Thursday, August 16, 2012

Transparent Dragonflies, Spiderwebs and Dew

 It is late summer at Springbrook and at sunrise spiderwebs covered with dew drops were everywhere when I took these pictures two days ago. With the sun behind them the dragonflies are transparent and seem empty as can be seen below, waiting to warm up and start catching todays food.
The jewelweed at sunrise is covered with jewel-like dew drops, until the yellow jacket wasp sneaks in and eats the night's nector, knocking off the dew drops as she leaves.  She can just be seen here at the bottom of the flower.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Eastern Tailed Blue-A Tiny Butterfly

 Eastern Tailed Blue butterflies are fairly common at Springbrook Nature Center, but not easy to see.  With its wings folded, the butterfly is smaller than a US nickel (5cent) coin.  They fly quickly and often are only a flash of blue in the air and then gone.

With wings folded, the male and female look identical, as can be seen with this mating pair.  I took this picture last fall in Springbrook's west prairie.
The top wing color is quite different between males and females, as can be seen in these next two pictures.

This is the female to the left.  I took this picture shortly after sunrise two days ago in the south prairie.  It is rare to see them with their wings open like this.  She was trying to warm up and had her wings facing directly at the sun.  The females are supposed to be drab, but her colors seemed quite vivid to me.
The male has the blue color that flashes as he flies.  I took this picture in the south prairie in the spring as it was feeding on this wild strawberry flower.

These tiny but pretty butterflies are almost always around on any hike at Springbrook during the summer.  But you have to be looking for them, or they will flash past you and into the tree tops unseen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Field Bindweed A Beautiful Pest

 Field bindweed is a vine that is blooming at Springbrook Nature Center now.  Gardeners think it is a real pest plant, but it has a very pretty flower.  Each flower only blooms for one day, and they open early in the morning, which is when I took these pictures yeaterday.

I think the flower looks like something Georgia O'Keeffe would have painted.

As I took the picture of the bumblebee leaving the flower below, I was surprised later to notice the green tree frog in the upper right of the picture.  I didn't see it when I was there!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Green Heron Gathering

The Green Herons at Springbrook are getting ready to migrate already, which means they spend all their time out in the open on the edges of ponds looking for frogs or fish or anything else that moves.

I took these pictures this morning from Springbrook's long floating boardwalk.  There were at least 25 of these herons hunting, preening, or noticing that a spot another heron had looked better, so let's fly over and check it out.

 It seemed like they spent a lot of energy flying from one spot to another.  There was almost always a couple of herons in the air checking out new locations.
 In this picture their short stubby tail can be seen, and the crest on their head, which seems to be raised whenever something exciting/alarming enters the bird's mind.

In the picture below all the primary and secondary wing feathers can be seen and counted as the heron comes in for a landing.  All the new feathers have molted in and it is ready to migrate.