Goldenrod Meadows and Summer’s End

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Goldenrod honey in the making

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White Admiral

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Cabbage Whites planning ahead

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A Cabbage White butterfly caught in the web of life; one of two

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Monarchs: a species at risk; one of two

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Swamp Rose Visitors

I follow the bloom of a group of wild swamp roses along the edge of a swamp. They appear to be thriving in several inches of water and muck, their feet wet year-round; an incredible display of site adaptation and tolerance.

Bees swarm the blossoms, presenting a target-rich environment for my favorite Arachnid: the Flower Spider. Also called Goldenrod Spider or Crab Spider, they’re an impressive ambush predator with a deadly toxin that immobilizes prey instantly. Bees are common prey, but I’ve photographed Flower Spiders with kills as large as the Tiger Swallowtail butterfly and Hummingbird Moth (Clearwing) in their grasp!

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

Nesting Wrens

As we approach the summer solstice the House Wrens that occupy a nest box on my garden fence are working overtime to feed their young. They flit about in shrubby thickets and weedy patches snatching up all sorts of insect life – bees, crane flies, caterpillars – anything goes for these bug-eating machines!HouseWren18June16#0468E2c8x10

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When I move too close to the nest box, I get scolded with nervous chatter and a fluttering posture before the meal is delivered!

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I hope everyone gets fed well because I’m looking forward to seeing  little fledglings escape into daylight!

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Late Spring Scenes, 2016

Becoming immersed in the continuum of spring scenes from March to June is a bit like viewing a blog post that features an endless gallery of world-class images. Each phase of spring has exceptional, defining visual qualities and it’s virtually impossible to pick favorites.

Young Red Squirrels are maturing rapidly, but still show the fearless curiosity of a juvenile.

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Buttercups are in full bloom…

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As are the Dame’s Rockets…..

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Tiger Swallowtails, our most common, large butterfly, liven up the June landscape as they follow the sequence of bloom.

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Tiger Swallowtail on hawkweed

And it’s not all about youngsters and flowers: large herbivores seize the moment, feasting on succulent new plant growth (throughout the day if undisturbed).

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A young doe (yearling) foraging in a brushy meadow

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Meadowhawks

Patrolling the airways with uncanny maneuverability and precision, foraging dragonflies provide entertaining insights into the world of insect predation throughout the summer and early fall.

Warm, sunny afternoons in August and September are prime time for Meadowhawk (Sympetrum spp.) activity. This one, perched on the tip of a blackberry cane, darted away so quickly that I couldn’t follow its flight. In a second or two it returned to the perch, munching on a tiny winged insect – in all likelihood a mosquito.

Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Summer’s End

Some memories of late summer, fresh and vivid as ever; memories of fields, forests, streams … and precious friends along the way.

An Anglewing butterfly, Eastern Comma, on Panicled Aster

Eastern Chipmunk perched high up in a wild apple tree

Wild apples; a bumper crop with limbs bending, and sometimes breaking, under the load

Perching dragonfly (Meadowhawk), highlighted by a background of New England Aster blossoms

Thistle in a slight breeze

Monarch butterfly visiting New England Aster

A mountain stream, dead for decades from coal mine acid pollution, now with a heart beat due to massive, long-term clean-up efforts.

Cow elk, part of a family group of 4 (excluding the rutting, 7 x 7 heard bull that is keeping an eye on them); Pennsylvania’s wild elk herd.

“Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.”   – Pope Francis

“Pennsylvania Wilds”

Ralph Harrison 1928-2015: forester, conservationist, forest historian; the father of the Pennsylvania elk herd; a friend and mentor for 43 years. ……………..   In loving memory.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Meadow Macros

Flower Spider (Goldenrod Spider, Red-spotted Crab Spider) on Knapweed

Sulphur on Chicory

Red-tailed Bumble Bee on Goldenrod

Wood Nymph on Knapweed

Jewelweed (Touch-me-not)

Sulphur on Goldenrod

Cucumber Beetle on Aster

Viceroy on Goldenrod

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.