insects


After church today, Beth invited me to walk to Sandogardy Pond with her. I can’t resist an invitation like that, so I got my hat, boots, and camera, and put the leash on Penny.

While I was doing all that Beth popped outside. She came in with a report of a purple lady bug.

Gray-dy bug

Gray-dy bug


I thought it was more gray than purple. I haven’t tried to identify it, but for now, I will call this a “gray-dy bug”.

On the way to the pond, I spotted a tall flowering plant along the side of the road. I have never seen this species before, but I knew it was a milkweed of some sort.

Poke milkweed? (Asclepias exaltata)

Poke milkweed? (Asclepias exaltata)


I’m not 100% sure, but I think this one is a poke milkweed (Asclepias exaltata). I had been thinking that it’s cool to find new-to-me species in bloom, but when I went to tag this one, I see that I have already tagged that species. So it is one I have seen before, but forgot about!

Poke milkweed? (Asclepias exaltata)

Poke milkweed? (Asclepias exaltata)


None of these photos are that great, but hey – sometimes they aren’t.

Poke milkweed? (Asclepias exaltata)

Poke milkweed? (Asclepias exaltata)

Further along, I saw some wintergreen with absolutely huge berries.

Huge wintergreen berries (Gaultheria procumbens)

Huge wintergreen berries (Gaultheria procumbens)


I have notices that just before they bloom again, wintergreen berries swell. They are normally a quarter inch in diameter, but these were half an inch. Remember, volume increases with the cube of the diameter, so these have about 8 times the volume of an unswollen berry (though I expect they have roughly the same mass, as the density seems to decrease).

My theory is that the plant is making a last ditch effort to entice something to eat the berries and thus, spread the seeds. If that’s the strategy, it worked for this plant, because I ate these as soon as I snapped the photo.

When we got to Cross Brook (or as I call it, Little Kohas Creek) which drains Sandogardy Pond, Penny was in full throw-me-a-stick mode. She brought us one and dropped it on the bridge.

Penny brings a stick

Penny brings a stick

Except it fell between the planks and into the creek. She couldn’t figure out where it had gone, but it was floating downstream by then.

It drops between the boards and into the creek

It drops between the boards and into the creek


I pointed it out to her, and she went in after it.
She fetches it

She fetches it


She did this twice. The second time it had floated farther downstream than she could have imagined, so she didn’t find it. She did know that it had gone between the planks though, because she was looking through them into the creek trying to find it. But that wouldn’t help in this case, because there’s no way she could get it back between the planks.

Thank you Penny for entertaining me today! And thank you Beth for the walk!

A pleasant surprise awaited me today when I got home. I took Penny out for a lap around my woods when this caught my eye.

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens) bloom

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens) bloom


I was not expecting the partridge berries to be in bloom yet, because a lot of them are still carrying last year’s berries. But here they were. I haven’t looked up the data yet – maybe they’re right on time and I just wasn’t ready.

Most of them have not opened yet. Here’s what they look like just before they open:

Mitchella repens

Mitchella repens

And here’s one with last year’s fruit:

Last year's berry

Last year’s berry


These berries are edible, and I like them quite a bit. I think I could eat a quart of them in one sitting, as they are not overpoweringly sweet like a lot of berries. The two eyes on the berry are from the two flowers you can see in the previous shots. The two flowers fuse at the base and form a single berry, and these eyes are the vestiges the flowers leave behind. That makes them pretty easy to identify too.

I’m also going to include this shot of a maple-leaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium) because it had a photogenic visitor:

Mapleleaf viburnum visitor

Mapleleaf viburnum visitor


I have not tried to identify this creature yet, and I think I might not bother. It’s enough just to have his (or her) photo.

Yesterday morning I “spotted” a giant leopard moth at the gas station.

Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia)

Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia)


Of course I didn’t know what it was when I saw it (other than that it was a moth). I had to look it up. The problem is I don’t have a good reference on moths (I do have a couple on butterflies, but not much on moths). Beth told me to look it up on the Internet, and I told her I’d try to find it in a book. That’s one way to tell old people from young people. She found it in short order, so this ID belongs to her.

It wasn’t in my book.

The Wikipedia article mentions that some of the spots near the moth’s head can be blue (and they have a few pictures showing that). I looked more closely at this one, and Bingo – some of the spots are indeed blue!

Today I was putzing around in my woods looking at some of the blueberry plants when the thought occurred to me that some of the early blueberries might be ripe by now. So I went to a small patch that always blooms early.

Ripe blueberry

Ripe blueberry


Yup! Ate that one and two others. This little patch is at the base of a tree at the edge of the yard. It gets more sun than the ones growing in the woods, and I imagine that’s why it blooms and ripens earlier than its sylvan counterparts.

So that’s a plant.

Not far from the early blueberries I spotted a grasshopper of some sort.

Animal

Animal


I don’t know the species or the genus. I could look up the order I’m sure, but I just don’t have it in me tonight.

As I walked through the yard, I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. It was this pickerel frog (Rana palustris).

Pickerel frog (Rana palustris)

Pickerel frog (Rana palustris)


This guy didn’t want anything to do with me, but I continued to chase him down anyhow. I suppose that makes me a paparazzi. For frogs. As I persisted in my efforts to capture his (or her) likeness, I would move the long grass out of the way, and as my hand approached, the frog would jump away. I finally approached with my camera instead of with my hand, and the frog didn’t seem to care about that. It’s as if it were saying, “Oh! You’re a photographer! You should have said so!”

I usually see one or two of these each year, so I’ve met my quota now. I will report this sighting on a site run by Fish & Game (they are interested in that sort of thing).

So now that I have given you a plant and two animals, we shall shoot for the middle ground – slime mold!

