TOLEDO, BUCKAROO!!! IT'S THE RICKUBISCAM
(sometimes known as the "rick, don't touch that!"
SEE WHAT THAT RASCAL RICKUBIS IS UP TO!
THE CAPTION SAY "IT'S LIVE"? IF IT DOESN'T, IT
Usually, the newest material on my pages appears here first. But sometimes, it doesn't. I'll try this--here is a
list of pages that have been recently updated (except this one--you can
see that here). Visit them directly to see what
else is new.
I'm still updating my pages--I'm just not always putting the newest material on this
page. Lately I've been spending my usual "web page" time expanding the
images on my old pages, so updates here haven't been as common.
started this domain, the only way to connect was via dial up--and slow
dial up at first. Everything I posted then was configured so dial up
users could download and see the pages. Now I'm upgrading what and when I can so the old
media looks better.
Grackles snatching shad out of the water filmed at 480 fps 06/10/2017 Newly added 6/13/17
Texas Rat Snakes Newly added 3/25/17 New page where I will put my Rat Snake pics and videos from over the years.
Blue Gray Gnatcatchers foraging in the air filmed at 480 fps 01/08/2017 Newly added 1/20/17
White Pelicans group feeding filmed 30 fps and 480 fps 01/02/2017 Newly added 1/15/17
Cormorants taking off filmed 480 fps 12/26/2016 Newly added
06/10/2017 and 07/04/2010 While
volunteering at Brazos Bend State Park, I've been asked about many
things in the park. Sometimes visitors will ask about the "beautiful
black birds with the iridescent feathers" that they've
The birds are usually male Grackles (Great-Tailed [Quiscalus
mexicanus] or Boat-Tailed [Quiscalus major] (which I can't tell
apart)). I've heard some people say "Oh, those are just Grackles (or
birds can be amazing to someone. Many of our visitors at BBSP are not
from around here, and may have never seen a Grackle. And,
they *are* beautiful. Grackles also can be fascinating because of what
they can do.
Here are some examples that I've seen.
of 2010, I watched Grackles catching crawfish at BBSP. When
compared to the expert herons nearby, their technique was imprecise and
comedic, but some of the Grackles did succeed.
I watched, I was impressed by a few things. First, crawfish aren't
likely to be "normal" prey for Grackles (though Grackles eat all kinds
of things). So at some point the Grackles had to learn they were good
It's possible they could have stolen crawfish from other birds or eaten their leftovers to learn this.
I figured that the Grackles had to learn--somehow--how to catch
crawfish. To do that, there are issues like dealing with the distortion
caused by refraction, or even recognizing prey in the water.
even after a Grackle successfully snared a crawfish, it sometimes
seemed at a loss on what to do next. Those claws can be intimidating.
So, I began to wonder how Grackles might have learned how to do
I thought that they might have learned by watching other,
more successful wading birds. But after time passed, I stopped thinking
about Grackles foraging in water.
My video of the Grackles eating crawfish can be seen at this link.
on June 10, 2017 (last weekend) I watched Grackles catching fish at
Bishop Fiorenza park. Again, I noticed that the Grackles' technique was
less efficient than the Egrets' near them. I thought that the Grackles
had to develop their *own* technique. It certainly involved more effort than the Herons and Egrets used.
High-speed Video of their efforts is here.
time, I looked online for information about Grackle intelligence &
I found studies by Corina Logan on Great-Tailed Grackles which showcase
their "Behavioral flexibility".
Here are 2 articles that describe her work. article 1 article 2
Grackles (in the family of Icterids) haven't proven to be the
"innovators" (or tool-users) that Crows or Ravens ( in the family of
birds called Corvids) are. But, they can adapt
their behavior to meet new challenges.
For more information, visit Corina Logan's page.
