Some Insects at Brookside Gardens – September 2019

There are always plenty of plants to see during a walk at Brookside Gardens, but I’ve been looking for insects in a few of my short walks before starting my shift inside the butterfly exhibit. The weather has been pleasant…just warm enough for the insects to be active but not overly hot for a walk. I saw an Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly along the walk toward the arrivals area for the butterfly exhibit.  

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A few feet away…about 30 seconds later…I saw a Hummingbird Moth Clearwing. What a great way to start the morning!

The next time I was at the gardens, I walked back to the same area. I photographed 2 different insects but they were not as showy as the dragonfly and hummingbird moth.

I headed up to the salvia garden to see if there were still any hummingbirds feeding on the plants there. I saw a couple of females but didn’t have the right camera to attempt to photograph them. I did see a Common Buckeye taking a break on a gravel path.

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The salvia garden is very popular with bees of all kinds. There were large bees that were nectar robbing because they were too big to get into the flower (sometimes the stems bent a little with the weight of the bee as well). They had shiny abdomens so were probably carpenter bees.

Zooming – October 2018

The fall foliage had not been as colorful as usual this fall…but there has still been a lot to see outdoors – aided my the zoom on my camera: Canadian geese, a common buckeye butterfly, webs of funnel spiders on a root ball of an overturned tree, colorful ferns, milkweed seeds spilling out, tiny mushrooms in mulch, a spider web highlighted by water droplets, and a female cardinal with fluffed feathers. Enjoy the slide show!

Ten Little Celebrations – October 2018

Glorious fall – even if our leaf color is the least spectacular of the 30+ years I’ve lived on the east coast. All my celebrations this month were outdoors!

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Hiking in the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area after heavy rain – lots of mud but my boots handled it well

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Bald Eagles – the serendipity of seeing them soaring over a shopping center parking lot

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Common Buckeye in a native plant garden on a sunny day

Mushrooms and cobwebs at Centennial Park…spectacular on a foggy morning

Finding a crawfish and hellgrammite in the Middle Patuxent River with high schoolers. We were all very cold but managed to still find some interesting critters.

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Fifth graders with clipboards and pencils on a BioBlitz at Belmont.

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First graders enjoying a hike on a cold fall morning (seeing a immature black rat snake)

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Finding a spotted salamander with a group of 7th graders on a BioBlitz at Mt. Pleasant

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A rainy day in the Middle Patuxent River with high schoolers – and realizing that the students were pleased with the macroinvertebrates we found. They came dressed for the rain!

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A long hike from Belmont to the Patapsco Valley State Park Avalon area – getting all my steps for the day in less than 3 hours

Common Buckeye Butterfly

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Last Saturday, I was at Robinson Nature Center about noon enjoying the native plant garden near the front of the nature center. When I noticed a Common Bucky Butterfly enjoying some of the fall flowers.

I took pictures from several perspectives. The colors and markings are very distinctive. It has knobs on the end of the antennae and whitish palpi between its eyes. It’s reported to like flowers with yellow centers…and that it what this individual was enjoying.

The entrance of the nature center has a nice display of fall pumpkins and squash.

I had come to the nature center earlier to participate look at macroinvertebrates in this part of the Middle Patuxent – upstream from the location for the two assessment with high schoolers earlier this week. Two differences: 1) no clams at Robinson….lots of them further down the river and 2) we found a snail…didn’t find any downstream. We found more of everything but that could have been the difference between and adult group and high schoolers….and we had more time to do the project.

Belmont Hikes with Summer Campers III

Yesterday I was at Howard County Conservancy’s Belmont for photography hikes with the summer campers. We could hike because the rain moved out during the night and the morning was sunny. The cardinal flowers near the entrance were blooming well after the deluge of the previous days.

I started off the younger group with an activity looking at sycamore leaves from the branches I had cut from my tree at home: looking at the holes made by caterpillars and comparing the sizes of the leaves. We made a pattern on the pavers of the patio in front of the Carriage House as a subject for our first photographs.

We found a very small caterpillar on one of the leaves.

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Then we went around to the other side of the house and looked at the pollinator garden and the surrounding vegetation.

The older group of campers went to the formal gardens behind the manor house. There were three kinds of butterflies that I managed to photograph….but missed the monarch that some of the campers managed to catch on the cone flowers. I took the common buckeye, a cabbage white, and a hairstreak (maybe a gray hairsteak). The last one was new to me….had to look at it closely when I got hope. It looks like it has antennae on both ends!

We gathered around the water feature in the gardens and enjoyed the variety water lilies and a lotus growing there. There were bees – usually head down – in several flowers.

Dragonflies are hard to capture with cell phone type camera (which is what most of the campers were trying to use) but everyone saw them…and I managed a picture.

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Behind the formal gardens – the campers with cell phones experimented with the macro lens to photograph lichen.

There were tree roots damaged by mowers that look like eyes in the soil!

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Overall – a good day for hiking and photography!