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Kip's books are now available!

"The Wild Side of Iowa - A Collection of Images and Essays"

"Moment's With Iowa's Wildlife - A Collection of Images and Essays"

"Moments With Iowa's Wildlife - Images of Tiny Species"

"Moments With Iowa's Wildlife - Images of Iowa Wildflowers"

 

Kip's Comments (May 2009)


An update to this website...

I'm working on a project to categorize my wildlife images.  The project has begun with bird and snake images.  My intent is to categorize all of my wildlife photos.  Please be patient; I have many images to work through.  Thank you!   

 Click here to view the first few classifications: Iowa Wildlife Images.


I want to share with readers information about the 2009 Iowa DNR Non-Game Certificate.  Each year the Iowa DNR sells the numbered certificates for $5.00.  The 2009 Non-Game Certificate features one of my images - Three Bonaparte's Gulls.  Revenue generated from the sales of the certificates benefits non-game species.  If you appreciate those species that aren't hunted, please consider purchasing a certificate.  Details are at this link:

2009 Iowa DNR Non-game Certificate Details


2009 Mendocino Service Trip Journal Entry

Farewell to Abby


2009 Tick Count: 2

A Busy Conclusion to the Month of May (5/31/09)

I haven't been able to update this page for a few days due to plenty of activities filling each day.  I'm going to attempt catch up and will begin with a few wildflowers photographed on Friday.  I started out finding a swamp buttercup still flowering:

Swamp Buttercup -  Kip Ladage

 

A short while later many lady's slippers caught my eye.  The showy lady's slippers aren't blooming with bright pink colors, instead just subtle coloration.

Showy Lady's Slippers -  Kip Ladage

Showy Lady's Slippers -  Kip Ladage

Showy Lady's Slippers -  Kip Ladage

 

The yellow lady's slippers were blooming too - both the large blossoms and the smaller blossoms:

Yellow Lady's Slippers -  Kip Ladage

Yellow Lady's Slippers -  Kip Ladage

Yellow Lady's Slippers -  Kip Ladage

 

 

In the same area were a few plants that I believe to be white baneberry:

White Baneberry -  Kip Ladage

 

 

After enjoying the wildflowers, I paddled for a while and found these chickweed along the shore:

Chickweed -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Thimbleweeds are blooming already too.  When I see thimbleweeds with blossoms, the feeling of the presence of summer hits me...almost like spring has passed and summer is beginning...

Thimbleweed -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Although I didn't approach close to any birds, these painted turtles did sit long enough for a photo or two:

Painted Turtles -  Kip Ladage

 

 

When I had finished paddling, I went back to photographing a few more species of wildflowers.  The prairie smoke (or grandfather's whiskers) are in full bloom:

Prairie Smoke -  Kip Ladage

Prairie Smoke -  Kip Ladage

Prairie Smoke -  Kip Ladage

 

Also blooming are the pointed blue-eyed grass plants:

Pointed Blue-eyed Grass -  Kip Ladage

Pointed Blue-eyed Grass -  Kip Ladage

 

There were even some yellow star grass wildflowers decorating the area:

Yellow Star Grass -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Friday ended with Kristy and I invited to our first ever smelt fry.  I'll gladly go again.  Don't set a plate for Kristy.  Yesterday was spent doing activities with the family and photography was limited to a couple of grab shots of a big bullfrog.

Today we noticed the American robins had fledged.  It's too bad they can't fly yet - we have too many cats roaming the neighborhood for me to feel confident for this young bird:

American Robin Fledgling -  Kip Ladage

 

Tonight I checked on the fox den to see if the little ones were still present.  Until this evening, I had considered the possibility that one more of the young fox had perished.  After all, this project began with a litter of five and has been down to three for several weeks.  Sitting patiently rewarded me with a visit from all three pups at one time and dispelled my fears.  On several occasions the young fox were playing very close in front of and around my blind, including directly below the camera opening.  They've become quite curious about me and what I am doing.  For the first time I felt like maybe they are too comfortable with my presence.  Now that they are nearly full grown and ignore my talking to them at close range, I wouldn't be surprised if one or more attempted to get into the blind out of curiosity.  The problem with that would be the animal might become startled or feel threatened with me in the blind too.  I don't wish to be bitten or scratched and may change my tactics.  Another option is that they will soon leave to live on their own.  Time will tell...

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

A Look Only a Mother Could Love (5/26/09)

Today's weather didn't allow for much outdoor activity.  I noticed that the young in one of several grackle nests fledged today.  The young birds don't look much more attractive than the adults.

Grackle, Fledgling -  Kip Ladage 

 

A Memorial Day with Special Meaning (5/25/09)

Kristy and I normally take part in the Memorial Day Service hosted by the local VFW post members.  This year Kristy and I took part in the Memorial Day Service presented by the Aplington/Parkersburg veterans.  I must say, we were impressed.  From the Commander's message to the keynote address to the essay and poster winners, all had special meaning.  One might be inclined to expect the ceremony/service focused on the tornado victims and the rebuilding process, but they didn't.  Yes, tornado themes were common, but so too were the remembrances for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for each of us.  Each speaker's comments were fitting to the unique situation the residents of Parkersburg are in, yet each also remembered the soldiers.  We're glad we made the drive.  

