Mission Statement

Bearing Witness to Local Natural History-- from the wildness of Indiana

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fungi: Jewels of the Forest


I am a mushroom on whom the dew of heaven drops now and then. --John Ford

The Mycology Net

                                                    © Joni L. James

                                                        © Joni L. James

Friday, September 28, 2012

Luminous Full Moon

A luminous moon rising tonight.

Moon Rising                                                                          © Joni L. James

Many men walk by day, few walk by night. It is a very different season.

--Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Autumnal Equinox: Blessings Await

Autumnal Equinox

Autumn Lake                                                                           ©Joni L. James

Autumn blooms amid the waning light and cooling temperatures. Fog rises from the warmth of land and water to greet the cool air. The sun will dissipate the fog and the brilliance of fall foliage will paint the landscape. Autumnal blessings await.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kodachrome 64 Series

 I revel in Nature. I revel in the beauty of Nature. To preserve the experience. To preserve that moment of beauty and bear witness to it,  is why I photograph. I hope if my image is seen by someone, they will experience that moment. Perhaps they will be grateful, inspired, more aware, more knowledgeable, or be in awe of the Earth.

At the very core of my nature photography and my study of Nature is my spirituality. It is my connection to  the Great Mystery. The vehicle to my deepest self. The manifestation of All That Is. It is a deep connection in which my Self cannot be separated.

Nature photography is what I do.I have photographed for 32 years. For the first 25 years, I shot Kodachrome 64 slide film with Pentax K1000, Pentax MX, and Pentax LX. I studied, I read, I photographed, and I experienced. In 2005, I switched to digital cameras.

So to pay homage to my early visions in nature photography, I will be sharing images from my early days before digital photography. They will be simply titled, Kodachrome 64 Series. Not many of my slides have been scanned to digital but they will appear in posts from time to time.

Grateful for where I have been and grateful for where I am. And always blessed by the beauty.

A Serendipitous Moment                                                        ©Joni L. James

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Touch of Autumn Color

A touch of autumn color at Burkhart Creek County Park early this morning. 

A Touch of Autumn Color              ©Joni L. James

"The leaves fall, the wind blows, and the farm country slowly
changes from the summer cottons into its winter wools."
-   Henry Beston, Northern Farm

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Perch-- Paying Homage to a Fallen Neighbor

A stalwart neighbor fell on September 10, 2012. In the twenty years I have lived at my home, a Tulip Tree, has stood through all seasons on a point at the lake. I named it The Perch. All through the years, it persevered as the soil around its roots eroded away. Its posture changed as more and more soil disappeared through ice, snow, waves, and yes, the 2008 Flood. After 2007 (and likely the result of the flood), instead of standing rather upright on the lake point, it began to lean outward over the water.

From 1993 (and I am sure before), to September 9, 2012, the tree provided a safe and efficient location to perch for many birds. The birds used its branches for resting, preening, safety, and hunting. Bald Eagles, Double-crested Cormorants, Red-tailed Hawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Green Herons, Great Blue Herons, Ospreys, American Crows, owls, and numerous species of songbirds enjoyed its branches for an unobstructed view of the lake. 

Each time I looked out my window, I always checked The Perch for the presence of interesting bird species. The majority of the time I was rewarded with a view of an eagle, heron, or hawk. The tree was most beautiful in the early morning as fog would hover magically throughout the lake. As the sun would crest the treeline, The Perch would be backlit by sunlight resulting in silhouettes of perching birds.

I already miss The Perch. When one lives close to Nature and attends to the seasons, the land, and its creatures, you appreciate the presence of non-human neighbors.They are a part of my home. Once again, bearing witness to my local wildness. 

The Perch before leaning              ©Joni L. James             

Bald Eagle Flying from The Perch                                     ©Joni L. James

Two Great Blue Herons Perched                                               ©Joni L. James

Great Blue Heron on The Perch       ©Joni L. James
The Perch-- Fallen (on right)                                                ©Joni L. James
The Perch-- Fallen                                                                         ©Joni L. James

Sunday, September 9, 2012



                                                                                                   ©Joni L. James

"I have lately got back to that glorious society called solitude."-- Thoreau

Friday, September 7, 2012

Beginning Nature Photography Class Offered-Soon

Are you interested in learning more about photography and improving your nature images? I will be teaching a beginning nature photography class in about 3 weeks. 

I just completed teaching a course in May. Through a grant from the Community Foundation of Morgan County, the Morgan County Soil and Water Conservation District was able to sponsor a 5 night class with 2 field sessions this past May. We had a wonderful class and the participant's photographs are currently on display in the Morgan County Public Library after being on display in the County Administration Bldg..

The new class will meet Thursdays nights--September 27, October 4, and October 11, 2012 at 6:30-8:30 pm. The location will be the Sadler Room (first floor) in County Administration Building at 180 S. Main St. in Martinsville, Indiana. We will also have an optional field session to be scheduled once class meets. You should bring your camera manual and camera equipment with you to the classes.

The fee will be $45 per person for the three class nights and field session. There is an optional fee if you would like to participate in having one of your images (taken during these three weeks), on exhibit in the County Administration Bldg. The optional fee is $30 for the cost to cover the printing and mounting. You would receive the photograph at the end of the exhibition.

Whether you have a point and shoot camera or a DSLR, you will learn info and techniques to improve your photographic skills. We will touch upon taking people photos but not in depth.
You do NOT have to be a Morgan County resident!

