Monday, April 28, 2014

Tents and Tigers

We are always on the lookout for a new park to try. Ideally something for us and something, ie. a playground, for Banished Jr.
So we headed out to Oak Grove Lake Park in Chesapeake on Saturday. There is the requisite playground/climbing frame plus a 2 mile trail around a nice freshwater lake with woodland around. It was very pleasant on Saturday but I suspect that due to the very wet nature of much of the woodland/swamp around its going to be mosquito hell come high summer.
It was one of those days when we saw much more than I managed to photograph. Chesapeake is the favored local hangout for Zebra Swallowtails and I spent a while in futile pursuit of several while Jr played but they were always too high and too fast on Saturday. The same goes for dragonflies, likely Baskettails that also eluded me.

As so often the best came by surprise. There was the caterpillar on the path, and then another and another until we were trying not to stand on them.

We eventually tracked them down to silken tents in the surrounding trees.

      They are in tents because they are Eastern Tent Caterpillars Malacosoma americana. And we found a good number of trees already stripped of the new seasons leaves by these voracious little devils.

And while my eyesight is certainly not what it once was I did spot a tiny flash of shiny elemald green as we walked along. I thought at first is was likely to be a little metallic green bee but seeing where it landed on the path and getting down to its level it turned out to be much more fun. 

The voracious predatory Six Spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sexguttata) was a nice find but I wish it had stayed around long enough to get a better shot. This really doesnt show off those killer mandibles but after this shot it was on the wing again and gone. These arent uncommon but they are quick and I usually fail to get even the one shot. Even when they stay on the ground they move like lightening which isnt the best thing for the macro photographer.

As we walked around the lake we were all struck by the seeming total lack of turtles. Most lakes, ponds, muddy puddles around here have Painted turtles lounging on every bank and semi-submerged branch just waiting to dive it at your approach. But we didnt see a single on here. We did find just the one turtle but that one was a nice surprise. We found it moving quickly across the path on the way down to the water. Now most Snapping turtles I see are somewhere around 1 to 2 feet in length if you include the Godzilla style tail. But the one we found on saturday was but an infant. It was no more than 6 inches head to tail and we watched in head down the bank and into the path but did manage to grab a picture or two on the way.
And I forgot on the day but Banished's Bugs was 3 years old on Saturday. I can't think of a birthday song for this one right now though so will pass by in silence.

1 comment:

  1. Happy birthday to your blog! I wish it peace and prosperity and may it always have access to all the wonderful pics you have procured for it!

    I love this post. I remember those pesky tent caterpillars from my idyllic child-rearing years in SW Virginia. When my daughter was really little she called them "tatapittars." Once she and my son collected a 5 gallon bucketful to feed to the baby birds that were nesting in the boxwood by the front porch. I really should have made them dump them out, but I didn't and they all died and rotted in that bucket. IT WAS GROSS.

    And I remember those amazing emerald beetles. We used to ooo and aaah over them. We always loved bugs.

    And snapping turtles!! The first time I saw one I didn't know what it was and I am very lucky that I did not get my toe removed by it.

    Life in Vermont is good, of that I am sure. BUT... spring tests your faith here. I sure do miss Clover Hollow and the grand fecundity of an Appalachian spring. We don't even have leaves yet. There are snow drops and blood root, though. Very lovely.