Friday, April 29, 2011

Once in a Blue Moon...or a Lime Green One

While the weather hasn't been cooperative this last week it seems at least some of the local bugs are playing along with the launch of Banished's Bugs. This Luna Moth  (Actias luna) turned up tonight on the back deck draw to the lights in the kitchen. We usually only see one or two a year so the timing couldnt have been better. This is the first generation of the year, there is a second flight in June.

Wing span is about 4 inches and this one was perfect, clearly freshly emerged. I wish the pictures were a fraction sharper but it was dark outside and I had to use manual focus on a moving subject.

Beautiful though isn't it? It stayed around 5 minutes and then took off and flew up into the oak tree.  Its now considered an endangered species and it's only found in the eastern United States and southern Canada.
Its creatures like this or the Imperial moth with 5 inch plus wingspan that really set you back or your heels as a nature lovin' Brit in the USA. I had the odd Poplar Hawk back in Gloucester but theres not much flying around anywhere that can compare to this.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Talk of the devil...

No bugs right now, not because they aren't around, but because 30-40 mph winds are not kind to the macrophotographer. We've had storms whistling through for the last couple of days, though thankfully no tornadoes popped up as they did in many other places. 600+ tornadoes in April is quite extraordinary.

Just last weekend my wife and I were sitting out on the deck watching the Red Bellied and Downy woodpeckers when I mentioned we hadn't seen a Northern Flicker in ages. And lo and behold, when I got home through the nasty weather Wednesday afternoon what should I find perched on the fence? Not one but two Flickers hunkered down out of the wind and the rain.

Very noisy and active, weather permitting, it was great to see them in the garden again. They were  great favourites with   Audubon
These two both appear to be females as they lack the black 'moustache' lines running back and down from the beak. Totally unexpected, you have to love those happy chances.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What am I doing here? For that matter what are you doing here?

How and why do you start a blog? Why blog at all? Well, the idea behind this one is to post regular wildlife pictures from here in Virginia USA to all of you, who mostly arent in Virginia USA.

As an ex-pat I'm astonished most days by the wildness of the wildlife and the sheer un-british variety of it all. And so I think this is more for those who aren't familiar with American flora and fauna than it is for the locals who might drop in. Welcome one and  all, whereever you may be.

I hope you'll come for the bugs and beasties and perhaps stay for some music, movies, ramblings and enthusiasms.

I wondered how to start the bug pics part of the blog and I've decided to just jump in posting whatever is new and interesting day to day. You'll get to know the cast list as we go along, I'm not going to post pages of old stuff up front. I hope one thing will lead to another and that as the year goes by you'll meet all my regular residents and visitors and you'll meet the new guys as I do. Its Banished's Bugs first and foremost but there will be more than insects. What ever turns up in camera range, in the garden or out and about is fair game.

So without further ado, lets post some pictures from this past weekend.
These attractive little beasts are Varied Carpet Beetles Anthrenus verbasci. As you can see they aren't in or on a carpet but feeding on pollen (I assume) on one of the pots we have planted out in the front yard. And strangely enough, of all the flowers now blooming this is the only plant they are showing the slightest interest in. Only 2-3 mm long I need to take their pictures so I can see what the heck they do look like.

Damselflies and dragonflies are appearing in some numbers now but it is tree pollen season here right now. Everything is covered in a layer of yellow pollen, including the damselflies it seems.

One of the joys of having bird feeders here is the sheer variety of the birds that turn up there. We have 5 species of woodpecker visiting throughout the year in greater or lesser numbers. The last week or so our frequent visotors have been the tiny Downy Woodpecker and this the Red Bellied Woodpecker.

 Well there you are Banished's Bugs is official up and running. And it will get more interesting, I promise.