12/22/12 Went to a friend's 17 acre farm in Lawrence to look around. Got some pictures of a White-throated Sparrow and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Took a few pictures of dried flowers with the new macro lens.

12/20/12 I saw this during a windy snow day last year - Juncos all over the feeders. Suet cage, hanging seed feeder and window seed feeders.

12/18/12 Two Carolina Wrens and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet at the suet feeder at the same time. In a rare display of wisdom I elected to just enjoy watching rather than scrambling up to my office to get a camera.

12/08/12 John McConnell got some shots of a Long-eared Owl at Lyon County State Lake.

12/07/12 Tiffen Haze-1 52mm Filter at Crick's Camera: $21. Same filter everywhere online: $6-$11. Buy local.

12/06/12 Got my macro lens today. Galloped outside and found a Stilt-legged Fly, Boxelder Bug, Lacewing Fly and an unknown moth to choose from for my first picture. Pretty good for early December. Results were mixed. I'm going to have to figure out how to widen the focal area so that the whole bug is sharp. This was an issue I had with the closeup lens. McConnell suggested more light (it was cloudy today) and a higher aperture setting.

Lacewing Fly

12/02/12 Added a EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens and another Canon EOS Rebel T2i 550D to the tool box.

12/02/12 McConnell got a batch of Cedar Waxwings in his backyard this weekend. Ironic because this bird has been avoiding him until now. He also got some shots of a Barred Owl on the Indian Creek Trail.

11/24/12 Did a walk through the Estates. Saw Cedar Waxwings, House Finches, Goldfinches, Carolina Wren, Red-tailed Hawk, Blue Jays, White-breasted Sparrows and TONS of Robins. They were everywhere.

11/23/12 Finally got my Red-breasted Nuthatch. Saw him yesterday at a suet cage and today at a window feeder. Welcome to the backyard!

11/20/12 Walked around Leawood with a friend and found a large flock of Cedar Waxwings. When I was looking through my pictures at the office I found several where I was focusing on one but upon closer examination there were a half-dozen in the shot. I love those guys!

11/18/12 Big John McConnell saw a Pileated Woodpeker at the Overland Park Arboretum a couple of weeks ago so I've been itching to run down there. 60 and sunny today so off we went. There was an event celebrating the donation of some Chinese sculptures but the trails were pretty quiet. Saw some Purple Finches and other common backyard birds. On the way back to the parking lot, WHOOSH! Right in the tree above our heads. Managed to get a few shots before walkers with giant dogs leaping and straining at their leashes spooked him.

11/14/12 Snuck over to Leawood for an hour during lunch. I've noticed that the noon hour is about the worst time to go out looking for birds. Sill managed to steal the souls of a Yellow-rumped Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco and Brown Creeper.

11/11/12 Dr. Nick, as he famously will do, has denied John his Snow Bunting. ID still pending.

John McConnell thought he may have spotted a Snow Bunting at his feeders today. Ended up being a leucistic house finch.

Thank you to Dr. Nick for keeping his eagle eye on the Latest Pictures section and taking the time to submit corrections.

11/07/12 Saw loads of American Tree Sparrows at the Estates today.

11/06/12 Got my first Pine Siskin at the Estates!

11/05/12 Added new pictures from John McConnell and Nick Varvel.

11/04/12 Visited the estates today. Got pictures of Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red-winged Blackbird, Bluebird, White-throated Sparrow, Brown Creeper and loads of Cardinals, Robins and Dark-eyed Juncos.

11/03/12 Added some of John McConnell's pictures from a recent visit to the Overland Park Arboretum. Prizes include Purple Finch, Gray Catbird, Pileated Woodpecker, White-throated Sparrow and more.

10/29/12 Amazing variety at the feeders today. Saw Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Carolina Wren, European Starling, American Robin, Blue Jay, American Goldfinch, House Finch, House Sparrow, Yellow-shafted Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Mourning Dove, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Tufted Titmouse, Grackle, Black-capped Chickadee.

Juncos at the feeders! Welcome old chums!

10/28/12 Posted some of Nick Varvel's latest pictures. Got a message from John McConnell indicating that he found a Red-breated Nuthatch at his feeder. Pictures coming.

10/24/12 Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the window feeder. Welcome little rascal!

10/23/12 Put the window feeder up with shelled sunflower seeds. Got Chickadees, Titmice, House Finches, Downey Woodpeckers and House Sparrows straight away.

Trip pictures are coming. We have loads of cloudy days coming up so that will keep me posting images rather than taking more.

Thanks to Betsy and Kelly for helping ID the plants from my trip, and to Brett and Nick taking care of the birds.

10/22/12 I put a suet cage on a pole in front of our cabinet for the full week of our trip. It was situated on a hilltop beneath old trees that I saw Pileated and other woodpeckers fly into every day. At the end of the week there was not a single peck mark in the suet, which was a woodpecker blend. I even put a smudge of peanut butter on it mid-week when I saw that it wasn't getting any action.

10/20/12 Just got back from visiting Ridgewood Resort in Isabella, Missouri. Got some first time shots of a Gulf Fritillary, Pipevine Swallowtail, Robber Fly, Fork-tailed Bush Katydid, Swamp Sparrow and Whitebanded Fishing Spider. Saw loads of Yellow-rumped Warblers. Also got pictures of Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebirds, Chicadees, Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, Nothern Harrier, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Turkey Vulture, Northern Flicker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird, American Goldfinch, American Crow, Great Blue Heron, Song Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Cooper's Hawk and much more. Had a Lark Bunting land right in front of my face but spooked when it noticed me. I have over a thousand of pictures to go through and a fistful yet to identify so the photos from this trip will go up over the next week or so.

10/13/12 A large flock of perhaps 100 Grackles stopped by on their way to Texas. *in Irish cop's voice* "All right, let's move along."

Moved some Black-eyed Susans, Daisiies and Asters around. Have a few Black-eyed Susan plants that are kicking out flowers.

10/11/12 Fish emulsion day. Since the backyard is mostly garden it smells like Seattle. The look on the cat's face when he first went outside was priceless.

10/09/12 Good week so far for old and new bugs. I found a large patch of Asters and got shots of a Cylindromyia, Common Checkered-Skipper, Brown Stink Bug, Drone Fly, One-spotted Stink Bug, Nut Weevil, Painted Lady, Swordsman Dart, Orange Sulphur and more.

10/07/12 Everything seemed to survive the freeze.

10/06/12 Added a nice batch of Dr. Nick's pictures from the last few weeks.

Transplanted a healthy Musk Thistle. Fingers crossed!

10/04/12 It's cloudy and cool today and I discovered several Carpenter Bees and Bumblebees in a deep sleep on top of the Garden Phlox all over the yard. The wind actually blew one off and he just sort of wriggled his limbs.

Found some Kansas Thistle/Buffalo Bur (thank you Brett!) and some more Aster variations.

The dump trucks and graders are an every day sight at the Leawood lot now. They have alread scraped all of the plants (Lamb's Ear, Heath Asters, Buffalo Bur, Velvetleaf, Musk Thistle) off of one section.

10/03/12 Photographed several rose-colored Common Buckeyes. They were quite extraordinary.

10/02/12 Saw a Ruby-crowned Kinglet darting around the same section of Rose of Sharon that the Cooper's Hawk was haunting yesterday. Only got a picture of his tail.

The Asters at the Leawood lot are mounds of white and are quivering with insects.

Got a shot of what I think was a Savannah Sparrow perched on the fence at the estates.

10/01/12 Something whooshed up out of the Rose Of Sharon that lines the back of my garden (usually filled with Carolina Wrens) and landed on the power line. Cooper's Hawk. Sadly, I had the wrong camera with me and could only get a single dodgy shot.

Found a Venice Mallow in the garden.

09/29/12 Good day. Went with Parker-McConnell to Mill Creek Trail. Saw a Leaf-footed Bug, Pitcher Sage, Stink Bug, Great Blue Heron, Blue Fleabane, Musk Thistle, Autumn Meadowhawk, Coreopsis, Asters, Oxeye Sunflower, Swordsman Dart, Eastern Phoebe, Bullfrog, Illinois Bundleflower, Checkered Skipper, Northern Flickers, Queen Anne's Lace, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Windstem, Goldenrod, White Snakeroot, Crows etc. Saw a dozenish Northern Flickers flying in and out of a patch of weeds in a field. 09/28/12 The squirrels are doing that repetitive screaching/whining thing.

Witnessed the crows making the return flight South around 7 AM. What is their ultimate Northern and Southern destination?

09/27/12 Saw half mile-wide swath of crows flying North around 6 PM. There were 5-10 crows over the house at any given time for a duration of 10 minutes.

Uh oh, the Goldfinches disappeared.

Photographed loads of American Crows, a Cooper's Hawk and an American Kestrel.

09/25/12 Made a hasty trip out at 11 trying to beat the rain that never came. Saw an American Kestrel and some Common Nighthawks.

Moved the Mustard Plants to a sunnier spot and split up the large Indian Blanket.

09/24/12 Got my first Red-banded Hairstreak! Came home and got another!

Submitted a photo of a hawk I couldn't identify to Dr. Nick. The young Doctor believes it is a juvenile female Cooper's Hawk.

Had a nice talk with a Leawood Parks & Recreation office about the fate of the Estates of Old Leawood.

Saw loads of Stink Bugs on the Goldenrod.

Planted Bundleflower, Goldenrod, Sweet Autumn Clematis, Oxeye Sunflower, Kale, Wild Hemlock and some Musk Thistle, Sage, Hysop and Goldenrod starts.

09/23/12 Just passed 7,000 photographs.

Haven't seen anyone from the Hemiptera order since 9/11.

09/22/12 Nick saw a Dark-eyed Junco at KCP&L Wetlands today!

Suddenly figured out an easy way to prevent Cabbage White images showing up when you search for Cabbage or Hackberry Emperors when you search for Hackberry. A rare moment of clarity.

Added some purple and pink cabbages to the garden. Also added more White Snakeroot, Ferns, Fennel, Goldenrod, Heath Asters and Daisy Fleabane.

The Partridge Pea and Common Evening Primrose did not transplant well. Now I have to stay alive for an additional year to see if it ends up taking.

09/21/12 Planted some Daisy Fleabane, Musk Thistle and White Snakeroot.

09/20/12 I've stated to see Red-tailed Hawks around the neighborhood again. Turkey Vultures too.

Moved Knockout Roses to a sunnier spot in the backyard. I want some more White Snakeroot to mix in with my Eupatorium but can't find any in local shops.

09/18/12 Reasons to be cheerful, part three: I go days without seeing a Grackle or Starling.