FRIENDLY REMINDER: ALL IMAGES, VIDEOS, AND TEXT ON
AND ALL MY PAGES ARE COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL
AND MAY NOT BE USED
USED MUSIC IN SOME OF MY VIDEO PRODUCTIONS AND CLIPS. IT HAS BEEN
FOR MY USE, ROYALTY-FREE. IF YOU'D LIKE TO PURCHASE LICENSED
OF AVAILABLE TYPES--FOR A VERY REASONABLE PRICE (HEY, EVEN I
AFFORD IT) THEN YOU CAN GO TO:
CLICK ON THE IMAGE, OR CLICK HERE
TO GO THERE. I'VE BEEN BUYING MUSIC FROM THEM SINCE 2003.
go back to my home page, click Welcome
EVER APPROACH ALLIGATORS. THEY CAN BE EXTREMELY
THEY FEEL THREATENED, JUST LIKE ALMOST ANY ANIMAL. DON'T
DISTURB ALLIGATORS AT THIS PARK, OR ANYWHERE ELSE.
few comments about alligators.(2451kb)
to see a flv video movie (625kb) of a series of eleven 11 x 14 posters
pictures of some shirts I've designed advertising my website.
For the story of my new titanium/ceramic toy, click here
to see how I've been recovering. I've come to think that these
pages are less about me, than what I'm writing about, but some people
were concerned. So, this page will show how it went.
here for the
chronicle of past rickubiscam
from the gallery, lower on this page,
there is a short list
of previous "events" that I've given special notice to with
that I feel will fit the theme of one of my other pages will
be moved off of this one.
ENTIRE PAGE SHOULD UPDATE EVERY 60 SECONDS. OF COURSE, IF THE
ISN'T LIVE, THEN IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER,
refresh changed to 60
minutes (3600sec.) 05/06/2001)
I AM ONLINE (AND THE CAMERA IS ON), THE CAMERA UPLOADS EVERY 60 SECONDS
OR SO, SO RELOAD OR REFRESH THIS PAGE IF YOU
SEE A CHANGE (THIS MAY BE NECESSARY WITH SOME BROWSERS).
on the RICKUBISCAM on the RICKUBISCAM
natural observations that first appeared on this page have been moved
my other pages. See the following links
are my other Brazos Bend
and/or critter pages:
05/07/2017 Bullfrog calling...revisited Last year, I discovered that male bullfrogs' ears are twice as large as the females' not to hear better than the females. Instead, the large ear helps increase the power
OR, FOR OTHER ANIMALS:
at Brazos Bend State Park Introduction---------Critters
at Brazos Bend State Park Page 1
at Brazos Bend State Park Page 3
of the bullfrog's call. That is, the large ears don't help them hear better....the large ears help them sound better! Since then, I've been trying to get better video of male bullfrogs calling. I have finally captured
some video at 480 frames per second (FPS). The video clearly shows the movement of the ear membranes.
two images below are frame grabs from one of the video clips. The
images show one ear membrane distended, and then collapsed. The video
is at this link.
Sunday is usually busy at Brazos Bend State Park. So, I usually bring
my bicycle to allow me to cover more of the trails. Today I rode about
repeating loops over the Elm Lake, Spillway, Pilant
Slough, Live Oak, and 40 Acre Lake trails. I was riding West on the
Spillway Trail when a couple of park visitors called my
to a Barred Owl in a tree above the trail. There was an adult in one
tree, and there was a juvenile owl in another tree. I stopped and
watched for a while. The visitors
told me that the adult had had a
crawfish and they thought it would try to feed the young owl. I didn't
see the crawfish, and just got one picture of the adult. The young owl
from branch to branch, and then took a short, risky flight to another
tree (I caught this with video). The adult flew off, and the young
forward and rested on the branch.
5 minutes later, I noticed some park visitors looking at something at
the edge of the trail about 20 paces East. When I went there, I saw a
beautiful Broadbanded Water Snake
in a high periscope position. I
explained that the snake was raising its head above the ground cover to
see what what around it, and that it probably intended to cross the
trail. The snake
lowered itself into the cover, and appeared again next
to the trail as a shorter periscope. And then...it crossed. This video shows the snake moving across the trail. Notice how the markings
the snakes face cross the jawline, and the orange, black, red and brown
coloration. These markings clearly identify this snake and
differentiate it from any of the 3 venomous snakes
that might be encountered at the park.
returned about an hour later, and the young owl was still where I'd
left it. But,tt stood up, and began grooming itself, then stood still.
I rode on, and didn't see it again. This video shows the
flight, and then grooming itself an hour later. It appears to be
removing the fluffy downy coverning to uncover the feathers underneath.
