Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Watch out for spiders

Yesterday was a great day working out in the field for Field Botany (funny how that works). We sampled 2 forests and visited a third. It is humbling to go out and not remember plants and then be reminde of how little I do know. However, simultaneously it is awesome to get out there and see how much I do actually remember.

One of the coolest things I saw (besides the plants) was this white spider hiding in this flower only to grab a bee attempting to pollenate it and then proceed to kill it and suck its insides out:

This is one of many shots I took. I sort of like that you can see the water drops in the flower on this one.

Other highlighs included a look at the male (below) and female Evening Grosbeak at Hartwick Pines. Also spotted was a Purple Finch (male and female), Rose Breasted Grosbeak (males and females, and a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (female).

Today I had a real treat bird-wise that even topped the dimorphism show of yesterday. I saw my 9th ever Kirtland's Warbler. This rare bird requires forest rejuvination via fire within Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana) stands. Its range is basically the local area though a few have been found in the UP of Michigan recently. Most of the KW that are seen are found in Grayling, Michigan - home of the Kirtland's Warbler Festival.

Today we (three students, 2 faculty/profs, and myself) popped into the forest while on a quick tour of locations for tomorrow's integrative day. It was raining and the warblers were singing but none were being cooperative and singing high in the trees. Just as we turned to leave one darted infront of us in the first-second row Jack Pines. I quickly found it and pointed it out. To our fortune it climbed up the second back Jack Pine and perched quite nicely for us. If it weren't for the rain I would have had the shot of a lifetime of a Kirtland's. Oh well! It was awesome to see the little bird once again.

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