Archive for May, 2015

Finally, a Dragonfly

A dragonfly finally landed where I could take pictures of it. Their numbers have been low this spring. Most of the few that I have seen didn’t land or pose for pictures.

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Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simpliciollis)

They are one of the most common dragonflies here in southern Illinois. The females are green and the males blue.

Resident or Crossing Through?

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It seems like I walk up to an eastern box turtle in the yard every spring.

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It remained calm and posed for pictures.

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Male box turtles have red eyes and the females have brown. So, this is a female.

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Counting the rings on a scute (plate) will give the approximate age of the turtle. So, this one appears to be 8-10 years old.

I once watched a female digging a hole with her hind legs to lay her eggs in. I was camping that night. She worked slowly and methodically. She was still digging when I went to bed. The next morning I could hardly tell where she had been digging. Box turtles lay between 4-6 eggs, and they take roughly 3 months to hatch.

Snowberry Clearwing Moth

Snowberry clearwings (Hemaris diffinis) are actually a day-flying moth.

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This one must have emerged this morning. It moved a little, but didn’t try to fly while I took pictures.

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They resemble bumblebees and hover as they feed. Bumble bees land to feed, often crawling up in tube flowers.

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I’ve found their caterpillars on a red honeysuckle near my garden three years ago. They also lay eggs on snowberry (Symphoricarpos), dogbane (Apocynum), and honeysuckle (Lonicera).

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Their hornworm caterpillars are well camouflaged when they’re on leaves.

Our Yummy Yard

Our yard seems more popular with the mammals this summer than usual.

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The groundhog claims the area under the barn (where the foxes had been).

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The rabbits are more common and can be quite playful.

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A squirrel ended up eating its lunch in the front yard, while I ate mine by the living room window.

Before the Planting

I took a drive through the flats one evening recently.

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Many fields have a yearly habit of “turning yellow” before the farmers start plowing.

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Illinois is almost all flat from those hills, north to Wisconsin (from glaciation).

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The yellow grows in our yard too.

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It’s called golden ragwort (Senecio aureus) and grows from one to three feet tall.

If the fields are planted with corn, we won’t see the hills as we drive through the fields until the corn’s picked.

Oh, What a Night!

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I own 33 acres in the hills and have camped and hiked there a LOT over the years.

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Buffy became my hiking partner when she was 2 or 3 years old. I took this picture in 2007.

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The Old One, my favorite tree friend, wasn’t in as good shape as she looked here.

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A wet-weather creek runs through the ravine.

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Are you curious about my title “Oh, what a night!”

This is where it happened.

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I spent an evening recently, looking through picture folders in my computer. I came to one of a spring camping trip to my property. The landscape was all so fresh and green. Buffy and I went to sleep that night, listening to the whip-poor-wills and chuck-will-widows.

 I left the rain flap off that night and opened the windows all the way. I woke in the night. The moonlight was bright enough to easily see our surroundings. Buffy was sitting up, very still, looking out the door. I eased up on one elbow.

The barred owl family — both parents and four owlets– were scattered about in the trees just south of camp. The adults called back and forth. The young joined in, lacking volume and the correct rhythm. Buffy and I just sat, side by side, looking out and listening. I didn’t see any of the owls before they eventually moved on to the south.

Buffy was as mesmerized as I was. Somehow she knew it was a special time.

Barred owls have been one of my absolute favorites for years and years.

I still have vivid mental images of that night: one of her profile as she looked out the door, the lit areas and nighttime shadows the moonlight created in our surroundings.

 I can still see it all as plainly as if I were looking at pictures.

An Unidentified Insect

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I’m not sure of the identity of this insect that landed on the red honeysuckle.

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If I had to make a guess, I’d say, “crane fly.”

After yesterday’s storms, I wasn’t expecting to see many insects.