According to the Audubon website
(http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/barred-owl ) young Barred Owls take their first flight at about 6 weeks old.
04/01/2017, 04/08/2017 I
tried to see an Eagle at Fiorenza Park again. No luck. But as usual,
Double-Crested Cormorants were active, And for these two days, they
close enough for me to observe them easily. As I
have mentioned before various species of the fish generally known as
Plecostomus have established an invasive presence in Texas.
Most of the fish being caught by the Cormorants on these two days were Plecostomus.
the two similar types of diving birds that I can see in
Texas--Cormorants and Anhingas--I'd always admired the strategy and
habits of the Anhingas. Anhingas swim
totally submerged, and spear
fish with their pointed beak. Then they surface, shake the impaled fish
off their beak, toss it up and eat it. However, this stabbing
may not work against Plecostomus which are also called
"armored catfish". The Plecostomus don't seem to be much of a problem
for the Cormorants, though.
As some of these pictures show, sometimes a Cormorant was a little too successful, having caught a fish too large to eat. I saw a few Cormorants actually give up on fish they'd caught
just leave them under water. Some of these close-up shots really
show the hook on the end of their upper mandible--and how sharp that
hook is. The lower mandible fits closely
inside that hook, and the two parts make the beak a formidable tool for catching and handling fish.
a few of the picturds (and in the video clips that I filmed) the
Cormorants used their beak with great dexterity, and were able to find
chinks in the armor covering most of the
body of the fish--by
piercing their eyes, or softer underside. Sometimes it took a few
minutes before the Plecostomus was weakened enough to be swallowed, but
the birds were
usually successful. The video clips from these two days can be seen here and here.
90 minutes, I saw a number of Plecos dispatched (10 or more? I wasn't
counting)...just in the area I was watching. Just imagine the hundreds
of invasive Plecostomus
that are probably being removed from Brays Bayou by the Cormorants in this park in a week!
morning rain, the sun brightened the day, so I visited Fiorenza Park
(the Phase 2 section). The park looked great, and I hadn't been there
very long when a Bald Eagle landed in a tree about 50 yards above me!
it stood on a branch and preened itself, I shot a number of pictures
and a a few video clips. Even though the eagle didn't "cooperate" by
standing clear of all obstructive branches, I was still very happy to
see it. I stood ready
to film the eagle's take off, and even
so, I missed the launch. The eagle flew into the trees, then back out
and over to the cormorant nest island.
saw the eagle apparently land behind the trees on the island. I waited
and kept watching the island, since I'd hoped that the eagle had
descended to catch something. Meanwhile, I watched the various
cormorants, grebes, spoonbills and other birds.
Then I noticed a
mixed flock of birds fly left--out of the trees on the island. Amongst
the pink of the airborne spoonbills and the black of the flapping
cormorants I saw the eagle! It flew free of the other birds and
landed on a far bank. It had been
carrying something, but I couldn't tell what it was. The three images below are from a burst I filmed as it flew.
watched anyway through binoculars and camera as the eagle ate, then
seemed to wade into the water and either drink or wash its beak.
Finally, the eagle took off and I lost sight of it as it flew behind
the trees of the cormorant island again. I've edited some of the video clips together. That video can be found by
following this link.
The two images below are of one of the flocks of Roseate
Spoonbills that flew by. I think it's great that this wonderful park is
only 15 miles from midtown Houston!
morning was a bit cool at BBSP today. I was up on the Observation Tower
at 40 Acre Lake when I started watching a Great Blue Heron that was
down in Pilant Lake. I saw the heron catch a Lesser Siren, and I tried
for some long-distance shots with the camera. I also shot some video.
Then I hurried down to the ground, and I was able to get closer to the
heron as it subdued and ate the siren. I've seen events like this on
other occasions, and a few of these early example show on the page I
have devoted to herons here.
