Friday, August 26, 2011

Bona Dea Update-1

Bona Dea is still in operation. I have been absent for awhile. I went there in the late afternoon today, Friday. I went to the spillway. After just going down swinging bridge trail for a few feet I saw a raccoon cross in front of me going from one pool to another one. I slowly crept up on it until it saw me and ran down the bank. Then as I was starting to walk again, 2 small babies walked across the trail and right in front of me stopped and stared and raised their backs like cats ready to fight. I had no camera so I missed a great photo opportunity. The link above shows close to what they looked like. After going to the spillway I fed the fish and also a small Musk Turtle. I have not mentioned one in a long time. The photo here shows one at the same location some time back. A few days ago I went to the Disc Golf Course near by and while standing on the iron cross over bridge, I looked down into the water and saw and really huge Midland Watersnake,Nerodia sipedon pleuralis. No camera again but this is a link to them. They really look mean and poisonous but aren't. I noticed out there that there are many young Eastern Kingbirds flying around and chasing each other like crazy. I saw this several days earlier out there too. In the early spring, there were several pair in the area so I supposed most of the eggs hatched by the looks of things. An oddity I discovered when I got home was while going to the mail box by the road, I noticed what looked like an apple growing in the Japonica or Quince Flowering bush. I examined it closely to see if it was attached to a foreign plant embedded in the bush. But no, it was attached to a stem of the bush. I researched it and found it was the fruit or seed pod for this bush called Chaenomeles. I have seen and been up close to these bushes all my life and never have noticed these things. Here is a photo of 2 of them together. And also a photo of what the mature flowering bush looks like in the Spring. You can actually eat these. They are very hard which I found out when handling it. But you can boil it down and make jelly out of them. Learn something every day huh? Back to the subject at hand, some time ago at the Disc Golf Course, I viewed these beans or seed pods to a Trumpet Creeper wildflower vine. These were huge. You can see them attached to the vine with the orange flower blooms. Also present behind these were some smaller seed pods of a Hazel Alder small tree or bush. They were planted there by the waters edge when the authorities built the park. I zoomed and cropped the photos to see the small seed pods that were in the background. It actually rained close to 9 inches in 9 straight days at my home in the last month. It has rained some since then. But it has really been a hot and dry summer up until August. The night now are in the high 60's to low 70's F. Nice sleeping weather.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bona Dea Update

Bona Dea has been very, very hot and dry for the last couple of months. There have been several days of over 100 degrees F. with heat indexes around 110 degrees. Very little rain in this period of time. However the vegetation and animal wildlife doesn't seen to be effected other than the birds stay inactive in the middle of the day. An interesting site a couple of weeks ago was out at the Disc Golf Course that I have talked about before, where at the small cross over iron bridge across the canal was a rather small black and white pigeon. This pigeon sorta resembled a Birmingham Roller pigeon. When I was a kid, I used to raise them and watch them tumble or somersault in the air. I got real close to it and it did not fly. I backed off and went the other way and someone else came across and it flew in strange patterns diving down and going back up before landing in a nearby tree. Did not get a photo but this is what it looked like preening itself. First and only one I have seen there or at Bona Dea. At a local restaurant close to Bona Dea, I was walking down the drainage ditch in back and happened to see this Common American Snapper Turtle. I am sure it was a female looking for a place to dig a hole to lay her eggs. At Bona Dea on Rabbit Run Trail on the south side of the park, I had noticed where the private land by the fense had been mowed in just one place. So I had jumped the fence and saw a wildflower that I had not seen there before. It just a few feet from a pond. It turned out to be a False Fiddleleaf wildflower-Hydrolea ovata. As you can see, it has a very pretty blue bloom. The days have been so hot that this bloom had started to wilt. The surprise came when in route to the Fiddleleaf plant, I saw this juvenile Texas Ratsnake, Pantherophis obsoletus, going across the trail. I followed it and took these photos. No signs of the Alligator in quite a while now. They have posted signs at both park entrances to beware of them and not to feed them. There have been swarms of grasshoppers all around this area during the summer. They are all over the place. It appears they are the species Differential Grasshopper Melanoplus differentialis. We really need it to cool down and rain.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bona Dea Update