The visit back to Parkersburg had a secondary meaning for me.  I was able to see some familiar faces - friends - last seen when I was working the response one year ago.  It was a treat to speak to so many people from Parkersburg, many that I never knew their names, but now we do.

Governor Culver Addressing the Citizens of Parkersburg:

Governor Culver Addressing the Residents of Parkersburg, Iowa  -  Kip Ladage

 

On our drive home we took the scenic route to check out an area I knew held skunk cabbage.  Although the blossoming time has passed, I was able to find very healthy plants thriving in the moist environment.  Skunk cabbage is a fascinating plant.  When flowering or bruised, skunk cabbage emits a fetid odor that attracts insects to pollinate it.  And to think I pictured in my mind a pleasant process of colorful insects attracted to the sweet smell of spring wildflowers.  The reality is some insects prefer an offensive odor.  Hmmm...sounds like flies to me...

Skunk Cabbage -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Enjoying the Holiday Weekend (5/24/09)

We're two-thirds through the Memorial Day holiday weekend and I was finally able to shoot some outdoor photos.  Perhaps the most interesting was this leucistic American Robin.  This is not an albino, just a robin lacking some pigment.

Leucistic American Robin -  Kip Ladage

 

I also had a visit from an Eastern Phoebe.  At first I wondered about it being a pewee since it has white bars on the wings, but the tail bobbing and shape/color of beak leads me to believe this is an Eastern Phoebe.

Eastern Phoebe -  Kip Ladage

 

Since I had the camera out, I thought I'd photograph a couple of wildflowers.  There are still a few wild columbines blooming.

Wild Columbine -  Kip Ladage

 

I also have many golden ragworts blooming along the water's edge.

Golden Ragwort -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Love and Understanding Get No Better Than This (5/22/09)

Kristy and I have had plans to spend the holiday weekend at the cabin for some time now.  However, with an active fox den to photograph, getting to the cabin could be a challenge.  Not for us though...Kristy brought out pizza to the blind, I shot a few photos, we packed stuff up  together and we'll soon be cabin bound!

Watching the World Go By (While Leaning):

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

Looking More Mature:

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

Sitting Next to Last Night's Meal (notice the cat to the right of the fox):

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

 

A Bremer County Tour (5/22/09)

I spent most of today touring Bremer County either in my truck or on my bicycle.  There was no specific goal or destination in mind, other than to look for wildflowers, birds, or other subjects that interest me.  I found the all of them and will begin today's image posting with wildflowers.  Please do not ask where the locations were.  Thanks -

Marsh Marigold:

Marsh Marigold -  Kip Ladage

 

Shooting Stars:

Shooting Stars -  Kip Ladage

Shooting Stars -  Kip Ladage

Shooting Stars -  Kip Ladage

 

Yellow Goatsbeard:

Yellow Goatsbeard -  Kip Ladage

Yellow Goatsbeard -  Kip Ladage

Yellow Goatsbeard -  Kip Ladage

 

Horsetail:

Horsetail -  Kip Ladage

 

Showy Lady's Slipper:

Showy Lady's Slipper -  Kip Ladage

Showy Lady's Slipper -  Kip Ladage

 

Yellow Lady's Slipper:

Yellow Lady's Slipper -  Kip Ladage

 

Unknown Orange (may be escaped cultivated):

Unknown Orange Flower -  Kip Ladage

 

Unknown grass, sedge, or rush:

Unknown grass, sedge or rush -  Kip Ladage

 

Unknown Spike/White Blossoms:

Unknown White Spike Blossoms -  Kip Ladage

 

Eastern Wood Pewee:

Eastern Wood Pewee -  Kip Ladage

 

Northern Oriole (injured):

Northern Oriole - Injured -  Kip Ladage

 

Tent Caterpillars Emerging As a Group:

Tent Caterpillars -  Kip Ladage

 

Tent Caterpillars (There were so many caterpillars, they were dropping like leaves in the fall on a windy day):

Tent Caterpillars -  Kip Ladage

Tent Caterpillars -  Kip Ladage

Tent Caterpillars -  Kip Ladage

 

 

One More Degree (5/21/09)

I read recently how much difference one degree can make.  If you heat water to 211 degrees, you have hot water.  Raise the water temperature one more degree and you can move a train.  I've given much thought to the difference one degree can make and I try to incorporate the concept into the efforts I make in my daily life.  For instance, I could have given up on the fox den a day or two ago...stopped at 211 degrees of effort, but I didn't.  I could have stopped this afternoon, after 4 1/2 hours of nothing, but I didn't.  As Kristy and I ate supper this evening and I watched the light, I had an overwhelming drive to give my fox project one more degree...to try again to see what happens.  Am I ever glad I did - there was boiling water for probably 15 minutes total.  It was to the point that I was out walking around and the little fox would let me create images.  I'll share a few samples...

Waiting for Momma Fox:

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

Brother and Sister:

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

This was not play...the fox on the left (female) dominated the male (right):

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

I was clearly not considered a threat:

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

"How many pictures do you think you need?"

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

Honing its hunting/killing skills:

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

Taking a break from fox pup activities:

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

"Are you coming with some food Mom?"

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

"I bet you'd like to pet me..."  (Yes I would, but I won't.)