Added Fennel, Indian Blanket, Parsley, Asters, Mums, Goldenrod, Illinois Bundleflower and Common Evening Primrose to the gardens.

09/1712 Planted some Illinois Bundleflower, Heath Asters, Partridge Pea, Oxeye Sunflower and Goldenrod.

Saw three Monarchs around pretty regularly today. Mostly interested in the Eupatorium. Swallowtails are still pretty scarce.

Photographed a Garter Snake just swallowing the last bit of something. Bees kept flying at its head so the snake had to keep snapping at them while trying to squish down something large.

09/15/12 Ran into Leawood to get some insect pictures. Glanced up at one point and saw a Cooper's Hawk and Broad-winged Hawk circling. Thanks as always to Dr. Nick (who got some pictures of a Red-breasted Nuthatch today!) for help with identification.

Moved some Verbena, Eupatorium, Purple Hysop and some ferns around. Planted some Oxeye Sunflowers.

09/14/12 It rained all day yesterday so I wasn't able to get out until the same came out this afternoon. Discovered a lot of moths out and about. Found 4 new species for me: Arcigera Flower Moth, Ground Cricket, Picture-winged Fly and Spotted Beet Webworm Moth.

Planted some Heath Asters.

09/13/12 Saw a Thrasher today and I'm still hearing Cat Birds mewing in Leawood. Juncos should be back soon.

09/12/12 Added some new species - Heath Aster, Tick Clover, Cixiid Planthopper, Grass-carrying Wasp, Ground Beetle, Head-clipping Weevil, Nursery Web Spider and Two-horned Treehopper.

Planted some Mums and Butterfly Bush.

Thanks to Dr. Nick and Brett for making my American Goldfinch a Nashville Warbler.

09/11/12 I've been hankering for another shot at a Wheel Bug since I bumbled on one last year. Finally found one today mauling a Goldenrod Soldier Beetle fpr 5 minutes on an Oxeye Sunflower. Found another 3 or 4 new species of insect that I will post later.

09/10/12 Good photo day at some of my Leawood haunts. Photographed a Turkey Vulture, Ladybug, Differential Grasshopper, Eastern Forktail, White Snakeroot, Orange Sulphur, Corn Earworm Moth, Tarnished Plant Bug, Monarch, Thread-waisted Wasp, Giant Ragweed, Partridge Pea and more. I missed a few days and during my absence the Black Blister Beetles moved from the Giant Ragweed to the Goldenrod. En masse. Nearly everything is covered in Goldenrod Soldier Beetles.

09/09/12 Thanks to Brett and Jackie for helping me to identify Tall Boneset, Shingle Oak, Pitcher Sage, Large-flowered Gaura, Bidens, Annual Sunflower and Multiflora Rose.

Thanks to Dr. Nick for making my Yellow Warbler an American Goldfinch.

Still need help identifying these plants.

09/08/12 Took a bountiful trip to Heritage Park in Olathe. Goldenrod teaming with Amorpha Borer. Abundance of Eastern Kingbirds, Blue and Green Heron.

09/07/12 Why are Crows and Blue Jays so noisy this time of year?

09/06/12 A couple of Aster blooms on each plant! Same with the Mums. Calico Asters are in full bloom.

09/04/12 Back to the vacant lot in Leawood after yesterday's good fortune. Saw Spiny Assassin Bug, Broad-headed Bug and a Leaf Beetle. Also saw an American Kestrel.

09/03/12 Ran to the vacant lot in the afternoon. Photographed and posted nearly 10 new insect species!

09/02/12 Calico Asters are starting to bloom. Hummingbird visits becoming more frequent.

09/01/02 Starting to see more Lady Bugs around the city.

08/31/12 Goldenrod Soldier Beetles are everywhere!

08/29/12 The abundance of Oleander Aphids on the Milkweed and Butterfly Weed are attracting some interesting customers, including Ladybugs and Four-spotted Aphid Flies.

Saw loads of Black Blister Beetles copulating on tall three-leaved plants in the vacant lot.

08/28/12 People are seeing Swallow-tailed Kites around Leawood. I am officially upping my presence in the vacant lot in hopes of getting a shot.

08/27/12 Blue Cardinal Flower and Eupatorium really starting to bloom.

08/26/12 Dead-heading is keeping the Black-eyed Susans and Butterfly Bush fresh for bugs.

08/24/12 Planted some more Echinacea and another Butterfly Bush. Bugs were on it immediately.

Split up some Cranesbill Geranium that had a lot of new starts.

Have Chicory, Sage and Oregeno starts from seed heads at about a quarter inch tall.

Seeing lots of Painted Ladies, Silver-spotted Skippers, Skippers, Common Buckeyes but still very low numbers of Swallowtails and Monarchs.

08/23/12 Found a Parsley Worm in the Curled Parsley. Very lovely. I have some Parsnip too but haven't seen any caterpillars in it.

08/22/12 Hearing Catbirds mewing again.

08/20/12 Saw a batch of Painted Ladys in the garden today. Hadn't seen them in a while. Also got pictures of a Snowbery and a Borer that I haven't identified yet.

08/19/12 Had a hike around Fleming Park. Photographed Groundhog, Hummingbird, Deer, Turkey Buzzard, Great Blue Heron, Slaty Skimmer and some small frogs in the dried up pond bed.

08/18/12 The milkweed vine is covered in probably a hundred baby Oleander Aphids and Milkweed Bugs. Creep and wow factors are running neck and neck.

08/17/12 Haven't heard the Catbird mewing in several days. Still see a Thrasher now and again. Titmice have also gone missing.

08/16/12 Split up some of the Loosestrife.

08/15/12 Added some more Yarrow, Purple Hysop, Butterfly Weed, Red Cardinal Flower, Blue Lobelia, Blue False Indigo and Meadow Sage to the flower gardens. Also bought some Patchouli which means another plant living in the house during the winter.

Hearing crows more frequently over the last 10 days. Why is that?

08/11/12 Added a page with thumbnail links to the latest images added.

08/10/12 Getting some new blooms on the Purple Loosestrife, Black-eyed Susans, Phlox. Perhaps because of the cooler weather? Blooms on all of the Hardy Hibiscus.

08/09/12 Saw Milkweed Bug nymphs on a Honeyvine Milkweed flower.

08/07/12 Added a bunch of native Hibiscus and Hostas to the garden, despite the cruel streak of weather.

I still hear Catbirds mewing in the mornings but no wacky songs.

08/06/12 Hummingbird activity has picked up nicely. Went from an occasional visit to at least 2 different birds visiting regularly.

Saw a pretty red Wheel Bug nymph. Unfortunately it was in the shade so just a few iffy pictures.

08/01/12 Got a nice batch of pictures in from Nick Varvel's birding adventures.

Indian Blankets are barely putting out any flowers. They really pumped 'em out through the June and July.

07/30/12 Two Black Swallowtails and a Monarch visiting what's left of he garden. Haven't seen a Monarch in quite a while.

07/29/12 Saw a Leafhopper Assassin Bug eating a fly. Added a half-dozen species to the site today.

Got up early to watch the sun come up at the Estates. Hoping to see fox or coyote but I think we got there a little late. Did stumble upon an Indigo Bunting that reacted to the IB calls on my phone.

07/28/12 More new bugs. Saw a Velvet Ant, Leafcutter Bee, Digger Bee, Zebra Jumper and Agallia Constricta.

Big butterflies still not here. Just whites, blues, American Snout, skippers and an occasional swallowtail.

Looks like Old Fasioned Roses and Hollyhocks aren't going to bloom Phlox were a major disappointment, I am assuming because of the relentless heat.

07/25/12 Seeing some great new bugs this week, including Tumbling Flower Beetle, Stilt Bug, Striped Lynx spider, Flit Fly, Blue Black Spider Wasp, Treehopper, Paper Wasp and Braconid Wasp.

07/22/12 Good weekend for photographing insects. I'm getting the most action in the Honeyvine Milkweed. Added several new species of wasp.

Grackles and Starlings are coming around less frequently.

07/19/12 Saw a wren enter one of the houses for the first time. I think it's too late for another brood but it was still exciting!

Honeyvine Milkweed has suddenly started developing seed pods.

Saw an Eastern Tiger today. It looked HUGE after spending the day yesteday shooting Dwarf Spiders and Long-leged Flies.

The weeks of 100+ degree days is really taking its toll on the garden. Old Fashioned Roses never bloomed. Daisies are done. Black-eyed Susans are still thriving. Phlox are petering out. Second round of Bee Balm is starting. Coneflower is running out of gas.

The Surprise Lilies are starting to wilt. Got about a week out of them.

07/18/12 Crossed the 5,000 image mark on the site with two new species today. A Tarnished Plant Bug got me to 4,999 and a Dwarf Spider (along with Long-legged Fly and Candy-striped Leafhopper) took us to 5,011. Thanks to the contributors for their share of that total.

07/17/12 Just crossed the 10,000 image mark on the Canon Rebel T2i I bought on the 18th of February. I've probably done another 5,000 on the 350D in the last year. There are only 4,950 pictures on the site and probably 300 of those are from contributors so what does that tell you about my skill set?

Lost my Seagate 1.5 TB drive today with all of my RAW files on it. The drive was about 4 months old. Apparently the fail on these drives is common. Devastated, I went out to get a sunshine reset and was rewarded with some pictures of the Bald-faced Hornet. This fellow has eluded me for a year now so it was cheery moment.

07/16/12 Photographed a pair of Fire-colored Beetles today. Very cool with their branched antlers!

Got a few neat shots of a Candy-striped Leafhopper posing on a Morning Glory bloom.

07/14/12 Great bug day. Saw a Metallic Green Bee, Green Leafhopper, Comb-footed Spider, Long-horned Grasshopper, Crab Spider, Webworm Moth, Swallowtails a small black beetle I couldn't identify and loads of Skippers.

Experimented with shooting with the 10X tube on 18-55mm lens. It was very sunny so the results were pretty good.

The Hawks and Turkey Vultures are gone. Not just from the Leawood lot but from my neighborhood as well. Now the Common Nighthawks are the only bird circling the lot regularly.

07/13/12 Seeing a lot of Common Nighthawk activity. Saw 4 of them circling the house tonight and a dozen at a nearby friend's house last night.

07/12/12 Merged the Butterflies/Moths category with the Insects section. Made some corrections to the Birds section. There were some miscategorization issues that were annoying Dr. Nick.

07/11/12 Got to see a Leawood Policeman free a racoon from a dumpster. Pictures at 11.

Saw my first Summer Azure. 07/10/12 Saw a Common Nighthawk zoom out of my Elm tree while relaxing in the backyard. Soon witnessed it swooping around the sky.

