Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Carpenter Bees are often mistaken for Bumble Bees but their black, shiny, abdomens give them away.  Carpenter Bees, like Honey Bees and Bumble Bees, are important pollinators and help with Swamp Milkweed propagation at our wetlands.

Eagle Marsh, Allen Co., Indiana

Female Carpenter Bees establish nests by boring into wood and forming a tunnel system.  Male Carpenter Bees cannot sting (no stinger) and females have to be severely provoked before they will sting.  The extra long tongue of this Carpenter Bee aids it's ability to reach nectar in the blossoms of this Butterfly Bush.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

This gall houses only one larva that is able to overwinter in the gall because the larva's circulatory system pumps an anti-freeze type liquid that keeps the larva from freezing .solid

Bowman Lake, Fox Island Co. Park
Allen Co., Indiana

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Always Look Both Ways!

While walking at Bowman Lake, a young White Tailed deer crossed the path ahead of me unconcerned that there were several park visitors just a few yards away.  This deer was headed towards the west end of the park.
About 1 1/2 hours later, as I was passing the west boundary of Fox Island Park a young deer crossed the road ahead of me and entered a large soy bean field and proceeded to wade through the beans that were often over it's head.  I pulled off of the road to take pictures when I noticed a second deer crossing the roadway. As I started to snap pictures of the second deer I heard a car pass behind me headed towards the deer which had stopped to look in my direction.

For some unknown reason the young deer decided to go back across the road as the car approached.  In it's haste to clear the road the deer was loosing footing at each lunge forward.
After about three strides the deer began to gain footing and I could hear the car's breaks being applied in order to avoid what appeared to be a certain collision.

I could hear the clattering of the deer's hooves on the pavement and see the hood of the car dive towards the asphalt as the driver continued his panic stop.

Fortunately, the observant driver was able to stop in time, avoiding what could have been a very bad outcome.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dragonflies are excellent fliers and none better than the Green Darner.  With landing gear retracted this male was patrolling the western half of Bowman Lake, Fox Island Co. Park. Females oviposit on floating vegetation and Common Green Darners are found in every state of the Union including Hawaii and Alaska

Monday, August 5, 2013

Female Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
Noble Co., Indiana
Photography: Michelle Ormiston

Pileated woodpeckers are one of the most striking birds of the U.S. woodlands.  Nearly the size of a crow they are hard to mistake with their long necks, red head crest and slow, powerful drumming.

While Carpenter Ants are the main diet of the Pileated Woodpecker they can also be attracted with suet.


 Male Pileated Woodpeckers have a red cheek stripe and red head patch from the base of it's bill to the head crest.   Females have a black cheek stripe and red crest only.

Nest holes are generally round while feeding holes are more rectangular.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

It's a RAT, it's a BEAVER, it's NEITHER!

In the Algonquin language it was known as musquash. To early colonists it had an unusual scent and looked like the Norway Rats they were so familiar with in Europe.  Musky smelling rat - musquash - MUSKRAT!  Actually it is more closely related to the vole than to the other two rodents. The muskrat (Ondatra zibethica) has been referred to as an aquatic vole in some papers. While sporting webbed hind feet like a beaver, musquash weighs in at a slight 2 to 4 pounds.  Females can start breeding at 8 months old and give birth to 4 to 8 young at a time.  The gestation period for muskrats is only about 1 month giving them the potential to create large numbers of cattail eaters in a short period of time.  While muskrats are hugely beneficial to wetlands by eating large quantities of aquatic vegetation they are not strictly vegetarian as beavers are.  The muskrat diet also consists of frogs, crayfish, mussels, frogs and slow moving fish.  The pictured muskrat was eating the newly emerged shoots of reed canary grass along Branning Road, near the Little River, at the end of March.  The muskrat seemed unconcerned as I spent several minutes taking his pictures and at one point waddled across the road and went beneath my Jeep until he thought better of the idea and scooted back to his lunch at the side of the road.