Archive for July 28th, 2010

I haven’t walked down to the pond in a while, partly because it has been so hot that I couldn’t find the energy, and partly because the bugs have been so fierce this year, I was afraid I might be carried off by a giant mosquito. As it turned out, when I did take a stroll down there the other day, the mosquitos weren’t bad at all.

Perhaps the tree swallows can take credit for the bug control service. I was surprised to find that there were still nestlings in the boxes. Tree swallows usually just raise one brood a year. It’s possible that a first nest failed, or that the abundance of insects this year has resulted in the swallows raising a second brood. Either way, the parents were still busy collecting insects on the wing over the pond.

As I’ve got to know dragonflies better, one of the things I’ve found interesting is the way the dominant dragonfly species changes over the course of the summer. There are always dragonflies about, but not the same species. Right now, there are a lot of twelve-spotted skimmers (Libellula pulchella) patrolling the pond.

I like these dragonflies because they are large and conspicuous, and easy to identify, with their three black patches on their wings. They have chalky-white abdomens and yellowish side stripes on their thorax. Females are similar, but lack the white patches between the dark patches on their wings, and have a brown abdomen.

Another positive attribute is a penchant for perching, making them highly cooperative photography subjects. The twelve-spotted dragonflies weren’t the only skimmers to be found along the pond. The grasses at the margin of the water were host to many yellow-legged meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum).

They are somewhat smaller than their twelve-spotted cousins. The males are orange-red, but I saw mostly females, which sport a yellow abdomen and clear wings.

There was lots of other life. As I approached the pond, several turtles slipped into the water and disappeared. Certainly, I was not only the watcher but also the watched.

These ants were busy working industriously on a dogwood branch. I assume they were after aphids or some such, but couldn’t actually see what was attracting them.

Several White Admiral butterflies (Limenitis arthemis) were flitting about.

It was hot in the sun, and I didn’t visit for long. I retreated to the shade of the house and left everyone to get on with their busy lives.

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