Slime mold!

Slime mold!


This is a weird life form. Scientists used to classify it as a fungi, but unlike a fungi, it moves. It also seems to exhibit simple brainlike functions. For example, if you divide this stuff into multiple clumps (much as this one is divided into three already), the clumps will find one another again and recombine. And get this quote from Wikipedia:

Studies on Physarum have even shown an ability to learn and predict periodic unfavorable conditions in laboratory experiments.

Awesome!

Today, the Pathfinders met in a shopping center parking lot in Concord to assemble for our first Memorial Day parade. We fell in behind the Rundlet Middle School band, and I was pretty impressed by them. They were about a hundred strong, and they played very well. Their director stopped and said “Hi” to us before the parade started. He told us to be ready for a car to pull in behind the band. That was their water car. He offered to give us water if we needed it, and for that I was thankful. This being the first time I have ever been in charge of a group marching in a parade, I didn’t even think of that.

I was in band during my last year of high school and during my sophomore and junior years at Murray State. I have marched in far more parades than I have watched from the sidelines. But again, this was the first time I was in charge of the group with whom I marched, and that definitely offers a different perspective.

Cheryl, the director who preceded me came out for the parade too. She served as our drill instructor last year. David has been doing that this year, but he was sick today. As we set out, I called “column left march” when I meant “column right march.” Oops! Cheryl offered to call the commands, and I immediately and gratefully accepted her offer.

She did ask me when she should call “eyes right” which is when everyone except the rightmost column looks to the right while the director salutes. I told her I’d like to do it as much as we could. It is usually reserved for the reviewing stand, but I didn’t know if there would be one (and there wasn’t). Instead, she called “eyes right” every time we passed a veteran. They were easy to spot because they were wearing VFW hats (or similar), and they would remove them and salute the US Flag we were carrying. “Eyes right!” Both Cheryl and I would thank them for their service. It left a lump in my throat to think of what those guys had done for us.

The parade took about an hour, but it seemed like it was a lot shorter than that. I had enough flags so that about half the kids were carrying one. So I had them switch halfway through so they wouldn’t get too tired, and so that everyone would have a chance to carry one.

We had a new banner (thank you Darlene!) that two kids would carry, a US, Pathfinder, and NH State flag, plus four guidons. That’s nine flags, and ten of the kids showed up (the one flagless kid and the guidons carriers swapped with the banner and big flag carriers).

In no time, we arrived at the capitol and Rundlet started loading their instruments on their buses. Our group walked back to the shopping center, and that was pretty much it. Joy asked me if I could assemble the kids (she had some cookies she had baked for the Baking honor). So I did and I told them how proud I was of them, and that they looked fantastic. Then I turned them over to Joy. She had a surprise for me – a dozen cookies! She also had a batch of brownies for the rest of the club. I was totally not expecting that. 🙂

When I got home, Jonathan was outside mowing the front lawn. Usually he and David each mow half the yard, but with David under the weather, and since the parade didn’t even come close to wearing me out, I took David’s turn. I mowed more than the boys generally do, including my paths through the woods, the edge of the driveway, and some “wild” spots here and there. Plus the yard.

Then I went in for a bit of rest, but Penny wouldn’t have any of that. She wanted to play (and the mower terrifies her). So I took her for a walk down to Sandogardy Pond. And I took my resurrected camera with me.

Here’s some of what I saw (and I can’t tell you how glad I am to be able to share photos with you again).

False Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum racemosa) with a visitor

False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosa) with a visitor


This was in my east woods along the freshly mown trail to the frog pond.
False Solomon's Seal (M. racemosa) sans visitor

False Solomon’s Seal (M. racemosa) sans visitor


This one was slightly more lonely.
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)


The last time I went by this one, the light was failing and I didn’t have an operational tripod setup. This time the light was better and my tripod mount was fixed. It is a better result.

Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana)

Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana)


My camera was out of commission when I first noticed this was in bloom on Saturday. It was nice to be able to capture it today.

Blue-bead (or corn) lily (Clintonia borealis)

Blue-bead (or corn) lily (Clintonia borealis)


The blue-bead lily, aka corn lily, aka Clintonia borealis is too far along now for nibbling on the cuke-flavored leaves. But the flowers sure look nice.

A Quartet of Pink ladies slippers (Cypripedium acuale)

A Quartet of Pink ladies slippers (Cypripedium acuale)


I saw these four ladies slippers Saturday too, but couldn’t share them with you until today. Penny patiently waited for me to finish taking their portrait so I could throw her a stick.

The path through the logged field

The path through the logged field


This used to be a forest with a trail through it until the owner logged it. That broke my heart, especially since the loggers left such a mess behind. It’s hard to walk over all the sticks they left strewn everywhere, but I can’t really complain since it’s neither my property nor the public’s. As you can see, the forest is trying to re-establish itself again (and coming along nicely).

Star flower (Trientalis borealis)

Star flower (Trientalis borealis)


Most of the star flowers are finished now. I was surprised to see this one still looking so good. It’s probably the last one I will photograph until next spring.

Poison ivy blossoms (Toxicodendron radicans)

Poison ivy blossoms (Toxicodendron radicans)


Here’s one you don’t often see – poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) blossoms. I didn’t get too close, as I am most decidedly allergic to them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Most of these were around the front door of my house this evening. The one on the screen was on the back door though.

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It was a pretty muggy day here today. I took a walk around my woods with the pruners and a bow saw and widened up my path a bit. Beth has been riding her bike on the path, which is something I would like to see continue. One of these days I’ll get out there with the mattock too and move some of the high spots into the low spots. But for now, riding without getting slapped in the face by a branch will have to do.

Here are some shots I got today during my lunchtime walk.

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