Thursday, October 3, 2013

WOOD THRUSH, up close

I took this with my dslr (the others were with my compact camera) with my 400mm lens and then I cropped the photo tightly (which my Canon 60d dslr allows). The spots on it's underparts are heart shaped and extend well down it's flanks. It's black sub malar streak is partially shown and as is it's narrowly streaked side of it's head.  The feet show as pinkish.  SeEtta

WOOD THRUSH, a rarity in Colorado


I found this Wood Thrush this morning skulking high up instead of low down as they are known to do. It was in a medium sized deciduous tree in the Lakeside Cemetery in Canon City, Colorado-far from it's usual haunts several hundred miles from Colorado. It was not cooperative in letting me see it's field marks as it stayed above me and I was never able to see it's upperparts except for quick views of it's rusty-brown head when it would look down at me when it heard my camera click. In fact when I first spotted it, and it spotted me looking at it, it moved away from my view and worked it's way around the tree so I lost it for about 5 minutes.

After searching nearby trees finally spotted it perched, still, on a branch 20 feet up inside the tree. I was able to see it's white eyering, white (not buffy) underparts with distinct blackish spots from neck to belly and short tail plus rusty-brown head distinguishing it from other thrush species. SeEtta

Monday, September 30, 2013

Giant Swallowtail, a stunning butterfly

GiantSwallowtail-a2-CC,CO
When I spotted this beauty this morning I said 'wow'-it was such a stunning butterfly especially as it fed on the bright yellow blooms of the rabbitbrush on which it is photographed. Giant Swallowtail butterflies have a wingspan of 4-6 1/2 inches making them the largest butterflies in the United States. And this one was close to the max so I was truly awed by both it's beauty and exceptional size. GiantSwallowtail-a3-CC,CO Giant Swallowtail butterflies range from the eastern states west to the Rocky Mountains and then across the Southwest then south as far as South America. And in 2012 they were found in Montreal, Canada which is a very surprising northern range expansion thought to be related to warming temperatures according to the Montreal Botanical Garden where they were discovered.
They are less often found in western states such as Colorado so I was fortunate to find this one.
GiantSwallowtail-a5-CC,CO Their black upperwings have contrasting bright yellow diagonal bars while the underwings are mostly yellow. And they have two black 'tails' with yellow in the center which sets them apart from the Schaus' swallowtail butterfly that looks almost like it. Plus they have a small amount of red and blue to highlight their spiffy appearance along with a bright yellow body.
GiantSwallowtail-a4-CC,CO
While this species likes citrus plants in areas where they grow (certainly not in Colorado), this Giant Swallowtail flitted from one rabbitbrush plant to the next while I was photographing it. Clearly the plants that provide nectar and that host them will vary according to the location but the National Wildlife Federation has some good information in their 'Attracting Butterflies' webpage.