Monday, August 30, 2010
But really, who cares?!
They were great looking birds and I enjoyed finding them and sharing them with friends. Here is a little eye-candy for my blogger friends. Hope you enjoy them too! (Photos provided by Dane Adams- thanks Dane!)
Ibis sp. photo by Dane Adams
Ibis sp. photo by Dane Adams
Sunday, August 29, 2010
While heading North on Funk RD (yes, that is really its name!) I spotted 10-12 Great Egrets and multiple Great Blue Herons feeding at a receding water hole in a fallow field. I figured I would set up my scope and take a peek...
Friday, August 27, 2010
All moths fly at night, except when they don't. Katydids are green, except when they are pink (or blue)! And those female tiger swallowtails- are either black or striped, except when you find a rare in-between.
A female Tiger Swallowtail in an unusual "intermediate" color form. In all my years of butterflying, this one was a stand-out to me! Much darker than a normal striped female, she looked black when she closed her wings. This is a combination of the two female color variations.
She just couldn't decide what to wear! The darkness of her coloration was more obvious at a distance, making her a fashionista of the tigresses.
Nature- something new every day!
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Only a few species of butterflies show significant dimorphism: the male and female look markedly different. One species, the Tiger Swallowtail, has two different female forms. These are both female Tiger swallowtails pictured in the photo below.
The commonly recognized "tiger" form of the female on the left is only slightly different than the male tiger swallowtail. She sports a bit more blue at the base of her hindwing.
However, the black-form female tiger swallowtails can be a real poser. Maybe we need to talk about those confusing "black" butterflies? This black-form female still has a blue band at the hindwing, and if you see her against the light- you can actually see these faintest of stripes!! That is a sure bet you are looking at a dark-phase female tiger.
Suprise! Now we have added a male to the mix - a male Spicebush Swallowtail. He has just joined the ladies for a drink (of nectar). He is also a dark butterfly similar in size to the tigers, yet there are no see-through wing stripes. We can easily assess this a male, as his hindwing color is green. A female Spicebush would have a blue coloration.
Tigers can routinely be found nectaring on brightly colored flowers, such as Purple Coneflower and Ironweed. But this photo from Adams county was the first time I have seen them nectaring on the incredibly fragrant Virgin Bower, Clematis virginiana. I have one in my landscape but I rarely see it utilized by butterflies. I plan to take a much closer look to see if mine is actually a hybrid, that may not be producing a sweet smell or nectar like Ohio's native plant.
Blue Jay Barrens posted a wonderful article on Virgin Bower and I encourage you to tap on the link and visit his sight for for more information about this wonderful native plant.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Photo by Wikipedia
False Indigo (or Desert False Indigo) Amorpha fruticosa is a plant with a limited range in Ohio. It is found on the water edges along the Lake Erie and the Ohio River. There is also an isolated population at Killdeer Plains and in other counties where it was most likely spread by man. It is considered native in Ohio, due to the southern-most population. But before I would get on this extremely attractive native's bandwagon- I must warn- it is banned as a noxious weed in several states and seems to aggressively reproduce.
The equally attractive beetle is named for the habit of laying eggs within the stems of Amorpha. When the tiny eggs hatch, the beetle larva feed on the inner pulp of the plant, hence the name Amorpha Borer. These beetles are as rare as pelicans in Ohio, but they may be more plentiful in the states where Amorpha reigns. We are still learning about this mysterious bug!
Sunday, August 22, 2010
He brought along his own "straw" to nectar on a native thistle, and while he probed the flower with his proboscis (a fitting name for the implement), I checked out the leaves to determine which thistle we were both enjoying.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Mud flats are not just for shorebirds you know, here a bevy of beauties gathered at Ottawa NWR for minerals. All but one is the common species, Clouded Sulphur, but look closely at the squared-off wing of the mostly obscured upper left specimen. That, my friends, is a Dog-face. A rare member of the sulphur family who migrates from the south. They generally appear later in the season, if they appear in Ohio at all.
Scat, in particular, fox scat is very appealing to this Appalachian Brown and several other winged species. Appalachian Browns were once considered a single species with Eyed Browns. However, the Eyes are found in wet meadows where the much rarer Appalachian is found near damp woods and bogs. Robert M.Pyle says in Audubon's Field Guide to the Butterflies, "Both species are vulnerable to development of inland wetlands."
Monday, August 16, 2010
A spring storm may have been the catalyst, for after the weather cleared on May 4th there seemed to be a "purple rain" of southern birds. McCarty reported several in the Plain Dealer and hundreds of Ohio's birders streamed to Columbia Station see this Floridian as it scampered across the Yellow Pond-lily or "Spatterdock" Nuphar lutea. It was a dream come true for me, as I had nixed out on this bird twice in Florida. Now one was in my own state- and not just one!
And as I photographed this amazing find, I noticed the similarities between this habitat and one I frequently bird.
