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

In the woods we return to reason and faith-Emerson


Monday, August 27, 2012

I noticed this massive Snapping Turtle as I was rock hopping and wading the West River this morning. The turtle was in about 2 feet of water. To give an idea of size, the log above and behind the turtle is about 7 inches in diameter.
When my shadow reached the turtle, it disappeared in a swirl of silt.
A turtle of this size might be 50 or more years old!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Common Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) was in flower along the West River today.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

False Pimpernel (Lindernia dubia) sprawled on damp sandbars along the West River today.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

This Locust Tree Borer obligingly posed on a locust tree this evening. Despite their black and yellow bee mimicry, these borers can be identified by the W pattern in their yellow stripes.
Locust tree borers insert their eggs into live locust trees. When the eggs hatch the larvae will bore through the wood as they feed.
Adult borers feed on goldenrod pollen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The showy, alien Hairy Willow Herb (Epilobium hirsutum) put a pretty face on swamps and waste places today.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Utah 8.20.12

Some of the birds here are common throughout much of the country:  I've seen numerous robins, pine siskins, and goldfinches.  Pictured here, a Red-tailed hawk that frequently hunts from a perch in dead upper branches of the cottonwood tree attracted a small flock of Magpies whose apparent purpose for flying in was to torment the redtail.  The long-tailed Magpie is one of the Corvids; like the Blue jay, it is handsome, but wears out its welcome with its bold behavior and jarring voice.  Four of them entertained us one evening by standing in the spray of irrigation water, then hopping up onto a large rock to shake and preen.
 A Swainson's Hawk, about the length of a Red-tail, but with longer, narrower wings,  frequently soars over nearby hills in company with numerous barn swallows.  The Swainson's feeds on grasshoppers, small rodents, and snakes; small birds are unconcerned by its presence.   On windy days, it faces into the wind and hovers as if suspended from a string.  Before long, it will begin its migration to Argentina, the longest migratory route of the hawks.
 We have 5 or 6 elegant sandhill cranes that frequent the area, well-announced by their unique strident creaky hinge chatter.   Many small tracts nearby were planted to oats that have now been harvested for the grain, leaving stalks a foot tall, providing food and cover for birds. 

Along the West River today, Field Milkwort (Polygala sanguinea) was in flower, as were Nodding Ladies' Tresses (Spiranthes cernua).
Field Milkwort is a State listed rare or unusual.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Closed Gentians grace wet meadows and thickets. I took this picture along the West River Bike Path.
The flowers of this species never open. Pollinators - often bumblebees - faced with a seemingly impossible mission, will manage to force their way in.

Monday, August 13, 2012

In a West River gravel bar, Fall Dandelion (Leontodan autumnalis) was in its glory.
And, this strikingly marked female Black-and-yellow Argiope has woven its web in some roadside weeds. Argiopes are orb weaver spiders.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mountain Green, UT 8.12.12

My morning's walk in the arid foothills was brightened by the blooms of Showy Milkweed, Upright Prairie Coneflower , and Whitestem Globemallow.  This orange-flowered globemallow is found only in Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah.  The Western Grebe frequents a small pond nearby; its long neck and the way it dives to come up somewhere else reminded me of a loon at first.  It's hard to imagine that the herd of horses can find suitable nourishment among the dry sagebrush and other grasses. 

The brilliantly red-orange cap of an emerging mushroom - perhaps the American Caesar's mushroom (Aminita carsarea) - graced the Prospect Hill trail Saturday morning.
Wasp colonies are flourishing. There are still enough wildflowers to provide for their needs. This paper nest was in a thicket near Dummerston Landing.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The fragrant flower clusters of Ground Nut drape thickets and weed patches … especially along the banks of the West River.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

These pale green Planhoppers (Flatidae spp.) were on a wild lettuce plant along Carpenter Rd.
Many members of the Flatid family are only identifiable by experts under a dissection microscope so a more specific identification eluded me.

Monday, August 6, 2012


This Giant Root Borer (Prionus spp.) was about 1 1/2 inches long. Some are as much as 3 inches long! Adults are active in late summer.
And, on a milkweed, an insect that I tentatively identified as the larval stage of a Bee Assassin (Appiomerus spp.) feasts on a Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillar. After sucking out juices the bug will discard the caterpillar's husk.