White Pelicans

We first knew that the pelicans had returned to our area in September when we saw a large flock of them flying high over the Mississippi River.

   

In early November, we were able to see them more closely and enjoy their beauty at Reelfoot Lake.

“Nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude.”  ~Louis Schwartzberg

Fall Foliage

Some sunny days have helped to accent the autumn leaves which are now popping in vivid yellows, oranges and reds.  This past week has been a great time to get out and enjoy the beauty that nature has on display.

“Fall has always been my favorite season.  The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”  ~Lauren Destefano

Butterflies on White Aster

The white aster is in full bloom and attracting many insects including honey bees, wasp and butterflies.  These are some of the butterflies that we saw while out enjoying the autumn flowers and sunshine.

“The aster has not wasted spring and summer because it has not blossomed.  It has been all the time preparing for what is to follow, and in autumn it is the glory of the field …”  ~Henry Ward Beecher

Inky Cap

I saw this silver and bronze-looking mushroom standing alone, glistening in the sun in a wooded area along the Mississippi River.  At first it looked like someone had placed a shiny metal lawn ornament in the middle of the woods.  I had to touch it to see if it was real, which it was.  My best guess is that it is a member of the inky cap family.  After their spores mature, their gills begin to decompose from the bottom up, turning into a black liquid which resembles ink.  Then the mushroom cap begins to curl up, placing the spores in an ideal position to catch the wind and disperse.  It’s strange to think that the magical colors of this mushroom are the result of decay.

“Everywhere we look, complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes.”  ~Vincent van Gogh

Circumhorizontal Arc

Several times a year we see a circumhorizontal arc high up in the wispy clouds.  These occur when the sun’s rays pass through flat, hexagonal-shaped ice crystals at a specific angle, causing the rays to bend, like in a prism, and light up the clouds with beautiful colors.  This one only lasted for a brief time, but was a joy to see.

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”  ~W. B. Yeats

Golden Treasures

Everywhere you look, nature is aglow with autumn’s golden hues.  These are some of the beautiful golden treasures that I have seen and appreciated over recent weeks.

… Life on earth is truly a gift
every moment we must treasure,
it’s the simple things we take for granted
that become our ultimate pleasures.
~Kathy J Parenteau

Peaceful Afternoon

Taking advantage of the cooler fall temperatures and the delightful sunshine, we spent a peaceful afternoon on the lake at Reelfoot Wildlife Refuge.  It was fun to hear the sounds of the crows and herons arguing, the screech of the eagles soaring overhead and the gentle sound of the wind blowing  across the water.

“Be mindful of the peace and quiet.  It is only when you keep silent that you allow the sounds of the forest to enter.”  ~Unknown

Oblivious

On a recent hike, we were able to see some beautiful Question Mark butterflies along the trail.

The first one was peacefully sitting on a long stem, soaking up the sun.  As I took a few photos from different angles, I began to notice a spider web located directly behind the butterfly.

I took a few steps back to get a better look and realized how incredibly near this butterfly was to a spider web which reached from where the spider was sitting a couple of feet high, all the way down to the ground.  I couldn’t help but wonder if it had any idea just how close it was to becoming a meal for a stealthy spider.

   

Later, we came upon two other Question Mark butterflies along the path.  They were sitting in much safer places than the first, and were doing a good job of blending in with the scenery.

“Isn’t it funny how obvious and oblivious are so close?”  ~Unknown

Robber Fly

 

I noticed this insect while out hiking.  At first appearance, it looked like a large, innocent looking fly, but after doing some research, I discovered that it is a type of Robber Fly, and innocent it is not.  Robber Flies catch flying insects such as bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies and other large flies and insects in mid-air.  Then they use their short snout (proboscis) to pierce and inject the prey with saliva laced with toxins and enzymes. This mixture paralyzes the prey and begins breaking down their innards.  The snout is then used to suck out the soupy insides.  Not a pretty picture, but I guess even Robber Flies need to eat.

“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many.”  ~Plato