Patti gave us a great theme for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #33 – Nature. I love nature and our frequent travel allows me to take many photos of nature.
In this post, I feature photos taken from two trips representing two ends of temperature in nature.
My brother John and his wife Peggy visited us from Hong Kong. We went on a bus tour to Yellowstone. Yellowstone National Park preserves the most extraordinary collection of hot springs, geysers, mud pots, fumaroles, and travertine terraces on Earth. More than 10,000 hydrothermal features are found here, of which more than 500 are geysers.
Types of Hydrothermal Features
There are five types of hydrothermal features readily visible in Yellowstone:
Geysers: Hot springs with constrictions in their plumbing, which causes them to periodically erupt to release the pressure that builds up.
Hot Springs: Pools of geothermally heated water.
Mudpots: Hot springs that are acidic enough to dissolve the surrounding rock. Typically, also lack water in their systems.
Travertine Terraces: Hot springs that rise up through limestone, dissolve the calcium carbonate, and deposit the calcite that makes the travertine terraces.
Fumaroles: also known as steam vents. These hot features lack water in their system, and instead constantly release steam.
We went on a whale watching cruise. We didn’t see whales, but we saw many bottlenose dolphins coming up to the surface of the water. A few private yachts were floating in place simply for yachting. The calm and blue water reflected the clear sky was serene. Whether we saw the whale or not, it was a refreshing cruise.
During our trip to Portland, Oregon this year to spend Mother’s Day weekend with my daughter Mercy, Will and baby Autumn, Mercy took us to Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. There is a green patch by the lake for the Canada Geese to raise their young. The goslings still have the soft and fluffy feathers. The fallen seeds provide a fest for the geese and their goslings.
The Laguna Lake by our house is home to different ducks, geese, and birds. These seven newborn ducklings with feathers as soft as hair swam closely to mama duck and other ducklings together.
The first baby hummingbird in my garden took his first flight in the first photo. He has a white spot of the soft feather at the bottom. He is now six weeks old and his wings are not strong to fly too far yet. There are three of his favorite spots where he perches on most of the time. Every twenty minutes, papa swoops around to give him an airlift for a ride around my house. He then comes back to perch on the needle of the Date Palms or a small branch of the potted fica tree. I have fun watching him every day.
The ruby-throated baby hummingbird in my garden is doing well. He prefers nectar from lavender flowers, but there are not enough flowers to give him the amount of nectar he needs. Mama and Papa feed exclusively from my feeders.
There is a small potted ficus tree in front of the kitchen window underneath the hummingbird feeder. The lavender bush is about five feet from the ficus tree. Baby Hummi flew to the lavender flowers to get nectar. After feeding, he flies to the ficus tree and perches on his favorite spot of the branch until the next feeding. Papa flies around and swoops him up so he gets to fly one round of the palm trees. He quickly comes back to the ficus tree and perches on his spot.
Two days ago, he tried the sugar water from the feeder and liked it. He goes back and forth between the lavender flowers and the feeder. Papa comes by every twenty minutes to take him on flying lessons.
There was a baby hummingbird last year did the same thing. He perched on the ficus branch most of the time and the parent came by to take him flying. When the parents went south for the winter, the baby stayed behind to feed on my feeder throughout the winter.
I was curious about the migration of the hummingbird. I did a research this morning and found out that I will have the baby stay with us for the winter. The website also describes the colors of the birds.
The Colorful Hummingbird
The ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is a species of hummingbird that generally spends the winter in Central America, Mexico, and Florida, and migrates to North America for the summer to breed. It is by far the most common hummingbird seen in North America.
The adult male has a throat patch of iridescent ruby red bordered narrowly with velvety black on the upper margin and a forked black tail with a faint violet sheen. The red iridescence is highly directional and appears dull black from many angles. The female has a notched tail with outer feathers banded in green, black, and white and a white throat that may be plain or lightly marked with dusky streaks or stipples.
During migration southward in autumn along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, some birds embark on a nonstop 900-mile journey. Some older male and female birds were better prepared for long-distance flight than first-year birds by having higher body weights and larger fuel loads.
Six days ago, I suddenly discovered a tiny hummingbird nest on an orange tree branch. Probably it had been there for three weeks. I was surprised that my husband didn’t accidentally knock it off when he picked oranges.
At first, I thought it was dust caught in the cobweb. I almost wanted to squirt it with a hose. I took another look, it looked like a neatly squeezed together cheese ball. Then I saw a pointed beak sticking out from the nest. I quickly grabbed my camera, climbed the ladder my husband put again the tree. Surely it was a teeny-weeny hummingbird. It was so still that it looked dead and abandoned. I poked the beak, he jumped out of the nest and fell on the grass. It made me feel horrified. I quickly picked him up and put him back to the nest. By that time, the mama bird was flapping her wings around me.
For five day, my first thing in the morning was to see the baby hummingbird. He grew, and his body came up higher and higher in the nest. Both mama and papa checked their baby frequently. On the fifth day, he wiggled and wiggled, then flew out of the nest. He flew to one tree branch, clung on to it as he practiced flapping the wings. Then flew to another branch and flapped. After five minutes, he flew to the other side of a row of Cypress trees.
I worried that he didn’t know where to find nectar or the bird feeders. After a couple hours, the mama bird found him and brought him to the bird feeder.
This is the first baby hummingbird in my garden. I researched on the growth of hummingbird babies. One site indicates that it takes 16 to 18 days to incubate for the eggs to hatch. A YouTube video shows from eggs to hatching, to babies flying away, takes 26 days. I wish I could have watched the process from the egg. It’s as thrilling to watch his growth even for a few days.
I had a new visitor on June 17, 2018. It was a beautiful bird I hadn’t seen before. I was fascinated by its graceful long tail which is twice as long as its body. The sharp contrast of black and white feather with an orange beak wouldn’t escape anyone’s sight.
It happened I had the patio door open to take photos of the birds feeding. It flew into my garden. I grabbed the camera and tried to be in a hidden position so I wouldn’t scare the birds away. I only had 30 seconds before it flew away.
On the same day, De Wets Wild had a post about the same bird. I almost jumped out of my seat because the information of the bird came so timely. De Wets Wild told me that its tail is beautiful in the air. It was not within my sight when it flew away.
Following my photos, I copied a photo and the information from De Wets Wild’s post. Please visit his wonderful posts about the animals in the wild.
The little Pin-tailed Whydah (12cm long, without the tail, and weighing only about 15g) is most known for the aggressive nature of the breeding males, which carries tails almost double their own body length and have no qualms tackling birds many times their own weight, like doves and pigeons, over a food source or territory!
Pin-tailed Whydahs are brood parasites, meaning that the female lays her eggs (usually 1 or 2 but up to 4 at a time) in the nests of other birds, mostly small seed-eaters like waxbills, for them to raise the chicks, often after removing some or all of the host birds’ eggs. A single Pin-tailed Whydah female may lay up to 25 eggs in a season. Their breeding season stretches from spring to autumn. Males are polygamous and highly territorial. The chicks hatch after about 11 days of incubation and leave the nest at about 3 weeks old, staying with their host family for about another week before joining a Whydah group.