June 3, 2011

Tornadoes and Trout

Last Wednesday the world decided to try and give me a heart attack. All week the weather had been horrible, on and off rain and wind. We knew rain was on it's way, but we were trying to get as much done before it hit as possible. The thing about the prairie though, it's flat, really flat. Which means while you can see the black cloud of doom coming, it's hard to tell how far away it until it's right on top of you. We were in the middle of one of our study sites mist-netting a Henslow's Sparrow when we see the black cloud of doom headed our way.

"Okay" we think "We have a few more minutes to get this done".  Cue the thunder. Now, I don't know about you, but my idea of fun is not standing in the middle of a flat field next to 8ft metal poles. But we had just caught a Henslow, so we couldn't leave just yet. Levi begins to frantically band the bird while I write down information and Keith starts dismantling the mist-nets. Right as we let the Henslow go we hear them, Tornado Sirens in the town three miles south of us. My heart started hammering. We all grabbed equipment and started back towards the truck. Instead of heading home, we decided it would be safer to head into Sedalia and find a place to take shelter. 

This place ended up being Walmart. The three of us, along with about a hundred other shoppers spent an hour and a half hiding in the back of Walmart waiting for the all clear. It turns out, it probably would have been safer to go back to Cole Camp. An F2 tornado touched down less than two miles away from Walmart, tearing through several businesses, part of a neighborhood and a mobile home park. It also tossed semi-trucks parked at the truck stop all over the highway. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured, but I never wish to hear a tornado siren again.

Indigo Bunting, a very pretty bright blue bird.

Ahhhh! It's a snaaaaake!

Pretty wild Iris.

Red-headed woodpecker teasing me. He flew away every time I tried to sneak up.

Huge bumblebee.

Baltimore Oriole.

Cliff Swallow in flight.

Another Baltimore Oriole.

And more Cliff Swallows.

Adult bald eagle chilling after the storm that spawned the tornado.

Can you tell I like these birds?

Garter snake in the gravel road, trying to get itself run over.

Baby Meadowlarks just about to leave the nest.

Red-winged Blackbirds screaming for food.
 This week my boss decided we needed a break (especially after that whole tornado thing), so we all piled into the car and drove and hour and a half south to Bennet Springs State Park to go Trout fishing. The entire drive my co-worker Keith was literally bouncing up and down in excitement. I was afraid he was going to give himself a heart attack.  I decided against fishing, instead I sat in a folding chair, read all day and worked on my "tan"(aka burn).

Skipper on clover.

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo with a tasty snack.

He's probably going to take that bug to his little ones.

Rainbow Trout hatchery at Bennet Springs. If you waved your arm they all jumped.

Keith's first trout, he's so proud.

Hello Muskrat!

Goodbye Muskrat!

Swallowtail orgy! I could not figure out what was attracting all these butterflies.

The odd one of the bunch.

And finally, my newest nest, Common Yellowthroat. These eggs are tiny.
On a final note, It. Is. HOT. The weather has finally realized that it is in fact summer right now, and has therefore skyrocketed. And it's only going to get worse. Not to mention that the A/C in our apartment only cools the front room, so my room feels like a sauna. Oh well, sweating's good for you, right? If only it didn't attract so many ticks...

May 23, 2011

Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head

Lots of pictures this week! We've found more nests, went fishing some more and were rained on a LOT. I'm getting pretty sick of being damp, and all this rain is probably making building nests a bit difficult for my poor birds.

Northern Bobwhite Quail nest. This is the only bird I can imitate the call of.

Garter Snake hiding in the grass.

Wolf Spider with her eggs. When they catch she'll carry her babies on her back.

Fence lizard posing for me.

Whirligig Beetles! They spin round and round on top of the water.

Another fence lizard.

Female Indigo Bunting, not nearly as bright as her mate.

Small wasp on some moss.

American Bullfrog, they make a huge racket.

He stayed very still for pictures, thankfully I didn't fall off the rotten log I perched on.

Red-Headed Woodpecker looking for some tasty bugs.

Water snake that followed me down the steps to the levee.

Great Blue Heron having a snack on the levee.

Hairstreak Butterflies getting nutrients from some bird poo.

We have the May flowers, but the April showers haven't stopped yet.

Eastern Phoebe, the worlds plainest brown bird.

Summer Tanager, very bright and noticeable. Unlike the Phoebe.

More Summer Tanager.

Chipping Sparrow looking for a mate.

Dickcissel nest, they have very pretty eggs for such annoying birds.

This poor carrion beetle had half his wings eaten.

Baby Henslow's Sparrows, just as pink and awkward as all the other passerines.

I can't help but hear this fly saying "Yessss, yess, excellent".

Myself with a Common Yellowthroat, a type of warbler.

He looks a bit scared of the camera.

Levi giving the Yellowthroat bunny ears.

Nice profile picture.

Finally timed this picture just right.

Grey Catbirds are very loud and angry, but they're all talk.

He calmed down eventually.

This Yellow-Breasted Chat wouldn't be quiet unless his beak was filled.

His breast is VERY bright yellow.

Mr. Chat is a very unhappy bird.

Two American Goldfinches. Left is female, right is male.

We were pretty positive they were a pair.

They didn't seem to mind Levi posing them for pseudo-wedding photos.

Mr. Goldfinch obviously likes my hat.

He's staring at my hat in this picture too, promise.

These baby Meadowlarks are almost ready to leave the nest.

That doesn't make them cute yet though.

And finally, flowers being pollinated.