I have also described Lesser Sirens on that page. Below are some
images that I shot as photos and some frame-grabs from the video I
filmed. The small front legs of the siren show well in some of the
images. The video can be found by following this link.
up the spotting scope by the mom and babies again today, from 8:30 am
to 2:30 pm. I talked to 200 park visitors during that time, shared the
view of the mom and babies through
the scope, and shared information
with them. Today, an American Bittern foraged in the area during the
entire time. Bitterns are interesting anyway (see them on my page here), but one has been
taking a baby alligator at the park in 2015. So, I could show this
example of one of the many predators which eat baby alligators.
This one stayed away from the babies, and captured a number of
This one stayed away from the babies, and captured a number of
crawfish. And, below, another picture of the babies, this time on
the mother's snout.
02/12/2017 Here's some further information that can be shared while looking at this mom and babies. The pictures below are pictures from
February 12, of the same mother and babies.
As volunteers at BBSP, we are told that male alligators can be about 14 feet long, while female alligators rarely get longer than 9 feet. The "alligator fact sheet" found
on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website : "http://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_lf_w7000_0488.pdf"
states "females seldom reach over 9 feet in length, while males may reach 14 feet These figures can also be found in many other places, in print or online.
I have also seen speculation that alligators continue growing throughout their lifetimes. This is not true. The growth curves for male and female alligators do flatten out, starting
at about 40 years. For many years I've wondered *why* the difference in length between male and female alligators? After all, they live in the same environment; and have access to the same
a hint In this study: Growth Rate of American Alligators in Estuarine
and Palustrine Wetland in Louisiana William L. Rootes, Robert H.
Chabreck (1991), they state:
"In our study, male alligators
grew faster than females after they reached 1 meter Total Length;
therefore, males became considerably larger than females. (P.491) " and
slower growth rate of adult female alligators as compared to adult
males may be related to the greater energy expenditure by females
during reproduction. (P.492)"
In another study (referred to me by
Ph.D. Candidate, Biologist Abby Lawson): Determinate Growth and
Reproductive Lifespan in the American Alligator
mississippiensis): Evidence from Long-term Recaptures by Philip M.
Wilkinson, Thomas R. Rainwater, Allan R. Woodward, Erin H. Leone,
and Cameron Carter (published 2016) they gathered data over 40 years.
greatest lengths were: females: 213.4 to 293.6 cm (7
- 9.6 ft) ; males: 325.1 to 380.4 cm ( 10.6 - 12.4
ft) This study was done in SC (South Carolina) and alligators
there than here in Texas. But length of mature
specimens was the same. It just takes longer to get there. This study
also gives female reproductive efforts as a cause for the size
between male and female alligators. When stated in more
detail, this makes sense. I got most of the following information from
pages 849-850 of the study.
The growth of female crocodilians slows
and finally stops when they reach the size which balances with the
energy they expend. Males expend less energy during the reproductive
than females do.
Both sexes expend energy during
courtship, competing for mates, and copulation. But after all that,
female alligators construct the nest, produce the eggs, guard the nest,
help with hatching and guard the young.
sexes grow quickly until they are big enough to prevent most predation
upon them. Then, females' energy shifts toward reproduction. Even so,
larger females would be able to take better nesting sites, so
further growth would be useful to them. but they still stop growing at
about 9 feet. Male alligators grow quickly when they're young,
but continue growing after maturity. This allows males to quickly
big enough to compete with other males for territories and habitats.
Guarding the nest requires
60 days, (and my guess is it's) during the season when prey and alligators are most active.
Previous and newly-hatched young will be protected for a year or more. So, that is why
a full-grown male alligator is about half again
as large as a full-grown female.
been volunteering at Brazos Bend State Park for a little over 15 years.
Often, while I'm out there, I do what is called "trail
interpretation". There are different ways that this can play out.
time, I brought a spotting scope with me, and brought it near one of
the alligators that had a pod of babies. Visitors who walked by would
have seen and heard something like this:
"Hi!! Can you see what I've been watching over there?"
"Yes! There's an alligator out there, about 20 yards away. But...can you see the other 15?"
a female alligator,and her babies are around her. In fact, some are on
her back. I have the scope focused on her."
welcome to take a look through the scope. That's why I've set it up.