Bona Dea received almost one half inch of rain today. Hooray!!! We really need it. I have been watering got a bit at home and am doing so right now even though we got the rain. It has also cooled things down quite a bit today. As shown in the post below. Mr. Paul Ray and I went to the Disc Golf Course and Bona Dea Sanctuary on 06-21-11. These photos and text is in regards to the Bona Dea visits. We went there first and then returned there for another excursion. On our first visit, we went on the North end of Swinging Bridge Trail. Right off the bat we saw this momma or pappa Blue Jay, Cyanocitta cristata, bird feeding a lone baby. In this photo the baby is on the right with its wings open ready for a bite. Just a few feet down the trail we saw this pretty yellow and black Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Papilio glaucus, butterfly. We went on down to where the old Swinging Bridge used to be and on Prairie Creek and saw several dragonflies.This is a Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans). In the exact same place was this Viceroy butterfly-Limenitis archippus. The smaller orange one. We left that area and went over to Waldon Way Trail. By the way, no Alligator seen on this day. We traveled down the trail a short ways and there were several beautiful Red-winged Blackbirds-Agelaius phoeniceus-male-on Black Water Swamp. Paul went crazy with his camera. This is a very pretty mature and excited male. It was absolutely showing out. It must have had a nest close by and was making his lover jealous. It was turning somersaults and tumbling and flying in all kinds of positions. A great shot of it flying and coming in for a landing. Then a really neat sight. There was a family of Red-bellied Woodpeckers on a nearby tree. One photo shows the father on a trunk up above the baby with its mouth open on a lower limb. Then the other photo showing the mother coming up the trunk to join the others. We then left and went to the Disc Golf Course for the info. showing in the post below. Then we came back here and went to the west parking lot and went on Serendipity Trail. First of all we saw this Black-and-white Warbler-Mniotilta varia. I thought it was a Nuthatch at first but the photos shows it otherwise. This is the black and white striped small bird. Then in the same place and actually right across the trail was this Carolina Wren-Thryothorus ludovicianus. This is the small brown bird with mostly a head shot. We then turned and went the other way on the trail and Paul took this shot of a Prairie Lizard-Sceloporus consorbrinus on a tree trunk. The blue under belly indicates a male. Out in the water close to this area in Black Water Swamp's west side were 3 female Wood Ducks-Aix sponsa. Wood ducks are the main and sometimes only ducks here this time of year and in the winter there are several varieties. A little further down the trail I spied this Northern Rough Greensnake -Opheodrys aestivus aestivus. At first I thought it was just a green vine growing out into the trail. It was frozen still and I had to touch it pretty hard before it moved. This was after Paul took some photos. But this days outing had its toll. We took a short cut down to the park on the first visit and went through some waist high weeds. We got absolutely covered in chiggers. Click on the chiggers highlight to see what these very small critters look like. I feet have been red and swollen for days. I think I have learned a lesson. Paul had some bug spray and used it on his sexy legs but not his feet. I used it on my arms but they were not in the weeds. But we had a wonderful time and saw a lot of interesting things you find in nature. If you get a chance, get outside and enjoy some of it every once in a while.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Disc Golf Course Update

On Tuesday 06-21-11 Mr. Paul Ray came down for us to go on another wildlife Safari. These photos on this post were taken at the Disc Golf Course not far from the world famous Bona Dea Sanctuary. He took most of these photos with his camera equipment. We'll save the best for first. I had been trying to locate and photo the Baltimore Oriole birds that were at this place and Bona Dea. And so far this year no such fortune. But we stayed with it and patience paid off as we were able to see one. They stay in the very high canopy of the tall trees which this time of year have heavy foliage. So it is hard to spot them. But we followed this one bird and she suddenly disappeared. I thought that strange and started looked at the spot where she disappeared and then I spied her nest. They build their nest in hanging baskets that look like are put together with a spider web with leaves and small limps in it. There are 2 photos here of that nest. One showing a brighter clear representation of the makeup and the other showing the female in the nest. It was unusual to me to note that this nest was right above the main parking lot where a lot of people come and go every day. I also saw some more nests in trees closer to the water a few days later. There is a photo showing the female on a limb with the nest at the lower right. Then another showing her peering into the nest fixing to get it and further lay and or incubate her eggs as they had not hatched by this time. The other 2 Oriole photos are of the male of this pair. It is a poor photo as I had my camera a few days later and had to hurry to catch it in the open. I did see another male and a different location at this park and it was a much bigger and prettier specimen. It could be that when these eggs hatch both parents will be feeding the young and will be closer in photo range. Other Oriole photos. While in the parking lot we saw this real pretty Common Buckeye butterfly-Junonia coenia. It landed right next to our vehicle wheels. There have been some plants growing in the water and were grouped close together and I had never seen these before in this area. So I wanted to ID them. They were over on a small island and you could not get a close up without swimming over or taking a boat. These are Cattail plants-Typha latifolia. This photo here shows a close up of the cat tails starting to form at the top of the plant. They are called mature male & female flower spikes. Also real close to this area is a big Crossvine plant that had a lot of blooms this year. It also had a lot of Bumble Bees and other bees and wasps all over it in early spring. But now the blooms had disappeared leaving these seed pods that look like green beans. I was holding this string of seed pods but did not want my gorgeous Elvis Presley body to distract from this post. So I cropped myself out and here is some info on the Crossvine. This Fox Squirrel-Sciurus niger, was begging Mr. Ray to take its photo. So he said ok and look at this pose. In this same area was a Northern Mockingbird-Mimus polyglottos. Like the Oriole it was staying pretty close to the same tree and after further review we noticed it also had a nest. This nest was pretty close to the ground but was also in the parking area where people go right by it. One photo shows it in the tree close to the nest with a insect in its mouth. The other photo shows it on the nest after it had fed the little ones. Last but not least was this Scissor-tailed Flycatcher-Tyrannus forficatus-that was flying around the park and it landed in this tree right beside the parking lot also. Seems like everything today was right in the same area where we parked our vehicles. You can really see its scissor tail in this photo of it chasing a flying insect. They actually have 2 double tails. They are beautiful in flight and this year there are more of them here and at Bona Dea and also in town than I have ever seen.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wasp and Caterpillar action

