July 24, 2006
|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.
|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
|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.
|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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