Susan Day’s article in Birds & Blooms Extra magazine

December 27th, 2010

Susan wrote a little article for the January 2011 issue of Birds & Blooms Extra called “Take & Make Cards.”  It gives basic info about creating your own cards with nature photos that you take.  Look for it in newsstands now!

written by Susan Day/Daybreak Imagery

Take & Make Cards article in Birds & Blooms Extra

written by Susan Day/Daybreak Imagery

Take & Make article in Birds & Blooms Extra pg 2

New Birds & Blooms cover by Richard Day

December 18th, 2010
Photo (c) Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery

Downy Woodpecker, female on Common Winterberry

Richard Day’s Downy Woodpecker made the cover of the January 2011 issue of Birds & Blooms Extra!  That’s his 3rd cover for Birds & Blooms in 8 months—a gorgeous male  Indigo bunting in Susan’s flower bed was featured on the August/September issue and a Tiger Swallowtail butterfly on a blackberry lily landed on the May cover.

For the Downy Woodpecker, Richard was sitting in his blind in our yard photographing birds at feeders.  He always uses a photo blind to photograph birds because the birds are used to the blinds in our yard and go about their business because they can’t see him when he’s inside.  It’s less stressful on the birds overall, and that’s Richard’s highest priority when he photographs them.

We don’t get much snow here in southern Illinois, so when it does snow, Richard (“the weather man-iac”—according to Susan) plans ahead.  He watches weather patterns and forecasts for weeks waiting for snow in the forecast.  When there’s even an inkling of a flurry, he sets up his blind near some evergreen trees in our yard.  Various bird feeders are filled with sunflower seeds, niger seed, suet cakes, and chopped peanuts and placed down wind from the evergreens so the birds can have some shelter from the elements when they eat.

Cover (c) Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery

Indigo Bunting, male in Susan's garden

Back on January 31, 2008, it snowed and Richard was ready.  He photographed a bunch of different species like cardinals, juncos, blue jays, chickadees, and goldfinches for a couple of days before the snow melted.  Many of those have appeared in cards, calendars, magazines, and catalogs since then.

The female downy woodpecker was feeding on suet at one of his feeders.  We have a patch of Common Winterberry bushes near the juniper trees where he’d placed the feeders.

Winterberries (Ilex verticillata) are in the holly family and, as their name implies, their fruits don’t ripen until winter.  They  are great landscape plants for birds, offering nesting and cover in the summer as well as winter food for birds.  Downy woodpeckers don’t eat berries, however this female hopped in the bush and stayed long enough for Richard to take a few photos of her.

The Downy was photographed with his old Canon EOS 40D, (which he doesn’t own anymore) and his 600mm f/4 lens.  Since it was snowing, he had his ISO set at 320,  shutter speed 1/800th of a second at f/4.

Photo (c) Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly in Susan's garden

Polar Bear Photo Tour Update from Richard Day

December 14th, 2010

(c) Penny Filiatrault

Richard Day on tundra buggy, 2010 (c) Penny Filiatrault

Polar bear season in Churchill, Manitoba is over for this year and it was another fun year on the tundra.  This was my 10th year of leading tours, and I had the pleasure of guiding 4 tours for Frontiers North Adventures this ‘round.  Everyone had a great time and went home with lots of good polar bear, arctic foxes, red foxes, and other arctic wildlife photos.  Besides the bears, highlights this year included some very cooperative arctic foxes.  If you’ve ever tried to photograph arctic foxes, you know that they spend most of their time darting around with their noses on the ground sniffing for something tasty to eat.  But on my first 2 tours, our buggy driver, Brian located some that were hunkered down in the snow waiting for storms to pass.

(c) Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery All Rights Reserved

Arctic Fox in Churchill Wildlife Management Area (c) Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery All Rights Reserved

Something else that was interesting this year was being able to witness and photograph seal kills by polar bears.  Our tours are in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area, bordering the Hudson Bay, which has high and low tides.  The seals come in on the high tides and usually wash out when tides go back out.  Sometimes an unlucky seal may be napping during the low tide and gets stranded on rocks until the next high tide.  The polar bears have learned to watch for these unlucky seals who become the bears’ next meal.  This is amazing to watch, and people took home plenty of photos of bloody-faced bears and bears fighting over the food.  They also had many opportunities to photograph mom and cubs together.

Everyone asks me how global warming is affecting the polar bear population.  Frontiers North partners with Polar Bears International who conducts research in Churchill.  Click here to learn more about polar bears.

