Caterpillars, bugs, critters & bird feathers

moon phase Week of 07/26/2009 Good time to do general farm work.

Last winter, I was blessed to have two pairs of gentle Mourning doves that came to the bird feeders. Mourning dove Mourning dove This spring I was again blessed by their beautiful courtship cooing. Now I'm doubly blessed, because there are now eight doves to enjoy—four adults and four youngsters.

I've been finding quite a few molted flight feathers (wing feathers) this past week. They come from a variety of birds, and you never know when you'll spot one. Today I found feathers from several different kinds of birds, including the Mourning dove, Blue jay, Rose-breasted grosbeak, Cardinal, and a Red-winged blackbird.

Tadpole Tadpole An old plank laid across the top of the woodpile makes a good makeshift bird feeder. It didn't take a woodchuck long to climb up and find the sunflower seeds. A little while later, along came a hungry Gray squirrel for a snack. They seemed just fine with each other's company and dined together. Some of the sunflower seeds got knocked off the plank, and fell three feet to the ground, where a little chipmunk gathered them up in his cheek pouches. It's not often I get to watch three kinds of squirrels so close together.

Yesterday, I stopped to see what was happening at the frog pond at the far end of the meadow. Monarch Butterfly caterpillar Monarch Butterfly caterpillar It's a beautiful little pond, about the size of a full sized car, and a quiet setting in a shady place. The still, dark water mirrored the overhanging green branches, and Water striders sent tiny ripples across the surface. Ah, but there was life within the pond as well, as I saw some small black objects swimming at the bottom. I bent down for a closer look and counted over a hundred fat, little tadpoles moving around. Some of them were already forming hind legs. There were some other, smaller frogs around the edge of the pond, making this a nice, froggy place to visit.

On my way back across the meadow, I passed a group of about 20 tall milkweed plants. Mysterious irridescent emerald green bug Mysterious irridescent emerald green bug I always like to check to see what may be nibbling on the leaves. To my surprise, there was a large, black, yellow and white striped caterpillar towards the top of the first milkweed I checked. A Monarch! I looked over the other plants, but this was the only caterpillar. At least it's a start. There are lots of different kinds of milkweed in the meadow. It's the preferred food of Monarch larvae, so maybe I just need a little more patience. Hopefully more caterpillars will appear.

Spotting a small green bug on a nearby leaf, I was drawn in for a closer look. Such a shiny, Emerald green was this little, "black-bean"-sized beetle. Wood Lilies Wood Lilies He sported an orange belt around his waist, which only seemed to enhance his bright green head and body. He was quite an eyeful, but one I don't remember seeing here before. Maybe someone can tell me who he is? None of my field guides describe him.

Oh the world is so much different than you think, when you bend over for a closer look. The Wood lily is truly a lovely sight to behold, but bend closer and you will feel your heart purr at its beauty. The world is always different from another perspective. Often, when I'm standing in a nice natural setting, I will sit down to see the world as some of the wild ones see it. Their range of view is much different than mine, and I find it's a good way for me to relate to what their world is like. The key to better understanding is to simply take a little closer look.

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Jessica from from Oahu on August 6, 2009 at 06:36:09 PM
Mr. Hazlett,
it is such a pleaseure for me, to read your newsletter, and view the photos. I love and adore, flowers, critters, and nature in general. I am sure that if I found myself in your yard, it would be a place I would be very reluctant to leave!!
I so do hope to have such a wonderful outdoor area to explore, and support, one day :)
Thanks much for your visions and insights.
Sunny from from CassLake- Bemidji, MN on August 5, 2009 at 12:29:00 PM
I too have seen irredescent bugs near my home for several years now and wondered what they on a larger lake in northern Minnesota. Interesting little critters...amazing what Mother Nature comes up with from time to time! I find I can always learn more from her as time goes by, and I'm curious about all that I see living around various bogs, fields, and creeks here. Thank you for all you share with us about your observations.
Dan from from La Farge, Wis. on August 3, 2009 at 02:19:23 PM
More about the little mystery beetle. He's too small and the wrong shape and color to be a dogbane leaf beetle or a Japanese beetle. I'm sure I'll track him down in time. I'll keep looking.
Jeanne from from Maine on July 30, 2009 at 02:18:31 PM
I want to thank you so much for your "Down Nature's Trail" newsletter. The wonderful pictures and your descriptions, make me feel like I am right there! It makes my day. PS-I have many milkweeds in my flower garden (from one plant I dug up on the side of the road a few years ago) and I look everyday for the Monarch Caterpillar. None yet, but I will keep checking. After all, that was the reason I dug up that first milkweed in the first place! Enjoy your day.
Janet Vanko from from Hinckley, OH on July 29, 2009 at 05:51:12 PM
I think your "little bug buddy" may be a dogbane beetle. : )
Jetty from from Bloomington, IL on July 29, 2009 at 03:22:56 PM
I cannot tell for certain from the pic, and I do not know if anyone has commented on this yet, but I think that mystery bug may be a Japanese beetle, although they usually have a bit more gold on their backs. If it is a Japanese beetle they are an invasive species and will start to kill many plants and other bugs. :( Then again, it could be any other kind of bug as well! :-D
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