Can you believe it? August is nearly gone and the summer is starting to wind down. With this in mind, I savor the remaining days by looking a little closer at anything that is in bloom. It won't be long before the flowers of 2010 are only a memory.
The ornamental onions that grow at the edge of a flowerbed are small but are very pretty, and with a closer look I see a tiny Elongated flower fly who likes the taste of onions. By taking a closer look, you may be surprised at how beauty often comes in small packages.
Some wild flowers have only a few small flowers remaining. The soft yellow Evening primrose is one of these. There are other wild flowers that have lost all their pretty petals and are going to seed. The large patch of Brown-eyed Susans turned from a blanket of yellow to a stand of stems and round, brown seed heads—no longer colorful, but a work of artistic beauty in their own right.
The tall white spikes of the Culver's roots are just beginning to fade to brown and soon their blossoms will be gone. The Culver's root is a native prairie plant that tends to grown in small communities along roadsides and undisturbed grasslands.
There has been an explosion of medium-sized yellow Sulphur butterflies this week. They gathered together at a bare spot of soil near the driveway. When I tried to count them they spooked and fluttered around me like big yellow snow flakes in the wind. When they began to settle back down on the ground, they were joined by a single Common Buckeye butterfly.
The Buckeye is an eye-catcher with their beautiful blue, eye-like spots on their wings. I love it when a butterfly shows up that I haven't seen for a while—it's like finding a lost flower in the meadow. I'll be keeping and eye out for more Buckeyes.
While on my morning walk, I stopped to admire the shear blue beauty of a patch of vervain. I planted them from seed last fall and already they are 5 to 6-feet tall and covered with radiant blue flowers. It looks like there will be some seed to start another patch this fall. I like to spread the beauty around.
I'm pleased to see lots of grasshoppers as they leap out of my way as I walk through the grass. So many grasshoppers means there is lots of protein-rich food for the birds who are getting ready to migrate south. The grasshoppers are also food for frogs, snakes, mice, squirrels, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, skunks, opossums and so on. I've never been one to complain about too many insects, especially grasshoppers and crickets. They are what make the world of Nature what it is.
My trail led me past the place in the grass where the little Stiff gentians grow. I had to get down on my knees to see the tiny 6 to 8-inch tall plants. They were just beginning to show signs of little blue buds—hard to see, but in a week or so they will be covered with lovely, dark blue flowers. There is another pretty blue flower which is just starting to bloom. The New England asters are two weeks earlier than usual but it's good to see them. Both of these wild flowers are some of the last to bloom each summer and I'm so glad that they don't bloom all at once. There should be some of their flowers to enjoy until the frost comes.
The show of sunflowers is magnificent this year—yellow, yellow everywhere the bright faces of sunflower and goldenrod glow across the meadow. There will be lots of seeds for the wild birds this winter. The tall Woodland sunflowers are very numerous this year and I'm hoping they will spread even more. There are still some others blooming, including the Cup plant, Sawtooth sunflower, Ox-eye, and a couple of beautiful Compass plants.
Perched on a power line that runs along the river road, a little Green heron looks out over the marsh. These small cousins of the Great Blue herons are generally thought to be a common sight here in Wisconsin. Here in the Kickapoo Valley though, they are seen rarely. Their numbers seem to fluctuate from year to year. I didn't even see one for six years and then all of a sudden I saw ten in one week. I knew of three nests that summer. The Green heron I saw perched on the wire yesterday was only the third one I've seen here all summer. I think it's maybe because of a loss of habitat. These small herons and bitterns seem to like to hang out in the reeds and cat tail marshes. Over the years this diverse habitat has been replaced by reed canary grass pretty much everywhere in the river valley.I I can count on one hand how many times I've seen an American Bittern or at least a bittern in the past ten years.
only saw the crane family once this week, but they seem to be doing fine. The two young cranes are busy eating grasshoppers and crickets all day. They never seem to get enough to eat. While hunting they never pass up a snake, frog, mouse, vole or baby bird. They still have some growing to do and they need all they can eat.
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