Thursday, July 31, 2014

Let R.I.P

Sad to close the month with a musical obit but when you get to my age it's sadly ever more frequent.

Dick Wagner who died today in Texas aged 71 played with Alice Cooper and on Lou Reed's Berlin. But he"ll surely be best remembered as half of the twin metal guitar frontline (with Steve Hunter) on Reed"s Rock and Roll Animal live album recorded in 1972 at the Academy of Music in New York.
It's been said that tenor man Paul Gonsalves found musical immortality in one 27 chorus solo on "Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue" for Ellington at Newport in 1956.
Perhaps Dick Wagner found his immortality in an intro.
R.I.P Mr. Wagner.
Unforgettable .

The July Roundup

I did get the chance to grab a few shots around the backyard this week, not much brand new but this tiny beetle still pending identification. 
Update: Not a beetle but a bug, Sehirus cinctus, the White Margined Burrowing Bug.

The Grey Hairstreak isn't new to the blog but I haven't got to get a picture in a while. Most butterflies are very picky as to where they lay their eggs and so feed those caterpillars but the Grey is pretty much omnivorous. The list of food plants is long but I hadn't seen the Swamp Sage on the list. But this one is clearly laying eggs in this shot. I'll have to keep an eye out for the little cats in a few days.

I'm used to finding the little mobs of newly hatched true bug nymphs. And these little scarlet beasts are the most common. 

But thus is the first time I've found the eggs from which they had freshly hatched. You can see the line of brown eggs running along the stem and see too where the small red beasts busted out.
Well that's July done with and the weather for August looks set for 4 days of rain so it might be a while before there's too much else to post photo-wise.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Forever Catching Up

It does seem these days that I'm always catching up with pictures taken and not yet downloaded. Typically here are pictures from 3 recent days. 

Thursday 17th July at Hoffler Creek
There were enormous numbers of dragonflies just everywhere but it was one of those counterproductive days. There were so  many that for every settled percher there were 3 or 4 more harrassing for the perch and so hardly anything settled long enough for a picture. Plus it seems to be a particularly bad summer for ticks and its not conducive to wading through the longer grass if your going to be picking blood suckers off your legs (or worse places) for the rest of the day. Finally I only got a couple of barely worthwhile shots but I did feast well on blackberries.
Female Needham's Skimmer (Libellula needhami
 Diogmites esuriens the Hanging Thief which I never catch doing it 'hanging' trick. They apparently like to hang by their front pair of legs from foliage.

Friday 18th July at Bennetts Creek Park
We hadn't been out to Bennett's Creek in a couple of years and it seems like the developers are determined to entirely surround the park with new homes. But its still a nice mix of somewhere for the kids to play, a river frontage with banks full of fiddler crabs and some woodland trails.Banished Jr always loves the playground but he also loves the thousands of fiddler crabs to be watched and chased on the creek bank and the woods just behind. When your the only one to disturb them in a while its like a wave of crabs heading for the water and for burrows. Think 'World War Z' with crabs. And about as fast too so not easy to get a good shot.
Red Jointed Fiddler Crab male (Uca minax). Only the male has the single enlarged  claw. 
(Philanthus gibbosus) 
The Bee Wolf no less ! It seems while this little beast feeds on nectar as an adult, the larvae feed on bees paralysed by the mother for their delectation.

 Saturday 19th July Norfolk Botanical Garden
Saturday was the Butterfly Festival and as expected the place was packed. But.... its a big garden and so packed is a relative term. There was still plenty of space and peace so long as you kept away from the children's garden and the butterfly house. Yes you really don't want to go to the butterfly house on butterfly day. Just way too crowded and the poor guides trying to stop the hordes trampling everything underfoot. Thankfully just about anything you could see inside on Saturday you could see flying free outside, it just took more patience. The gardens are making a huge effort this year to encourage the planting of milkweed in all its forms to encourage and support Monarchs in their movements up and down the East Coast. The plants sale Mothers day weekend and the sale Saturday both had lots of milkweed varieties and the gardens have planted more than ever. So milkweeds of all sorts were everywhere, as were the bugs that go with them. Lots of Monarchs feeding but I didnt actually see any caterpillars all day. 
But lots of Large Milkweed Bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus) and their nymphs at various stages.
Mating adults
Newly hatched nymphs
and those a little older at different stages.

The Swamp Milkweed flowers in particular were popular weeding sites for the Monarch butterflies and for bees and wasps. Two large and spectacular wasps.

The Great Black Wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus) 

and the Great Golden Digger Wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus). I've seen this one on previous occasions bringing prey back to its burrows. They feed their young on paralysed grasshoppers and katydids and often fly in with prey at least as large as them selves and often larger

And this striking orange/red Carolina Grasshopper (Dissosteira Carolina).
 And finally but sadly a little blurry is the young Black and Yellow Argiope. Its not yet black and yellow and the blur is due to a combination of the camera struggling to find the spider against that patch if fluffed silk that it has put in the center of the web and the spider doing its 'bouncing' act. It sets up and oscillation in the web and gently bounces the whole thing back and forth. Both these features seem to be defensive behaviors. They certainly fool the camera.
And yes I know there aren't any butterfly pictures from the butterfly festival. No good reason other than sheer bloody-mindedness.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

No Lonesome Pine But ....

...there are some other pictures from the mountains.

The Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus)

The lovely lilac Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis)

The stream loving Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)


and female.

A hoverfly I still need to identify.

And this Black Snake, showing the patterned underside as he slithers down the tree.

 Appalacian Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Friday, July 4, 2014

In The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia...

...On the Trail Of The Lonesome Pine

In the mountains for a break. Just rolled into Greenville VA and eating an Arby's Angus, four cheese & bacon sandwich. Roast beef AND cheese AND bacon! How unkosher is that??
Nice sunset though from the Blue Ridge Parkway

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Live From Fort Boykin

Out to the beach today with Banished Jr. at Fort Boykin the site of both revolutionary and civil war forts defending the James River. There's very little left to see of either fort not even on the ground. But there is a nice sandy beach and this morning it was totally empty but for Jr. and myself. And a heron and a number of Gannets and what I initially thought were some flies fliting around the damp sand at the waters edge. But on closer examination they turned out to dozens of Tiger beetles the species still to be determined. Certainly not the six-spotted though, I'm sure of that much. Very different to the emerald green beast back in April in Chesapeake
One of those days when I should have taken the camera but wanted to be unladened for paddling and playing. So you'll have to settle for the phone... live from Fort Boykin.
Fort Boykin beach, deserted... but for

Hairy Necked Tiger Beetle (Cicindela hirticollis )

Widow Skimmer on the walk back to our picnic.
Wheel Bug nymph (Arilus cristatus) spotted on a Mimosa by Jr.