Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010

Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010
Photo by R.E. Berg-Andersson

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Other Winged Wonders

American toad (Margo D. Beller)
Over the years I have so trained myself to listen for songs and spot movement in trees for birds that I miss many other life forms.

Besides handling the camera while I spot things with my binoculars, MH is also very good at pointing out what he sees at eye level or on the ground while I'm busy scanning the skies.

So it is thanks to him I have learned about such dragonflies as twelve-spotted skimmers and common whitetails as well as the American and Woodhouse's toads.
Great spangled fritillary (RE Berg-Andersson)

I can't say I've been completely oblivious. When I look at pretty flowers I can't help but notice the various types of butterflies on them, even if I can't identify many of them. But just as I do with birds I can't identify, MH looks into one of his many references and usually can identify the creature.
Praying mantis (Margo D. Beller)

I also notice the praying mantis, which is a beneficial albeit scary-looking insect, especially when it is flying right at you. I can't say the same about the periodical cicadas that came out in huge swarms last year for the first time in 17 years, its usual cycle, and which have no benefit I can discern.

Periodical cicada (Margo D. Beller)
Kids are very good at finding snakes, frogs and bugs because they are closer to the ground, I think. Usually, these kinds of animals are more interesting to kids than a bird. Maybe it's the "ick" factor, or being able just to see (or photograph) them than a bird moving in a tree.

Wooly bear (R.E.Berg-Andersson)
When I go to the Great Swamp to look for birds, people along the boardwalks are looking down for bull frogs and snakes. On one morning bird hike at Scherman Hoffman, one of the younger members of our group looked down instead of up at the bird the rest of us were watching and found a female wood turtle, a threatened species in New Jersey.

So I have tried to look at more winged wonders at ground level.

Female widow skimmer (Margo D. Beller)
Just the other day I was looking at a wild rose bush that was overgrown with creeper vines and realized I was looking at a striking insect that I photographed and then showed MH, who got out his reference book and discovered it to be the female widow skimmer.

We have gone to the Pinelands and found frogs and insects we've seen nowhere else, and dragonflies and darners in brilliant shades of red, green and blue. We still don't know what that red one was but it was huge.
We also can't identify this scary-looking object, which I missed as we hiked and MH, as usual, noticed. It blended in very well with the tree it was on. Just after MH took its picture it came straight at him and then flew off. Perhaps it had a nest nearby.
Mystery insect (RE Berg-Andersson)

As well it should. Survival is key in any creature's life, winged or otherwise. It has to survive to create another generation to perpetuate the species. And the insect world has been enormously successful. As MH reminds me, dragonflies and other insects have been around as species longer than we have.

No comments:

Post a Comment