This morning, I paid a visit to the meadows at the Western end of Osbornedale State Park, a lovely place close to home that I really should visit more often. It was a misty, foggy sort of morning, and just beautiful:
I especially loved the way the pond looked decked out in floating mist:
With all that water in the air, the spiders webs became nets of dew droplets:
So basically, everything was gorgeous. Then, after a little while, the sun rose higher and the fog went away -- it became a perfectly clear day, and the meadows came to life with activity!
The Northern Mockingbirds were feasting on berries from this colorful Pokeweed plant:
And later, I came across the mockingbirds again, hopping along the path in front of me and flashing their wing spots:
I don't know if this behavior was directed at me, at other birds, or at whatever prey they were hunting, but it was cool to watch. Flash away, funny bird!
A noisy family of House Wrens was exploring a bird house that's in need of some repair -- perhaps their former nest is inside:
Down in a very shallow pond, four Green Herons were on the hunt (there's just the one in this picture):
And a Red-tailed Hawk watched from high above, on a tree that belonged to a group of Northern Flickers until the hawk arrived:
Dragonflies of many different species zoomed around everywhere. There were Common Whitetails, both male:
A battle-worn Widow Skimmer posed on a grass stalk for a quick photo:
And I met what might be one of my favorite dragonflies so far -- a huge Common Green Darner:
There were big, impressive creatures in the grass, too. One section of the meadow sported several huge webs belonging to Black and Yellow Agriope spiders (Argiope aurantia), with a zig-zag pattern above:
And a monster below:
I think these spiders are just incredibly beautiful, if a little scary in their size. All the individuals I noticed were females (the males are smaller and skinnier), and I just couldn't stop taking pictures -- these ladies are just too cool:
And seriously, how many other spiders can take on a jumbo-sized grasshopper as their morning meal? (At least, I think that's what this bundle used to be.)
Following the yellow-and-black trend, this Locust Borer beetle (Megacyllene robiniae) looked super fancy on its bed of already-bloomed goldenrod:
Not all of the creatures I met today were pretty, though, and these next two bugs have a distinct grossness factor. (Consider yourself warned.)
Where there's milkweed, there's usually Milkweed Bugs, and their larvae make colorful piles of their weird, pudgy bodies:
And speaking of pudgy, I don't think I've seen anything quite like these False Potato Beetle larvae (Leptinotarsa juncta) -- they're like grubs, but mobile and above ground:
OK, even I'm starting to get a little grossed out now, so I'll finish with another pre-adult insect, but this one distinctly pretty in its gold-embossed finery. It's not every day I get to see a Monarch chrysalis:
Late summer definitely brings some very cool things!