October 9, 2005
|This view looking up the secondary drainage from the near
meadow to the east grass and the line of trees at the highway shows what the land looks like in
early October. Years back, we'd have seen drifts of monarchs flying past on a day like this, with a
nice little north wind helping them along. The grass with "stripes" from mowing in the foreground
is filling in what used to be bare dirt with only ragweed and purple gerardia on it. Most of it is
prairie dropseed, we think.
||One of these tadpoles already has hind legs. For some reason
(keeping watch, maybe?) the tadpoles in the lily pond like to hang out together. Sometimes they
line up side by side and sometimes--as here--they don't. I don't know enough about frogs and toads
to know which kind of tadpoles these are, but we have lots of plains leopard frogs.
|Peekaboo! This grasshopper, busily eating away
an iris leaf leaning over the pond, wanted to keep an eye on me, so all I could photograph was its
underneath. I believe this is a "differential" grasshopper, Melanoplus differentialis, but
we have many different kinds of grasshoppers on the place.
||This one, for instance, is very well
camouflaged on the ground--if I hadn't seen it land, I wouldn't have spotted it just walking past.
The markings combine elegant geometric forms on the head and thorax with leopard-like spots on the
hind legs and upper wings. The under-wings have orange on them.
|Here's another insect that I would not have
noticed if it hadn't flown across the north maintenance path in front of me, and then landed not
twelve feet away, just above eye level...where it disappeared into the leaves. Katydids have very
long antennae--in another picture (not as good of the whole insect) one antenna looks like a
fly-fisherman's cast as it waves in the breeze.
||Liatris, or gayfeather, is one of our prettiest
fall flowers. Butterflies are fond of it, as are bees. It's spreading here, out into the native
grass parts of the pasture; when little bluestem, gayfeather, and Maxilimilian sunflower are
together, the colors shout at each other. I spent so much time trying (unsucessfully) to photograph
a particular spider in a particular Maximilian clump that I didn't get a picture of the flowers
|But here is a substitute. This smaller, more
delicate relative was growing in the shade of an osage orange by the north end of the creek, and
just as I walked by, a shaft of sunlight lit it up. It's the same yellow, but the leaves are more
delicate, and a bluer green, and there was only the single flower on top. I don't know which of the
many yellow-flowered Compositae it is (though I know a dozen or so it's not...) but it was a grace
note to a walk on the land.
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