Friday, September 12, 2008

A Woods Exploration

Yesterday, a beautiful early fall day in northern Indiana, I traveled with Steve to Cline Lake Fen - a Nature Conservancy preserve where he is working this summer. He worked hard creating a fire lane, while I explored. Check him out in his gear!

Steve captured this female Ruby-throated Hummingbird with the zoom feature of our digital camera before he headed out to his work.

I explored the high wooded knob adjacent to the fen and saw so many cool nature finds including lots and lots of owl pellets. I remembered how fascinated I am by these when I uploaded my photos and saw about 10 just of different owl pellets.

There were a lot of meadowhawk dragonflies in this area too. I did not get these identified to species because I did not get a good enough look at the face and the photos don't offer enough. This male (red) and the following female (yellow) rested near me during my coffee break.

Black acorns, leaves, fungus...fall is coming and I am so excited!

I've seen seem big burls in all my woods ramblings and this is certainly one of the larger ones.

This big praying mantis peeked out of the vegetation just for our photo.

And look at this guy...anyone have any guesses? Look closely!

I found a number of caterpillars on this hike (yes, I am constantly in search of them) and this little guy is always one of my favorites - the Spotted Apatelodes. I've seen them with yellow and white hair and if you look close when you find one, you will see pink feet. I did not get them in this photo. Sorry about that...they really are quite cool. The pupa (cocoon) overwinters and the moth emerges in the spring.

The yellow bear caterpillar is very common in the fall. They usually start out a pale cream or yellow color and darken as they age. The pupa overwinters and the Virginian Tiger Moth emerges in the spring.

The wooded knob supports a very healthy population of bush clover, one of the common foodplants of the Eastern-tailed Blue caterpillar and Gray Hairstreak caterpillar. I found at least 30 of these little guys without hardly looking. Just a quick glance at the floral heads of the bush clover usually yielded a couple per plant. I believe this caterpillar is the Gray Hairstreak caterpillar, but I am sure I also saw some Eastern-tailed blues.

Some feathers...I know the second is turkey, but I am not positive about the first.

At the end of Steve's work day, we drove over to Pigeon River Fish & Wildlife Area and hiked around a Bald Cypress lined pond area.

We noticed right away the sassafras leaf color and the colorful seeds and seed structures.

And to end the day...a Locust Borer (Megacyllene robinae). The adult (pictured) eats the goldenrod pollen and nectar and the larvae eat the sapwood of the black locust. What an incredibly beautiful insect!

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