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

Hey, I'm a pup...I chew on everything!

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

I'm Still Waiting for Momma Fox:

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

If Mom's not going to bring food, I'm going exploring:

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

Looking for Momma Fox:

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

 

I Had a Very Productive Half-Hour (5/21/09)

While driving to an outing today, I noticed an assortment of wildflowers in a road ditch.  Not being one to let an opportunity pass, I stopped and took a few pictures of plant species I hadn't photographed yet this year.

This hoary puccoon was the flower that first caught my eye:

Hoary Puccoon -  Kip Ladage

Hoary Puccoon -  Kip Ladage

 

While studying the hoary puccoon, I noticed these delicate blue-eyed grass flowers nodding in the wind:

Blue-eyed Grass -  Kip Ladage

Blue-eyed Grass -  Kip Ladage

 

 

In the same area were many more of the blue-eyed grass flowers of the white variety:

Blue-eyed Grass (White) -  Kip Ladage

Blue-eyed Grass (White) -  Kip Ladage

Blue-eyed Grass (White) -  Kip Ladage

 

Not too far away was a single blooming prairie smoke blossom, or grandfather's whiskers - depending how you know of them:

Prairie Smoke -  Kip Ladage

 

It wouldn't be a typical wildflower outing if I didn't find something I could not recognize.  Again today I found a small flower that is unknown to me:

Unknown White -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Never Assume You Understand Wildlife (5/20/09)

Just when I thought I had the fox family figured out, they prove me wrong.  Tonight I was triple checking to make sure the activity at the den had ceased.  If I saw nothing, I was no longer going to plan my schedule around the fox den.  As I was preparing to leave, I saw an adult peek around the corner and then run across a raw field to a nearby creek.  A second indication of activity is that the dead rat that had been at the original site has been moved to the far end of their current range.  It's apparent the little ones are still at the den.  I guess I'll be going back out some more.

During my lunch break I spent some time on the Waverly Rail Trail.  The wildflowers along the trail change almost daily and I seldom move too far down the trail.  With each step or two I find another interesting subject to study.  Today I concentrated my efforts on the Virginia Waterleaf.  As far as I am concerned, the good Lord didn't design too many other wildflowers more intricately than the Virginia Waterleaf.  I know we aren't supposed to question him, but I can't help but wonder what he was thinking as he was putting this plant together.  Hmm, first I'll have delicate petals...then stamens that project outward...how about some fine, frilly hairs...that should do it!

I couldn't decide which composition or lighting technique was my favorite, so I'm posting a variety of different images of Virginia Waterleaf.

Virginia Waterleaf -  Kip Ladage

Virginia Waterleaf -  Kip Ladage

Virginia Waterleaf -  Kip Ladage

Virginia Waterleaf -  Kip Ladage

Virginia Waterleaf -  Kip Ladage

Virginia Waterleaf -  Kip Ladage

Virginia Waterleaf -  Kip Ladage

Virginia Waterleaf -  Kip Ladage

 

There are several other plants in bloom along the trail too.  This is the yellow wood sorrel:

Yellow Wood Sorrel -  Kip Ladage

 

A budding flower that I was not able to identify the other day is now identifiable - I believe this is a golden ragwort:

Golden Ragwort -  Kip Ladage

 

I include images of dandelions because some locales consider them special, not weeds:

Dandelion -  Kip Ladage

 

This is another complex little flower at close range.  From a distance, this plant is undesirable and recipient of much weed killer - ground ivy (better known as creeping Charlie):

Ground Ivy -  Kip Ladage

 

There were three plants I could not identify:

Unknown Tiny Blue -  Kip Ladage

Unknown purple/pink -  Kip Ladage

Unknown White -  Kip Ladage

If you recognize any of them, please email me by clicking on the "Contact Us" link at the top of the page.  Thanks ~

 

 

Today Was A Bittersweet Day (5/19/09)

I can't say for sure, but it appears the mother fox has moved her young from their home for the past few weeks.  I spent two and a half hours at the den early this morning and three hours near the den tonight and saw and heard nothing.  Although I would have liked to have created a few more images with brighter light, I'm thrilled to have had the time to observe the fox family as long as I did.  I plan to check on them a few more times.  If my hunch is correct, I'll have a few extra hours per day to do other things.

While at the den this morning I watched a blue jay fly in to check out the area.

Blue Jay -  Kip Ladage

 

After looking around, this jay flew up under the eave of the building, pulled off a wasp nest, and brought it back to a perch and picked the grubs out of the nest.  I didn't realize birds knew the nests were a source of food.  As fast as the jay flew up and grabbed the nest, I doubt any wasps waiting to defend the nest had time to act.

Blue Jay -  Kip Ladage

 

Before I put the camera away this morning I went out to shoot a few wildflower images.  I am pleased with the results of the very brief outing - maybe a half hour or so.  The gnats were too troublesome to stay out longer.

