Mt. Pleasant – May 2019

I arrived at Howard County Conservancy’s Mt. Pleasant before one of the elementary school field trips – early enough to take a short hike and photograph some of the May sights along the trail. One of the first birds I saw was a small flock of gold finches near the Community Garden – eating ravenously.

Earlier in the week, when I was hiking with 2nd graders, we had spotted some caterpillars on a newly planted hickory tree. I never try to photograph things while I have a field trip group with me, so I was going back to try to photograph the caterpillars. The morning was cool…and I couldn’t find the caterpillars on the tree! The walk through the quiet area of new trees – invasive removed – was worth it anyway - a contrast to the noisy enthusiasm that would arrive on the school buses.

On the walk back, I was quite enough approaching a nest box to see the tree swallow at the hole. It looks almost like a plug – a perfect fit!

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There was a feather in the grass beside the mowed path. From a hawk? The feather was large…must have come from a large bird.

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The dew was still on the funnel spider webs. It’s hard to find them after the grass is dry.

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Dandelions had already had a first round of flowers…and gone to seed.

The tulip poplar (also called yellow poplar) had lots of buds…ramping up to blooms. The flowers do look a lot like tulips!

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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!

Spider Webs at Centennial Lake

Spider webs stand out when they have water droplets on the silk – either from dew or fog (or water sprayed by a photographer keen to photograph them). Last week at Centennial Park the water droplets were from fog. I was surprised at how many spider webs I saw along the path…. realizing that there are a lot more spiders around than we usually notice.

Some of the webs had probably caught something since they had gaping holes.

Others were more intact or maybe partially repaired.

As I was getting ready to leave the park I notice a large funnel web near the trunk of a pine. It too was more visible because of the fog. I didn’t see the spider, but it was probably there somewhere. I was so focused on the webs in the trees that I wasn’t looking for the funnels on the ground!

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Longwood Gardens – Part IV

Of course – there is a lot more of Longwood Gardens outside that in the conservatory. We walked out of the conservatory a few minutes before the 11:15 presentation of ‘Fountains Then and Now’ – and found seats in the front row on the terrace in front of the conservatory. Last time we had visited the gardens, the fountains were being renovated so we savored that a lot of what we remembered is still there plus there are high jets of water from air canons and nozzles that move to make arcs of water than move with the music. Afterwards we walked down to see the fountains closer and looked back toward the conservatory from the terrace of the big fountain. Under that terrace they now have some history of the fountain machinery….a little bit about how they got the water pressure needed originally and today. Part of the gardens (the Tower and Eye of Water) was closed off in preparation for the fireworks that were schedule for the evening (sold out long before we decided to visit) so the only perspective I got of the tower was from afar.

Then it was time for lunch. The air temperature was much hotter when we emerged from the café. We enjoyed the dahlias – and bees.

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The garlic chives in the demonstration garden were popular with the bees as well.

There was a funnel spider with a web full of water droplets.

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We walked past the fountains again to the formal garden rooms. I noticed some stone walls and realized that they probably told the geology story of the place.

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I always like the stairs with water in the Italian Garden…but it was so hot – with no breeze - by the time we were there that the shade and water did not restore draining energy.

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We walked along a boardwalk in the meadow full of joe pye weed and goldenrod on the way back to the visitor center. We cooled off walking around the gift store before starting the drive home.

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Outdoors at Brookside Gardens

I try to take a few minutes before each shift volunteering at Brookside Gardens Wings of Fancy to walk around outside in the gardens. There is a lot going on in August. I am featuring some of my favorite things I noticed and photographed in this post.

Button bush and cone flowers and sunflowers – with and without bees.


Joe Pye Weed in bloom…very popular with the tiger swallowtails. One morning I photographed a dark morph female with several of the yellow and black versions.

Monarchs are more prevalent in the garden than they were earlier.

I can never resist checking the gingko tree near the conservatory. I like the way the leaves look outlined in gold of the morning sunshine.

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The sumac is a plant I am tracking this year. I recognize the seed heads but want to capture how the seeds develop. This will take me further into the fall since they don’t look like they’ve changed too much during this month.

There are always a lot of funnel spider webs in the low pines around the conservatory….and sometimes the spider is visible.

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There are several kinds of datura in the garden.

I had never nptoced what the seed pod looked like before.

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Some of the trumpets hang downward and I appreciated that the screen on my new camera can pivot so I can see what the camera is seeing when it is point straight up! I’ve always wanted to photography the unfurling flower.

The bald cypress has the scale insects like it did last summer but seems healthy enough to survive. The cones are beginning to form.

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The cannas are beautiful this time of year. Some are producing seed pods.

This is the view from the ticket taker table for Wings of Fancy. I ended up doing the job when no one had signed up for it….a  last minute change of plans.

There are milkweed plants close to the entrance to the caterpillar house and there are often insects on the plants other than caterpillars. When there are no visitors in the area…I roam around and take pictures; more on the caterpillars tomorrow.

Brookside Gardens Bugs

There were not that many bugs out and about last Saturday morning before my shift at Brookside Gardens’ Wings of Fancy. I photographed three…and was thrilled with the variety:

A funnel spider waiting patiently (and visibly) at the top of the funnel. Usually they are hidden in the depths. The spider had built its web on the evergreen shrubs near the conservatory. There must have been lots of spiders around judging from the number of webs but this was the only one showing itself.

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A froghopper (as a nymph back in the spring it was a spittlebug) on a milkweed plant. I was looking for monarch caterpillars but didn’t find any. Back in July 2016, I’d found one on the milkweed plant at my house and posted about it.

A bumblebee enjoyed the bounty of the milkweeds in bloom. The plants at my house are already full of pods, flowers dried and falling away. From of photographic standpoint I always judge a bee picture a success if it includes the head and back rather than the butt!

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