Archive for the ‘wildlife’ Category

Nature Week

April 21, 2013

This week we had our first round of spring croakers (tree frogs that mate in the pond).  Here are a couple as they headed back out into the woods:






Then a turtle came out and sunned itself.  These pictures are not that spectacular, except that they were taken at a distance of about 100 feet!



Then a bird hit a window, and took a little while to recover.  It held still while we stroked it, before it flew off



My New Friend

April 14, 2013

A muskrat has taken up residence in my pond.  I have uploaded quite a few videos to YouTube (including this one).



Time Lapse Movies of Corals

August 1, 2009

Corals move quite slowly in an aquarium, and most casual observers never understand that aspect of their beauty. Some start out quite small in the early morning, but expand during the day under the influence of the sun (lights). I took a series of time lapse movies with my new Canon Power Shot SX10 IS, using the open source CHDK microcode enhancements and an Intervalometer script. Quite neat. I needed a separate DC power supply, as the batteries were not up to taking 900 pictures, one every 6 seconds.

I stitched the JPGs together using a program called MEncoder, which is part of the MPlayer effort. You may not be able to play these movies with the regular movie players: you may have to download KMPlayer in order to watch them. I have no idea why this is.

The first movie was my test run. The others show the corals “waking up” and growing during the morning, or shutting down during the evening. Notice how they each try to shoulder each other out of the way, in order to get all of the light for themselves!

Mini Movie (4 MB)

Time Lapse Movie 1 (11 MB)

Time Lapse Movie 2 (11 MB)

Time Lapse Movie 3 (16 MB)

My Parrots Get Their Own pPod

February 4, 2009

I conceived of and then implemented an “iPod” for my parrots, all in under six weeks. I’m calling it a pPod. You can read all about it on my main web site:

This is ridiculous!

November 11, 2008

So, I just finished posting about the mink, and I look up, and he’s back! No! Wait! What’s wrong with his tail?!? And why does he walk so strangely? And why no bubbles when he dives?

I never see animals like this in the pond, and now two different ones in the space of a few hours? How unusual.

I guess that this one is a muskrat, given that his tail is rat-like, rather than beaver-like, and given that he eats vegetation, which an otter or mink would not allow to pass their lips.

The photograph is not great, but you get the idea:

Bubble, bubble…

November 11, 2008

At this time of year, the pond pump has been retired for the winter, so the waterfall is not working. During the summer, the ripples from the waterfall are always wandering across the pond, but not now. Sometimes, when it’s warm, one of the larger fish will move quickly near the surface, and waves will result. But not now.

So, I was surprised this morning when I saw some fairly large waves surging across the pond, first from under the rocks at the base of the waterfall, and then at the base of an adjacent rock. Then more waves, and bubbles coming from under the water. Were the walls of the pond collapsing? Were decaying leaves releasing gases? The bubbles meandered across the pond in a line, and I watched, fascinated.

Then the mink came out of the water, looked around, and dove back under the water. I’ve seen a mink at the pond twice in the past, both times in the spring when the ice was still on the pond. Never this time of year.

I spent about 30 minutes watching and filming him. The camera I have “only” has a 10x zoom, so movies taken with him at the other end of the pond were recognizable, but not dramatic. I did get one with him quite close to the house (perhaps 25 feet): the contents are not as dramatic as the others, but at least you can see him in some detail.

Click here for movie 1 (35 MB)
Click here for movie 2 (28 MB)
Click here for movie 3 (46 MB)

The squawks in the audio track are my parrots, not the mink!

He dove and swam quite a bit, clearly unperturbed by the near-frozen water. He can cross the small pond under water with ease, leaving a trail of bubbles on the surface to indicate where he is swimming.

This is one reason I moved here, and why I built the house as I did. The pond is right next to the house, which is the only reason I was able to get the pictures that I took. Moments like this make it all worth while.

Even more Mantis movies

September 29, 2007

Close up of cracking a clam open I finally took a close-up of the mantis cracking a clam open. Even so, it is not easy to see exactly what he’s doing. (23 MB)

Another mid-“air” swirl grabbing at food. (10 MB)

What can I say: he’s amazing! Sometimes he swirls in mid “air” and heads back to his cave; sometimes he comes out, turns around on the ground, and returns head-first; and sometimes he backs into the cave. Who knows how he decides which method to employ! This time he backs around on the ground and enters the cave head first. (21 MB)

More Mantis Shrimp Movies

September 24, 2007

Here are three more mantis shrimp movies, all quite cool. He seems to be coming out into the tank more and more fearlessly, for reasons that are not at all apparent.

Another brief, graceful mid “air” swirl (6 MB)

And still another! This time, the food landed way on the other end of the tank. He comes out fully, is not sure where the food is, heads back to the cave, and then “smells” the food in the “air” and then heads for it. Good side shots of his entire body. The squawks are from the parrots. (14 MB)

What can I say: he’s amazing! I missed the first part of this aerial display, but watching all of his “legs” swimming is interesting. He bobbles the food and has to go back to grab it again in mid “air”. (5 MB)

Small But Wonderful Mantis Shrimp Movie Clip

September 11, 2007

A few days ago, my mantis shrimp decided he couldn’t wait for his food to drop down into the bottom of the tank, so he rushed out and grabbed it in mid “air”, and then did a swirling flip and ducked back into his cave. I took a chance that he would do it again, and this is the result. He had just molted, so maybe he was especially hungry. Divers and gymnasts will be envious…

Mid “air” swirl (4 MB):

Mid “air” swirl 2 (5 MB):

Mid “air” swirl 3 (5 MB):


June 13, 2007

I purchased a new octopus a few weeks ago. He’s still quite shy, but seems to have figured out what feeding is all about. Strangely, as much as he seems excited about obtaining the food, he seems more interested in playing with the clear plastic “wiggle stick” that I use to get the food to him. Here is a fairly large (40 MB) movie showing him coming out of his hole, grabbing the food, and then wrestling with me for the stick. He is surprisingly strong. You can clearly see him breathing. Also notice the white frills that decorate in a circle around his eyes, as well as the tufts above his eyes. You can see the color patterns changing on his skin. Also notice his ability to change the texture of his skin, from smooth to covered with rough tufts. This is especially clear on his back as he struggles with the food offering. (40 MB)

and another one: (6 MB)

If you can’t see that one, try (35 MB)