Dandelion:

Dandelion -  Kip Ladage

Dandelion -  Kip Ladage

 

False Solomon's Seal:

False Solomon's Seal -  Kip Ladage

 

Phlox:

Phlox -  Kip Ladage

Phlox -  Kip Ladage

 

Common Strawberry:

Common Strawberry -  Kip Ladage

 

Downy Yellow Violet:

Downy Yellow Violet -  Kip Ladage

 

Wild Geranium:

Wild Geranium -  Kip Ladage

Wild Geranium -  Kip Ladage

 

Wild Columbine (The first two images are of the same blossom created with different lighting techniques):

Wild Columbine -  Kip Ladage

Wild Columbine -  Kip Ladage

Wild Columbine -  Kip Ladage

Wild Columbine -  Kip Ladage

Wild Columbine -  Kip Ladage

Wild Columbine -  Kip Ladage

 

 

She Moved Them! (5/18/09)

As expected, the transition from cute little fox to juvenile is progressing quickly.  I spent another 2 1/2 hours in the blind tonight and saw nothing.  Before I left, I checked around the den and found Momma fox and three little ones 30-40 yards away.  When they saw (startled) me, I was very near their alternate den opening.  One of the little devils snarled right near my ankle as it darted into the hole.  Of the three little ones, that fox will either live a long life because it is confident and aggressive, or will live a short life because it thinks it is bigger than it is and will end up getting into some sort of trouble.  

For the first time in a long time, I was skunked photographically today.  That isn't all bad...now I can go to bed half way early tonight.

 

Birds and Fox...A Great Day! (5/17/09)

Nearly two weeks have passed since I last did any serious paddling/bird watching.  Even today, the intent of the paddling wasn't so much for bird photography as much as it was to try out a contraption that would allow a fish-finder to be mounted on my kayak.  The weight of the unit and the bulkiness of the transducer mount, along with the fact that a transducer hanging below the kayak limits where I can go, meant the system will go only with the boats.  After I pulled the fish-finder stuff off the kayak (while on the water), I enjoyed some time paddling and looking around at the critters.  My first observation was a brief, one image viewing of this common yellowthroat.

Common Yellowthroat -  Kip Ladage

 

A short while later I came across a secretive marsh wren:

Marsh Wren -  Kip Ladage

 

Flying over head was a lone double-crested cormorant:

Double-crested Cormorant -  Kip Ladage

 

This one may seem boring, but I was able to watch a behavioral display of a red-winged blackbird as it hunted for food.  This male was working his beak back and forth in search of grubs or whatever it is that red-winged blackbirds eat.

Red-winged Blackbird -  Kip Ladage

Red-winged Blackbird -  Kip Ladage

 

After finding a morsel to eat, the same bird then auditioned for "Dancing with Birds" - a wildlife version of a popular TV Show:

Red-winged Blackbird -  Kip Ladage

 

Then as I was paddling back to my truck I came across what I believe was an assemblage of short-billed dowitchers.  To Kate, who was also paddling on the water, I apologize for incorrectly identifying these birds while on the water.  I'm still not 100% certain I've identified them correctly.  If anyone has a suggestion other than short-billed dowitcher, I'd like to hear it.  Click on the "Contact Us" link on the top of this page.  (This just in...My birding expert has confirmed, indeed these are short-billed dowitchers.)

Short-billed Dowitcher -  Kip Ladage

Short-billed Dowitchers -  Kip Ladage

Short-billed Dowitcher -  Kip Ladage

Short-billed Dowitchers -  Kip Ladage

Short-billed Dowitchers -  Kip Ladage

Short-billed Dowitcher -  Kip Ladage

Short-billed Dowitcher -  Kip Ladage

Short-billed Dowitchers -  Kip Ladage

 

Even though the evening was cloudy, I still spent a couple of hours at the fox den.    Following is a sampling of images from this outing.

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

Over the past few weeks the fox have grown accustom to my presence near their den...so much so that they ignore my noise and movement from within my blind.  Note - the blind window is completely open and the animals clearly see me.  Tonight I was sure I was getting company inside the blind.  The following image shows how I can now measure the distance between me and the fox not by feet, but by blades of grass.  This young fox ran right to my blind with body posture indicating a possible jump through the window.  I quickly lifted my camera up and back to protect it and certainly had no time to focus or compose an image.  The fox turned away at the last minute.  Notice how little space is between me and the animal - maybe a couple of dandelions and a dozen or so blades of grass!  

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

 

I Struggled With This Posting (5/16/09)

Putting my thoughts and images together for this posting has been a bit of a challenge.  From my point of view, many satisfying images were created today of a variety of subjects - birds, plants, and mammals.  I wasn't able to decide which image was my favorite from today, but did determine there were many that really "worked."  Instead of sharing images in my order of preference, I'll display them as created...plant images first followed by mammal images.  I won't be including any bird images since I think I can do better than what was produced.  I will tell you the species observed very close were Wilson's warbler, a yellow warbler, and an Indigo bunting - all in Frederika.  Now let's take a look at some plant images.  On a couple of these wildflowers, I really tried to create a different appearance...something other than the run of the mill text book image.  I'm pleased with the results.

I'll begin with a cultivated plant that I find very interesting.  It is too bad I'm not able to provide a sample of the aroma of this plant too, along with the image.