I've set it low so that children can look through it, too."
you see the babies?. That "rock" they're on is, in fact, her back. At
that size, they would have hatched last September."(Pic shot with my
phone through the scope.)
have spent many hours doing this, and on February 5, 2017 I spent more
hours doing the same thing. Using the opening described, I could go to
all sorts of information about
alligator behavior and biology...and
even other subjects about the life in the park. It's a wonderful
way to spend time. Here is a larger picture of the mom and babies
I took on this day. It's from a number of zoomed images that I was able
to stitch together. There are at least 9 babies on her.
I was able to capture some high-speed video (480 fps) of some Blue Gray
Gnatcatchers (polioptila caerulea) as they foraged among the trees.
According to The Sibley Guide of
Bird Behavior, these birds eat
small insects and spiders. Sometimes, they open their tails to expose
the white feathers, and flick the tail upwards--possibly to scare prey
so they can catch it. I don't see this behavior in these
two clips. In the first clip, the gnatcatcher appears to pick
something off the underside of a branch. In the second clip, the
hovering in front of a bunch hanging dead leaves.
Then it turns its head sideways to focus an eye inside the leaf, then
This bird *does* open its tail, but it appears to me to
be using it to stabilize flight. I'm impressed by the number of
times the birds pull in their wings and are briefly suspended,
in a "free-fall" situation. The edited video clip is here. The three images below are frame-grabs from the video.
Bend State Park reopened this week! Even this long after the
flood, the park shows signs of what the high water had done. In this
long panorama shot, here are two interesting examples.
40 Acre lake
is almost totally choked by Water Hyacinth. But....Pilant Lake is more
open than I've ever seen it in 14 years! Take a look. Click the image
to see a larger version--then scroll across.
another wonderful thing! The Golden Silk Spiders (Nephila
clavipes) have come back. The numbers of these spiders had dwindled
since the big drought of 2011, and on some trails where I'd previously
seen hundreds or thousands....I saw few. In fact, so few that I didn't feel comfortable disturbing any of them. This year, there are many more, and I was able to gently borrow one from her web to show to
some park visitors. Afterwards, I placed her back into her web. Here she is:
Sunday at BBSP gets very busy. This year, I had time to put a camera on
my bicycle handlebars and do a quick ride on the Elm Lake Trail before
it got busy. I was experimenting with doing "virtual" trail tours of
I'm not sure if this works or not, but here is an edited
version of the footage I filmed. A surprise unique to the park happens
near the 6:47 mark. Links to the video are here (files are about
200mb): Elm Lake trail mp4 Elm Lake trail wmv.
now has her own page. For Piper-related news, you can go here.
have created all the content
on *my* pages. That means that I have either shot the video, taken the
pictures, or performed any demonstrations. That also means that I've
every image on these pages, that is, I've cropped, enhanced, resized,
and otherwise optimized
ACRE LAKE!! 11/19/2006
is a picture I shot 11/19/2006 from the top of the Observation Tower at
40 Acre Lake. What an improvement from the summer! Click on the image
one that's a little bigger.
*every* single image on my pages. That means
I've also edited, enhanced, extracted images from, recoded (in two or
or four formats) every *video clip* on these pages. I've also, for
or worse, composed all the text and layout on these pages. I've had to
learn to use the
various utilities for doing all of this, as well as
and legally getting copies of them in the first place. I'm also
for all the hardware used to do this. I also pay for the server space
for all of this information as well as for my access to it. It costs a
lot of money, time,
and effort to put these pages out here...hopefully
to entertain and to inform. And this is *after* I spend time at my "day
job". People are welcome to the information here, but if it's
elsewhere, then I deserve credit for my effort. If it is used for
else's profit, then I deserve
part of that profit. *That* is the
of my notices about copyright.
page was born 9/16/1999. Rickubis designed it.
(such as it
Go back to my home page, Welcome
many come by to see the
lets look at the counterprovided
started June 18, 2001. 1/10/2012 = 10473 3/25/2014 10904 9/12/2014
= 10959 11/19/2015
= 11137 2/16/2017 = 11326
the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra! Go buy it! This
me laugh all the time. If you share my love of 50' B-movies, you'll
like this movie.
these clips 01--02--03--04--05--06--07
(1 & 5 should interest my ranger friends). They are
order, but don't give away too much.
copyright of the various
owners. No ownership by me is implied and clips are only here to