Friday Flower – A close look at a zinnia

Zinnia close up – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Sometimes it’s more interesting to look at something familiar from a different perspective to gain renewed appreciation. Have you ever looked at a zinnia this close before? I discovered a tiny forest of golden furry trees arranged in a perfect circle surrounded by a bed of brilliant red petals. Each yellow tree has a trunk filled with nectar that attracts bees, butterflies and moths. Each visitor gets a secret powdering of yellow pollen to transport to subsequent flowers, unknowingly becoming a pollen postal service. I go the garden to relax, unwind and refresh my mind, and while everything around me may seem tranquil, it is in fact the opposite – each and every flower, every insect and every plant is very hard at work.

Red zinnia – Photograph by Laura Lecce
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Dinner with a Canadian Beaver

Canadian Beaver – Photograph by Laura Lecce

I never felt so humbled as I was on this day when a Canadian beaver swam past me down the river dragging his dinner, and instead decided to swim back towards me, plant himself at the edge of the river bank and enjoy his dinner with me. This beaver sat so close to me that I could hear the branches being crunched by his strong beaver teeth as he fed them into his mouth like a straw. Then when he got to the end of the branch he would try to shove all the leaves into his mouth at once, cheeks bulging and continued chewing. The whole time he was watching me watching him and seemed just as curious about me as I was about him. I managed to get many good photos of him in the waning light as the sun was setting. My trip to Parc national de la Jaques-Cartier was the highlight of my trip thanks to this beaver, although I also loved the old part of Quebec City. Eating a beaver tail was the second highlight, and for those of us who aren’t Canadian, don’t worry, its not a real beaver tail but a yummy, fried, flat dough covered in whatever deliciously sweet toppings you desire.

For other Canadian posts please click here.

Friday Flower – Pink with an Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Eastern Black Swallowtail – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Ok, so this photo is not so much about a flower as it about the stunning black butterfly perched delicately on these tiny pink flowers. Those large dark wings with golden circles and a powdering of shimmery blue. The signature elongated wing tips of a swallowtale and delicate lines of white dots along the abdomen. This butterfly truly turns heads as it flutters past and really tested my patience as I waited for it to sit still long enough for a photo that was in focus. I will dearly miss the warmer months this year as the weather is already getting too cold for my liking, and we still have so much further to go into the cold abyss of winter. Have a warm weekend everyone!

For more butterflies please click here.

The eagle and the bird who hates him

The eagle and the bird who hates him – Photograph by Laura Lecce

It’s tough to be so loved and admired, to be an American icon and a symbol of great strength. Lucky for this eagle, his ego will be a little smaller because of a little bird (well little sitting next to this eagle) who absolutely despises him! As I was in absolute awe that I got lucky enough to get up close and photograph this stunning bird, the bird next to him was determined to shoo him away. At one point the little bird was hanging off his tail feathers trying to yank them out with his beak and flapping around the poor eagle’s head and making a hell of a racket. I guess having a large and cunning predator so close to home must be a bit distressing. It was also spring time in Yellowstone National Park, which probably meant chicks in a nest that need protecting. Lucky for the little bird that the eagle didn’t seem on the hunt for lunch. Also lucky for me and my camera that the eagle didn’t seem at all surprised or phased to have this annoying bird bothering him, and just sat his ground looking as regal as ever. What a fantastic experience!

For other pics and posts from Yellowstone National Park – please click here.

Friday Flower – Yellow zinnia with a yellowjacket

Yellow zinnia with a yellowjacket – Photography by Laura Lecce

This cute little bug might seem adorable sitting on a matching, bright yellow flower, but do not be deceived as it is a fearsome, predatory wasp. A yellowjacket wasp that lives in a colony underground and can pack a pretty nasty sting as many times as it wants. If you disturb or injure one of these wasps near their home, they send out a distress signal to all of their friends and relatives as a sign that they must attack and defend. At that point you have no choice but to make a run for it! Cute photo though.

I met a marmot

The marmot I met – Photograph by Laura Lecce

I met a marmot for the first time in Yellowstone National Park, and these little critters are now quite possibly at the top of my favorites list (well second,  lizards still win). They are such a cute, cuddly-looking, round ball of orange-brown fur. In the case of the photo above, the fur color was a perfect blend with the rock that this marmot calls his home. Never straying far from the safety of his fortress, he went on happily munching the grass shoots in his front yard while I sat and took his photo. It took a while for me to get a good portrait as he mostly had his head down pulling up grass, then would periodically put his head up for a just a second to check that I was still watching him. Capturing a photo of a marmot is a very seasonal activity, as you wont find them around from about September to May as they happily hibernate through the colder months of the year. I wish I could do the same!

Friday Flower – Ironweed with a monarch

Ironweed with a monarch – Photograph by Laura Lecce

Ironweed is a species of plant within the larger genus of Veronia. They have very distinct and intense purple flowers, which are a fantastic pairing of colors for this stunning orange monarch butterfly. I was very lucky that this gem sat still long enough to get a photo of it’s wonderful spots. When summer ended I made sure to take my camera to the local flower gardens to catch the last of the butterflies before they depart during the colder months. Ironweed is a great addition to your garden to make sure that the butterflies come to visit. For other posts on butterflies please click here.

Happy weekend everyone!