Lily of the Valley:

Lily of the Valley -  Kip Ladage

 

False Solomon's Seal:

False Solomon's Seal -  Kip Ladage

 

Wild Columbine:

Wild Columbine -  Kip Ladage

Wild Columbine -  Kip Ladage

 

Wild Columbine with a background of Wild Geraniums:

Wild Columbine -  Kip Ladage

 

Wild Geranium:

Wild Geranium -  Kip Ladage

Wild Geranium -  Kip Ladage

 

Mayapple:

Mayapple -  Kip Ladage

 

Mayapple blossom:

Mayapple -  Kip Ladage

 

Poison Ivy:

Poison Ivy -  Kip Ladage

 

Virginia Creeper (these are some of the first plants to change colors in the fall - usually to a beautiful red):

Virginia Creeper -  Kip Ladage

 

I also found an interesting fungus while moving wood:

Fungus on Log -  Kip Ladage

 

This is the same fungus from a different angle:

Fungus on Log -  Kip Ladage

 

I ended the day by spending a couple of hours at the fox den.  I learned today that the fox don't enjoy strong winds any more than I do.  At first I thought they had left the den.  But as the sun went down and the winds finally slowed, two of the three young fox came out to play.  I can now talk to them and at first they look at me, then they ignore me just like my beagle.

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

In case it appears I spent the entire day with a Nikon in my hands, I didn't.  I also loaded and unloaded, and spread out, a truck load of wood chips, loaded and unloaded a truckload of firewood, and mowed the lawn.

If anyone was listening to the Sportsman's Connection on the radio this morning, you heard that I was the featured guest.  Our topics varied from my introduction to nature photography to equipment to interesting observations of nature.  We recorded the program earlier in the week and I wasn't sure how it would sound on the radio.  After listening to the full half-hour interview, I was pleasantly surprised.  We recorded the program in one take and it sounded good on the air.  

 

 

A Posting to Catch Up on Images From Last Week (5/15/09)

Over the past week I fell behind on posting images from my noon walks, so I'm going to post this entry to play "catch up."  I'll begin with a few plant/shrub images, most of which I do not know the species.  I photograph subjects because they interest me, not necessarily because I know anything about them.

Unknown White Shrub:

White Shrub Blossoms -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Possibly lyre-leaved rock cress:

Lyre-leaved Rock Cress -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Pink blossom on Unknown Shrub:

Pink Blossom Shrub -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Pink blossom on Tree Along Trail:

Pink Tree Blossoms -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Smooth Solomon's Seal:

Smooth Solomon's Seal -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Tiny white flower in flower pot along Waverly Rail Trail:

Unknown Tiny White Flower -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Unknown Yellow Flower:

Unknown Yellow Flower -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Unknown White Blossom on Shrub:

White Blossom Shrub -  Kip Ladage

 

 

While enjoying the wildflowers, I heard a bird calling that I did not recognize.  After a bit of searching I found the source of the calls to be male and female redstarts.  I normally would not post images of this quality.  I've included these for reference only.  Watch for these birds...you may see them in your backyard.

American Redstart - Male:

American Redstart - Male -  Kip Ladage

 

 

American Redstart - Female:

American Redstart - Female -  Kip Ladage

 

 

In our backyard we continue to feed the orioles (this is a female):

Northern Oriole - Female  Kip Ladage

 

 

and a hummingbird or two frequently stop by:

Ruby-throated Hummingbird -  Kip Ladage

 

 

How Many More Opportunities Will I Have? (5/14/09)

Once again the three fox at the den I have been watching provided me with a chance to create more images.  I can almost see their growth and maturing with each passing day.  It won't be long before I'll spend hours waiting for them and they will no longer play and investigate in front of my blind.  Tonight they approached within 5-feet and no longer run away when I make noise or move around.  Finally, they've become accustomed to my presence.  (Please understand that I often spend 2-4 hours per session with the fox.  They generally appear for only 4-5 minutes of those 2-4 hours.  Fox photography is long periods of boredom interrupted by a few minutes of shooting.)  I just wish they would appear earlier so I wouldn't have to use a high ISO.  Tonight I attempted different lighting and was pleased with the results.

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

Getting really comfortable...

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

Play time...

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

A fox "toy" - one of two hog tails.  I wonder where they found them...

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

Fox boxing...

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

Practicing pouncing skills on a small carcass...

Red Fox - Young at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Does This Make My Back End Look Big? (5/13/09)

As I walked along the Waverly Rail Trail today looking at wildflowers, warblers, and the clouds, I came across two subjects that had to be studied due to their anatomic features.  First, I found this snail with a huge shell on its back:

Snail -  Kip Ladage

 

Then I found this tiny little insect with a large rear end:

Shiny Insect with Large Rear-end -  Kip Ladage

 

I also found a few more Virginia waterleaf in bloom:

Virginia Waterleaf -  Kip Ladage

 

I'll end this brief entry with a thought about privacy.  The Internet makes it possible for a curious person to learn much about you.  Although I post thoughts on a nearly daily basis, I seldom share information about my family.  Today I thought I would do something different and share with you a picture of my ant:

Ant on Leaf -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Captured - The Elusive Curly Fronds!! (5/12/09)

Year after year I've noticed the interesting curly fronds, but have failed to create any images of them.  Today I changed that.  I found a whole herd, or flock, or whatever you call a collection of curly fern fronds and captured an assortment of images.  I haven't decided which composition or lighting scheme I prefer.