(c) Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery All Rights Reserved

Polar Bear mom and cubs sleeping (c) Richard Day/Daybreak Imagery All Rights Reserved

Susan Day’s Favorite Butterfly Garden Plants

November 9th, 2010

It’s November already and hard to believe that I still have a few butterflies hanging around what’s left of my flowers.  When I give my programs on butterfly gardening, I tell people to make sure something is blooming from the time the first butterflies appear in spring until the first hard freeze so this year I practiced what I preach—and it worked!  Today I spotted Cloudless Sulphurs, Common Buckeyes, and a couple dozen skippers skipping about the faded asters along the driveway flower bed and on clover in the lawn. Last week, before our first hard freeze of the season, I watched Cloudless Sulphurs, Common Buckeyes, assorted skippers, Painted Ladies, Checkered Skippers, Silver- Spotted Skippers, and Cabbage Whites nectaring on asters, catmints, lantanas, and salvias.

And as I say goodbye to my butterfly friends for this season, I’m already planning what to plant for them next spring.  My earliest perennials, such as Creeping Phlox Phlox subulata, Walker’s Low Catmint Nepeta racemosa and Pink Cranesbill Geranium sanguineum, usually bloom just in time for the first hatches of Black Swallowtail and Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies that have overwintered as chrysalises. The nice thing about early perennials is that they’ll bloom on their own before I can plant annuals in my Zone 5 garden. 

To understand what flowers work best for butterfly gardens, think about how a butterfly feeds.  First and foremost, the flower must contain nectar.  Since a butterfly inserts its proboscis into the tubes of flowers to gather nectar, it stands to reason that the flowers should have “tubes” that hold this nectar.  Most butterflies perch on flowers that have  clusters of tubular-shaped nectar-rich flowers to feed—so that’s what kind of flowers you’ll want to plant.

My 2010 butterfly garden was probably my most successful ever and I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years.  Each year I make changes and try to improve on what worked or didn’t work the previous year.  This summer our butterflies preferred these nectar flowers:  (alphabetical order by scientific name)

Butterfly Weed Asclepias tuberosa

Swamp Milkweed Asclepias incarnata

Asters:  New England ‘Alma Potschke’ and Tatarian

Blackberry Lily Belamcanda chinensis

Butterfly Bushes Buddleia davidii

Thread-leaf Coreopsis ‘Golden Showers’ Coreopsis verticillata

Purple Coneflower  Echinacea purpurea

Blanket Flower Gaillardia pulchella

Red Spread Lantana Lantana camara

New Gold Lantana   Lantana camara

Rose Campion Lynchis coronaria

Raspberry Wine Bee Balm  Monarda didyma

Black-eyed Susan ‘Indian Summer’ Rudbeckia hirta

Pineapple Sage Salvia elegans

Mexican Bush Sage Salvia leucantha

Mexican Sunflower Tithonia rotundifolia ‘Torch’

Brazilian Verbena  Verbena bonariensis

Homestead Purple Verbena  Verbena canadensis

Lanai Deep Pink & Lanai Bright Pink Verbenas

Profusion Yellow, Cherry, and Fire Zinnias

To see photos of some of our butterflies in our gardens, go to our Gallery and search for Butterflies.  We also have a 2011 Butterflies Calendar available and all photos were taken by Richard Day in our gardens here at the Daybreak Sanctuary. 

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly Nectaring on Pineapple Sage

Welcome to the Daybreak Imagery Blog!

October 26th, 2010

Daybreaking News has graduated to blog status where we’ll be posting updates on what we’re photographing and what’s happening in our neck of the woods. 

Summer has come and gone, and it was another great season at the Daybreak Sanctuary.  We hosted more than 100 photographers, naturalists, and nature-lovers who explored and photographed our birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and gardens.  Others found frogs, sedges, grasses, wildflowers, and insects like praying mantids and grasshoppers at the wetlands and prairies.  We enjoyed every visitor and are already planning improvements for next year’s workshops.

We thank all the camera clubs who braved the heat and humidity in July and August to photograph butterflies and dragonflies here.  If trees could talk, I’m sure our big old pecan tree would have many tales to tell of all it heard from the dozens of you who sought respite  from the heat (and enjoyed ice cream)  beneath its shade. 

For those of you who plan on returning next spring, please drop us an email or call to reserve your dates–most of our 2011 bird photography dates are already booked.