Saw a Katydid, Black-winged Damselfly, Silvery Checkerspot, Candy-striped Leafhopper, Great Black Wasp, Black Swallowtail, Parson Spider, Bald-faced Hornet, European Hornet and more. Blooming Black-eyed Susans are good!

I tried the swishswishswish thing today to get a bird's attention and was startled that it worked. I had previously tried a series of noises that will normally get my cat or the neighborhood dog to look at me.

Second Surprise Lily popped up. Honeyvine Milkweed is blooming and getting action. I think I saw a bud starting on one of the Calico Asters.

07/09/12 First Surprise Lily above ground. Starting to see some cool Beetles in the gardens.


07/07/12 I had my second ever opportunity to get a decent picture of a Bald-faced Hornet and failed. In my defense, they are black and bluish and love to sit in the shade. I am determined to waste an hour a day hovering around the Rose of Sharon until I get a crisp shot of one.

Thank you again and again to Brett Budach, Betsy Betros, Nick Varvel, Jackie Goetz, Christine Staten, Linda Williams and everyone else who has taken the time to help identify pictures.

07/06/12 Added loads of new pictures today - mostly from John and Nick. Now sporting 4,522 nature pictures in the collection. Lots of new categories to add tomorrow.

07/05/12 Check out the odd Echinacea pictures that I added today. They have some sort of flowers growing out of the cones.

07/04/12 Found a Praying Mantis, Oriental Cockroach, Field Cricket and more today.

07/03/12 Clicked the pad of my left pointer finger off with a pruner. Bought some of those gauze pads that clot blood to stop the flow.

07/02/12 Was digging around in the yard and found a mostly cooked June Bug burrowed in the soil. Placed him on a stepping stone for a few pictures before he scrambled back to the soil and wormed back under.

Still no action in the Wren birdhouses. They breed into July but things may be off this year because of the streak of 100 degree days.

07/01/12 Should be seeing the Surprise Lily pop up any day now.

Saw an amazing Green June Beetle well-preserved in some sort of death state.

Backyard birding questions:

1) Where do Dark-eyed Juncos go during the summer?

Brett Dark-eyed Juncos are up in the boreal forests of the north.

2) Why do the White-breasted Nuthatches disappear for spring and re-appear for the summer? Where do they go?

Brett White-breasted Nuthatches are most common at feeders in winter, but are still around in spring, just busy nesting and feeding fledglings.

06/30/12 Starting to see more insects on the flowers and leaves!

06/29/12 Visited a river in Louisburg, Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness Wetlands with Dr. Nick today. Saw Loggerhead Shrike, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Littlle Blue Heron, Great Egret, White Pelican, Rough-winged Swallow, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Mallard, Eastern Kingbird with babies, Western Kingbird, Indigo Bunting, Red-tailed Hawk, Turkey Vultures, American Goldfinch, Red-winged Blackbirds, Purple Martin, Dickcissel, Eastern Meadowlark and more. Heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Saw an amazing array of dragonflies at the Wilderness Wetlands and a deer wading near the shore.

The Phlox are starting to fill out and I am stumbling on Swallowtails more often. Still pretty quiet considering how many flower options there are in the garden.

06/28/12 Dared to move some Rosemary right in the middle of this 100 degree day streak. It didn't even sag a little. Salute!

06/27/12 Starting to hear stray Cicadas in the late afternoon/evening.

06/26/12 Welcme Yarrow and Curled Parsley to the KCWildlife flower gardens. Refreshments will be served by the birdbaths from 2-3 PM.

06/25/12 European Starling juveniles are starting to get their coat patterns and light beaks. Juvenile Northern Flicker jackets are getting lighter.

Saw a Brown Thrasher chase a Starling off of the suet feeder just so that he could stand on top of it and look around the yard. He had absolutely no interest in the suet. God I love those birds.

Currently the common butterflies in the backyard are snouts and whites. Occasionally a Eastern Tiger or Monarch will drift by but it's pretty quiet right now.

06/24/12 Did another trip to Miami County and saw virtually every bird that Nick and I saw, including Upland Sandpiper, Loggerhead Shrike, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Horned Lark, Eastern Meadowlark, Northern Bobwhite, Eastern Kingbird etc.

Took my 2nd trip to KCP&L Wetlands. Was a bit annoyed that some local's dogs were running loose on the trails. I had left the pepper spray in the car and because of the nature of the wetlands there were no heavy sticks or stones around. The highlight was getting a good shot of a Yellow-legged Meadowhawk.

Found some birds missing from my Bird Life List for Kansas and Missouri (Green Heron, Great Egret & White-throated Sparrow) and hit 100 species.

Saw two baby Carolina Wrens plop onto the patio in front of us in the morning. It was pretty wonderful. They blasted away once they figured out where they were.

06/23/12 My Bird Life List for Kansas and Missouri is nearing 100. Currently at 97. Hope to nudge it up a bit over the next 2 weekends!

Was weeding near the still vacant wren birdhouse and got sassed by either a House or Carolina Wren from the safety of the Rose Of Sharon bushes. This is a heartening development.

I keep seeing what appears to be bird skirmishes in the backyard - birds screeching at one another ending in a chase. Upon closer inspection they mostly seem to be mothers telling their hungry kids to sod off and get a job.

So, the Bee Balm has already peaked and is now dropping petals. Phlox are just starting to flower and the Echinacea, Day Lilies, Butterfly Bush Black-eyed Susan, Purple Loosestrife, Meadow Sage and Daisies are a week or so in. Bachelor's Button, Nasturtiums and Indian Blanket are still cranking out blooms. Asters and Mums were starting to bloom and were cut back several weeks ago. Clematis is gone.

Birds planted some Roma tomatoes in the garden that now have well over a dozen fruits!

Saw a Hummer come by briefly. Didn't hang around despite two feeders and an acre of Bee Balm.

06/22/12 Arrived at my favorite vacant lot to do a little shooting before running some errands. Didn't realize that I had parked under a tree full of Red-tailed Hawks. There was an adult female and two juveniles in the tree and two more juveniles on the ground. The adult began screeching and like an idiot I start photographing it. After about 2 minutes she launched at me and I got one shot of her jetting towards me before II was looking for a hefty stone to defend myself. I was dive bombed continuously until I was about a quarter of a mile away from the nest. Unfortunately my car was still under the tree. I had to slowly worm my way through front yards of Leawood homes with a rock in my hand and then run for it when I got close enough to the car. She screeched at me as I ran but didn't attack me again. Sequence of pictures here.

06/19/12 Spent some time getting the Dragonflies identified. I think I'm down to just three unidentified!

06/18/12 Saw a Northern Mockingbird poking around the backyard. He kept airing out his wings so he must have come for the bath.

Crossed 4,000 images in the gallery today. Many thanks to John and Nick for sharing their work.

06/17/12 Added the Family categories for the Aves section.

Did a Miami County birding trip with Dr. Nick. Saw Dickcissel, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher feeding babies dragonflies, Common Nighthawk, Turkey Vulture, Orchard Oriole, Northern Bobwhite, Upland Sandpiper, Grasshopper Sparrow, Loggerhead Shrike, Summer Tanager, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Bluebird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Red-winged Blackbird, Bald Eagle, Great Blue Heron, Tree Swallow and more. Nick plucked a Mayfly off of the back of my shirt. Counted 7 ticks on my carcass on the way home. Actually 6. I had to arrive home and disrobe to discover the 7th.

06/16/12 Took a cloudy morning trip to the KCP&L's Prairie Wetland. Got pictures of my first Dickcissel. The variety of Dragonflies was marvelous.

Saw 4 Northern Flickers in the backyard at the same time. Some of them were very dark which I assume means that they are juveniles.

John had a Tanager at his feeder today.

06/15/12 Planted some Athyrium (Ursula's Red) to compliment the Ocean's Fury. Also bought a nice Meadow Sage bush.

Phlox have heads on them.

Moved some Sedum to a spot that needed filling. It's amazing how quickly the adjust to turmoil.

Most of the Butterfly Bushes (7) have some purple/lavender blooms or start of blooms.

06/14/12 Bee Balm is rocking and yet I'm still not seeing Hummingbirds regularly. The Goldfinches dig the ant guards on the Hummingbird feeders as a water source.

06/13/12 Immature Blue Jay had another run at me today when I got near the bird bath.

06/12/13 Official day of loads of Bumblebes in the garden.

Immature Blue Jay trying to intimidate me away from the bird bath - swooping at me and peeping since he cannot screech yet.

06/10/12 Mary talked me into getting a Wren birdhouse which arrived yesterday around 3 PM. I already saw a Mother poking around it this morning. Curiously, she still has her group of fledgelings following her around and currently they are all stationed on a fence beneath the house. Super happy funtime!

Just seconds after complaining that I hadn't see any Hummingbirds in the Bee Balm - hello! The timing was comedic.

Finished updating the database and intergrating the search/display routine.

06/09/12 Started entering class, order, family, genus information in the database. All categories will have at least class/order or order/family. Will write the display routine tomorrow after I finish data entry.

Put up the Wren house. Now we play the waiting game.

06/08/12 Added a bunch of new fields to the image database so that eventually you can search for things by order, color and other characteristics.

06/07/12 Posted some nice Dickcissel and Eastern Phoebe pictures from Nick.

I picked up one of the bird baths a few weeks ago, forgetting that the slots and tabs that connect the bath to the base were lined up in the unlock position. Base drops and shatters. Since the basin was still safe in my hands I decided to dig a shallow pit in one of the flower gardens and rest it inside. Wellsir, the birds, especially the fledgelings, much prefer this option to the remaining standing bird bath. The Grackles and Starlings are the only ones that seem to prefer the higher bath.

Butterfly Bush blooms are starting to turn purple.

Two bright red spots in the garden from the two Bee Balm patches. Several have double crowns.

Three Brown Thrashers are skulking around the gardens regluarly.

Hairy Woodpecker (female) is now a regular visitor to the suet feeder. Pretty splendid bird.

06/06/12 Had a swell time at the vacant lot this morning. Bumped into a long-time resident who said that it was a dump (literal) before they built the Country Club on the site. Talked to a walker who said that she has seen Fox and Coyote. I saw a Great Blue Heron in the creek. Also saw several Western Kingbirds, Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Barn Swallows, Alder Flycatcher, American Goldfinch, obligatory Red-tail Hawks, a falcon I couldn't identify and loads of butterflies.

Friend and hand-holder (one of many in my life) John McConnell inspired me to put my Oriole feeder back out. Sure enough, a few hours after putting out a dollop of jelly, the feeder is clean. Repeat a few times with the same result. I finally put one of my wireless cameras on it to see if I could catch it in action and within a few hours saw a Gray Catbird gettin' his sweet on. Apparently you can't always pick who you are going to feed.