Fern Frond -  Kip Ladage

Fern Frond -  Kip Ladage

Fern Frond -  Kip Ladage

Fern Frond -  Kip Ladage

Fern Frond -  Kip Ladage

 

I also attempted a basic sepia-toned image of a curly frond:

Fern Frond -  Kip Ladage

 

The lighting this morning was very even.  In addition to the fern images, I shot a few other flower images while I had the gear out.

Virginia Bluebells:

Virginia Bluebells -  Kip Ladage

 

Smaller Pussytoes:

Smaller Pussytoes -  Kip Ladage

 

Common Winter Cress (I think!)

Common Winter Cress -  Kip Ladage

 

Lily of the Valley:

Lily of the Valley -  Kip Ladage

 

Wood Anemone (near end of blossoming season):

Wood Anemone -  Kip Ladage

 

Most of the day was spent presenting backpacking information to several hundred fifth graders at Fifth Grade Field Day.  Each year, all fifth graders in Bremer County are invited to a day of fun and interesting outdoor experience sessions.  All schools in the county but one participated.

For those who might be wondering...I watched the fox den for a couple of hours this afternoon and saw no activity.  It is possible they have moved out, but it was very windy so that may have limited activity too.

 

Beauty and the Cute Beasts (5/11/09)

We enjoyed a nearly perfect day today here in Northeast Iowa.  During my lunch break I took a short walk down the Waverly Rail Trail in search of interesting subjects.  Wildflowers filled the bill, with many species and colors sharing their blossoms along the edges of the path.  

I found bedstraw beginning to flower.  Bedstraw is the plant that sticks to your clothing like Velcro.

Bedstraw -  Kip Ladage

 

Many false rue anemones decorate the shaded landscape:

False Rue Anemone -  Kip Ladage

 

With the rich environment along the trail in the limestone bluffs, fungi tend to thrive.

Fungi -  Kip Ladage

 

Another plentiful wildflower right now is the phlox.  I normally don't pay much attention to phlox because they are so common.  I was surprised by their variety of beautiful patterns.

Phlox -  Kip Ladage

Phlox -  Kip Ladage

Phlox -  Kip Ladage

 

The smooth Solomon's seal is a wildflower that isn't showy or colorful, instead producing seed from under the leaves of the plant.

Smooth Solomon's Seal -  Kip Ladage

 

I found my first wild geraniums of the season today too.

Wild Geranium -  Kip Ladage

Wild Geranium -  Kip Ladage

Wild Geranium -  Kip Ladage

 

These tiny white and blue flowers grow only an inch or two tall.  I have not identified them yet.

Unknown white and blue flowers -  Kip Ladage

 

Another first of the year wildflower was this Virginia waterleaf.

Virginia Waterleaf -  Kip Ladage

 

While snooping around on the ground, I even found a wild ginger blossom.

Wild Ginger -  Kip Ladage

 

It's hard to believe, but some wildflowers are already going to seed.

Mature Dandelion -  Kip Ladage

 

I ended the day with a couple more hours sitting near the fox den.  The young fox must be just days from going solo, at least according to their size.

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

 

Happy Mothers' Day to All Moms (5/10/09)

Here we are, at the end of another Mother's Day.  Hopefully all who read this either spent time with their mother or remembered them on this special day.  I was fortunate to spend time with my own mother and my mother-in-law.  Schedules didn't allow a visit to my step-mom and dad.  I did, along with Zach, Nikki, and Hannah, spend the day with possibly the best Mom around - Kristy.  She was key to raising two great kids and even now, when the kids aren't always around, continues to keep the family running in a close and loving manner.  What more could I ask for!  Oh yes - she is also very tolerant of my photography passion and demonstrated her understanding again today.  First, she allowed me to shoot backyard bird pictures.  We had several seasonal visitors.

Indigo Bunting:

Indigo Bunting -  Kip Ladage

 

White-crowned Sparrow:

White-crowned Sparrow -  Kip Ladage

 

Northern Oriole (female):

Northern Oriole (Female) -  Kip Ladage

 

And of course the Grackle:

Grackle -  Kip Ladage

We continue to have pine siskins at the feeders, as well as an Orchard Oriole.  I'll work some more for an orchard oriole photo.

After church we stopped by a local car show and then spent the afternoon and evening at our cabin along the river.  The wildflower blooming season is in full swing, with many nearing the end of their flowering period.  At the cabin we had these plants decorating the landscape:

Smaller Pussytoes:

Smaller Pussytoes -  Kip Ladage

 

Virginia Bluebells:

Virginia Bluebells -  Kip Ladage

 

Swamp Buttercup:

Swamp Buttercup -  Kip Ladage

 

Wood Anemone:

Wood Anemone -  Kip Ladage

 

 

One Extreme After Another (5/9/09)

Oh, how plans can change.  My day went from relaxing to working in overdrive mode.  Just when I thought I had my hours planned for photos, yard work, cabin work, a graduation, and a retirement party, the tell-tale sounds of pager tones changed all my intentions.  I began the morning watching the indigo bunting and rose-breasted grosbeak at the feeders.  No tones were heard at this time.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak -  Kip Ladage

 

Then, while sitting near a fox den, waiting quietly for the young animals to emerge, I was called out to deal with the aftermath of an explosion.  OK, now that starts an adrenaline rush.  After that situation was resolved as much as possible, I began to mow the lawn that hadn't been cut in five or six days.  Then the tones went off again.  The mowing stopped and I spent the next five hours on a response to Iowa City.  So much for being able to make it to the graduation.  After getting back into town, I decided to finish my grass cutting, which then ran into the dinner hour and we had a guest.  Finally, I decided to spend a few remaining minutes of sunlight at the fox den again before returning to the house and our visitor.  So much for the retirement party.  

