Sunday, July 26, 2009

Like Being In an Oven Today

Today I met my friend Roger at the Butner Gamelands at Brickhouse Rd. It was 9:30am and already very hot, perhaps like a brickhouse oven. The trail we walked along was almost without any shade we lasted an hour before we got back to the cars.

This is Fine-leaved Sneezeweed (Helenium amarum) it was all along the gravel roads we walked and certain places had lots of Common Checkered Skippers, Pyrgus communis, we saw at least 25 of these tiny little butterflies.

Above and below Common Checkered Skippers, Pyrgus communis

Below is a very mature male Widow Skimmer, Libellula luctuosa perched over some rocks along the Little River.

Above is a female Swift Setwing, Dythemis velox found along the trail at Knap of the Reeds in Granville County the second place we visited today. Below is the male Swift Setwing we found at Brickhouse Rd. I don't recall ever finding a female of this species, so today was pretty lucky. On the photo below notice the reddish eyes I'd never noticed that before either.

Roger knows me well enough that when we are in North Carolina and a call him by saying: I've got a dragonfly over here and I don't know what it is! It must be something unusual, today sort of as I'd never seen a female Common Sanddragon, Progomphus obscurus before and this one was perching oddly for a sanddragon in the weeds. it took me about 20 seconds to realize that the yellowish-whitish cerci on S10 was the ID clincher. S10 means segment 10 the rear segment out of 10 abdomen segments.

Common Sanddragon, Progomphus obscurus female. She was very cooperative for photos as she let both of us take flash photos up close at the same time and when she flew up it was only to more a few inches. You sometimes get lucky to have a dragonfly pose like this, other times forget it.

A face only a mother could love don't you think?

Below is a Gray Hairstreak, Strymon melinus taked at Knap of the Reeds today. Our most commonly seen hairstreak in the southeastern US. Funny this year I have only seen a handful of them.

Pretty fun day except for the 90+ degree heat and 90% humidity.

Yesterday I mentioned the deer getting into the garden. Early today I chased off a 4 point buck and doe in the back yard. I came towards the porch to tell Meg and saw another doe on the road next to the pond, chased it off. Ten minutes later two fawn and a doe were in the woods behind the back yard, things might become hopeless for the garden here. Meg says we could just take up deer watching.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Slilenced Peacock and more!

Hey everyone it was my birthday this week, I'm 29 once again! Meg bought me this very cool peacock yard art with a gold stainless steel gazing ball on it. It as you can see also has blue balls, run with that phrase if you like :-). Best part is that it makes no noise unlike our neighbors noisy peacocks that keep us up at night.

Here is a wild morning glory that took over a tomato cage in the garden. Our larger tomatoes are doing bad with having some signs of Early Blight and the cucumbers have now got Downy Mildew see this link. Worst yet last night the deer finally found the garden, they ate the carrot tops (ok as the carrots are done) and they topped off one row of beans. We need to let out our Jack Russel Terrier a bit earlier in the morning I guess. We have been seeing deer along the road for more than a week at day break.

Greening up a bit by finally adding an official clothes line. I built and installed it over the weekend from scrap lumber I had laying around from my handyman business. I heard that 10-15% of home energy use is from drying clothes in a dryer. I told our neighbor up the street about our line and she noted she does not even own a dryer that the clothes line is what she has used for the past 15 years good for her!

Rose Pink, Sabatia angularis these native wild flowers are growing all along our road maybe 50 or so in bloom right now! Certainly one of my favorite native flowers is these parts.

Here is a yellow composite that I found blooming along our road. I don't know yellow composites very well, they are a challenging group.

Lastly here is a photo I took today at the pond up the street. It is a mated pair of Banded Pennants, Celithemis fasciata. I can't recall getting mated photos of this species before.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Black Swallowtails and More

The past four days we have had a fresh Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes emerge each day in our Bronze Fennel patch! Pretty cool to see these lovely jewels in the garden as we walk about. Two of them I've picked up and both have squirted me with fluids they expel as they pump up their wings.

This male Black Swallowtail was completely floppy fresh when I found him. He gave me about an hour to take photos of him.

Below is an Umber Shadowdragon, Neurocordulia obsoleta Meg found while walking along a trail near the Eno River last Sunday. It was a first for me in the state of North Carolina and only the second time I'd seen it before, I saw it in South Carolina one day in may many years ago. Even though this species is reported to have been found in 53 of our 100 counties none of my dragonfly buddies have seen it here to my recollection.

Below is an Eastern Box Turtle, Terrapene carolina that left us eggs in our garden a week ago. I looked it up and it'll be 11-12 weeks before they hatch. She was found by Meg when her hole was nearly dug as I was making dinner. I gave her as much privacy as I could and took this photo for the blog. Even at dark she was resting over the nesting site either worn out or protecting it.

This Carolina Anole, Anolis carolinensis posed for this photo before it headed off for cover. It was about 8 to 9 inches long very big from what I'd seen in the past of these little lizards. If I'm right the red throat (dewlap)indicates it is a male, this is used to attract females. These are sometimes called American Chameleons yet they are not true chameleons.

Green coloring means it is happy, if you find a brown one of these, it is not happy. I rarely see brown ones.

Vacation is over Meg starts a new fifth grade class in the morning!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Croatan plants and butterflies

White M Hairstreak, Parrhasius m-album Quite the find, I've been visiting Croatan National Forest for over 10 years and could not recall seeing this hairstreak or anyone else seeing it. Once home I checked and it is a new county record for this species. So this makes 50 out of 100 counties in NC that White M Hairstreak has been recorded and Craven County moves up from 92 species to 93 species of butterflies.

Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes This mated pair was found in Croatan National Forest and the photos was taken from a distance because of a 6 foot wide ditch full of water. I looked around and found Queen Anne's Lace (wild carrot) was thier only host plant nearby.

Reversed-Roadside Skipper, Amblyscirtes reversa
This little skipper is one of the rarer and hard to find roadside skippers found in North Carolina.

Meadow Beauty, Rhexia alifanus These flowers were nearly everywhere in small number along the roadsides and in the powerline where I took this photo.

Trumpets, Sarracenia flava These pitcher plants are found in huge numbers given you know where to look for them.

Flytrap, Sarracenia purpurea This pitcher plant stays low to the ground until it sends out this beauty of a flower.

Flytrap, Sarracenia purpurea I took this pitcherplant photo a few years ago earlier in the season.

Trumpets, Sarracenia flava wow

Common Wood Nymph, Cercyonis pegala We saw several of these satyrs all very fresh and the eye patch seems oranger than the ones we have in the Piedmont. This species varies widely from the East Coast to the West Coast.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Seaside Dragonlet

All 4 photos below are of female Seaside Dragonlets, Erythrodiplax berenice in various stages of maturity. We found these along the Nuese River at Flanner's Beach in Croatan National Forest.

I don't usually encounter this species much as it likes salt or brackish marshes and edges and we are not very close to that type of habitat. If you find this species late in the season it is pretty boring being a blackish blue and they stay close to the ground. It was just dumb luck we found these as I'd been on this beach a few times and never seen them.

Above mostly mature female.

Above female still has the thorax stripes, though starting to darken up.

The above female has a brown ting on the wings I believe that will disappear eventually.

Above the youngest of the Seaside Dragonlet females, very lovely at this stage in her life.

Above is a mature male Seaside Dragonlet. Just dark blue that is it.

This male has not quite darkened up all the way yet.

These photos showing how much dragonflies can be so different are a large part of why I enjoy observing and photographing them. More from Croatan National Forest on the next post.