Patrolling the Airways

The dragonflies of late summer. We patrol the same meadow trails and fields and have frequent encounters. I plod along in search of a good image, while they perform what appear to be impossible aerial maneuvers as they forage on mosquitoes and other tiny insects.

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Twelve-spotted Skimmer at rest

Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Fruiting Bodies!

Woodlands come alive in late summer as fungi and related plants respond to warm, moist growing conditions with visible forms of their life cycles. Fruiting bodies of myriad shapes, sizes and colors appear, sometimes overnight (they thrive in darkness!). The show can be every bit as rewarding as the spring flush of wildflowers…and just as fleeting too.

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Mushrooms emerging through a layer of spruce needles

 

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Coral Fungus

The Ghost Plant (Indian Pipe) made its way into this series on fungi because it lacks chlorophyll and can grow in the dark. In reality, it is a non-photosynthetic flowering plant that parasitizes the beneficial mycorrhizal fungi associated with tree roots.

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The Ghost Plant (Indian Pipe)

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Spindle Fungus

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Wildflowers: August Jewels

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Jewelweeds (Touch-me-nots; Impatiens) have so many redeeming qualities. They’re a favorite in the late summer diet of deer; hummingbirds will camp out over a patch of jewelweed and alternately perch and feed for hours in the mid day sun; bees also feed on jewelweed nectar; and, on a chilly morning, when everything is dripping wet with dew, the jewels of jewelweed are beautiful.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

Wetland Surprises

The mind-boggling variety of life in and around wetlands virtually guarantees a rewarding nature walk, with unexpected thrills along the way. This morning I decided to take a short walk between the dam of a small reservoir and the swampy drainage below. I was hoping to see some wetland wildflowers, but packed extra gear – just in case.

My first discovery was Arrowhead, in the shallow water along the shore of the reservoir. As luck would have it, this was also my last wildflower photo. I was soon distracted by much bigger game!

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Movement in the tall, dense vegetation bordering a small stream stopped me in my tracks. It was something fairly large, brown and several feet above ground level – had to be the head of a deer.

Sure enough …an adult doe appeared. She had no doubt spent the night feeding in nearby fields of corn and beans and was heading for high ground in the swamp to rest.

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She moved like a wisp of smoke and was gone as quickly and silently as she had appeared. But, where there’s smoke there’s fire! I’m so glad she was successfully bred last November.

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“You just don’t luck into things as much as you’d like to think you do. You build step by step, whether it’s friendships or opportunities.”   – Barbara Bush

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Geese and Summer Harvests

Geese are everywhere, never far behind the harvesters and balers; waste grain and fresh new growth in the fields are goose magnets. Although burgeoning populations have biologists scrambling to assess environmental impacts and find effective control measures, geese are a visual resource with some redeeming qualities.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

A Beauty Cloaked in Velvet

While picking berries the other day, I was pleasantly surprised by the erratic flight of a Mourning Cloak butterfly. I don’t see this species often, and when I do I’m usually unprepared. They rarely feed on flower nectar, preferring tree sap and other sources of nourishment.

The butterfly darted up and around my shed, in the direction of the firewood pile. It was the first warm, sunny morning following several days of overcast skies and drizzle, so I wasn’t surprised to find it perched on a piece of wood, absorbing the warmth of the morning sun with its dark cloak. Damaged, but still a head-turner!

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Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.