New Photos
July 24, 2006

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While walking back from the southwest meadow right at sundown, groups of Queen butterflies, Danaus gilippus, fluttered past me and started landing in deeper shade, under a tree, on old vines hanging down. There was enough ambient light that the flash didn't make the background black. Queens are milkweed butterflies, like monarchs. Though they are smaller and darker, their mahogany wings do not fade in our sun, and they look a rich deep orange here. At this season, they're mating down here. I've never seen a Queen caterpillar. This individual appears quite fresh, with no worn areas on the wing. The flash highlighted the veins on the hindwing; they don't look that light in real life.
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While I was at Owl Pavilion Sunday afternoon, this male painted bunting came in to feed on spilled seed below the hanging feeder. Painted buntings seem to prefer feeding in cover; though some spilled seed had fallen in sunlight, only a few inches away, this fellow stayed in the open shade. You can tell that he's hulling a millet seed. In all the photographs I've taken of painted buntings feeding on commercial birdseed mixes, I've never seen one eat anything but millet seed. The wild grass they most prefer around here is knotroot bristlegrass, with seeds about the same size. In this view, with the head and body at a different angle to the light, you can see a little more of the back color. The darker colors on the wings and tail show only in full light.
I was in the hammock when I heard a slight sound over near the new water feature and spotted this squirrel. I'd put out seed there, too, hoping birds would feed over there...but they didn't and the squirrel happily ate their sunflower seeds. I shot this from the hammock, aiming between one of the big water tanks and one of the upright posts.
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In the woods, the tiny dark-brown toadlets, scarely a half inch long, are beginning to grow into bigger toads. Here's one about an inch long, just showing the midline light stripe that suggests it's a Gulf Coast Toad, Bufo valliceps (we're a long way from the Gulf Coast, but....) The tiny dark toads show no markings and no warts, but you can see that this fellow is developing some marks and some warty areas. I spotted several of these much farther from moist muddy ground than I see the tiny ones. This pale, delicate damselfly has eluded me before, and this isn't the best picture in the world, but at least I got one. It flies at dusk, very low, and perches on low grass or the ground at dusk. Preferably (from its point of view) where the wind is buffeting the grass and I have no hope of getting a good picture. I'm fairly sure it's a bluet of some kind, and would have thought it was a Familiar Bluet, Enallagma civile, except that the legs looked even yellower than this, and had no black strips on them. And the Familiar Bluet males from last year were much more brilliantly blue.

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