Birds & bunnies & butterflies, oh my!

I tried taking the route, which has been my regular route recently, in reverse order this morning, so counter-clockwise on a map. Thus, I hit the spot where we saw the robin late yesterday morning bright and early today, and our reward is a brand-new bird, for a change. This time, it’s a Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius).

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Here’s an even blurrier picture that shows a bit more of its face. Although it’s an “Old World jay,” and so not in the same genus as the blue jays in Estabrook Park, they are both in the Corvidae family, along with crows, magpies, and jackdaws.

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You may have noticed that the pictures above are blurrier than usual, and it turns out, unbeknownst to me at the time, that some blockhead had previously turned off the stabilization capability built into my lens. It’s not the longest lens by any means, but it’s long enough that taking a hand-held shot at maximum zoom produces less-than-optimal results, as you can clearly see above. And before we get into the whole blame game, let’s just say that the culprit has learned his lesson, and it shouldn’t happen again.

Anyway, while taking blurry pictures of the jay, I happened upon this little cutie on the path ahead.

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Luckily, I turned the image stabilization feature back on before I came across this stunning red admiral butterfly soaking up the morning sun.

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Closer to the ground, I came across the first frog completely out of water that I’ve seen so far, which finally gives me a decent shot at identification, and all indicators point to (Pelophylax kl. esculentus), the so-called “edible frog”, prized in parts of Northern Europe for its delectable legs.

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Another fascinating feature of this frog is that it is “the fertile hybrid of the pool frog (Pelophylax lessonae) and the marsh frog (Pelophylax ridibundus),” and thus “it reproduces by hybridogenesis (hemiclonally),” where “half of the genome is transmitted to the next generation clonally, unrecombined (intact); the other half sexually, recombined.” Will wonders never cease? Maybe that’s why their legs taste so good.

After the close-up with the frog, I took a glance out on the water behind me and saw what I thought were three mallards steaming along. For reasons I can’t explained, I took a closer look with my binoculars anyway, and I was stunned to see that only one of them was a mallard. The other two were sporting giant bills like this, which makes them northern shovelers, instead! I haven’t seen the likes of them since last September in Estabrook. I didn’t even know we had them here, but sure enough, they’re here, too.

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I saw another ruddy darter this morning, and I think this picture came out even better than yesterday’s.

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Finally, here’s a great tit showing off some serious acrobatic skilz.

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Published by Andrew Dressel

Theoretical and Applied Bicycle Mechanic, and now, apparently, Amateur Naturalist. In any case, my day job is teaching mechanics at UWM.

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