Sunday, June 11, 2006

In-Between The Rains

This was the scene in our front yard earlier today, during an early deluge in anticipation of Tropical Storm Alberto. Citrus County is currently in the center of Alberto's projected path. I took this shot from the relative dryness of our front porch.

Alberto is a small storm as tropical storms go -- and, frankly, we need the rain. I'll be away from the computer and other electrical appliances once our thunder and lightning get going. Meanwhile, last night and today yielded more in the way of town wildlife....

Mary and I saw this clouded moon last night as we took our evening walk -- not long after I'd shot an admittedly dark video of one of our local bats.

I'd been wanting to catch a bat on pixel for a while now, which is easier said than done. Lately we've seen one or more on an almost-nightly basis. Says Bat Conservation International, "Many small insectivorous bats can eat up to 2,000 mosquito-sized insects in one night."

The ones we've been seeing -- even the individual who zipped by about 10 feet away from me last night -- are too distant and in too-poor light for me to figure out their species. But they look very much like the bats I used to spot when I lived on Staten Island for a spell.

My graduate school commute had taken me from the summit to the foot of Grymes Hill -- a shuttle bus ride unless I wanted to walk. The shuttle didn't run too often, so I usually walked. Following that I took the Victory Ave. bus to the ferry terminal; the ferry into Manhattan; the subway or a 10-block walk to the PATH train (a.k.a Hudson Tubes; that station had been inside the World Trade Center); the PATH to Hoboken, New Jersey; and finally the 7-block walk to Stevens Institute of Technology. If I missed a connection, the commute could take as long as three hours one-way.

But that's what good books and journal notebooks are for. I wrote a lot of poems on that ferry.

Back then, around 1980, the walk down Grymes Hill had taken me past an undeveloped area separated from the sidewalk by a chainlink fence. When I returned at night from class -- or from poetry open mics at the now-defunct Beat'N'Path Cafe -- the walk back up the hill often gave me a glimpse of bats doing loop-de-loops in the air above the undeveloped plot. They were neat to watch.

After repeatedly missing a hummingbird appearance at our trumpet honeysuckle on several April mornings I was very pleasantly surprised to spot one flitting about at dusk last night, before we set out on our walk. Neither Mary nor I knew they flew at dusk as well as at dawn -- and this is the first time I'd spotted one after early April. I wasn't quick enough to take a shot, but now I know to be on the alert.

At the strip mall across from the post office we found this palmetto weevil.

Rhynchophorus cruentatus Fabricius, Family Curculionidae (Snout and Bark Beetles). According to the University of Florida, the palmetto weevil is the largest weevil in North America (this one is about an inch long). This weevil "is native to Florida and is the only species of palm weevil in the continental United States. Worldwide, there are ten described species of palm weevils. Until recently, the palmetto weevil was considered a minor pest, attacking only severely wounded and dying trees. However, it is starting to gain status as a pest of stressed nursery and transplanted palms."

U FL continues, "The palmetto weevil has been reported from coastal South Carolina south through the Florida Keys, and west into coastal Texas. Fossil records suggest that the palmetto weevil was present in Florida during the Pleistocene (about 1 million years ago)."

The shiny rostrum (snout) on this one means she's a female. Males have bumps on theirs. More detail is visible in the large view (click the magnifying glass).

Back on Wednesday, at the same mall. I had spotted this tree frog on a brick column a bit after 10 PM.

I'm having a tough time telling whether this is a Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea) or a Squirrel Treefrog (Hyla squirella), Family Hylidae. More detail is in the large view (again, click the magnifying glass). I've also posted a stereoscopic view.

To get this and other little ones in focus I have added a small flashlight to my camera case. Even when using flash, I often need an aid -- especially away from lamps -- to help my camera get a fix on what I want to photograph during our nighttime walks.

I'm also now carrying my tripod with me. Originally I had wanted to set up by a streetlamp that a bat was frequenting, figuring the lamp would provide enough light for a decent video. But that bat's gone elsewhere for its dinner. I set up anyway, and took this shot instead. The construction is storm drain maintenance -- just in time for Alberto.

Near the white light just left of center is the entrance to "2 Bakers."

Here, the snowman decor of "The Coolest Place in Town" reflects in a picture window looking out onto the strip mall.

Earlier today the ibises were back, meandering in the rain.

When I next get to our DSL-enabled library I'll upload the video I took of them -- also from the relative dryness of our porch -- as they ambled across our street. Like "Make Way for Ducklings," but with bigger birds.


Blogger Brenda Clews said...

That's a wet front yard! Hope it gets no wetter than that!

Flashlight and tripod, ah, the necessities of a night-time photographer. Bats beware! :grinning:

When I had a cottage some years ago we had a few bats inside until we figured out they were nesting in the eaves and getting in through a tiny air vent under the fireplace. My then husband would race around at 2 or 3 am trying to sweep the bat out of a window he'd removed the screen from. Once we found one on the floor, perfect tear marks in its wing, exactly spaced as a cat's claws - I guess our cat had been busy that night.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Paul D. said...

Good attempt on the bat considering the lighting. I think I will have to try with my humble Kodak. ALso loved the stereoscopic frog and the owlfly on flcker.

1:02 AM  

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