06/05/12 I need to remove up some older images that don't stand up to 1200 pixels wide. The Franklin's Gull and Eurpoean Starling have loads of poor pictures. Will resume posting new images once I finish.

06/04/12 Added "quick link" drop down menus to all of the primary pages. This will enable you to jump to a specific species instead of scrolling through all of the thumbnails.

Got the first 50ish of Nick Varvel's bird photos up. The remaining 75 are nearly all new categories so they will take a little longer to post. Enjoy!

Got panicky about the mint that I just planted eventually being aggressive so I moved it to pots.

Full Bee Balm flowers!

Discovered that my last Wren experience yesterday was actually with a fledgling Carolina Wren. Thank you Nick and Mary.

06/03/12 Added code to the primary category pages that will blow up the 150 pixel wide thumbnails to 600 pixels with a mouseover so that you don't need to visit each individual page if you are looking for something,

The House Wrens were around all day. Great fun to watch. Got several pictures of one frolicking under a twig with dead leaves. The leaves were wet and the bird seemed to be employing them in a grooming process.

Added loads of Marigolds in the gardens.

06/02/12 Saw some fledgeling House Wrens in the Rose Of Sharon which has lead to the purchase of a Wren House.

Brett identified a batch of unknown photos so the gallery has some new blood.

Nick Varvel has agreed to become a contributor to KCWildlife. Nick is an enthusiastic and committed Birder with a great eye. He is frequently in the field and comes up with some wonderful shots that I know you'll enjoy.

06/01/12 Had a marvelous time taking pictures on the Indian Creek Trail with Dr. Nick Varvel. Saw Orioles, Indigo Bunting, Crested Flycatcher, Barn Swallows, Goldfinch, Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings, Heron, Hawks, loads of dragonflies and more. Thanks for sharing your turf, Nick!

Saw a Cardinal with a beak defmormity dragging around the feeders.

John had a Baltimore Oriole at his feeders.

05/30/12 John had Chipping Sparrows at his feeders today.

05/29/12 Took a short walk through the vacant lot. Saw some young Bluebirds. It has been about a week since I last visited so I missed out on some of the large Lamb's Ear blooms and much of the Salsify blooms have turned to seed. A lot of the growth that was mown over a month or so ago has come back nicely and I saw more birds and butterflies than I have in a while.

Planted some Wild Hemlock and Wild Coreopsis in the gardens.

05/28/12 Who destroyed the watermelon? What is this perfectly round thing with no seeds that tastes like a cucumber? Why do I have to drive out of town now to find a nice oblong melon, no stripes on the bottom, full of seeds and flavor? There have been people born in last 10 years that think that this flavorless genetically engineered monstrosity is what a watermelon tastes like. Horrors!

Multiple Rose Of Sharon flowers.

Moved sone Verbena to a spot that needed some sexing up. Also added some Threadleaf Coreopsis starts.

05/27/12 So, I've been wondering if I should put the hummingbird feeders in the sun or in the shade? I finally decided to stop fully filling the feeders, saving the nectar for updates every few days instead of every few weeks.

First blooms on Nasturtiums and Hibiscus. Butterfly Bushes, Coneflower, Bee Balm, Shasta Daisies are close.

05/26/12 Asiatic Lilies are finally blooming!

Bought some Purple Hyssop for the shade gardens.

Moved the Harebell and Fireweed to a larger pot.

Bought some Japanese Ferns, Thyme and Lavender. Made a mixed herb pot.

Dug up a bunch of Lemon Balm and potted it. Eupatorium, which looks similar, is start to take off.

Moved more Daisies and Black-eyed Susans.

Trying some Seedum in a mostly shade garden.

05/25/12 Moved loads of Phlox, Black-eyed Susans and Shasta Daisy starts that were going to end up blocking the stepping stones path.

Rained like heck and supposed to be 90 for the next few days. I predict Bee Balm, Echinacea, Butterfly Bush and Phlox blooms by Memorial Day.

Saw the Hairy Woodpecker at the suet feeder again.

The Hummingbirds have gone scarce on me again. That will end once the Bee Balm starts blooming.

Butterfly Bushes have buds.

05/24/12 I pulled the sunflower seed feeders a few weeks ago to clean out the Grackles and Starlings. While the program has been successful it has cost me desirable birds since the flower garden isn't nuts yet.

Seeing lots of Threadleaf Coreopsis starts in the garden. These appear to be from the flowers as every start is yards away from the mature plants.

05/23/12 Mock Orange blooms have been gone for about a week. Morning Glories, Coneflower, Indian Blanket are starting to get serious.

Catbirds are starting to mellow out a bit. They were constant for a few weeks but I only hear one intermittently now.

Saw a pair of Goldfinches working over the Coneflower buds.

05/21/12 Took pictures in Clinton/Warsaw Missouri today - mostly around the Osage River in and near Drake Park. Got shots of Cedar Waxwing, Hackberry Emperor, Red-shouldered Hawk, Oriole, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Indigo Bunting, Hairy Woodpecker, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Great Blue Heron, Gecko and loads of dragonflies. Heard several Pileated Woodpeckers.

The City Council of the City of Leawood, Kansas minutes:

Philip and Janel LaMonica, 8745 High Drive, stated they knew the Estates of Old Leawood was in disrepair when they moved in 8 years ago; however, trusted the City would handle the situation. They were promised recreational acreage for walking trails, a swimming pool, tennis courts and landscaping. Instead, this site has been left unsightly. They were also promised the electrical lines would be buried, which has not occurred. The uncertainty of the situation brings down home values and has made it more difficult for their neighbors to sell their homes. They were outraged that the owners were allowed to pay agricultural taxes after the area was zoned residential; potentially cheating the City out of thousands of dollars. They felt the ongoing situation was not acceptable and deserve to live in a clean and safe environment.

Council Minutes May 21, 2012

DVD No. 280

C:\Users\mfa\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook\EN7A095T\05212012.docx

City Administrator Scott Lambers replied the Planning Commission stipulations for those improvements are tied to the first 5 homes being constructed. These are private, not public improvements. They could request that the developer make some improvements; however, they are under no obligation at this time.

Mayor Dunn noted the City had nothing to do with allowing the agricultural tax; this was done at the legislative level.

Councilmember Osman requested staff report on the status of the Estates of Old Leawood and Councilmember Cain requested staff return with any citations that have been issued at a future meeting.

Gordon Henke, 8901 High Drive, requested that the 89th Street KCP&L remaining utility lines be buried and decorative camouflage be installed to the height of the 2 unsightly metal poles and that it be done at the developer's expense.


05/18/12 Saw a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (waiting on bird help for verification), Alder Flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird and Western Kingbird at the Kansas lot today. Got a poor shot of the Kingbird with a Dragonfly in its mouth.

Hairy Woodpecker on the suet feeder!

Moved some Sage, Bachelor's Button and Sedum to spots with better light.

05/17/12 Took a friend on a tour of my Leawood haunt. Saw a Groundhog and a Western Kingbird.

Transplanted the rest of the Calico Asters and River Oats from pots to a plot. The Asters are well behind the package that I planted directly into the ground.

05/16/12 Ran over to Kansas and got some pictures of a Western Kingbird. Found the Vulture tree so will go over early some moring and see if I can get a picture of it loaded with Buzzards. Talked to a jogger who indicated that she saw the Heron this morning.

Torch Lily/Red Hot Poker looking good. First 2 Morning Glory blooms are up as well as first Echinacea blooms. Nearly all of the threadleaf Coreopsis has a single yellow flower. Recenty added Lamb's Ear is looking better and Bachelor's Button is going nuts.

05/15/12 Saw my first Great Spangled Fritillary at Antioch Park.

Saw adult Chickadee feeding baby. Also have 2 juvenile Cat Birds hanging around. They will perch and pose on anything once.

Changed the Hummingbird feeders for like the 5th time this year.

05/14/12 Did my Leawood walk. Nothing spectacular other than an American Kestrel being hounded by two Northern Rough-winged Swallows.

Saw a small gray bird walking the yard today. It actually strode right up to me. I have seen a pair of Catbirds hanging around so perhaps immature Catbird or Northern Mockingbird. Hope to get a picture tomorrow.

05/13/12 Trip to Leawood produced Yellow Warbler, American Redstart, Yellow-crowned Night Heron and more.

05/12/12 Still loads of mouth to mouth feeding going on. Starlings, Finches, House Sparrows, Downy Woodpeckers. Everywhere you look in the yard there is a bird with it's head in another bird's mouth.

Threadleaf Coreopsis are blooming. Moved a lot of Phlox starts and a few Bee Balm out of the main garden.

05/11/12 I can't do this enough: Thank you Brett, Linda, Betsy, Jackie, Christine, Ruth, Mary and Nick for your help identifying pictures.

Nicked some Lamb's Ear from a vacant lot that was about to be mown. I am only guilty of a crime if it dies in my garden.

05/10/12 Hummer on the window feeder!

Some of the lilies are starting to bud. Clematis going nuts. I am so far behind my friends who have plots that get loads of sun. I am surrounded by Oak trees that generate a lot of shade so I have a quieter party that lasts longer.

You hastily shoot a series of photographs of a bird, bug or butterfly until it flies away. You download your pictures and at the end of the series there is the inevitable shot with nothing in it. We need to name this phenomenon. The interim name is 12/12.

05/09/12 A friend helped me figure out how to take nice pictures of the Hummingbirds. They come around from about 6:30 AM - 7:30 PM so I had plenty of practice. Here's our discourse for your benefit:

Me: I've been shooting Hummingbirds for 3 days with nothing to show for it. What can I do to improve the image in these two scenarios? Thank you as always for your help.

This is taken from a distance but in good light. What can I adjust before taking the picture to reduce the noise?

This one is killing me. Shooting the birds in direct sun (behind me) and they saturate out. What should can I adjust before taking the shot?

Friend: The first one is an easy problem and simple solution. Applying the solution may be a little more of an issue. The really good thing is I had a 2 day photography class right before my vacation and I got to experiment with a lot that they taught me during the class. So you benefit from this aquired knowledge as well.

The first example's solution is to simply lower the ISO. Previous to my class, I knew lower ISO = better picture with less grain but they went a step further in saying to NEVER shoot an important picture in anything greater than ISO 100. Example_a was in ISO 3200!! That's like insane ISO. This is coming from some auto setting somewhere.

