I was lucky enough to visit an Albatross breeding colony on the island of Oahu. A childhood dream come true!
The Laysan albatross is a large seabird that ranges across the North Pacific. More than 99% of the breeding population of the bird lives in the northern Hawaiian island, specifically in the midway atoll and Laysan islands. The species suffered a drastic population reduction in the early 1900s due to immense scale slaughter of populations for their feathers. The species is not recovering and is now classified as near threatened.
Albatross tend to bond for life. To the right is a pair of albatross settling in for the night in a grove of possible false sandalwood.
Occasionally, the birds form same-sex pairs consisting of two females. This has been observed in the colony on the Hawaiian island Oahu, where the sex ratio of male to female is 2 to 3 and 31% of all pairs are between females.
Savanna Meadowbeauty is a striking wildflower found from North Carolina to Florida, and west to Texas. In North Carolina they grow near the coast, these were growing in the green swamp preserve alongside various carnviorous plants and orchids. The flowers are striking and attract pollinators. I was lucky enough to photograph an Oblique Stripetail Hoverfly flying around flowers searching for a reward. Swipe through them to see what the hoverfly was up to!
I try never to post non-native plant species invasive to the North American ecosystem, but these images are too good not to share. Besides plant life, I like to document the creatures that surround and depend on them, and this hard-working bumble bee deserves its 5 minutes of fame. I had previously also photographed a bee pollinating the grasspink orchid that you can see here.
As I was driving to the Green swamp preserve in North Carolina, I kept an eye on the roadside; some interesting plants grow by the side of roads inhabiting a disturbed space. Besides, ditches ran around the roads used to direct rainwater. The trenches thus provide a wet ecosystem for semi-aquatic plants to thrive. Driving by one of them, I saw a flash of blue that needed closer inspection. I had initially hoped it would be the native Irises like the ones I had documented earlier but turned out to be similar-looking Siberian Irises.
Luckily for me, there were plenty of bees working on these flowers in the early cloudy summer morning, perfect for photography, lots of light for fast shutter speeds, but soft enough not to create contrast issues while editing! Enjoy the slideshow of the bee forcing itself inside the Iris!
On our kayaking trip recently through the pinelands, my wife and I were fortunate enough to spot not one but three Spotted turtles! I could only photograph the two instances, but we were lucky to have spotted them multiple times. These turtles are now classified as endangered and listed as Species of Special Concern by the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, Endangered and Nongame Species Program.
Habitat fragmentation and destruction are important factors that have lead to the decline of this small turtle species, its appeal among the pet trade has worsened the ground reality. The turtle has a range from Maine in the north, to Florida in the south. Disjunct populations exist in Canada and Illinois.
Helianthus decapetalus, commonly known as the thinleaf sunflower, is a common native plant in Eastern US. It belongs to the same genus as the garden variety sunflower (Helianathus), unlike the common sunflower, these plants are perennials. The commonly grown sunflower is an annual plant, gardeners have avoided growing perennial varieties of sunflowers because of their propensity to spread and become “invasive” rapidly.
The plant serves as a host and a food source for a diverse array of native bugs. The seeds produced are food for birds, and so are the insects that are attracted to the plant.
I would highly recommend the thinleaf sunflower to any new gardener. They bloom in late summer – early fall in a beautiful display lasts for a few weeks, with fresh flowers blooming every few days.
An advantage of growing native species, of course, is the insects that visit your garden. Photographed here is what I believe to be a Green sweat bee, covered in pollen, hopping from one flower to the next. Slide through these two slideshows to see a bee fly away.
A few weeks ago I payed the great swamps another visit. I was lucky enough to spot a few beetles hanging out on rose. Previous post on swamp rose is here. Watching bumblebees bumble around flowers is one of the best things to observe during spring. They are a crucial part of the American ecosystem. […]
Notophthalmus viridescens,the eastern newt is a common newt found across eastern North America. The adults are not as striking as the juveniles (efts), which are brightly colored to warn you of their toxins.
Shown here is an individual eft we stumbled across in high point state park, New Jersey. The swamps of the High Point are unique and are biologically diverse. You can learn more about the bog here on this excellent blog that goes through its natural history and its unusual evolution.