Tag Archives: nature

Goat’s Foot Morning Glory

Goat’s foot morning glory (Ipomoea pes-caprae, Convolvulaceae) can be found on tropical ocean shores around the globe. Also known as goat’s foot vine, railroad vine, bayhops, and beach morning glory, this evergreen perennial is one of the most widely-distributed salt-tolerant … Continue reading

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Coastal Tiger Beetle

Coastal tiger beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Ellipsoptera hamata) inhabit the shores of the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to southern Texas. Adults can be found from April through December but are most common in June. Their striking coloration and patterning, narrow thoraxes, … Continue reading

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Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle

Of the seven species of living sea turtles found around the world, the most critically-endangered is the Kemp’s ridley (Testudines: Cheloniidae: Lepidochelys kempii). Although these turtles can be found all the way from Nova Scotia down through the Gulf of Mexico, … Continue reading

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Black Skimmer

Black Skimmers (Charadriiformes: Laridae: Rynchops niger) are relatively large and interesting birds that can be found from South America up through the Gulf of Mexico. These skimmers feed primarily on fish and are almost always found near bodies of water. … Continue reading

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Stretching for dinner

Last week I was out at Chiricahua National Monument in southeast Arizona.  One thing that caught my eye was this Arizona white-tailed deer (Artiodactyla: Cervidae: Odocoileus virginianus couesi).  After spotting me at some distance it seemed bashful and hid for a minute. Once … Continue reading

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Things I always want to know before taking a trip:

1) Sunrise/sunset times I like to get up before dawn to hike because some of my best wildlife encounters have been just before or just after the sun comes up.  Sunset provides similar opportunities. 2) Moonrise/moonset times When I’m in … Continue reading

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Happy 100th Birthday, National Park Service!

Today the United States National Park Service (NPS) turned 100 years old.  Although our oldest parks have their roots in the 1870s, it was in 1916 that the Organic Act created a centralized, coherent agency within the Department of the Interior to … Continue reading

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Happy Sixth Anniversary

6 years 11.7 GB of photos 745 posts 0.34 posts per day 182,610 views 95 mammals 86 birds 18 reptiles 10 amphibians 12 fish 288 insects 18 arachnids 3 gastropods 1 cephalopod 362 plants 106 trees 48 of 50 US states 8 countries 47 of 59 national parks in … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Tiger bee fly

This summer I have been noticing quite a few of these distinct large flies hanging out around my house in southeast Michigan. At first glance I thought they were in the horse fly family (Tabanidae) but they are actually in the bee … Continue reading

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Seeking Solitude at Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park is located in east-central Nevada and is one of our country’s least-known and least-visited parks. Back in 2013 my wife, her friend and I drove a few hours north of Las Vegas to get a taste of what this remote … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Manzanita

Found throughout large areas of the North American west, manzanitas (Arctostaphylos spp., Ericaceae) are common inhabitants of chaparral and other arid shrublands and woodlands. Made up of dozens of species, these woody plants grow as bushes or small trees and can be … Continue reading

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Random Insect: False Blister Beetle

True blister beetles (Coleoptera: Meloidae) get their common name from their ability to produce cantharidin, a substance that can cause chemical burns. They produce this compound to ward off potential predators, including humans. A person who touches one of these … Continue reading

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Timpanogos Cave National Monument

Of all the caves administered by the National Park Service, a visit to Timpanogos Cave National Monument requires a bit more effort than most. Located in American Fork Canyon southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah, this particular cave happens to be … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Click Beetle

Click beetles (Coleoptera: Elateridae) are unique insects because of a special trick they can perform. When they find themselves stuck upside-down or alarmed by a potential predator, they can suddenly “snap” their flexible thoracic joints to create a “click” sound and launch … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Mule-ears

Mule-ears (Wyethia amplexicaulis, Asteraceae) are relatively conspicuous herbaceous plants found throughout much of the western United States. These sunflower relatives feature long, broad leaves that resemble mule ears as well as numerous large yellow flower heads. They inhabit the intermountain west and are most … Continue reading

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The Great Salt Lake, Utah

Beyond the Great Lakes that surround my native Michigan, the next largest lake in the United States is the Great Salt Lake in northern Utah. Although the lakes of both states share similarly impressive surface areas they are incredibly different in … Continue reading

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Marmot Crossing

Last week I spent a couple of nights camping at Great Basin National Park in east-central Nevada. One point of interest was a stretch of road near Baker Creek that was crawling with yellow-bellied marmots (Rodentia: Sciuridae: Marmota flaviventris). So many … Continue reading

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Random Insect: Short-tailed Ichneumon Wasp

Ichneumon wasps are perhaps the largest animal family on the planet, made up of between 60,000 and 100,000 different species. Approximately 5,000 to 8,000 can be found in North America, and of these eleven are of the genus shown here … Continue reading

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Strut Your Stuff

Wild Turkeys (Galliformes: Phasianidae: Meleagris gallopavo) are found throughout large areas of the United States and Mexico, especially in the east. They are particularly common in the Cataloochee Valley of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Males turkeys begin courtship in … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Cutleaf Toothwort

Appearing in eastern woodlands in April and May, cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata, Brassicaceae) exhibits the four-petaled flower arrangement typical of members of the mustard family.  Its large flowers and relative abundance early in the season make it a favorite of insect pollinators. … Continue reading

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