I had two brief sessions totaling maybe three minutes when the three young foxes emerged from their den.  The lighting wasn't ideal, but it was better than nothing.  Following are a few samples images:

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

A Few Days Worth of Images (5/8/09)

Regular visitors to this page may have noticed a lack of activity since last Wednesday.  I have been attending training along the shore of West Lake Okoboji.  The scenery around Okoboji was stunning and made for a very pleasant setting for education and discussion.  Before I left for Okoboji, I noticed a few new visitors to my feeders.  I now have white-crowned and Harris' sparrows in the yard, along with indigo buntings, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and orioles.

White-crowned Sparrow -  Kip Ladage

 

Once at Okoboji, a few wildflowers in bloom caught my attention and I  wasn't able to simply walk past them.  Following are a couple of images of cut-leaf toothwort.

Cut-leaf Toothwort -  Kip Ladage

Cut-leaf Toothwort -  Kip Ladage

 

Steve, a fellow photographer/emergency manager noticed Jack-in-the pulpits in the timber near our conference.  We both dedicated time and effort to creating images of Jack.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit -  Kip Ladage

Jack-in-the-Pulpit -  Kip Ladage

Jack-in-the-Pulpit -  Kip Ladage

 

Near the toothwort I noticed a few garlic mustard plants.  Garlic mustard (an invasive species) is not a good plant to have in an area.

Garlic Mustard -  Kip Ladage

 

I also found this yellow, 4-petal wildflower that I have not yet been able to identify.

Unknown Yellow Wildflower -  Kip Ladage

Unknown Yellow Wildflower -  Kip Ladage

Unknown Yellow Wildflower -  Kip Ladage

 

While in the wildflower area, I found a newly hatched painted turtle.

Newly Hatched Painted Turtle -  Kip Ladage

 

Notice how this turtle hadn't even dropped its egg tooth yet. 

Painted Turtle with Egg Tooth -  Kip Ladage

 

From my hotel room, I had quite a scenic view.  Before the sun set, I could see Arnold's Park across the lake (a looooong distance away).

Arnold's Park from across the Lake -  Kip Ladage

 

Closer to the room I had docks and twisted reflections.

Dock Reflection Scenic -  Kip Ladage

 

At night, if I zoomed in, I was able to make out details at Arnold's Park across West Lake Okoboji.

Night View of Arnold's Park -  Kip Ladage

 

A high-point activity for the training was the activity involving the Arnold's Park Fire Department's new aerial ladder truck.  I was able to ride up in the ladder box to a lofty 102 feet above the ground.  From that vantage point, I was able to see for miles. 

View from Aerial Truck -  Kip Ladage

View from Aerial Truck -  Kip Ladage

Arnold's Park Fire Department Aerial -  Kip Ladage

I've always wanted an ultra-light aircraft or powered-parachute for aerial images.  If I can't come up with an airplane, perhaps I can come up with $1 million dollars for a similar truck.

 

Canada Goose on the Half Shell (5/5/09)

Tonight was another in the series of Marsh Migration programs at Sweet Marsh sponsored by Crawdaddy Outdoors in Waverly.  Marsh Migrations are organized paddling trips around Sweet Marsh.  We have a variety of skill levels - from beginners to experienced - and every skill level in between.  Tonight we had guests from Sheffield, Mason City, Waterloo, and Oelwein.  Even with the strong wind (translated to rough water), we had a great time with many wildlife observations, including pelicans and a sora.  For me the highlight of the night was when Kate found a goose nest with the young still in the nest.  Since goslings normally leave the nest shortly after hatching, I always consider myself fortunate to witness the young still in the nest.  In this nest there was at least one egg and possibly two that hadn't hatched.  By tomorrow morning I am expecting the goslings to be long gone from the nest - never to return.  This image shows how small the goslings are in the nest when considered against the marsh background.

Canada Goose Nest with Goslings -  Kip Ladage

 

The following images are a variety of nest shots:

Canada Goose Nest with Goslings -  Kip Ladage

Canada Goose Nest with Goslings -  Kip Ladage

Canada Goose Nest with Goslings -  Kip Ladage

 

 

There are Eyes Watching You (5/4/09)

Have you ever been doing something and felt like somebody or something alive was watching you?  Today I was sitting near a fox den and resting my tired eyes when I had the "Something is Watching" feeling.  I slowly looked up, composed, and popped off a few frames of this curious red fox.  

Red Fox at Den -  Kip Ladage

 

While grilling steaks tonight I noticed fungi coming up around me in the wood chips.  I tried a new combination of close-focus gear to photograph the little things.  This combo allows me to focus close, but I started picking up slight  chromatic aberations (purple fringe), so I doubt I'll use this mix much.

