Label: Seymour Photographs

January 25, 2013

 

 

 

Most of North America is shivering in freezing, Arctic temperatures. It is also very windy where we live, near the Berkshire Mountains. I pulled off the road when I was driving the other day to take this shot. The high altitude cirrus clouds were being "shredded" by the wind…and they were pulled into a shape that made it look like an exclamation point. 

Or maybe it is a comment on the freezing temperature up there?

wink 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Seymour Photographs, Cool Photo, Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)

November 15, 2012

For today’s SeeMore Explorers posting, I decided to identify a bird that I see often at my bird feeder and on the nearby tree.

I love watching birds at the feeder, and I keep a bird identification book on my desk, which I use to figure out what I am seeing. The one I use is Stokes Beginner’s Guide to Birds, Eastern Region. There are lots of these kinds of books out there, and most organize the birds by color, so that it is quite easy to look them up. Just be sure that you are using a book specific to the part of the country where you live.

Isn’t this a gorgeous bird? Here’s what I wrote on my Observation Log:

 

 

The first thing I did was look for the red-headed woodpecker, because this bird certainly does have a red head! As soon as I looked, though, I realized that it was not a red-headed woodpecker. Those birds have a completely red head, all the way down to the shoulders - almost as if they are wearing a red hood.

Quite nearby in the bird identification book was the red-bellied woodpecker, and that is what my bird is. It seems like a strange name, but it turns out that this bird has an orange patch on its belly, and that is where it got its name.

I’d love to hear from my readers. What kind of birds do you see in the world around you? Which are your favorites?

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, birds, Seymour Photographs   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 27, 2012

 

 

I was walking on the beach this weekend and came across a lot of very big, brown shells. I used a SeeMore Explorers Observation Log to describe what I saw:

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I actually knew what the animal was, but I wanted my readers to see how it is possible to figure out what you are seeing in nature.

I have always been fascinated by horseshoe crabs. Did you know that they are one of oldest living creatures? They have been around for 450 million years, which means they were here on Earth 200 million years before the dinosaurs!

The reason the shell I picked up was so light was because the crab was not in there any longer. Horseshoe crabs molt as they grow - that means that they shed their hard shells when they grow out of them. They walk out of the hard shell, and their inner shell, which they already have, begins to harden, becoming their new outer shell. Horseshoe crabs molt many times - 16 times for males, 17 times for females - before they are fully grown. If the shell had been heavy, then it would have been a dead animal.

One other interesting thing about horseshoe crabs is that they are not actually in the crustacean (crab and other shellfish) family. They are more closely related to arachnids (spiders) than they are to shellfish.

What a fascinating animal. Now can you see why I’ve always been interested in these prehistoric animals called horseshoe crabs?

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Oceans, Seymour Photographs, Marine Life   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 20, 2012

It’s Thursday, so it is SeeMore Explorers day! Last week, we used an observation log to try to figure out what kind of animal we were seeing. But some weeks, I just want to go somewhere and enjoy many things I can see. I may not know exactly what they all are, but I can enjoy the experience of being out in nature.

That’s what I did last weekend when I visited the Innisfree Garden, in Dutchess County, outside New York City. Innisfree Garden was created in the hollow surrounding Tyrrel Lake - a large, deep natural lake. The garden keepers pump water from the lake through a huge system of underground pipes, so that there is water everywhere you look in the garden. There are fountains, pools, streams, waterfalls, and sculptures that spout water (you can walk under them on a hot day!).

I walked all the way around Tyrrel Lake, and here’s what I saw:

 

 

A lovely lake full of lily pads, puffy cumulus clouds dotting the blue sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A turtle sunning on a log.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pink lily flower, one of the last of the summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A green frog just before he leaped with a squeak to try to catch a dragonfly (he missed).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A water sculpture shooting streams of droplets into the air.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A rotting log, covered with moss, full of life inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A blue heron gingerly wading through the lily pads on delicate, long legs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A mossy path leading to more beautiful sights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My lovely wife Liz, smiling at me.

