Confirmed sightings

Having submitted sighting reports for my September sightings of a Variegated Fritillary, Monarch, Pearl Crescent, Red-spotted Admiral, and Common Buckeye to the Butterflies and Moths of North America site, I was delighted to learn that all five identifications have been confirmed. They don’t represent a very high degree of difficulty, but I was a little doubtful as to the Variegated Fritillary and the Pearl Crescent. It’s nice to feel that I’ve made a tiny contribution to the recorded sightings.

Bumblebee Home

This morning’s bumblebee sighting inspired me to get back to this blog. I knew that at least some bumblebees nest in the ground, but until today I had never seen any sign of it. This morning, on my way back from collecting the paper, I noticed a bumblebee approaching a gap between an old brick edger and the front walk. It disappeared into the space. Soon after I saw two other bees. Then  one emerged. With a little patience I was able to get this shot of a bee who seemed to be searching for the entrance. What a great excuse for not weeding that area! I want to know more about these bees.


Learning to see

I don’t recall when I first saw a dragonfly and knew it for what it was. I’m certain that in spite of a well-intentioned book given to me as a child on the dragonfly’s lifecycle I had no real understanding of it well into adulthood, beyond a vague awareness that the eggs, laid in water, developed into emerging flight.

My knowledge expanded years later when I joined a local water quality monitoring program. Teams went to assigned locations to sample local streams and identify the resident critters, as indicators of the health of the stream. As training for this activity I attended a workshop on identifying the key benthic macro invertebrates for this purpose, and came home in despair, my brain grappling with seemingly indistinguishable images of mostly brown larval mayflies, stoneflies, caddis flies, damselflies and dragonflies. Yet with experience I came to distinguish them easily, and the dragonflies—robust predators throughout life— so captured my imagination that I signed up for a workshop specifically about them, with an all-day field trip. We were advised to bring small lightweight binoculars, and by the end of the day I had used them so much that my eyebrows were cramping.

Having learned about dragonflies, I can’t miss them. On the other hand, my mother, who had spent years tending her flower beds and had a sharp eye for weeds, was astonished when I pointed out the large dragonflies patrolling overhead, so obvious to me after that eyebrow-cramping field trip. They were not part of what she looked for, and so had remained unseen.