?” Many times, the seedheads are as attractive as the wildflowers themselves. This one certainly was.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


November 11th, 2014 
Walton County, Georgia 

Sorghum is a fairly rare crop in Walton County so I was surprised to see a couple of fields – not only the fields but the size of the harvester for this crop.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cotton Harvest Time

November 17th, 2014. Cotton fields are fairly common in southeastern Walton County, Georgia. 

Some cotton fields are very large.

The cotton has to be protected from the boll weevil*. The green container holds an artificial pheromone that attracts the weevils and an insecticide strip that kills the weevils.

The cotton is ready for harvesting again. Crops have been good over the last few years. The cotton is harvested by huge harvesters (see here and here).

A field that has been harvested. There is still quite a bit of cotton left in the field. Sometimes, the cotton is taken to the gin in Bostwick when it is harvested.

At other times, the cotton is stored near the field where it is covered to protect it from being soaked if it rains.

Related posts: 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina)

November 11th, 2014. The temperatures were reaching the high 60s. It was quite cool in the shade and the breeze was cool when I was on the ridges. The sun was pleasantly warm in areas sheltered from the breeze. 

I was riding down a road in southeastern Walton County when I saw a ‘bump’ on the road. It seemed that the only thing that would look like that was a turtle but I thought it was too late in the year to see one.

As I got closer, though, it became clear that it was a turtle – an Eastern Box Turtle making its way across the road.

I took the obligatory close-up.

Then I moved it off the road into the grass in the direction it was headed when I saw it.
Interestingly, this was the only Eastern Box Turtle I’ve seen this year.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Splitbeard Bluestem (Andropogon ternarius)

November 9th, 2014 
Splitbeard Bluestem (Andropogon ternarius)
Walton County, Georgia

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

November 5th, 2014. I came upon this wake (group) of Black Vultures on my morning ride. Usually, I find vultures around a carcass close to the road and they fly off as I approach. 

This carcass was back from the road. The vultures weren’t too bothered by my presence and I was able to get some reasonably good images.

And I learned some interesting terms for gatherings of vultures. According to Wikipedia, group of vultures is called a wake, committee, venue, kettle, or volt. 
Kettle refers to vultures in flight. 
Committee, Volt, and Venue refer to vultures resting in trees. 
Wake is reserved for a group of vultures that are feeding. 

Identification resource:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Canada Geese Overnighting

October 30th, 2014
Canada Geese Overnighting 
Walton County, Georgia 

This small pond attracts flights of Canada geese as they migrate north and south. Sometimes they’ll stay for days and graze in the surrounding field. Other times, they’ll just stay overnight.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ivyleaf Morning Glory (Ipomoea hederacea)

October 30th, 2014
Ivyleaf Morning Glory (Ipomoea hederacea)
Walton County, Georgia

I waited a little too long to photograph this species which was growing by our front path. This was the last flower of the season.

Related posts: 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Elaeagnus pungens Supporting Insects In Late Fall

November 8th, 2014. Many years ago, we planted elaeagnus plants along the fence line to form a windbreak. The plants were labeled as Elaeagnus umbellata but they look more like Elaeagnus pungens (Thorny Olive) with…

Spotted buds and flowers, and…

Ovoid fruit.

At a time of year when most wildfowers have finished blooming for the year, these elaeagnus bloom profusely and fill the air with an overpowering fragrance and, apparently, provide nourishment for a number of insects.

Honey bees are the most numerous visitors. The bushes hum with the sound they make as they harvest nectar.

A few butterfly species – usually just a few individuals – also visit these bushes.

American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis). I couldn’t get a photograph of these on the elaeagnus. These photos were taken several years ago on butterfly bushes (Buddleja davidii)

Some Variagated Fritillaries (Euptoieta claudia) also visit.

A group of Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) stopped by on October 28th and I saw another individual yesterday (November 9th).

The most unusual visitor has been a black Carpenter-mimic, Leaf-cutting bee (Megachile xylocopoides). I had no idea what bee this was in spite of searching the internet. I submitted the photograph to BugGuide last Saturday. Their experts identified it by the end of the day.
Fortunately, these E. pungens plants haven’t spread in our area and, hopefully, they won’t. They do, however, appear to serve as a late-season source of food for several species, particularly honey bees as they gather food for Winter.

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