Recommendation: on the top of your camera there should be a button labeled 'iso'. Push it and use the front dial to change it from "a" (which I'm assuming it's on) to 100. I'm guessing you only can do this if you're in the program modes on the dial (get off full auto mode). The class recommended to me (and I actually did it) to go on full "M" mode. Doing this is actually the fix to your second problem (example b) but let me finish up on example a first.

Check your manual as well, in your menus there may be an option to set your maximum ISO. If you have this option somewhere, set it to like 200 or 400 and just remember you did it so you can change it back if you're ever in a situation where you truly need it. Doing this will allow you to possibly bypass going to full manual or aperture priority mode for a little longer.

I'm guessing it was a shady area or dark somehow? Your shutter speed on the pic was 1/500 which is great but you really don't need it to be that fast. Your aperture was F7. That is limiting the amount of light you are getting in.

I'll address the full answer when responding to b, but lets take baby steps. When shooting the hummer, try going to AV mode (aperture priority) and use the dial to take it down to however low it can go (it varies based on your focal length). If you were using the multiplier (the x2 ring), it reduced the light coming into the camera too so I'd recommend pulling that off for the hummer.

You have to decide if you want to freeze his wings in mid air or show them in a blur of motion (but the body crisp). The shutter speed will determine this and I'll have to look at my pics to determine where the 'freeze' happens but I'm guessing anything faster than 1/200 will surely freeze them.

So, you're on AV mode, with the ISO at 100 and you can see when you press and hold the shutter button half way that the shutter speed is determined automatically. If you point the camera from bright to dark objects you'll see it swing dramatically from low to high numberes. If when pointing at the hummer, it drops below 1/60 or so, your hand shaking will probably cause the picture to be blurry. I've taken okay ones all the way down to 1/20th of a second but usually they get blurry that slow.

So, what can you do if the shutter speed drops lower? For one, you could hit the flash button to use the flash but then you'd have to switch over to manual mode... So the next best 'simple' option is to raise the ISO. Yeah, I know... I just said not to, but when the option is no pic or slightly imperfet pic, I'll take slightly imperfect. Therefore, bump it up to ISO 200. Not enough? Try as high as ISO 400. After that, have fun with grain. ISO 3200 might as well be drawn with crayons. I've used ISO 1600 before when shooting animals at dusk, but you don't have many options there unless you can get close enough for a flash, then have fun watching them scatter.

OK, so lets summarize example a:
1. Change off of the full auto mode on the dial
2. Set ISO to 100 (or at least less than 400 - or find your menu setting to lower your max ISO to something reasonable)
3. Go to aperture priority and set your aperture as low as it will go. Let the shutter speed be determined automatically and become concerned if it drops below 1/60.
4. Take pictures

Onto b...

This one is the main thing I learned in class and it's somewhat advanced. There are several ways to fix this and I'll spend the most time on the fix they listed in class. If I remember, I'll try to address one alternative later.

The fix is to go to full manual mode. That's the scary "M" on the dial. There are several things wrong with this picture. The first is the ISO is up to 2000 which means you're grainy again. Your shutter speed is fine at 1/500 but can come much lower and still get a good pic. Seeing that the wings are slightly blurred here means that what I said earlier about the blur breakoff point was wrong. It's probably somewhere faster than 1/500, but not much. Aperture is again at 7 which is too high. I see this was taken with the 300mm lens. Check and see what the aperture range is for that bad boy. Nevermind, just looked it up. It's 4.0 to 5.6 which means that 5.6 is the aperture you should be shooting all your 300mm pics at. And 4.0 is what you should be shooting your 75mm pics at. But I'm guessing if you have that lens on, you're not messing around with 75mm. So set it at aperture 5.6 (in manual mode, this is probably the dial on the back of the camera).

Now you have your ISO somewhere under 400, your aperture at 5.6 so the only thing left to worry about is the shutter speed.

Change your focal point to be the center dot. Push that button on the upper right side of the back of your camera that looks something like an oval of dots with a dot in the center. Rotate the dial on the top of your camera until the highlighted dot (when looking through your viewfinder or the lcd on top of the camera) is the center dot and the only one lit.

This is where it gets tricky. You have to find in your menu's where the metering mode is. There will be a dot, a dot with ( ) around it, and a few other options. It is probably set on the dot with ( ) around it which means it takes 75% of it's metering from the dot and 25% from the area around it. You want to move it to dot mode which means it takes 100% of the metering from the dot.

You're probably now asking yourself, 'what is metering mode and why do I want to use it?' Excellent question and I didn't ever consider it before the class but they sold me on it. When you point at something now (after making the above setting changes), it will look at JUST the thing you pointed at to meter how much light is needed. Why does that matter? Because too much light means blown out hummer belly.

Start with the shutter speed on 1/200 and point it at the brightest thing that'll be in the picture. You may have to push your shutter half down and keep it there to see this, but then look at the little graph in your eyepiece display. It looks something like this: ŽiiŽiiŽiiŽiiŽ with a -2, -1, 0, 1, 2 over the Ž's. There is a floating dot or something that will indicate whether what you're pointing at will be over or under exposed (+ is over - is under). If you point it at the hummer's belly and it goes all the way to 2 and is blinking (meaning it's off the chart), then raise your shutter speed until it comes down to 2 or slightly under. Basically, you don't want the brightest thing in your picture to be above 2 or the darkest thing to be below -2. You want whatever the medium thing in your picture to be right at 0. So maybe point at the red on the feeder (shaded side) and set the shutter speed so that the graph is at 0. Point it at a bright sunny part of the feeder and see if the indicator is blinking at 2 or just somewhere between 0 and 2. If it's blinking, the bright bits will be blown out. So raise your shutter speed to a higher number until it stops blinking. When the hummer shows up, point at his belly and confirm that you are still not blinking. Point at his back and see if you're at 0. What's that? The little bugger flies too fast and you can't do it? Well, this is where you just trial and error a few shutter speeds until you get one that works.

Somewhere in your menu's you also have a setting to make your pictures blink the blown out sections when the pic review pops up. This is a quick and easy way to snap a pic, look down, see his belly blinking from being over-exposed, then quickly raise the shutter speed one notch and take another pic... Then repeat until it's perfect.

This is some very cool stuff once you get the hang of it. We'll have to go out shooting together sometime to practice it. I'm still learning it all too though...

Alternatives to full manual mode:
Since aperture priority mode is a good mode for the camera for wildlife photography (keeping as low of an aperture as possible so you can use higher shutter speeds and ensure only the thing you're pointing at is in focus), you can resolve your example_b problem by shooting in AV mode with the aperture at 5.6. Then, with the shutter recently pressed halfway down, turn the dial on the back and watch the graph (-2 -1 0 1 2) on the top LCD. The dot should start out over the 0 but as you turn the dial it moves up or down. Move it down towards the -1 until the hummer belly is not over exposed (using the flashing over exposed thing in the picture review I mentioned earlier).

Hummingbirds are starting to fight. They are a blur so I don't know if it's male v female or male v male.

05/08/12 Got some decent shots of the Turkey Vultures that circle around Leawood, KS.

Baby Starlings, Robins, Downy Woodpeckers in the yard. The baby House Finches and Sparrows are looking more like adults.

05/07/12 First hummingbird for the year at the feeders around 6:45 this rainy morning.

05/06/12 Drove to my spots in Leawood. Saw the usual suspects - Gray Catbirds, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Gold and House Finches, Mockingbirds etc.

05/05/12 Another trip to the Leawood lots early in the morning. Photographed a Brown-headed Cowbird, Brown Thrasher, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Titmouse, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird and the rest of the backyard heroes.

05/04/12 Ran to my two Leawood spots in the morning. Saw a Swainson's Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Killdeer, Viceroy, Monarch, Variegated Fritillary, Northern Mockingbird, Turkey Vulture, Red-tail Hawk, Tree Swallows and more. Thank you Brett for your help with identifying the Thrush and Viceroy. 05/03/12 I enjoy taking pictures at some woods that run along a creek near a church. The trees are stuffed with Brown Thrashers, Gray Catbirds, American Robins and Northern Mockingbirds. The din is glorious.

Saw a Virgin Tiger Moth on the porch.

Ran to the church lot in Kansas today and got decent pictures of the Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher and Mourning Cloak.


OK, I'm determined to get my Skippers in order over the next few days. I think that the fellow used in the index image on the Sachem page is actually a Peck's Skipper.

Planted the Columbine and some of the Calico Asters that I started by seed with possibly murderous results.

Had some steady early morning sun so I darted off the the lot where the Gray Catbirds are to see if I could get a shot. Couldn't. Off to the meadow in Leawood. Got pictures of a Question Mark, Eastern Comma and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Killdeer are hanging tough!

05/01/12 Hung out in the flower garden around 2 when the sun came out briefly. Saw Monarch, Variegated Fritillary, Cabbage White, Red Admiral, Common Checkered Skipper, Eastern Comma, Eastern-blue Tail, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Painted Lady and more.

Had another go at photographing the Gray Catbirds that live nearby. Got one lousy shot.

04/30/12 Just surpassed 3,000 images.

Bought a 2nd bird bath. These are great bait for the birds that don't use the feeders, especially during the Summer.

Saw the Catbirds again today. Also saw the Carolina Wren after a month-long absence.

My Killdeer is back at the vacant lot! It would not leave this spot no matter how close I came so the babies must be OK. I even saw a second Killdeer with it when I circled back around.

John had a Red-headed Woodpecker at his feeders today.

04/29/12 Took a walk and saw some wet Brown Thrashers and a Gray Catbird, also wet.

John enjoying a Grosbeak at his feeders.

So far I have seen immature House Sparrows, Cardinals, House Finches and Blue Jays at the feeders.

04/28/12 Changed the nectar in all the feeders in anticipation of long-overdue visitors. John had an Indigo Bunting AND Oriole at his feeders today.

Walked along the creek near the church and photographed the obligatory Red-tail (who kept screeching at me), Mourning Cloak butterfly, Checkered Whites, Question Mark or Comma, Louisiana Water Thrush, Northern Mockingbirds, Robins eating, Painted Lady, American Lady, Monarch and Red Admirals. Also found a fifty dollar bill which I will turn into a new bird bath.

04/27/12 Went back to the lot this morning and the Killdeer was gone.

Transplanted some Morning Glory and Bachelor's Button starts. Started some Forget-me-nots, Harebell and Fireweed by seed.

04/26/12 How do I get rid of wide patches of unwanted Indian Strawberry and Henbit cover? Cover with brown paper bags. Cover bags with mulch. Water. Murder in process.

04/25/12 Mock Orange flowered today.