Fungi in Wood Chips -  Kip Ladage

 

While I had the gear out, I also took a couple of quick photos of my lovely ground ivy (better known as Creeping Charlie):

Ground Ivy (Creeping Charlie) -  Kip Ladage

 

I couldn't go without shooting a photo of a common blue violet.  After all, we have a yard filled with them.  (We don't spray for weeds.)

Common Blue Violet -  Kip Ladage

 

 

One-half Inch of Barb = Death (5/2/09)  GRAPHIC!!!

Warning - This is graphic.  Feel free to ignore this posting.

Tonight after grilling I went for a quick walk.  As I drove down the isolated lane toward my destination, I noticed something troubling.  I stopped, looked closely at what I was seeing, and felt a bit sad.  This doe attempted to jump over a woven fence with a strand of barbed-wire on the top.  A single barb caught a hoof on the way down.

Whitetail Deer Dead in Fence -  Kip Ladage

The doe obviously thrashed around in a futile effort to free itself.  I'm not certain why the animal died, but it did.  The next image is very graphic...

 

This is the doe's hoof caught on the barb (GRAPHIC):

Whitetail Deer - Hoof in Fence -  Kip Ladage

 

There are Still a Few Shovelers and Scaup Around (5/2/09)

This morning I toured Sweet Marsh, Segment B in my boat to see what waterfowl species were still around, other than the normal birds.  I was surprised to find a dozen or so northern shovelers still in the area.  In this group I saw one female and the rest were males.  I'll let you use your imagination to figure out what that poor girl was going through.

Northern Shovelers -  Kip Ladage

Northern Shovelers in Flight -  Kip Ladage

Northern Shovelers in Flight -  Kip Ladage

 

While boating across the water, I saw a half dozen ruddy ducks and these two scaup.

Scaup -  Kip Ladage

Scaup in Flight -  Kip Ladage

 

It should come as no surprise that the Canada goose goslings have begun to make their appearances.  This was a small brood of only three little ones.

Canada Geese with Goslings -  Kip Ladage

 

I watched for sandhill crane activity, but other than a few fly-overs, saw nothing.

Sandhill Cranes in Flight -  Kip Ladage

 

We have ruby-throated hummingbirds in the backyard again.  I've hung a feeder and will work for photos soon.

 

A New Month, A New Day, and More New Images (5/1/09)

Wow, we've been without Abby a day and a half already.  Yesterday was tough and today wasn't much better, but we're moving forward.  Today it seemed as if our Beagle (Becca) has been depressed without Abby around.  To help distract her I took her with me to work at the cabin and on a wildflower hike.  I was hoping she might feel inclined to stay close and behave, but apparently those aren't desires that accompany canine depression.  Instead, she wandered around, opted not to respond (except at her pace), and ended up walking with me on a leash.  It's clear to me that all of those AKC Kennel Club shows that are on the TV when she is around have not impacted her.  She truly did sleep through the important parts.  Anyway, we did have a decent day with some nice photo opportunities.

My first efforts went for the backyard birds.  We've been invaded by brown-headed cowbirds.  Brown-headed cowbirds parasitize the nests of desirable birds and are not good to have around.  Last year we had a couple, this year we have at least a dozen.  Following are a few images of the male brown-headed cowbird:

Brown-headed Cowbird (Male) -  Kip Ladage

Brown-headed Cowbird (Male) -  Kip Ladage

Brown-headed Cowbird (Male) -  Kip Ladage

 

A female brown-headed cowbird looks like this:

Brown-headed Cowbird (Female) -  Kip Ladage

 

The pine siskin and chipping sparrows are still at the feeders:

Chipping Sparrow -  Kip Ladage

 

Also at the feeders are a few white-throated sparrows:

White-throated Sparrow -  Kip Ladage

 

This afternoon Becca and I went on that wildflower walk described above.  Much to my surprise, the swamp buttercups are really doing well and are quite far into their blossoming season:

Swamp Buttercup -  Kip Ladage

Swamp Buttercup -  Kip Ladage

 

Today was a bonanza of violets day...  I'll begin with an image of the common blue violet:

Common Blue Violet -  Kip Ladage

 

I also found a good number of downy yellow violets:

Yellow Downy Violet -  Kip Ladage

Yellow Downy Violet -  Kip Ladage

Yellow Downy Violet -  Kip Ladage

 

There are even quite a few dogtooth violets (trout lily) blooming:

Dogtooth Violet (Trout Lily) -  Kip Ladage

 

I then found two special violets sharing their blossoms - the white violet:

White Violet -  Kip Ladage

 

A couple other woodland species currently in bloom are the Virginia bluebells:

Virginia Bluebells -  Kip Ladage

Virginia Bluebells -  Kip Ladage

Virginia Bluebells -  Kip Ladage

 

Just beginning to show blossoms are the sessile bellwort (Wild Oats):

Sessile Bellwort (Wild Oats) -  Kip Ladage

 

I'll end with an interesting and cooperative insect I found watching my wildflower photography efforts.  Sorry, I don't know the identity yet of this critter:

Mayfly-like Insect -  Kip Ladage

 

A slightly different composition:

Mayfly-like Insect -  Kip Ladage

 

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Ladage Photography.

 


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