Friday, November 23, 2012

Common Redpoll...coming soon to a neighborhood near you

Flushed a small flock of common redpoll (Carduelis flammea) while doing my job at the waterfowl hunt parking area the other day on Lee Metcalf NWR (Stevensville, MT). Of late there are posted sightings of redpoll on MOB from other birders in Montana. Obviously, Nyger feeders are best at attracting these winter finches; don't forget that non-feeder habitat can be just as reliable and good for finding these birds. Here's some video from December, 2011 illustrating this point:

It doesn't hurt to use your ears/hearing in finding these species also; they have a distinct call:

Finally, a photo of how one usually sees these birds in the 'field'
Common Redpoll in flight

Monday, November 19, 2012

'Yard' Restoration...Continues

Yesterday I seeded about 400 square feet of yard to native wildflowers, photo below. Note the sand on the soil; the process of planting requires adding small seeds to 10 cups of sand, mixing thoroughly, then distributing on bare ground. That's it!!

The rock garden seed mix was acquired from Native Ideals Seed Farm. Here's a species list of what was planted:

No doubt it won't be kool-aid; hoping it will look something like this in two years or so (another part of our 'yard'):

Now have very little to mow; I've built it and they have come...wild your yard-planting time is now!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lichen Looking

Continued my deeper segue into lichens. Have made several field trips seeking species out. Here's a short video of my adventure, mostly capturing aesthetics of lichen searching, to Kootenai Creek (Bitterroot National Forest) yesterday:
Below are two photos of somewhat common, distinct-form lichens...variously referred to as tube, bone or pillow lichens. Yes, the naming scheme fits; many plant and animal have common names that include a description of form or color. The genus is Hypogymnia and for the most part species in this genus are found growing on bark, occasionally on moss over rock. These lichens are not really small and lend themselves to photos by plain point & shoots. Taking along a magnifying lens is also a good idea for the in-the-moment experience. The color and structure of these plants is beautiful and abstract, though my questions also center how and why. On your next walk, try looking for lichens-they can even be found in urban areas :-) 
Hypogymnia physodes or Monk's-hood lichen

Hypogymnia tubulosa or Powder-headed tube lichen

Monday, November 5, 2012

Vote Now...for the correct Fritillary ID

Timely opportunity to practice decision-making before tomorrow's voting booth visit. This poll is wildlife-centric; help me determine the identity of five different butterflies that are from the genus Speyeria or Fritillary in general. This group of insects are difficult to identify because of variability in color/pattern within species. All the shots posted below capture the underwing which is key for identification. Any resource/reference may be used in voting. You might read a American Birding Association blog posting from Ted Floyd, that overviews the concept of species in the context of birds. It is excellent reflection as basis for decision-making here with butterflies. A multiple choice form follows the photos below...good luck.

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 5