I love writing this blog. I strive to have eye-catching photos with interesting facts about nature you may not have heard before. Or if you did know it, it still brings a smile to the face and some sunshine to your world.
My hikes and walk abouts have been numerous lately. I’ve visited creeks, trails and woodlands – all within the general vicinity, but little patches of paradise none the less.
I’m taking a course on pollinators in Ohio, so I’m always on the lookout for wild bees (non-honey bees). Ohio has about 500 species of wild bees and about 70% of those are ground nesting solitary bees. And predominantly non-aggressive. Here’s a cute little green metallic sweat bee which I believe may be Augochlora in the Halictidae family. It’s photographed on fleabane so you get an idea of how small it really is.
I’m learning to appreciate the intricacies of dragonflies and damselflies. They’re amazingly beautiful. Look at this female Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia). These dragonflies fly over ponds, marshes, and slow-moving rivers looking for insects. Lucky for me they like to land on objects near the water and sit with wings outstretched. Makes for a better photo.
I’ve been seeing a tremendous number of Ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata) damselflies. They can be found near streams and in wet areas but also further away from water. They are the most common type of damselfly you will see in the area. On a recent hike, I saw more than two dozen in a relatively small area by a stream. Males are an almost metallic blue with black wings. Very striking. Females are more brown with a white spot at the end of their wings. Just look at those eyes…aren’t they beautiful?
They eat bugs and gnats and (according to Wikipedia) they also eat six-spotted tiger beetles (Cicindela sexguttata) – those metallic green bugs you may have seen flying around or crawling on dirt paths and trails (shown pictured below). I’ve read their color and preference for certain types of ecosystems make them popular for ecological studies (ref: Indiana Department of Natural Resources).
Sometimes you find things you don’t expect to see. I was photographing a purple rocket (Iodanthus pinnatifidus) blossom when I noticed the photo contained more than just the petals of the flower. I’m not a spider person, but this one was pretty cool looking. It’s in the Tetragnatha family and is sometimes called a stretch spider. It’s usually found near water and can hide very well in plain sight as this photo shows. It’s also called a longjawed orbweaver.
Along with the creepy, crawly things I’ve encountered, I’ve also had the good fortune to be at the right place at the right time to capture some poses of a Prothonotary warbler. It loves being near the water and nests in dead trees and nest boxes. We’re lucky here to have one of the best viewing sights for Prothonotary warblers in central Ohio. This warbler has been banded, though I’m not sure of the significance of this specific blue band as the photo isn’t clear enough to determine letters and/or numbers for identification.
With all the rain we’ve had recently, it’s brought out fungi. I have a tough time identifying some of it, and these photos are no exception. But this one reminds me of the old-fashioned pleated skirt I used to wear as a kid. And that makes me smile, so that’s why it’s included here.
And finally, I would be remiss if I wrote a blog that talked about being near water and didn’t include one of my favorites – the Great Blue Heron. This week I happened upon six of them playing in the stream. A couple of them kept a close eye on me, while the others continued fishing and splashing, content to allow me to observe from a distance…sharing the beauty of nature together. Peacefully. And that’s rather nice.
Until next time, keep exploring nature up close. And spread kindness.