Sign up soon! Please register by calling or emailing the Morgan County Soil and Water Conservation District:
765-349-2060 or sbarnett@morgancounty.in.gov. You can LIKE them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/MorganCountySoilWaterConservationDistrict 

Check out my website at: www.jonijamesphotography.com 
Don't forget to LIKE my HeronWatch Nature Programs on Facebook: www.facebook.com/HeronwatchNaturePrograms  

CT Scans & Mysteries Inside Butterfly Chrysalides

If you love butterflies . . . If you marvel at them and stand in awe at the mysteries of their metamorphosis . . . then read on and go to the link I have posted below.

Monarch Butterfly                           ©Joni L. James

Richard Stringer, a biologist from Pennsylvania was marveling at the transformation of a Monarch butterfly within the chrysalis. when he decided to see if he could gather images with X-rays, MRIs and X-ray microtomography.

Monarch Chrysalis                     ©Joni L. James

From the imaging & other nanotechnology that has been done on Monarch butterfly chrysalides, it was discovered that 

  • Some of the butterfly organs have already formed by the time the caterpillar has completed the chrysalis.
  • The butterfly's brain was visible from day one. 
  • Before the caterpillar changes, the cellular structure precursors to different organs were evident.
  • The caterpillar's (larva) head disappears, but the eye tissue remains to become the butterfly's eyes.
  • The flight muscle and reproductive tissue mature during the roughly 10-day metamorphosis.
  • The gold spots on the outside of a chrysalis are actually ports of entry for oxygen.
  • Tracheal tubes inside the chrysalis bathes each cell of the insect with oxygen as the organs develop.   
  •  The butterfly has a heart which is actually a tube that extends the length of the butterfly and has six or seven pumps along it to collect, not blood, but waste.

Richard Stringer persuaded an Allentown company, Micro Photonics Inc., which uses CT scans (computerized axial tomography) to inspect the quality of paint chips, to do scans of chrysalides. They have produced some of the most revealing and amazing images inside the chrysalis.
You must go to the link, read the article by Ad Crable, and view these wonderful images: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/717720_Local-scientist-unravels-mysteries-inside-a-butterfly-chrysalis.html#ixzz25n4SxhSU

Bearing witness to the beauty of the earth and your local wildness.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Let's Talk About "Who-cooks-for-you?"

Let's talk about the owl whose call sounds as if it's saying "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you al-l-l-l-l!" I heard a Barred Owl (Strix varia) last night across the lake. It is one of the sounds in nature that I treasure.

Barred Owls (BAOW) are the nocturnal counterparts of Red-shouldered Hawks. Barred Owls dwell in moist bottomland woodlands, ravines, and swamps. Crayfish, water snakes, rodents, insects, small birds, and frogs are examples of their prey. 

Barred Owl (captive)   ©Joni L. James

They range in size from 16-24 inches with a wingspan of  38-50 inches. They are not the largest of our owls in Indiana, that distinction belongs to the Great horned Owl. Barred Owls are next in size. They have a rounded head with no ear tufts and are gray-brown in color. They have large liquid black eyes-- at a distance the iris looks brown; at close range they appear blue-black.

Barred Owls nest in tree cavities and abandoned nests of crows and hawks. Nesting season is during the winter months (as it is for most owl species here). Courtship is a noisy performance. They are particularly vocal during late fall and early winter when trying to attract mates. They will call throughout the night especially under a full moon. You can often hear them on cloudy days especially during the winter. 

BAOW usually lay a clutch of 2-4 eggs. Incubation is mostly by the female taking 28-32 days. Fledging takes place 40-45 days. Barred Owls are not migratory so they are here all year round.

Barred Owl (captive)   ©Joni L. James

If you hear the calls of a Barred Owl, you will never forget it. I encourage you to listen to the link below to hear the maniacal calls, barks, cackles, and wails of this wonderful raptor.
Listen at night, dawn, dusk, and on cloudy winter days . . . you just might experience the hair on the back of your neck rise!

A Cornell Lab of Ornithology youtube link to hear a recording of BAOW calling:

{Note: The Barred Owl in these images is Elmo, an owl who is a permanent resident at the Indiana Raptor Center. The IRC rehabilitates injured raptors and provides educational programs on bird of prey. They are dedicated individuals at the center who do tremendous work. Consider booking them for programs and/or donating to their passion & cause. Link: www.indianaraptorcenter.org}

You can always leave comments at the end of each post. Let me know what you think of Barred Owls & experiences you may have had!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Burkhart Creek County Park Visit

I visited Burkhart Creek County Park (BCCP) today in the late morning. I had not been there for a while and had time to make a quick stop. BCCP is one of the two county parks we currently have here in Morgan County, Indiana. 

Burkhart Creek County Park will be a real gem in the coming years. There has been much work at creating a wonderful nature park for our community to enjoy. There are walking trails, picnic tables, shelters, and soon restroom facilities. The area has been recently planted with many trees and prairie grasses and wildflowers. A wetland has been restored with the planting of many wetland plants and trees. Now we just need precipitation. 

We received a good dose of precipitation over the weekend and I hoped to find some water in the wetland today. Did I? Nope. There was a small amount of standing water but it was in the far south end near the willow stand. We need much more rain. The plantings have all suffered as a result of the drought and brutal record breaking temperatures this summer. Burkhart Creek County Park is a wonderful location for those who enjoy the beauty and solitude of nature. Once the plantings rebound, it should be a stellar site for those who enjoy observing, studying, photographing, and communing with our local natural history.

I did hear White-eyed Vireos, Indigo Buntings, American Goldfinches, and Carolina Wrens calling near the wetland area. I saw numerous Indigo Bunting fledglings and adults. Most are molting at this time. 

We are into September already and swinging into autumn. It has been a long hot summer. I believe summer began in March this year, didn't it?

White-eyed Vireo (not at BCCP)                       ©Joni L. James

Shelter at BCCP                                                 ©Joni L. James

Black-eyed Susans in bloom at BCCP              ©Joni L. James