Monday, July 24, 2017

Belle Isle redux

A quick run to my favorite place yesterday morning.  I only had about an hour or so to look around before I joined a picnic a friend was giving.

This young Green Heron (Butorides virescens) flew over the middle of the tennis court stream and perched in the dead tree next to the road. Belle Isle has had a good green heron year.

Along this same stream male Blue Dashers (Pachydiplax longipennis) were numerous.

As it turned out, while not quite so numerous as blue dashers, tiny Eastern Amberwings (Perithemis tenura)  were also plentiful.  A couple of weeks ago, I spent so much time on a single EA percher.  Today I had choices at every waterside I visited.

I was intrigued by this patroller - some kind of mosaic darner I think - but the above shot is the best bad photo of all my attempts.

This beautiful male Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) was at the edges of the northeast end of Lake Okonoka.

From here I went to my friends picnic which also offered an opportunity to kayak - which I enjoyed doing in the, very weedy, fishing lake.  It was my first time.  I loved kayaking and also observed that Halloween Pennants spend a lot of time flying over the middle of the lake.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Wayward Red-eared Slider

Found on Michigan Avenue Sunday morning walking along the curb at the edge of the road, apparently unable to climb up and over the curb.

The mud-stained carapace was approximately eight inches long and five inches wide.

The plastron.

Unhappy rescued turtle.  Shortly after this I released him/her into the Rouge River.  I hope I guessed the direction and purpose of its travels correctly.

Red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) is the most popular pet turtle in the United States as well as in other parts of the world.  As a kid, I had a couple.  They can grow to be quite large and are often released in rivers, lakes and ponds when they are no longer little and cute. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


June 1, 2001 - July 12, 2017

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Belle Isle is for dragonflies

Belle Isle was hopping today - with both people and dragonflies.  In prior years I have not visited the park on summer weekend afternoons or evenings, but I have gone in the morning.  Our new state park is over-the-top busy.  This morning my gym class ended at 12:00 noon and I was prepared with camera and bins to drive to Belle Isle from the gym with the goal of searching the ponds and streams for dragonflies.  I was not disappointed.    

Above and three below:  the tiny Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera).  A single male was guarding a small territory near the shoreline of the sluggish stream near the tennis courts.  This is the first male Eastern Amberwing I have seen.  Last year I saw a female in dry, sandy habitat in Oakland County.

Above:  the habitat the Eastern Amberwing was protecting.  He's actually in this photo above if you can find him.  As I was taking photos, kayakers were paddling by and nearby Eastern Kingbirds and Chimney Swifts were doing their separate styles of chittering.

In this same area there were Black Saddlebags, Widow Skimmers, Eastern Pondhawks, Blue Dashers,   a mosaic which did not stick around for photographs and some bluets of which the only one I could identify was Eastern Forktail.

I was thrilled to find the amberwing, but I had only a short time so I moved to my next spot, the pond at the opposite end of the woodland trails.

Above:  The next habitat - the northwest edge of Lake Okonoka.  The heavy rain of the day and night before caused the lake to spill over into the grass.

Above and two below:  Horrible photos of, I think (hope), Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina).  Still checking this ID out.

I was surprised to see a single Lesser Yellowlegs - possibly brought down by the heavy rain on Thursday night.  It landed in a good spot, but it was very skittish.

A true beauty, male Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina).

Next location was the opposite end of of the same lake across the road from the Blue Heron lagoon.

Fuzzy photo of another Eastern Amberwing on a lily pad in the middle of the pond.

Mating Halloween Pennants - doesn't look that comfortable, but seems to work for them.  They also oviposited in tandem.

I thought I saw a Banded Pennant fly into the wet, grassy area of Lake Okonoka on Saturday, so I returned earlier in the morning on Sunday to see if I could find Banded Pennant.  I didn't see any, but below are some of the other things I found.

Tiger Swallowtail

Female Blue Dasher.  

Blue Dasher - possibly an immature male.

Above and below:  I want to claim this as a Northern Bluet (Enallagma cyanthigerum), but as noted in a June blog post, bluets are difficult to separate in the field from the several other species of large blue and black bluets.  Habitat description also cannot be used because it is so overlapping.

Bumblebee nectaring on swamp rose.

Bumblebee look-alike is a Carpenter bee nectaring from chicory.  Note the shiny, smooth abdomen.

Two tiny, baby wood ducks were unaccompanied by a watchful adult. They were pecking around the water seeming to make the best of a bad situation.  Almost certainly they're doomed.

