Thursday, August 23, 2012

Morning Meadow Sights

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:

And female:

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!


  1. Oh, what a wonderful walk! How I wish I had been along with you, to see so many lovely sights, including that gorgeous spider and those pretty bugs you find kind of creepy. And then, to find a Monarch chrysalis! And one that is jewelled with dew! Amazing! I have found one in all my life, and believe me, I'm always looking.

    1. I'm pretty sure this was the first monarch chrysalis I've ever seen outside of classrooms and nature centers, so it was a pretty happy find for me, too! It was actually dangling right over the path, just waiting to be found. A wonderful day indeed!