Tag Archives: Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana)

Always fleeting

Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
— Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Sometimes they chase their shadows.

A velvet ant (Dasymutilla sp.) in flight (IMG_3659)

Sometimes their shadows chase them.

A giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) in flight (IMG_3537)

And sometimes their shadows hide beneath them, holding them up, providing the foundation upon which they travel.

A Virginia opossum (a.k.a. possum or tlacuache; Didelphis virginiana) trotting through a clearing (2009_04_19_016210)

Observing wildlife is one thing, but photographing it is another.  Because life is always fleeting.

A juvenile American robin (Turdus migratorius) in flight (2009_09_06_028805)

Sometimes together.

Rock doves (a.k.a. common pigeons; Columba livia) in flight (2008_12_07_000543_ab)

Sometimes alone.

A nutria (a.k.a. coypu; Myocaster coypus) swimming in calm water (2009_06_01_021672)

Sometimes in the city.

A cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis) in flight (2009_05_17_019619)

Sometimes in the wild.

A diamondback water snake (Nerodia rhombifer) swimming through a creek (2009_06_06_022472)

Sometimes up close.

A variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) in flight (IMG_3174)

Sometimes at a distance.

A Forster's tern (Sterna forsteri) in flight (2009_12_26_046986)

But always fleeting.

A white-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata) in flight (2009_07_18_026922)

Yes, life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

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  1. Velvet ant (Dasymutilla sp.) flying over open ground in East Texas; this female will lose her wings and become a typical velvet ant as soon as she selects a good hunting-cum-nesting site
  2. Giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes); this is the largest butterfly in Canada and the United States
  3. Virginia opossum (a.k.a. possum or tlacuache; Didelphis virginiana); this is the only marsupial found north of Mexico
  4. Juvenile American robin (Turdus migratorius)
  5. Rock doves (a.k.a. common pigeons; Columba livia)
  6. Nutria (a.k.a. coypu; Myocaster coypus)
  7. Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis) in breeding plumage
  8. Diamondback water snake (Nerodia rhombifer)
  9. Variegated fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)
  10. Forster’s tern (Sterna forsteri)
  11. White-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata)

At night, the ice weasels come

A Virginia opossum (a.k.a. possum; Didelphis virginiana) at night (20081007_13476)

OK, so it’s not a weasel.  Heck, it’s not even in the same ballpark taxonomically speaking.  It’s a marsupial, a Virginia opossum (a.k.a. possum; Didelphis virginiana) in point of fact, but that’s as close as I had to a photo of a weasel at night.  For that matter, minks are as close to weasels around these parts, and they’re about impossible to photograph since we’re in the middle of Big D and the critters stick to a strict nocturnal routine given all the diurnal activity. But anyway…

The point is that I’m alive, that xenogere hasn’t gone the way of the dodo, and that life goes on regardless of my meanderings about its many peripheries.  Hopefully—and soon—I’ll get back to a more regular posting schedule.  And hopefully I’ll get back to visiting my many online friends.  But until then…

Be well!

— — — — — — — — — —

Title is from a quote:

Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath.  At night, the ice weasels come.
— Matt Groening

As for the opossum:
Photography at night is difficult.  Doing it without using flash is near impossible.  But I hate flash, hate using it, hate seeing it, hate trying to pretend it doesn’t suck the life out of everything it touches.  I’ve gotten better, though.  I have some photos of Baket taken after dark—around the same time this opossum photo was taken—and it shows a marked improvement in quality even without using a flash.

Opening gifts

I knew my original pile of photos to post went back to the beginning of 2008; therefore, I started with photos taken on January 1 of that year.  From that time through the present, there are 71,847 images consuming 574 GB of space.  To say it’s been tedious and tiring having to go through them again is to understate the matter entirely.

Yet I’ve already completed restoring and reprocessing pictures up to May 17, 2009.  My ‘working set’ feels more like home again, a place to visit for inspiration and items to share.

I’ll admit I’ve wielded a blunt instrument in the restoration.  One thing I noticed as I waded through the vast collection was that I recognized so many duplicate scenes that had originally been set aside for posting.  Really, how many pelican landings do you want to look at?  And mockingbirds? And dandelions and clouds and yadda yadda yadda?

It’s one thing to post recent discoveries like that, but these dated all the way back to early 2008.  I had set them aside at one time thinking they were worth posting, then I had captured more of the same during ensuing jaunts in nature, some of which found their way here but most of which wound up resting in the pile of things to post later.  Finding them this way allowed me to purge the repetition in light of newer snapshots and future findings.

The fun part of this laborious endeavor has been the sense of discovery.  I haven’t looked at some of these photos in a long time.  I’ve come across things I meant to identify, hidden gems lurking in the shadows, goodies I’d forgotten about, and items I’d tossed away at one time but found newly interesting during this review.

For example, on April 19 of this year I visited the rookery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.  It was a cloudy day, dark and overcast and windy.  Flitting about in the deep shadows was this orange-crowned warbler (Vermivora celata).

Orange-crowned warbler (Vermivora celata) perched on a branch (2009_04_19_016184)

At the time I couldn’t tell what it was because I stood too far away, and the nondescript bird stayed in the verdant foliage where what little light the day offered could not penetrate.  That its plumage matched the surroundings made it all the more difficult to photograph.  Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised to see it had sat still long enough for one portrait.

Something else small and camouflaged flitted about the deep recesses of the motte, something which on that day scampered about the understory making brief appearances as it searched the ground cover for a meal.

House wren (Troglodytes aedon) lurking in the brush (2009_04_19_016170)

This secretive house wren (Troglodytes aedon) moved like a ghost, a shadow hiding in a sea of shadows.  I followed it carefully, trying to maneuver into a closer, better position, but I might as well have been trying to jump over the moon.  The little critter would step into the open for a moment or two before vanishing again, then it would show up further down the path where I’d have to rush to catch up.  This game lasted several minutes before I accepted the futility of my pursuit.

It was at that very moment that something caught my attention, something seen peripherally as it galloped along the path toward me.  Before I looked, I first thought it must be a cat trotting beneath the spring canopy.  I turned and faced it.

Virginia opossum (a.k.a. possum; Didelphis virginiana) running along a path (2009_04_19_016206)

Oblivious to my presence, this Virginia opossum (a.k.a. possum; Didelphis virginiana) ran headlong toward me.  I swung the camera up and snapped a photo knowing it had already realized I was standing there.  It halted in its tracks and looked at me for but a second, then it turned and disappeared into the brush alongside the trail.

None of these photos will win an award, mind you, but they’re the kind of neat surprises I’ve enjoyed finding as I’ve worked through this whole laptop rebuild.