Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tennessee Warblers Return

On the way north this spring, dozens of Tennessee Warblers flocked our wild plum trees. It was the first I'd heard of them sipping nectar. (original post)

Now, they're migrating back south and with the wild plums done, they're flocking to my fuschias hanging right outside the dining room windows. How fun to watch!  (must clean windows...)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dragonfly Weekend

I love late summer up north. The biting bugs are down (usually, although mosquitoes have been especially fierce this year), nights are in the 40s and days are in the low 80s. Pretty much perfect weather!

Dragonflies are also moving about in large numbers and, maybe due to this year's bumper crop of skeeters, there seem to be more than usual this season.

I just returned from five glorious days of being off the grid. Lots of time to fish, observe critters and catch up on reading.

There were Meadowhawks all around. Researching Meadowhawks is enough to give one a migraine, unless you simply go with the flow of: They're nearly impossible to tell apart unless they're in hand and you have a magnifying glass. So, in favor of that approach (and 2 hours of research later) here are a couple favorite photos:

I'm guessing this one (above) is a male White-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum obtrusum) based on the amber base at the wings, its stark white face and the white mark on its thorax.

This one, which could amazingly be the same species, I think might actually be a Cherry-faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum internum) based on the amber veins in the leading edge of the wings.

My last two favorite dragonflies were buggers to get photos of, but the most graceful fliers I've seen. I've learned by looking at other people's photos that they're both in the Darner family. The bright green and magenta one was a Common Green Darner (absolutely beautiful) and I'm pretty sure this one is a Variable Darner (Aeshna interrupta):

I've no idea what it's holding in its front legs, but it looks like a snowball to me  :-)   (maybe a spider egg sack?)  Both the Green Darner and the Variable Darner of one of the few migratory dragonflies.

If anyone has insights on the species IDs, please let me know!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cooper's Hawk

With the feral cats and this regular visitor, it's amazing we have any birds. A sub-adult Cooper's Hawk has been hunting our yard since March. I'm not sure how long it takes for the white spots on their back to grow out, so maybe this is a different one than the March visitor, but he/she is here on a daily basis.

It has learned the yard and developed an amazing hunting strategy. It sits in the large white pine just to the north of the house, with the feeding station in between. It then swoops from the tree toward the house scaring the birds into the house and windows, picking them off while they're stunned.