Nice buck in velvet. It'll be at least a four point, probably more given how far out the main beam that first split is.
This praying mantis is a nymph stage, so I can't be 100% sure of the species, but seems like a European Mantis (Manis religiosa). You can tell that it is a nymph because it doesn't have it's wings yet, like the angel in It's a Wonderful Life. But here we use the word of the day: Paurometabolous. This lies somewhere between Hemimetabolous and Holometabolous on the metamorphosis scale. Essentially it means that after the mantis' eggs hatch the little nymphs look pretty much like tiny adults (and act like tiny adults), only instead of full wings they might have just some small wing buds. They will get their wings after a final molt into an adult.
About a mile into the cave (it has over 17 miles of passages) you come to a place known as The Showers. Clean, cool water rains down from above and you can wash up a bit, while the floor is a giant mud hole getting slime everywhere.
Just another day at the office around here. Connor Christenson doing some death-defying rappel work on the cliffs above the raging Potomac River. He is fully rigged to climb the rope back to the top, and did so without being swept away.
Just to avoid any confusion as to what this is, it is branded "FUD" (pronounced like "food" in English. Yes, it is food. Turkey hot dogs to be exact, assuming you do in fact consider such things as real food.
The house finch is native to the western US, but in 1940 it was released in New York and has been spreading across the eastern US ever since. They are attractive little birds that we see around town on occasion. This male is particularly bright.
Lots of super pretty flowers at Meadowlark Gardens, but wasn't really there to take pics of them.
Keith Christenson - Wildlife Biologist