Eastern Kingbird - found in many locations around the island.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Crosswinds Marsh redux

I think sometime last year a friend told me of a couple of spots where he had found Painted Skimmers (Libellula semifasciata) at Crosswinds Marsh and described the habitat they seem to like in Michigan as wet meadows.  I tried for them on a cool, windy late afternoon earlier in June where I knew of a wet meadow - thanks to beaver activity - along the Blue Heron trail.  I didn't find them in June and I didn't find them on the 4th either.  But, it's a long walk and some other good things were found.

Above and below:  Acanthocephala terminalis, a large (2 cm) leaf-footed bug with distinctive orange-tipped antennae.  It is common in meadows and other sunny, weedy habitats.  Here's the UK Ag link for this and other leaf-footed bugs.

Above:  I'm way out of practice with my skipper identification.  I found this guy along the wet edges of the Blue Heron boardwalk trail and this is the only photo I was able to get.  I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that it may be Dukes Skipper (Euphyes dukesi).  This would be a good skipper find in southeast Michigan.  The pose of this skipper is not revealing.  I made my guess based upon details described in the *Kaufman guide.  My next best guess is Broad-winged Skipper (Poanes viator) - still good, but more common.  Corrections are welcome.

Addendum:  I emailed Roger Kuhlman my skipper photo and I asked if he was able to identify it.  Roger is the butterfly expert in southeast Michigan and his comments are as follows:  "The angle of view of your skipper is not the best, however I would venture your skipper is probably Dion Skipper.  Dukes Skipper cannot be ruled out either but Dukes probably has not emerged yet. Either possibility is a good sighting. Dukes Skipper is a State-threatened species that is known to breed at Crosswinds Marsh.  Dion Skipper is rather uncommon in the four SE Michigan county area."

As I was reading Roger's comment and reviewing both skippers in the Kaufman guide, I became curious about the spelling of Dukes. Kaufmann spells it Dukes's, Roger spelled it as Dukes and there are on-line sites that added Duke's to the list of spellings.  All three spellings are found on-line.  I don't know which is correct, or if it even matters since Euphyes dukesi is probably the most important, so I'll stick with Roger's Dukes.

Above, a honeybee nectaring on a swamp rose (Rosa palustris).

Above and below:  I found this beautiful caterpillar in the flooded meadow where I was looking unsuccessfully for Painted Skimmers.  It's a Cattail caterpillar and will grow up to be Henry's Marsh moth (Simyra insularis).  Here's the bug guide link.  It looked as if it could pack a sting and I was disappointed that this beautiful creature will metamorphose into an ordinary, white moth and that they are common.  Another good caterpillar link is Caterpillars of Ontario, Canada by Backyard Nature.

Above:  Male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis).  I found many, all males, at Crosswinds Marsh on the 4th.

Above and two below:  In addition to the wet meadow, I checked these habitats for Painted Skimmers.

Leaving Crosswinds Marsh I came across the busy activity of Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) feeding their not yet fledged young. In the photo below, there are three little heads just visible above the top.  They all ducked down when I walked below and pointed my camera up.

Beautiful swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) flower 

Still looking for Painted Skimmers, I drove across the road to the phase 2 area of Crosswinds Marsh located along Arkona Road across from the landfill.  I had never been here before.  Needless to say, no Painted Skimmers were found but I became acquainted with a new area that is well-worth future exploration.

* Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North American, Jim P. Brock, Kenn Kaufman, Houghton Mifflin Company, © 2003 by Hillstar Editions L.C., pages 332-335.  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Banded Pennant

I used my July 4th holiday to spend time looking for Banded Pennant and Painted Skimmer.  I was successful with one of the two.

I started early driving to Sherwood Lake in Sumpter Township.  It was one year to the day that I made my first visit to Sherwood Lake.  I was looking for Banded Pennants then, too, but instead found many Calico and Halloween pennants in addition to a lot of other nice dragonflies. Last year I visited later in the day - probably early afternoon, because I remember I went to Point Moo later in the afternoon.  

This year I found Banded Pennants (Celithemis fasciata) and nothing else.  I think the early morning start helped me for the Banded Pennants and hurt for everything else - which turned out to be okay.

Above and six below:  All of the same individual landed vertically on the grass at the edge of the lake.  This was the first of at least eight, and possibly as many as twelve seen.  As it turned out I was grateful for these photos, because all of the others landed horizontally in the short, weedy grass and they were much more difficult to photograph.

Above and below:  probably different individuals landed in the short grass.  The patterning on the wings is not as clear.  I saved only a few photos of the short-grass shots.

I was super happy to find these dragonflies; but I realized they were all the same.  One after the other - shiny-winged, dainty and wimpy fliers - I wondered if I was seeing newly emerged Banded Pennants.  I did not see a single adult.

I stayed for an hour at Sherwood Lake and then drove to nearby Crosswinds Marsh for a different story.