To all those interested in the natural world. Please add your sightings.

In the woods we return to reason and faith-Emerson


Monday, July 30, 2012

In the woods today Northern Green Orchid (Plantthera hyperbora) and Pine Saps (Munotropsis hypopithys) were both in flower.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Utah high altitude sightings

7.29.12    A few days ago, I  had the great good fortune to visit Albion Basin at the Alta ski area near Salt Lake City.  The altitude we trekked around in was between 9,000 and 9,800 feet; scraps of last winter's rather meager snow still remained in protected areas.  An abundance of wildflowers were in bloom in the mountain meadows, watered by icy seeps and small streams.  Species of these alpine flowers I found particularly interesting were Elephanthead lousewort; Green Gentian (also known as Monument Plant for its 4-5foot towering mass of bloom); and Purple Monkeyflower (aka Lewis Monkeyflower, named for Meriweather Lewis who discovered the plant growing near Glacier National Park.   Moose find the meadows a good source of browse, and the cold streams provide plenty of water to drink; the bull moose we saw was feeding on fireweed; we also spotted a cow moose a couple hours later. 

Deep in the woods Spotted Coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata) is in full flower. Coralroot is a member of the orchid family.
And in a weedy clearing two varieties of Teasel, Dipsacus sylvestrus and Dipsacus laciniatus are both in bloom.
The leaves of D. lacinatus clasp the stem and form a cup which holds rainwater!
I had not seen Teasel before and did not expect to see it on this day. In fact, pictures Pat Jaquith sent from Utah were as close as I expected to ever get to this species!!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

A male Northern Walkingstick (Diapheromera femorata) hangs head down on a Black Locust tree. Walkingsticks are a bi-annual occurence. I see them around my pprperty only in even numbered years.
And White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) lives up to its common name: Doll's Eyes!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

This Dogday Harvest fly (Tibicen canicularis) shows three stages of emerging.
When first out of its nymphal husk its wings were still wet and crumpled. Its underside was to the camera.
Three minutes later it had reversed itself and its wings were almost fully expanded.
Six minutes after I noticed it its wings were fully expanded and the insect had positioned itself for maximum wing-drying wind and sun exposure.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tomentose Burying Beetles (Nicrophorus tomentosus) work diligently to inter a dead chipmunk. After it's safely underground they will remove the fur, form the remains into a ball and lay eggs on it. When the eggs hatch the larvae feed on the chipmunk remains. Adult beetles remain with the carcass to guard the young.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

This Luna Moth caterpillar - in its non-typical second instar color phase - was crossing Bunker Hill Rd. this morning.
And a Crab spider appears poised for liftoff as it waits atop a blade of grass for prey to blunder into its grasp.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Along Rice Farm Rd today, Wild Sensitive Plant reacted to my touch; these before and after pictures were taken about 30 seconds apart!
And Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars are swarming over milkweed leaves on a plant behind my barn.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Little Club-spur Orchid (Platanthera clavellata) was flowering on Black Mtn. today. And along the trail Three-bird Orchids (Triphora trianthafora) were starting to open.

Mountain Green, UT 7.22.12

Morning walks are a time to get acquainted with new-to-me fauna and flora in this high, dry climate surrounded by mountain peaks. This morning I encountered a Black-headed Grosbeak that had come in to feast on ripe plums in a yard; a Mule deer doe and her fawn were headed downhill through Common Sagebrush toward a reservoir.  Alongside the trail, Musk Thistle (Asteraceae Carduus nutans), an alien, provides cover and nutrition for a host of birds and bees. 

Sunsets over the mountains have been spectacular.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Green-headed Coneflower opens its namesake blossoms along Green Mountain Camp Rd. just one step ahead of the annual roadside mowing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

White Turtlehead is in flower along Camp Arden Road.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Today Blue Curls were blooming on a power line right-of-way, and , along the river, a Monarch caterpillar toiled at turning milkweed into butterfly.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Clymene Moth (Haploa clymene) rested on a Colt's Foot leaf along Hill Rd. this morning.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

This strikingly marked Confused Haploa moth (Haploa confusa) chose a sheet of plywood as its day roost.
Squaw-root (Conopholis americana), a tree root parasite, has gone to seed. This was one of many I saw in Putney today.
Dogday Harvest Flies AKA Periodical cicadas (Tibicen canicularis) are leaving their nymphal husks on the Red Spruce in my backyard.

Friday, July 13, 2012

This hairy-legged moth, Eudryas grata, commonly known as the Beautiful Wood-Nymph, perched serenely on the sheer side of my juice glass this morning.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Virgin tiger Moth (Grammia virgo) showed both its hot pink hindwings, but a Blinded Shpinx Moth (Paomias exaecatus) would only expose one eye spot.
Along Black Mountain Rd. a pair of recently fledged Broadwinged (?) Hawks chased insects … and held up traffic.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bright colors on a gray day

7.07.12     Blue Vervain may be considered a weed in places where it's too plentiful, but around here, its purple-blue spires are infrequent enough to be welcome.   Showy Tick-trefoil is at its prime with pink pea-like flowers;  but Japanese beetles are attracted to its showy blossoms and can chew through buds and blossoms in short order.  These alien insects were first observed in New Jersey in 1916.  They are very destructive to many food crops as well as grass and ornamentals;  control measures have, for the most part, prevented their spread west of the Mississippi River. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fawns on the Lawn

7.06.12  Rising sun was just painting streaks on the grass as Doe brought her twins out to enjoy the easy feeding under the apple trees on the back lawn.

Art in the Woods

7.05.12       A small woodland stream that meanders down a rather steep hillside among mixed hardwoods with a dense canopy of leaves was the setting for these visual treats today.  The Snakeskin Liverwort seemed to plaster itself to a rock in the stream; the deep greens of other mosses and liverworts were highlighted by the brilliant circles of orange-colored fungus; even a streamside tree with its roots probably scoured by some unusual rain event helped create this collection of nature-art.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

According to the Field guides, this bird-dropping mimic could be that of a Viceroy, a White Admiral or a Red-Spotted Purple - three closely related species having identical larvae.
Although this caterpillar is thought to eat willow, poplar, cherry, birch or apple leaves it was found happily consuming Tick Trefoil. I guess it hadn't read much about its own dietary preferences!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Porcupine feeding

7.03.12    This young porcupine stopped by our "lawn" for some white clover for dinner tonight.  It moseyed around, selecting a stem with its nose, then directing it toward its mouth with a front paw.