I went back this evening to look at it and they nearly finished it off. Mower is still there so looks they'll complete their task tomorrow. The Killdeer was freaked. I walked right up to it and it didn't run away. It just kept yelling. Saw a Red-tail flipping over tufts of mown grass looking for rodents.

I saw a city truck at the vacant lot taking pictures last week. Today there were fellows mowing the lot. The city must have contacted the owner. What about all of the butterfly eggs on the leaves of the plants that will be mowed down? The reptiles? The nervous Killdeer and it's nest? I was excited to see some of the plants budding and looking forward to their blooms. Reset.

04/24/12 Another trip to the vacant lot. Killdeer still there guarding its nest. Saw a Question Mark butterfly and several Monarchs.

Irises are running out of gas. Turtlehead has buds forming.

04/23/12 Back to the vacant lot at lunch time. Nothing spectacular other than seeing a Killdeer walking around. Got some shots of mating Damselflies and an orange Beetle. Saw several Monarchs but couldn't get off a shot.

The Lincoln Sparrow is back. That makes 4 new Sparrow variations in the backyard over the last 7 days.

04/22/12 Drove out to the Overland Park Arboretum and Heritage Park in Kansas. Saw Tree Swallows, Eastern Bluebirds, Meadowlark, Killdeer with babies, Chipping Sparrow, Great Blue Heron, Northern Mockingbird, White-throated Sparrow, Brown Thrasher, Red-winged Blackbirds and more. Lousy day for picture taking as it was cloudy and windy.

04/20/12 The baby House Sparrows are quite entertaining. The healthiest of them are able to fly up to the bird batch and perch unsteadily on the edge while drinking. The balance of them take shots at it but can't muster either the height or the landing technique.

White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow and Chipping Sparrow all in the backyard this week.

Took 300 pictures around the lot again today. Saw a Checkered White butterfly for the first time.

Yesterday I saw a city official taking pictures of my vacant lot. Today I saw people taking pictures for a lawsuit related to the lot. Both times there were vultures circling overhead while they were taking pictures of the landscape.

04/19/12 River Oat seedlings are up!

Split up the Sulphurs and Painted Ladies as planned.

Sun remained out all morning so I scrambled back to my vacant lot and shot for an hour and a half. Saw a turtle, Turkey Vultures, Black Snake, Garter Snake and loads of dragonflies. Here's the updated list of butterflies seen in this lot over the last 4 days:

Checkered White
Common Checkered-Skipper
Eastern Comma or Question Mark
Variegated Fritillary
Silver-spotted Skipper
American Snout
Pearl Crescent
Painted Lady
American Lady
Cabbage White
Eastern Tiger
Eastern-tailed Blue
Black Swallowtail
Common Buckeye
Gray Hairstreak
Duskywing Skipper
Snowberry Clearwing Moth
Clouded Sulphur
Cloudless Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Bi-lobed Looper Moth

Supposed to rain for the next day and a half so instead of taking pictures I will:

Make a quick reference page for Sparrows. I still have a hard time identifying them. Every time I see and identify a new fellow I'll pop him up in the index.

Divide up the Sulphur (Clouded Sulphur, Cloudless Sulphur, Orange Sulphur) and Painted Lady (Painted Lady, American Lady) pages today. Eyeing the Damselflies page next...

Consider open and closed wing views of the butterflies in their index/header pictures.

04/18/12 Just saw a female House Sparrow feeding two other squawking females by flying back and forth to the feeder and putting the seeds directly into their mouths. A friend replied: "Could be fledged babies of hers. They can look 100% grown up and still be getting fed by the parents."

White-throated Sparrow and Chipping Sparrow still hanging out.

Took another trip to the vacant lot at got some great bugs. I've photographed these butterflies there in the last 3 days:
Variegated Fritillary
Silver-spotted Skipper
American Snout
Pearl Crescent
Painted Lady
American Lady
Cabbage White
Eastern Tiger
Eastern-tailed Blue
Black Swallowtail
Common Buckeye
Gray Hairstreak
Duskywing Skipper
Snowberry Clearwing Moth
Clouded Sulphur
Cloudless Sulphur
Orange Sulphur
Bi-lobed Looper Moth
Also tons of Damselflies and Dragonflies.

Started some Mullein.

04/17/12 Another trip to the vacant lot produced Monarchs, Silver-spotted Skippers and American Snouts in addition to the gang from yesterday. It's like a butterfly zoo!

Chipping Sparrow in the yard.

04/16/12 Ran to my new favorite spot at lunchtime and took pictuers of 14 different butterflies - Pearl Crescents, Question Marks, Painted Lady, American Painted Lady, Cabbage White, Eastern Tiger, Eastern-tailed Blue, Black Swallowtail, Common Buckeye, Gray Hairstreak, Duskywing Skipper, Snowberry Clearwing Moth, Clouded and Cloudless Sulphur. Most of the non-native Honeysuckle is flowering so this must account for the abundance of butterflies.

Saw White-throated Sparrow in the early morning. Got some iffy pictures.

Brown Thrasher is back hanging around!

04/15/12 Took an improvised trip to the Overland Park Arboretum and Heritage Park. Saw Tree Swallows, Eastern Bluebirds, Meadowlark, Killdeer, Great Blue Heron, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Brown Thrasher, Red-winged Blackbirds and more. Saw young Dr. Nick and associate at both locations and, to my dismay, discovered that he saw and photographed a Pileated Woodpecker at the Arboretum.

04/14/12 Discovered a vacant lot in Leawood last night that I decided to re-visit today. Saw Curly Dock, Tall Evening Primrose, Horsemint, some sort of Asters, beautiful ferns, loads of Red Admirals and Snowberrys and omnipresent Turkey Vultures.

Saw a Painted Lady on the Orchid Primrose. Camera two flights of stairs away with the battery in the charger. Decided to just enjoy it rather than making the mad dash.

Hollyhock seeds planted on the first are coming up. Columbine seeds planted on the 31st of March are making an appearance.

Nearly all of the white Irises from last year are purple this year.

Coreposis have buds.

Thanks to recent work by Betsy and Brett identifying plants, bugs and birds I was able to add about 40 images pushing us over 2,500 in the gallery.

04/12/12 Columbine seeds are starting to show above the soil.

First Indian Paintbrush blooms forming.

I've been seeing a lot of bee mimics this week in the garden. With the help of Nick I identified the Hoverfly. Yesterday I saw a small Bumblebee which also ends up being a mimic. Upon examining the photograph Betsy said "a fly...look close and you can see the aristate antennae...also just 1 pair wings. Probably in in the Syrphidae family." Thanks, as always, to our Facebook friends for helping us identify creatures.

04/11/12 Still no Hummers. Going to have to refresh the feeders for the 3rd time this year this weekend.

Transplanted the Sumac from pot to yard.

The Goldfinches are stunning now.

Yard bird selection is very boring. Goldfinches, House Finches, House Sparrows, Chickadees, Pigeons, Grackles, Starlings, Robins, Cardinals, Red-belllied Woodpecker, Flickers, Downy Woodpecker. Vists from the Wren, TItmouse, Nuthatch, Blue Jays are rare visitors to the feeders and baths. Thrasher seems to have disappeared.

04/10/12 Saw Turkey Vultures flying over my house while watering the garden. I actually saw the shadows on the patio and looked up as they were floating away at tree-top levels.

Azalea flowers/blooms look better today.

Found a female Mallard in a storm drain on Ward Parkway in Missouri. No sign of a male.

04/09/12 Shasta Daisies are blooming! Azaleas are very slow to flower and the blooms look sad. Lily of the Valley also behind the rest of the neighborhood.

First bloom on the Clematis.

Recently added Echinacea and Bachelor's Button starts still look sad in the middle of the day and then recover overnight.

It's been 8 days since I planted the Coneflower seeds. Should start to see something in a few days.

04/08/12 Visted Antioch Park. Got a couple of sessions with a Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Moved the Sumac starts out of doors. They immediately folded over so rushed them to the shade.

Cut off the blooms of the finished Lilac buhes. Also cut them back to about 6 feet. The mature bushes are still flowering.

04/05/12 Took a trip up to Weston, MO. Got pictures of Woodland Phlox, Zebra Swallowtails, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Sulphurs, Cabbage Whites, Red Admirals, Pearly Crescentspots and some amazing dragonflies. Heard loads of birds but the trees were so full that photographing was out of the question.

Planted some Cranesbill Geraniums, red Spiderwort, pink Turtlehead, Indian Blanket (Gaillardia), Torch Lilies, Forget-me-nots, Orchid Primrose and False Spirea Astilbe.

04/04/12 Mums are up. I think one of the unidentified plants is Purple Turtle Head. It's about 8 inches high now.

04/03/12 Seeing more moths, bees, flies buzzing around the yard. Saw a Clearwing Moth in the Creeping Phlox.

04/02/12 Brown Thrasher hanging around near the feeders. A quarter of the Irises have buds.

04/01/12 First blooms on the Azaleas!

Tree seed dumping sequence - Elm, Oak & Maple.

Took down all of the window feeders. Hummingbirds are being spotted around the Kansas City area so I freshened up all of the nectar in the Hummingbird feeders.

Planted some Hollyhock and Purple Coneflower seeds.

03/31/12 Visited the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. Saw all the stuff you normally see there including a Louisiana Waterthrush and piles of Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

A friend gave me some Yucca, Bachelor's Button and Echinacea so back to the garden.

Started some Columbine seeds indoors. A little late but, ach.

Planted some Coreposis, Creeping Phlox, white Phlox, Bachelor's Button, Verbena and Echinacea.

03/30/12 Move is complete. Just waiting for the new DNS info to circulate before doing any updates.

Gray Catbird is back and yelling for ladies!

03/29/12 Moved the site to it's own server today. You may experience some freakiness over the next day or so but all should be good by the weekend.

03/28/12 Ichneumon Wasp in the Forsythia in the AM. Red Admiral zipping around the yard all day. Moved some Hostas, a Rose Bush and a Yucca.

Took some pictures of a friend's flower garden.

Calico Asters from seeds are popping up in the garden. That took 10 days.

03/27/12 Saw a Red-winged Blackbird in the yard. Also saw the Ruby-crowned Kinglet in a tree. He doesn't come to the feeders any more.

Hyacinth are getting long in the tooth. Lilac blooms are about 50% bud and 50% flower.

03/26/12 Added pictures of Indian Strawberry and a Spined Soldier bug thanks to our Facebook friends Brett and Nick.

Juncos are back. Perhaps it was something I set?

03/25/12 Dashed out to Fleming Park for the morning. The Eastern Redbud and some sort of Honeysuckle were the only things blooming. Heard loads of toads. Cardinals were in a frenzy. Took some pictures of a Barred Owl.

