Can you remember learning about a collective noun in your ninth grade English class? Boy, I surly do. Mr. Ellis made certain we could properly diagram, yes, diagram, a sentence containing a collective noun. Well, just in case you have forgotten all you learned about this important part of the English language, this blog will refresh your memory.
A collective noun is a word used to represent a group of people, animals, or things. Examples of collective nouns are herd of cattle, colony of ants, school of fish, or flock of birds to name just a few. I have chosen to illustrate the collective noun flock with sixteen of my bird photographs.
A flock is defined as a number of birds of one kind feeding, resting, and traveling together. Rather than referring to a flock of birds, folks in the bird world have created other names for different birds as you will read in the caption under each photograph.
This Blogger/Photographer was fortunate enough to be standing in the right place at the right time, with Nikon slung around his neck, to capture this beautiful adult Tricolored Heron searching, stalking, catching and savoring a mid- morning snack.
This Blogger and his Chief Editor, while attending the 2016 Whooping Crane Festival, had the opportunity to hear an expert speak about the life, biology, of monarch butterflies. The information presented was so informative and entertaining that we were motivated to become involved in the life cycle of the beautiful monarch butterfly. A Senior Citizen Science Project sprang forth on March 11 with the purchase of a $20 potted milkweed plant.
The monarch butterfly is found throughout the United States as well as Mexico and Canada. Astonishingly, these small insects can make a 3,000-mile journey in the fall of the year to their wintering location in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Mexico or to southern California, depending on which part of the United States or Canada they migrate. The monarchs in this blog are migrating North from Mexico because they are on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains. Monarchs can fly 50 to 100 miles per day; it can take up to two months to make the trip to their winter home. Monarchs produce four generations during one summer. The first three generations have a life span of 2-6 weeks and will continue moving north. During this time, they will mate and have the next generation that will continue the northward migration. The fourth generation is different. They can live up to nine months before the long journey to their winter home in California or Mexico.
The photographs in this blog are intended to inform and show the four stages in the fascinating life of a monarch butterfly. The four stages are:
The eggs stage which lasts about four days.
The caterpillar(larva) stage lasts about two weeks.
The chrysalis(pupa) stage lasts about ten days.
The adult stage of the Monarch butterfly lasts from 2-6 weeks and then the next generation process begins repeating the same process except for the fourth generation.
On April 17 our project ended when the last of our monarchs suddenly took flight from my finger in a northerly direction which caused happiness along with some sadness. Happy because our project produced 6 first generation female monarch butterflies; sad because they will never return – empty nest.
You should know that the monarch butterfly population has been on the decline due to habitat loss. One way to help is to plant milkweed to provide a place for the monarch butterfly to lay her eggs and provide food for the caterpillar. Spring forth with a Senior Citizen Science Project next spring
As a child I enjoyed going to the movies to watch Roy and Gabby or Gene and Smiley, after turning the outlaws over to the sheriff, riding off into the desert, dotted with all those tall cacti with arms named Saguaros. Many of these old westerns movies and TV series were filmed in Monument Valley Utah. Not intending to deflate anyone’s childhood memories of these now classic Hollywood productions and at the risk of being called a “Meanie”, the only location where the Saguaro cacti actually grow are in the Sonoran Desert in Mexico and Arizona at elevations generally lower than four thousand feet. I guess it’s the magic of cinematography that placed them in Monument Valley or other locations.
Saguaros are very slow growing, between 1 and 1.5 inches during the first eight years of life. As the Saguaro begins to age the growth rates will vary depending upon climate, precipitation and location. In the Saguaro National Park, near Tucson, AZ The branches or arms begin to appear when the Saguaro reaches 50 to 70 years of age. In lower elevations it may take as long as 100 years before the arms appear. The arms generally bend upward and can number over 25. The Saguaro is the largest cactus in the world.
When a Saguaro reaches 35 years of age, it begins to sprout a cluster of creamy flowers which open at night and close the next evening. It is during this time that pollination by bats, birds and insects occur. Late April through early June is when the tops of the Saguaro’s maim trunk and arms produce the flowers.
Saguaros roots grow out from the plant in a radial fashion several inches underground to capture water during the rainy season and store it in the ribs of the plant which expand as more water is captured.
An adult Saguaro is considered to be about 125 years of age. Because of the water it stores a Saguaro may weigh as much as 6 tons. The Saguaro is believed to have a life span of 150 to 175 years.
The Saguaro cacti provide building material for humans, nesting habitat for birds and fruit for both humans and wildlife.
I was fortunate to be able to photograph the Saguaros in the Saguaro National Park, The Arizona Desert Museum and Sabino Canyon State Park during the time period when they were in bloom.
Have you ever given much thought to just how valuable and beneficial our wetlands are to people, fish, and wildlife? While photographing some of the inhabitants of a coastal wetland, my interest in wetlands was tweaked. Without going into to an extensive marine biologist or an environmentalist dialogue about our wetlands, I will take some liberty to share some interesting facts and information about wetlands. Hopefully you will have a greater appreciation of these wetland residents through my photographs, yes, even the alligator.
Our wetlands serve several functions or services. Some of these services, or functions, include protecting and improving water quality, providing habitats for fish and wildlife, storing floodwaters and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods. Wetlands are the most productive ecosystems in the world comparable to rain forest and coral reefs. Wetlands are sometimes referred to as “biological supermarkets”.
Coastal wetlands cover roughly 40 million acres and make up about 38 percent of the total wetland acreage. The value of services coastal wetland habitat provides is in the billions of dollars. These coastal wetlands are the source of habitat for many federally threatened and endangered species, such as the Whooping Crane.
All the photographs in this “Walk Through the Wetlands” blog were taken along the Texas Coast.