Bur-reed, Sparganium americanum is but one of the the wetland obligate species growing at Orweiler Road near Mansfield. Seen directly behind it, is our Spatterdock patch. So, why couldn't this be a fall-out location for these magical birds? I wasn't the only one wondering and checking, for soon John Herman of Crestline found not one- but two of these southerners cavorting in our marsh!
One evening several locals were hanging about hoping for a glimpse of the elusive birds. Much to their shock, the whole family marched boldly across the road. Joanne Wrasse documented the scene with a quick snap-shot of the little family: 2 adults, 6 chicks.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Swamp Thistle, Cirsium muticum
Unfortunately we have drained over 90% of our original wetlands, often for farming, but commercial development and urbanization have taken their toll as well. Is it any wonder that we have also extirpated several species of wetland dependant butterflies? The swamp thistle is the host plant of the Swamp Metalmark, and both- plant and butterfly- are now rare finds in Ohio.
Pipe Creek in Sandusky may not look like much, but to we "nature types" a wetlands is a beautiful thing. Last Friday, the water's edge provided foraging for geese, ducks, and many species of shorebirds, including a Willet and a Red-necked Phalarope. Several species of butterflies were also noted, including Buckeyes frolicking in the bare spots along the well-worn path.
Groups of birders gathered here to pay homage to a wandering Black-bellied Whistling Duck, found at Pipe Creek by Larry Richardson (blue hat in center of group). Look closely in the background of the photo, another similar spit of land nearby projects into Lake Erie, where Cedar Point amusement park is doing business as usual. Millions of tourists and millions of dollars have made their way to this northern most point of Sandusky...
but as far as we know, this is the first BBWD to grace this shore. It made big news in the birding community and it is one more reason to support wetland conservation.
Friday, August 13, 2010
If the bad news all becomes a little overwhelming to you too, let me share a few thing you can do to make a difference.
1. Provide Habitat
The last slide from my "Creating an Oz for Butterflies" program pretty much sums it up. Plant native plants (especially native trees) to improve YOUR corner of the world. You might be surprised with the wildlife that will visit... and even come to depend on your oasis or "Oz."
Landscapers and homeowners tend to avoid using tree species that shed fruits or nuts on lawns. So, what do you think our wildlife will live on? Plant a wild cherry, oak or hickory tree if you want to see nature in action.
2. Preseve habitats-
Here is a feel-good story about a guy who is hosting the ONLY remaining Swamp Metalmarks in Ohio. He didn't even have to plant natives. He just didn't mess up the habitat that was already there! Follow this link to the story in the Bellefontaine Enquirer to read about my hero.
3. Support a conservation group- or several!
Greater Mohican Audubon Society, OOS, Black Swamp Bird Observatory have all done educational programs and promote conservation. There are many organizations that need your help (or $ if you can't spare the time.)
So, those were three simple, empowering, things you can do.
And if you are most interested in that important link between native plants and nature- I encourage you to check this out:
No one of us can save the world... but we can make a difference, by simply re-thinking our own backyards. As Tallamy wrote in my copy of the book, "Garden as if life depended on it."
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
My daughters and I took in the sights of the city, and yes, Philly is infested with the same Starbucks and Hardrock Cafe one can find in every other major city. We were more interested in the history and architecture.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Our focus was on butterflies as well as native plants and we had nice looks at a both Viceroys and Monarchs. It offered an opportunity to study the difference in their wing patterns (look for a tight "V" in black on the Viceroy's upper wing-photo above) and their flight styles. Monarchs are deliberate in their flight- think "Bald Eagle" of the butterflies.
Jim Davidson (far right), my co-leader is a wealth of knowledge in the field, an incredible butterfly/plant mentor. Jim can call a skipper at 25 paces- and he is unbelievably accurate!
Sand-vine is a climbing member of the milkweed family and another host plant for monarchs, shown here twisting around other prairie plants. It is also called Honeyvine (oh, man those common names are confusing) and now the Latin has changed too! It was once called Ampelopsis albidus, but is now called Cynanchum laeve.
Friday, August 6, 2010
How fitting to find him nibbing on a native plant- Spicebush!
After dinner Wil Hershberger gave his amazing program on the "Songs of Insects." His knowledge and enthusiasm for this insects is downright contagious. After the program Wil and Jim McCormac led a night hike, with what may well be the largest group ever gathered in the name of "Katydid." By the way, we learned in the south, "Katy-didn't!"
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Generally orchids are among our biggest and flashiest of flowers. Not so with the Three-Birds Orchid, Triphora trianthophora. It may be a small orchid, but it is a big deal to Ohio's orchid lovers.
It's an orchid alright, and a showy little flower it is. But they can be rarer than "hen's teeth," as the old saying goes. Botanists often ponder if they are really more out there than we know about, but their size and short bloom cycle make them extremely difficult to find.
This little population in Ashland county was originally found by Tom Arbour, a good friend and fellow botany lover. He knew beach maple forests can produce these beauties, and he must have had his eyes peeled to find them.
How small are they? Well, here's one beside a penny! Nevermind the rotten photo, it is all mine. Auto focus liked the penny better than the plant, but you get the idea. This is definitely a tiny orchid!