Bought some Knockout Roses for the yard.

03/24/12 Saw a Brown Thrasher in the backyard a couple of times this morning. Welcome!

I did some work on the three original Lilac bushes late last year. I don't recall what I did, perhaps removing old flowers, but they look great this year. I counted nearly 20 crowns on one bush. The three 5-year old bushes all have buds for the first time.

The Echinacea is a couple of inches high.

03/23/12 And the next day I discover a pair of Juncos walking around on the patio. In my defense there used to be a half-dozen Juncos walking around on the patio.

03/22/12 I just noticed that the Juncos are gone. I don't think I've seen one in 2 weeks.

Tried shooting some close-ups using the 350D and a +1 extension tube with the 300mm lens. It worked pretty well. Even the auto focus functions.

Moved the Hostas to a shadier spot.

Azaleas have buds. Burning Bush and Forsythia flowers are gone.

Planting some Yucca a friend gave me today.

03/21/12 Finally saw a fully cooked Goldfinch. Not a drab feather anywhere.

03/20/12 Saw more Gold and House Finches today. Perhaps because it has been raining for the past few days. That always seems to stimulate feeder action.

03/19/12 Eupatorium and Rose Of Sharon are developing leaves. Saw more of the smaller birds today. Also saw the white-headed Cardinal so she's hanging in there.

Filled up the Hummingbird feeders as there are reports that they have been spotted in Springfield and St. Louis.

03/18/12 What happened to the birds? I was only gone a week. I've seen one pair of Goldfinches all day. Loads of Woodpeckers, Grackles, Sparrows & Starlings but no House Finches, Titmice, Carolina Wren, Nuthatches etc.

Planted the 2nd package of Calico Aster seeds.

03/17/12 Calico Aster and Sumac seeds developed nicely while I was gone. Milkweed going slowly and nothing happening with the River Oats.

Skipped out of town for a week and missed the peak of the Forsythia. The Asiatic Lilies popped up. Russian Sage, Thread-leaf Coreopsis, Fountain Grass, Bee Balm, Sedum, Daisies, Morning Glories, Black-eyed Susans, Asters, Roses, Phlox, Butterfly Bush, Peonies & Red Phlox have new growth. The Lilacs have flowers developing. The Hyacinth are nearly all blooming.

03/16/12 Also read that someone saw Black Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Clouded Sulphur, Orange Sulphur, Spring Azure, Gray Hairstreak, Olive Juniper Hairstreak, Henry's Elfin, Gray Commas, Eastern Comma, Mourning Cloaks, Goatweed Leafwing, Horace's Duskywing, and Wild Indigo Duskywing butterflies this week.

Read that a friend counted over 80 different birds in Kansas City during the Spring migration.

03/14/12 Mississippi Adventure

03/13/12 I need to address the seemingly random singular/plural page titles some day. See Azaleas v Aster. Bald Eagle v Blue Jays. Lord.

03/10/12 Bumped into the Garter Snake again. Got pictures this time.

2nd Sumac sprout.

Saw a Cabbage White today!

03/09/12 First Sumac sprout from seed.

Lincon's Sparrow seems to be a regular now.

Picked up some Poison Ivy or Oak from somewhere.

03/08/12 Saw a Harris's Sparrow in the morning and the Lincon's Sparrow in the afternoon.

After 6 days I have my first Calico Aster poking it's head up from seed. Still waiting on signs of life from the Sumac and River Oats.

Phlox starts coming up. Bee Balm and Shasta Dasies spreading like mad.

03/07/12 After just 5 days there is a Milkweed Vine seedling above soil.

All of the younger Lilac bushes now have leaves. The three older bushes are close. All of the Forsythia have blooms. I cut the Rose bushes low last year but even they have starts and leaves.

Saw the Lincon's Sparrow straight away this morning.

03/06/12 Saw a Lincoln's Sparrow in the yard for the first time.

Grackle numbers are increasing. I've seen nearly a dozen at a time in the gardens and at the feeders.

03/05/12 My first nearly-stepping-on-a-snake-and-briefly-leaving-my-body experience of the year. Here's to maybe one more, tops.

Haven't seen the Redpoll or Kinglet for days. I am India with no Taj Mahal.

03/04/12 Saw an Opossum wobbling around in the neighbor's yard around 4 PM.

Cut back Fountain Grass and Maiden Grass. Also cut back some of the Rose Of Sharon.

The Carolina Wren sang its heart out today.

Saw some Starlings going in and out of a hole in the Elm tree. I don't like where this story is headed.

03/03/12 The Robins are here in earnest. Every other yard seems to have a pair combing the ground for worms.

Didn't see the Carolina Wren, Common Redpoll or Kinglet today or yesterday.

Surprise Lilies are are about a foot high. Tulips, Shasta Dasies, Bee Balm, Sedum, Daffodils, Irises, Hyacinth are all well above ground.

03/02/12 Started some Calico Aster seeds (large clay pot), Summac (burgandy pot), River Oats (green pot) and Milkweed Vine in the pot a friend made for me.

03/01/12 Went to Heritage Park to take pictures. Saw a Mourning Cloak butterfly. Got pictures of male and female Cowbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds. Met, oh, let's just call him a friend, later in the afternoon. Got a shot of a Tree Sparrow and he got a White-crowned Sparrow. Heard frogs singing on the shore. Saw Honey Bees and a Wolf Spider

02/29/12 Uploaded a short video of the Common Redpoll on the hanging feeder.

More Forsythia blooms, some of the Lilac bushes have leaves and I saw a Hyacinth pushing up!

Finally have a pair of Robins combing the yard.

Saw two male Flickers jousting on a tree branch. The fighting seemed pretty half-hearted.

Kinglet is back!

White headed Cardinal made an appearance today.

02/28/12 Saw the Redpoll sleeping in the window feeder today. He regularly will take his time feeding, to the dismay of the Goldfinches. After eating he will often sit and relax in the seed while 4 or 5 Goldfinches are hopping around the feeder impatiently. When he finally leaves, he leaves the feeder leisurely. If he is spooked, he will stand on the entrance of the feeder to check things out rather than streaking away like everyone else. I see him in the window feeder (shelled sunflower seeds and nyjer) at least 6 times a day and a couple of times a day on the hanging feeders and bird baths. Will be adding loads more pictures of butterflies and other insects today thanks to our amazing Facebook friends.

I seem to have lost my Ruby-crowned Kinglet. I think it went missing the same day the Grackles first made an appearance. Still see the Common Redpoll all day.

02/27/12 Added pictures of a Meadowlark and White-crowned Sparrow to the gallery. Both birds were photographed in Kansas last year.

02/26/12 Got a picture of a Purple Finch today at Fleming Park. John was also at the park and got some nice photographs of a Wild Turkey and Red-tailed hawk.

Saw a butterfly today at Fleming Park. I was focused on trying to get a good shot of some Goat's Beard (failed) but the person I was with got a good look at it. She described it as Monarch-sized with lots of blue and some sort of decoration along the edge of the wings. Our friend Brett said: "There are only 5 possible species of butterfly around now. Mourning Cloak, Red Admiral, Comma, Question Mark, and MAYBE a Goatweed Leafwing." We looked at the pictures and determined that it was a Mourning Cloak.

The first Grackle of the year at the feeders this morning.

02/25/12 Continued cleaning leaves out of the flower beds. So far I have seen starts for Sedum, Iris, Tulips, Daffodils, Bee Balm, Crocuses and Shasta Daisies.

02/24/12 Birds were manic today. Saw the Kinglet, Creeper, Wren and Redpoll. Some of the Goldfinches are getting some large areas of yellow.

02/23/12 Cleaned leaves out of the flower beds today. Saw lots of green poking up underneath including Sedum and a variety of starts I couldn't identify.

Saw the first Forstyhia bloom of the year.

02/22/12 Added some code so that the category indexes include 150 pixel wide thumbnails for each sub-category. Should make finding something on the site a lot easier.

Decided to go take some pictures of wildflowers along a creek bed when I spooked a Red-tailed Hawk who promptly returned the favor.

Added pictures of Wild Rye, Smooth Summac, Queen Anne's Lace, Buckbrush, Thistle, Pokeweed, Ash Tree, Rusty Blackhaw and more thanks to our Facebook friends!

Got pictures of the Kinglet and Redpoll this morning. Trying to get some pictures every day before they leave town.

02/21/12 Thanks so much to Jacking and Christine for putting a big dent in the remaining unidentified plants on Facebook.

Brown Creeper, Common Redpoll, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Carolina Wren still hanging around.

02/20/12 Thanks to Jackie for her help identifying pictures of flowers, bushes and trees.

02/19/12 John got some nice pictures of birds at Clinton Lake today that I'll be posting all week.

Corrected the "Crokus" typo. In my defense I work with rock band names and Krokus pops up constantly.

Dashed up to Smithville Lake in the mid-morning. Snowy Owl must be gone. Took a lot of pictures of plants but didn't get many good bird photos. Did get some shots of a Red-headed Woodpecker drinking from a lake. Trip was soured somewhat by group of people with unleashed dogs that were allowed to run about 30 paces ahead of them. Dogs rushed at us while group of people said and did nothing. Sabre brand pepper spray.

OK, this website is choked with misidentified wildlife, random capitalization, blatant self-promotoin and outright lies BUT, I can offer you this sparkly bit of truth and you may use it in confidence: Squirrels eat Safflower seeds. You can shoo Squirrels away from Safflower seeds and they will promptly return to eat Safflower seeds. Grackles may not eat Safflower seeds but Squirrels will eat Safflower seeds. Squirrels will eat Safflower seeds until their stomachs look like little sacks of rocks.

02/18/12 Thank you Betsy for identifying the Carolina Nightshade, Pokeweed & River Oats.

Thank you Ruth for helping to identify the Sycamore Balls and Staghorn Sumac.

John got some nice pictures of a Hairy Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Opossum & Great Blue Heron from Shawnee Mission Park that I'll be posting during the week.

How many pictures and trips do I have to take before I can refer to being in the woods as being "in the field."

Saw a Junco on the hanging feeder on a warm sunny day. Glad at least one of them gets it.

Bought a Canon Rebel T2i to replace my 350D. The picture of the Junco above should be the last picture taken with the 350D.

02/17/12 Thank you Brett, Linda and Betsy for helping to identify Amur Honeysuckle, Buttonbush, Green Foxtail, Mullein, Teasel, New England Asters & Kuhnia eupatorioides.

Took a trip to Fleming Park today. It was so nice we were in shirt sleeves before noon. Saw Red-tailed Hawks, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Red-headed Woodpecker, Wild Turkeys, Deer and all of the fellows that I see at the feeders.