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: SeeMore Explorers, Animals, Seymour Photographs, nature, Water, Plants   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 12, 2012

My wife, Liz, tends to get a little grouchy about the deer that nibble on the plants and flowers in her garden. I understand how she feels, but we live in the country, after all, so we need to share our space with the wild creatures who live there.

Last week, I spotted not one but two baby deer, also known as "fawns." They settled in to munch some grass right next to the garden gate. It is hard to be mad at anything that is this cute, don’t you think?

What are you seeing in the outdoors this summer? Even if you live in a big city, like I did when I was growing up, there are still animals, plants and weather all around you. As you come to my blog this summer, you will find me posting photographs and writing about what I see in nature. It won’t be on a regular schedule during the summer months, but I will post photos whenever I see something that I think my readers will be interested in.

I love to hear from you all, too. If you take a photograph of an animal, plant or cool weather that you want to share, click on "SEND US PHOTOS/VIDEO" (in yellow at the top of every page on this website) and send it my way.

Don’t forget to download and print out copies of my free "Summer Vacation Science Observation Log." This simple form helps you write down all the details of what you see, so that you can figure out what kind of animal, plant, or weather you are watching. Click here to see an example of how I identified the beautiful Rosy Maple Moth using the observation log.

It’s summer, a great time both for reading and for exploring the outdoors!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(9) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Summer Vacation Science, Seymour Photographs   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 27, 2012

Today’s "Cool Photo of the Week" is a photograph that I took on Sunday afternoon. We were leaving our house in Columbia County, reluctantly heading back to the city, and decided to drive past Copake Lake.

As we were driving along the shore, I saw a swooping motion out of the corner of my eye, as a large bird dove into the water and came out with a fish in its beak.

 

I quickly pulled over, because many of my neighbors have told me that they have been seeing bald eagles this winter. Sure enough - my first close-up eagle sighting!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(2) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Seymour Photographs, Cool Photo, Birds   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 7, 2011

Yesterday, as my wife Liz and I were out putting holiday lights on the bushes in front of our house, we came upon this garter snake sunning itself in a bed of dry leaves that were caught in the branches. He was so quiet that I reached forward to see if it was alive. Sure enough, it slithered away, out of sight. I spotted it there again this morning, though. This must feel like a cozy spot!

What is surprising is that normally, in December, this snake would already be down in a den below ground, sleeping together with hundreds of other snakes for the winter. Once the weather cools down to normal winter temperatures, that is what it will do.

OK - WRITERS, ARE YOU READY? Write a few sentences describing the snake on the bush. If you like, you can put yourself (the writer) in my place and describe finding the snake. Use comparisons to describe how the snake looks in amidst the branches. Maybe ask a question that the reader will be thinking about as he or she looks at this photograph of a snake in a tree. Use as many descriptive details as you can to describe what the snake looks like, how it felt to find it in such an unexpected place, or even how you think it was feeling when humans showed up!

Post your writing by clicking on "comments" at the bottom of this blog. I am looking forward to reading what you write!  


          Note to Teachers and Library Media Specialists: 

I have created a Guide called “Writing Exciting Nonfiction,” which you can download by clicking on this link. It outlines different techniques that I use in my writing, and includes many examples from my books. I have posted it so that you can use it with your students. Please let me know if it is helpful, and share any other feedback about how we can make this blog a productive tool for you to use in exploring and encouraging nonfiction writing with your students.

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals Nobody Loves, Seymour Photographs, snakes, Common Core, Writing   •  Permalink (link to this article)

October 19, 2011

Believe it or not, this is a beautiful mushroom often called a "turkey tail." It has a scientific name too, but one not nearly as easy to remember: Trametes versicolor. I took this picture of a turkey tail growing on a rotting piece of wood just off the road near my house. It’s a common mushroom found anywhere there are dead and rotting trees and stumps in woods. The colors are variable but are usually brown and reddish brown. The mushrooms have zones of color and the surface is velvety.

