Going Nature-ing

MtDiablo-CA_LAH_8608As birders, our goal when going birding is to see—birds! We may or may not have a target species we’re seeking, but a trip is generally rated as a success or a dud by the number of species we see. Rarities are a bonus.

But there’s another part of birding we might overlook. Just being out in the field means we have a shot at seeing other aspects of nature. Wildflowers and insects (especially butterflies and dragonflies) are garnering much attention these days, and for good reason. They’re just as interesting as birds, and more of a challenge. (Have you ever tried ID-ing a moth or beetle?)

Continue reading “Going Nature-ing”

IPM: Pest-eating Vertebrates, Part 1

Eastern Collared Lizard_DesertMuseum-AZ_LAH_4796Here it is the middle of winter, and garden pests are out of sight and out of mind. Yet, we know that those critters are out there, waiting for warm weather to bring out the first sprouts of spring—just so they can gobble them up! It’s a very good thing, then, that there are other creatures biding their time, waiting to eat those garden pests! I’ve already talked about bug-eating invertebrates. This time I’ll focus on those animals with some backbone, so to speak. Being biologically minded, I’ve sorted these helpful vertebrates by which taxonomic class they belong to.

Amphibians
Toad_ColoNat'lMon-CO_LAH_3622One of the most helpful animals to welcome into your garden is a toad. Like frogs and salamanders, their close relatives, toads eat tons of bugs, and they don’t need a pond to live in. Experts say they eat up to 100 bugs every day, and while they don’t discriminate between “good” bugs and bad ones (they’ll nab anything that moves), it’s nice to see cutworms, grasshoppers, flies, and slugs disappearing into their wide jaws.

Continue reading “IPM: Pest-eating Vertebrates, Part 1”

The CFO Convention: Part 3

robb-ponds-sp_grandjct-co_lah_2884-1

Saturday morning. Wakened by my alarm, I snuggled down into my sleeping bag and  listened. Trucks rumbled by on the nearby highway. The bird in the trees overhead kept up a constant chatter. But no drops were hitting the tent. The rain had stopped!

Thankfully, our field trip this morning departed at a leisurely 6:30 a.m., the first of two days photographing birds with Bill Schmoker. This was my primary reason for attending the convention, and I was eager to get started.

Continue reading “The CFO Convention: Part 3”