02/16/12 Crocuses are flowering. I know.

Spent another hour lying in wait for the Kinglet but it either didn't come or dined and dashed whenever I briefly left the window.

Decided to see if I could coax the Kinglet into hanging around the feeder a bit longer than normal. I cracked a window near the suet feeder and looped a Ruby-crowned Kinglet call from 10:45 to 11:45. I got one hit. He swooped in, got a mouthful and split. He was either indifferent to the call or alarmed by it. I may have another go in the afternoon.

02/15/12 Downloaded iBird Pro for Android.

John set up his Cisco trained on a window feeder online for KCWildLife employees to enjoy when they should be working.

Bought some more Hummingbird feeders.

Saw everyone but the Carolina Wren today. I was told that the Redpoll and Kinglet and going to leave in March. I am determined to get some HD footage of them doing Redpolly and Kingletty stuff before they leave me.

02/14/12 Ordered some Calico Aster seeds from Prairie Moon. And then immediately received spam, which was disappointing.

The Carolina Wren has become more active recently. He is at the suet almost once an hour for the majority of the daylight.

After yesterday's snow frenzy today the feeders are oddly quiet. Snow still covers the ground but the sun is out and the temperature is warm. Have seen the Carolina Wren and Kinglet this AM.

02/13/12 Trees are undulating with Wrens, Nuthatches, Brown Creepers, Flickers, Red-bellies and Downy Woodpeckers.

Juncos are having a hard time with the hanging feeders. Even the Goldfinches can blast them off.

Common Redpoll is still a Kansas Citian. In the feeders at an uncharacteristically early hour.

OK, the first variation on normal because of the snow - Juncos on the hanging feeders. Now why don't they do that normally?

Snow day. Ruby-crowned Kinglet was in the feeders early. Will be watching for the Redpoll.

02/12/12 John visited Shawnee Mission Park today and I'll be posting some of his pictures of Cooper's Hawks, Red-headed Woodpeckers and more through the week.

Was gone off and on all day and didn't see the Redpoll. Did see the Kinglet multiple times. Hoping to see some fresh faces at the feeders if it snows tomorrow.

The Indian Paintbrush pictures are actually Indian Blanketflowers. Thank you as always Brett for the corrections.

02/11/12 I've noticed that the Finches with conjunctivitis (both Gold and House) will hunker down in the window feeders for long periods of time. Bad eye to the window good eye to the opening of the feeder. I am happy to provide food and shelter for the downtrodden but worry about the spread of the disease. Of course I try to keep the feeders clean (bleach) and I have started putting less seed in them so that less comes in contact with their damaged eye. Don't know what else to do other than close up shop.

Saw the Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the window feeders mutliple times this AM.

02/10/12 John got some new feeders so hoping for new birds once they figure out where they are!

Thank you Linda for informing me that my Map Butterfly is a Common Checkered-Skipper. Looks like I've got some work to do this weekend...

Found out that my Yellow-eyed Junco is a Dark-Eyed Junco. A little deflating. On the cheery side, I found out that my armored grasshopper is a Wheel Bug. Thank you Brett!

The Common Redpoll and Ruby-crowned Kinglet were in the yard all day. Getting as many pictures as time, elements and circumstance allow.

Saw a robin for the first time in the backyard since Autumn. Birds are in a feeding frenzy as Winter mounts a comeback.

I replaced one of the hanging feeders filled with crushed sunflower seed with whole safflower seed 3 days ago. Everyone seems OK with the change except the Woodpeckers. They had a choice between the full Squirrel Buster full of safflower or a Squirrel Buster Finch Feeder with about 6 inches of crushed sunflower left in it - making it awkard to get at it. They still chose to eat the sunflower upside down and sideways rather then the alternative.

02/09/12 Took pictures of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet all day. There was one about every 18 minutes on the suet feeder. Like clockwork. I don't know if it's one or multiples. It leaves with a Kinglet pillow-sized hunk of suet every time. Also saw a pair of Brown Creepers again today. Saw them at the same time on the same tree as yesterday. About 3:10 PM.

02/08/12 Pretty amazing day. Quite literally from my office chair I saw Northern Flickers, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Cardinals, Titmice, Downy Woodpeckers, Goldfinches, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Common Redpoll, House Finches, Brown Creeper, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Carolina Wren, Juncos, Mourning Doves, European Starlings and Sparrows. They were also out later in the day than they normally are. Perhaps it's because it has gotten cold again.

Photographed my first Brown Creeper walking up an old elm.

Finally got a few pictures of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Eating suet between 1:30 and 2 PM. Also saw one of the ailing House Finches.

Saw my first Goldfinch with conjunctivitis. I've been keeping the feeders clean (10% bleach solution) so will next try spreading them apart so that there isn't as much interaction between birds.

Found out that my Goldfinch looking fellow with the red slot on his head is a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

The Goldfinches are starting to get some really large bright yellow patches. I haven't seen any birds with more than 10% yellow feathers. Still pretty silly looking but you can see that grander days are ahead.

Haven't seen any of the House Finches with Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis lately. Maybe 4 days or so. There were two that I am sure of.

Titmice are back! They clearly have no issue with Safflower.

02/07/12 Switched to Safflower seed in the window feeders. We'll see what happens.

02/06/12 Daffodil, Krokus and Iris are all well above ground. Forsythia and Lilac bush buds are swollen. Butterfly Bush has new growth.

Was looking at the Hairy Woodpecker pictures and realized that the were pretty poor. I think I was so excited at finally seeing one that I treated the images like they were evidence of Bigfoot. Will weed them out soon.

02/05/12 Took the first exit off of 13 into Truman lake. Very disappointing. The roadside was littered with beer, cigarette, food packaging and tires. I counted 8 deer carcasses on the roadside in a quarter mile length. Four of them were heaped together. I don't know enough to know how they died but many of them were fairly fresh. Did see loads of hawks, a Bald Eagle, Cardinals, Juncos and lots of woodpeckers.

02/04/12 I keep getting glimpses of a tiny, drab Goldfinch-looking bird with a red slot on his crown. His body is almost more Wrenny than Finchy.

02/01/12 I seem to remember Robins being around in the winter. Not sure what happened this year. Same with the Titmice. I plenty of both of them in the woods but not in the backyard this year.

Posted pictures of the Common Redpoll, House Finch, Blue Jay, Goldfinch, Mourning Dove and more.

01/29/12 Shawnee Mission Park - saw deer, coyote, red-headed woodpeckers, red-tailed hawk and bicyclists bellowing to one another. Loads of those.

Hankering for a trip to Truman Lake soon to photograph Pileated Woodpeckers. Heading out to the trails for Red-headed Woodpeckers today.

01/28/12 John got some nice pictures of a female Kestrel with rodent and some Red-bellied Woodpeckers on the Mill Creek Trail.

A Northern Mockingbird stopped by for some water this afternoon. First time I have seen one since last Autumn. They don't use the hanging feeders and I don't consistently offer a platform option because of squirrels.

01/26/12 Got some close-ups of the Common Redpoll today in an acrylic window feeder.

01/25/12 SAW some Juncos today that look like the have executioner's hoods on. The hoods are black.

Mystery solved. I have a Common Redpoll visiting the window feeders now. I'm rich!

Starting the third sentence of the day with Saw... Saw another variation on what looks like a female House Finch with a red breast and red spot on its head. It's also darker than most females. What do we have here folks?

The Goldfinches are starting to reappear after a 1 day absence. Still not at their 3 days ago volume. The males look silly right now in their mostly drab caots with bright yellow spots here and there.

Saw a second female House Finch with House Finch Disease.

Saw a Pine Siskin this morning! It spooked before I could get my camera but hopefully it will become a regular.

I have a regular House Finch vistor who has mycoplasmal conjunctivitis (AKA House Finch Disease), a condition that causes the eye to buldge or swell shut. She'll sit and feed forever and I am please to accomodate her.

01/24/12 I'm seeing this little Sir or Madam that looks pretty much like a female Goldfinch but has a red bar on the crown of it's head running the same direction as the beak. Perhaps an inch long. It almost looks like a little Finchy Bank with a red slot for coins. What have we here?

Strange morning. It's nearly noon and I haven't seen a single Goldfinch at the feeders. By this time of the day I would have witnessed at least 4 big rushes of 20 or more Goldfinches swarming the feeders. Perhaps somebody tweeted that there is a Cooper's Hawk or Red-tailed circling the house.

01/22/12 John McConnell got nice pictures of Bluebirds, Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, Brown Creepers etc. at Clinton Lake. Photos are up.

Drove to Fleming Park at Lake Jacomo in the mid-morning. Saw Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrel, Great Blue Heron, Bluebirds, Titmice, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers.

01/21/12 Took an early afternoon trip to Shawnee Mission Park. It was in the 20s and pretty cloudy. Saw Red-tailed Hawks, Bluebirds, Titmice, Goldfinches, Downy Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Robins, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Sparrows and of course loads of Geese.

01/20/12 It appears that at this point in time nobody is interested in apple slices. Raisins are a big hit with the European Starlings so that item has been removed from the menu. Will resume fruit slices at the end of April.

01/19/12 A month ago I was begging for Goldfinches and now there are 20+ at the feeders simultaneously multiple times a day. They've even bulled the House Finches out of the window feeders.

01/17/12 Who is this bird? Photographed in Southern Missouri in the Autumn.

01/16/12 Took a trip to Longview Lake. Walked the bike trail. Saw Bluebirds, Doves, Mallards, Gulls, Canada Geese, Robins and Starlings.

Took pictures of Lilac and Forsythia buds.

01/14/12 Drove to Felming Park at Lake Jacomo in Lee's Summit. Saw Great Blue Heron, American Kestrel, Hairy Woodpecker, Wild Turkey and Red-tailed Hawks.

John McConnell drove up to Smithville Lake and got some great pictures of the Snowy Owl.

01/10/12 Who is this gray horned grasshopper?

01/08/12 Started adding raisins and apples to the window feeders.

01/07/12 Ran up North to Smithville Lake to get some pictures of the Snowy Owl. There were loads of people there at the dam to see the Snowy Owl and Bald Eagle. Decided to try one of the trails and saw an otter, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Bald Eagle and Cedar Waxwings. Curiously we also saw a Bald Eagle
as we approached the Downtown Airport on 69.

01/02/12 Took a hike on a recently re-opened trail at Shawnee Mission Park. Saw loads of Bluebirds for the first time. Also saw Deer, Nuthatch, Red-headed Woodpecker, Chickadees, Robins, Blue Jays, Flickers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Crows, Gulls, Canadian Geese and Titmice.