Along the trail

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Along the trail in nearby sagebrush grassland the sky was foreboding but the sights along the trail were definitely rewarding.

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An American Oil Beetle slowly makes there way up the blades of grass. Described as looking like “portly gentlemen who’ve outgrown their dinner-jackets due to their wing-cases that look far too short for their fat bodies.” These beetles have a interesting life cycle.

The females lay their eggs in burrows in the turf and when they hatch, a bizarre life-cycle begins.

Thousands of tiny larvae emerge from the eggs; they are long and thin and very un-beetle-like, with legs that end in a small cluster of claws.
Hitching a ride

They scramble to the top of flower stalks and sit in the open blossoms, waiting for a solitary bee to arrive.

When it lands, they swarm on to it grabbing with their tiny claws, but they don’t harm the bee.

What they’re after is a free ride back to the bee’s nest burrow.
The lucky larvae that reach a nest feed on the bee’s egg and its store of pollen, pupate in the burrow, and emerge the following spring.

Oil beetles are declining in many places, possibly because the solitary bees are also in decline.” 1

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As we wound our way towards the top of the bluffs we ran across this pair of Cow Path Tiger Beatles making sure their is another generation of battles on the way.

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And then it was up an over to the other side where the green theme was continued by this beautiful North American Racer just hanging out in the middle of the trail. We got a quick look before they slithered off rapidly into the sagebrush and grass just off the trail.

North American Racers are associated with relatively open habitats either in shortgrass prairie or forested areas. Very fast and active, they prey on insects and small vertebrates such as mice and frogs.

Arriving back to the car just as the rain started to fall it was a fine day along the trail.

References:
1. http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150506-the-life-cycle-of-oil-beetles

Yellow Rumped (Myrtle) Warbler

A male Yellow Rumped Warbler of the Myrtle variety give us both a right and left profile as we followed him through the woods as he passed through our area on his spring migration. These little guys only hang around for a few weeks so it was nice albeit frustrating at times to get a little looks as these every busy and moving little birds.

Meet Lou

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Meet Lou the sweetest, oh well, the only male duck on a small pond close to home. Lou is married to Sue who we deduce is sitting on a nest full of eggs at the moment. Lou is courteous and polite and protective of Sue in just the right way.

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He always prefers to make sure Sue has finished eating before he takes his meals. Standing guard and keeping his eyes open for predators.

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Lou is amenable to having his portrait taken and over the course of a month or two we have indeed taken a few. A fine looking guy with a personality that is hard to beat.

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So, meet Lou, the best male duck on the whole pond.