There are a number of other mushrooms that look very similar and are lumped together by collectors as "turkey tails."

Here’s another picture of a quite different looking mushroom called a puffball. 

There are many different kinds of puffballs, from tiny ones that grow in clusters on trees or in circles called "fairy rings" in gardens or meadows. These puffballs in my garden are about an inch or two in diameter. But a few kinds of puffball mushrooms are over a foot across.

If you slice open a puffball, it contains either flesh or, if it’s dried out, spore dust. I advise you NOT to eat any kind of mushroom that you find growing in the woods because they are hard to identify one from another and some kinds of mushrooms are poisonous. If you have touched a puffball or other wild mushroom, be sure to wash your hands well with hot water and soap.

The autumn is a great time to get out and explore. If you would like to learn more and find interesting kinds of life, click here to download a simple, fun Seymour Science project called LIFE IN A ROTTING LOG. Happy exploring!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Seymour Photographs, Cool Photo   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 21, 2011

My goodness. It seems that every morning when I go out to pick raspberries for our breakfast cereal, I find another exciting-looking caterpillar! Of course, they are eating nearly around the clock these days, getting ready to spin their cocoons, where they will spend the winter before emerging as butterflies or moths in the spring.

As I wrote the other day, it’s best not to handle hairy caterpillars because some of them are poisonous or otherwise dangerous. Some of them have specialized hollow hairs, and when they are touched by humans, the hairs can create a tiny scratch on our hands and release a strong toxin (poison) into the almost invisible cut. This process is called "urtication," and caterpillar urtications can cause severe allergic responses in some people. So keep your hands off hairy caterpillars!

 

I picked this one up on a piece of cardboard and moved it out of the grass to a rock in order to get a better look at it. It was still sparkling with morning dew, and curled up into a ball as soon as I got near it. That is a defensive mechanism, to protect itself from predators (though I really wasn’t going to hurt it!). I could see immediately that this kind of caterpillar is a typical "woolly bear" variety, with a thick coat of black bristles called setae. The red bands around its body are so distinctive that I was able to easily identify it simply by typing "caterpillar black hairs red bands" into a web browser.

Well….I can say is…..WOW! This is the caterpillar of the Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia). 

It is one of the most beautiful of all moths - white with iridescent blue spots. And it truly is "giant," with wingspan of about 3-inches (8 cm). That is biger than your middle finger - a good-sized moth, for sure.

We do not clean up our garden very much in the fall, leaving the dry stems and leaves to create winter shelters for helpful and beautiful insects like these. I hope that lots of them find a safe haven up under the raspberry bushes, because I would love to see a giant leopard moth in person come the spring.

Keep your eyes open when you are walking in the outdoors, and then write and tell me what interesting wild creatures you see.

Moth Photo: Wikimedian Kevincollins123

 

 

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READERS: Are you wondering how to add your own "comment" to this blog? Click here for exact directions on how to add a comment so you can become one of our Seymour Science writers! We also want you to be safe and not share too much information when you write on this blog, so please take a minute to read about how to stay safe on the Internet. We love to hear from you, so give "comments" a try! 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(20) Comments  •   Labels: Butterflies, Seymour Photographs, Insects   •  Permalink (link to this article)

September 18, 2011

 

It is autumn in the northeast, which means that the countryside is dappled with fields of goldenrod. These yellow weeds are a favorite of the monarch butterfly, and everywhere that I went today, there were monarchs flitting amongst the yellow flowers, sipping their nectar.

 

Then, I realized that all the monarchs I saw were also flying in a southerly direction. The winter migration has begun. Over the next few weeks, these delicate creatures will travel nearly 3,000 miles to their winter home in Mexico.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, Animal Books, Butterflies, Seymour Photographs, Seasons   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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