Thursday, May 26, 2016

Beautiful, Beautiful Bugs!!!

I've always thought insects were beautiful!  Such ornate creatures!  So cleverly designed!  And so many abundant varieties!  God must have taken great joy in creating them!

This fly is masquerading as a bee or yellow jacket.  Such a beautifully painted costume!

So pretty when he takes flight!

 This fly appears to be a common house fly---but such detail in his wings and eyes and his hairy neck and legs!

So capable of grabbing on to the fragile tips of the flowers!

This little black bee looks like he has fat yellow thighs.  But it is really his corbicula or pollen basket.  He has packed a goodly amount of pollen on both of his back legs!

Here he is again---coming near a dainty spider's nest!  Even though it is a small web, he wouldn't want to get caught in it!

  This beautiful strawberry blonde bee seems to love the Virginia Waterleaf flowers!

Such a delicate creature---all covered in a fuzzy yellow glow!

 Bumble bees are so big and heavy!  They really do just bumble around in the forest, bumping into things and barely grabbing on to the flowers when they land.

The flowers can barely support their weight!  But pollen and nectar must be gathered!  Even for the heftiest of bees!

For some reason, the bumble bees also dig in the dirt!

This one burrowed under a large rock for a bit, before coming out and flying away.  I don't think it was a nest of any kind.  Maybe just a nice roll in the mud!?

This bee was much smaller than a bumble bee, but had a similar look.  It seemed content to climb up a branch.  Didn't visit any flowers.

Ants are also abundant in the forest.  They seem to always be on the move.  Compare sizes with the dandelion seed off to the right.

A little red-eyed flying ant was quite beautiful as it walked along the edge of a leaf!

And the tiniest of beetles was sucking some sustenance out of a leaf.

This little dragonfly has a neon blue tail!  And very long wings with spots at the end!

These dragon flies were doing acrobatics on the bark of a tree.  I don't know if it was a mating ritual or an exercise routine!

Later, they just wanted to rest.

You can just see the tail end of a yellow jacket disappearing into the cavity of this tree.  I hope they aren't building a nest!  They aren't very friendly!

The Red-bellied woodpeckers have built their house right next to the grocery store!  It is out of focus, but this is a nest of winged wood ants or small wasps just down the tree trunk from the Woodpecker's home.  George Woodpecker made quite of feast of them!

I don't see the Downy Woodpecker family very often---they must live farther away.  But this father has two caterpillars already in his beak---and has caught another bug, too!  I think he is saving this meal for his babies!

There is only one bug that I truly hate!  And sadly, they are starting to come out during the day, now!  Yesterday, I spent 5 minutes in my nature spot.  And came away with 6 bites.  5 of which were through my bluejeans.  They know no boundaries!  And here in Minnesota, they look like this:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Flora and Fauna!

Oh how I have come to love the Flora and Fauna of my little nature spot!  Years ago I read about the benefits of children spending an hour in a particular nature spot each week and then writing in their journal about it.  I think it was part of some Waldorf School education materials.  It sounded very reasonable and right to me.

There is something truly educational about examining the same little nature spot over a period of time.  Plants grow and change.  Animals visit and leave.  And the seasons change.  Being in the same little spot teaches you about our beautiful world in a personal and direct way.

Here are today's observations:

"Virginia Waterleaf" is the name of a delicate lavender flower that is now in bloom.  It practically covers the forest floor!

Flies are always finding something tasty on the leaves of the Virginia Waterleaf.

Sticking their tongues out and walking along the hairy surface.  The sap must be especially sweet.

Small little furry clusters develop below the branching leaves.

A stem grows below the cluster and reaches it up and away from the plant. In a few days the flower bursts open!

And cascades down like beautiful little purple bells!

Attracting the loud and buzzing bumble bees!

I find that I am no longer the slightest bit alarmed by the sight or sound of a bumble bee.

I just watch them.  Up close and personal.  They come within inches of my face, my arms, my legs.  They are just beautiful!  Out gathering nectar.  With their long hungry tongues.

When I first went into the forest, the tiny fauna were missing.  No flies.  No spiders.  No ants. No bees.  Nothing.  All was quiet in the bug world.

Now the forest is positively brimming with insects!  Great clouds of white lacy flies puff up as I walk in.  But they don't bite.  They don't land on me.  They just relocate to another spot and settle down again on the underside of the leaves.  Bees buzz by.  All colors and sizes of flies land near me.  Spiderwebs are draped like art installments from various little twigs.

They are all fascinating!  Going about their busy work for the day.

The trees have completely leafed out now.  Making a fine green umbrella to protect me from the bright sunlight!

But this also makes it harder to spot birds!  I have to rely on my ears more.

This grackle was doing his distinctive cackle---laughing at me for a long time---until I found him with his yellow eyes amongst some tender yellow leaves!

There were two new bird species in the woods today!  This little House Wren hasn't been seen before.  I recognized a new little song---and was able to snap a quick picture before she flitted off.

And this pretty gray catbird was new as well!  With a black fuzzy head and gray body.  It has a call that sounds like a cat meowing.

Just before I went in, I looked out on the lake and saw this grand procession!  17 goslings all in a row!  And Mamma and Papa Goose doing a fine job of raising their gaggle!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

They're On the NEST!!

Mr. Woodpecker, stuttering in the words of Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life, asks, "MmmmMary!  You on the nest?!"

And Mary Woodpecker answers, "George Bailey Woodpecker Lasso's Stork!"

Yes, it's true!  And in spite of my mixed up bird-related quotes, the Woodpeckers are indeed "On the Nest!"

I was worried lately because I hadn't seen them very often.  Mr. Woodpecker was no longer hanging about outside their little hole in the tree.  Or calling a greeting to me whenever he came home.  I even got to worrying that the owl the other night had caused irreparable damage to my good woodpecker friends!

But I shouldn't have worried.  They are just very busy keeping their eggs warm!

And the only time they are hanging around outside their little tree house is when they quickly exchange places!  One on the nest.  One looking for food.

Mary hears George come home and climbs out the front door.

She gives him a lecture on taking good care of the eggs while she is gone.  Then she flies off in search of a good meal for herself!

George gives me the evil eye for taking so many photographs and being too close.  He spends a little time assessing the threat that I am (more careful now that babies are involved!) and then decides to go inside.

He finds a sort of funny way to back himself down the tree...

a little further....

and further still...

almost there....

One more evil eye at the weird creature that click, click, clicks in his direction...

And then it's time to pop inside and keep those eggs warm!

In he goes.....but...

Wait!  One more evil eye to warn that creature off!

Good enough!

In he finally goes!

Probably hoping that the Mrs. comes back soon!