This video clip shows a Thread-waisted Wasp working furiously to cover up and fill in a hole to its nest where it has just deposited a big Speckled Green Fruitworm Moth-caterpillar for food for whenever the eggs in the nest hatch and then the new larvae will eat it.

Bona Dea and Disc Golf Course Update

This area of nature has really been hot and humid as of the past few weeks. With highs in the high 90's f and heat indexes over 100. Only scattered occasional showers. The Canadian Geese have really been doing their thing and I have not seen so many families of so many little ones. This especially along Pleasant View road on the way to the Disc Golf Course. Also several have been killed on the road. The water pools at Bona Dea are holding up pretty well in the heat. They should with all the flooding there just recently as shown in previous posts. There have been several Baltimore Oriole birds at both places. The males being especially pretty. Have not taken photos of any yet but hope to later on before they leave out. I was following a guy at Bona Dea close to the parking lot when I noticed him beating something in the grass. I ran up there and it was a King Snake. I got him to stop but it was too late. This is a wildlife sanctuary and people are not allowed to kill or catch anything wildlife there. He did not know a king snake from any other snake but they have their place on earth too. People also pick the flowers when they are at their peak. On 06-03-11 I saw a real pretty Wild Sweet Potato Vine. This is actually and type of Morning Glory flower. They do make tubers also. That is the root part you can eat. This is the white flower with a burgundy center. This was very close to the gazebo by the main parking lot. The other photos here were taken at various times at the Disc Golf Course which is very close to Bona Dea. This is very strange but even though the photos were taken on different days, they were all taken right beside the small iron bridge by the parking lot. Just shows you what can happen when you have the patience to just stay put and let things come to you. I can say this easily as I have a bad foot and do not go as far as I used to.Put at the north end of the bridge was this good specimen of a Black-eyed Susan- Rudbeckia hirta-wildflower. It is the pic of the yellow flower. Then on the south end of the bridge right next to it was this Common Spreadwing damselfly- Lestes disjunctus. This is a small dragonfly. It is the pic showing small splotches of blue on head and tail areas resting on the rock. In this same area around the bridge were 2 Prairie Racerunner-males- (Aspidoscelis sexlineata viridis). These are a type of lizard. These 2 were running around chasing each other and grabbing at each other. They were so excited that they were this beautiful and bright green and blue. They don't show this brightly when in normal temperament. .They have long tails and move very fast when they want to. Their tails come off on purpose when something grabs them. But the other day, I really saw something interesting. I have seen this action before many times but have not taken photos of this occurrence and really did not know what all was going on until I researched it. But literally at my feet was this wasp that was trying to carry this big worm/caterpillar around. I knew that it had killed it or was going to but did not know what it was going to do with it. Soooooooooo, I just kept watching. Then I saw it. It was taking it to a hole in the ground not far from my feet and the bridge. I then managed to scare the wasp away and took and hid the worm until I could run to get my camera out of the vehicle. I was hoping that it would stay around until I got back. I got the worm and put it back where I got it and sure nuff the wasp came back and started to carry it to the hole. I took several photos and these are some of them. One showing it with its jaws around the caterpillar and others showing it putting the worm in the hole and another showing it backing up to the hole and actually kicking small loose debris into the hole to fill it up. Also showing it carrying debris in its jaws and depositing it into the hole and finally showing the hole totally filled up. The wasp then padded the debris down pretty hard so you could not even tell a hole had been there. Research shows that this process is when this Thread-waisted Wasp - Ammophila procera, finds a caterpillar it carries it to its nest in the ground where it has already laid its eggs. Then it covers the nest and hole up so no other wasp or predator can find it. Then later the eggs hatch and the wasp larve/caterpillars will eat this food source so they can grow and then crawl out of the hole and turn into wasps. Wow!!! By the way, this really big lime green caterpillar/larvae is of a Speckled Green Fruitworm Moth-(Orthosia hibisci). A close up pic of it is here and also is a pic of what the worm/caterpillar/larvae would have turned into had it lived and not been turned into foot for other types of larvae. Wow!!! Also the video shown in prior post shows the wasp furiously trying to cover up and fill in the hole before I mess with it again.