Wings of August

With wings tattered and torn a Fritillary takes a sip of nectar on the coneflowers. Those tattered wings sure feel like a metaphor for the month that has passed.

We don’t know about you but we are looking forward to autumn this year.

Orobanche uniflora

Broomrape_1

I can’t say it better than it is stated in this NY Times article “There’s simply no way to talk about the beauty of Orobanche uniflora without raising a lot of eyebrows.”

Commonly called Naked Broomrape or sometimes Flowered Cancer Root this wonderful flower with unflattering common names was a new one to us when we came across it in meadow on a recent hike.

Broomrape_2

It is a short leafless plant unable to photosynthsize thus gaining it’s nutrients by parasitism. Often using sedum, saxifrages and asters as a host plant. Typically growing only up to 3 inches tall we found this cluster buried deep in the grass.

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It is a beautiful little flower and very unique to say the least.

Broomrape_4

Foraging

A male Yellow-rumped Warbler bringing home a mouthful to feed the family. It’s hard to believe that while this photo was only taken just a few weeks ago the Yellow-rumped Warblers have already left our forests for the season. August is always a strange month and now that most of the migratory birds have left just seems stranger.

Lorquin’s Admiral

The Lorquin’s Admiral is one of those butterflies you see flittering through the air all summer. Flying nearby but not to near heading left then heading right but one you half-heartedly chase around while eon the trail hoping they will land close enough for a halfway descent photo and if they do land and you chose not to have the wrong lens on your camera it will be a photo well rewarded. This was one of those days we were rewarded. We spotted The Lorquins perched near the top of a small pine tree and as soon as we could get the shutter clicked they flew down to a small streamed for a quick drink.

We always like when butterflies give you both a wings open and wings closed photo for identification and reference purposes.

Isn’t amazing how many colors butterflies eyes come in?

El Rey

Meet “El Rey” the biggest baddest toad on the pond this summer. Happily surveying their domain from the comfort of a well placed rock along the waters edge. Easily a giant to the more numerous frogs that inhabit his kingdom yet a benevolent ruler by any standard.

While we usually see the king along the shady side of the water every once in a while a nice sunbath is in order.

After a sun bath a little dip in the pool is always a good way to cool down and moisturize the skin.

“El Rey” truly king of the pond and a good king at that.

Before you leave

It’s hard to fathom but the time for one of our closest summer friends to depart for their annual journey south is very near. Typically by mid-August the small in size yet large in personality Calliope Hummingbirds begin their fall migration. This summer we have been blessed to have a handful of Calliopes living in the forest nearby and have enjoyed seeing them buzzing about the forest and also visiting the feeders in our yard.

Today we feature a few photographs of the females. Quiet and strong in every way.

The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the United States. It weighs about one-third as much as the smallest North American warblers and about the same as a ping pong ball.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Calliope_Hummingbird/overview

This tiny hummingbird is the smallest long-distance migrant in the world. Calliope Hummingbirds travel around 5,000 miles each year in a big oval from the breeding to wintering grounds. They migrate north along the Pacific Coast in the spring, but return to the wintering grounds in Mexico via an inland route along the Rocky Mountains.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Calliope_Hummingbird/overview

We bid you adieu and look forward to seeing you soon. Perhaps we could visit you this winter?

Wising you a wonderful weekend.

The boys of summer

While it is certain some of the frogs who inhabit the local pond are female frogs just seem to say boys. Maybe it’s all Kermit’s fault but anyway here is just smattering of the photos of our amphibian friends we have collected so far this summer and who can resist one of these fine princes in disguise.

Our last frog count revealed at least a dozen, plus a few toads to boot, so stay tuned for more frog photos before summer gives way to fall.

12 toes

On a recent hike that took us through a long stretch of a recently burnt forest we heard the sound of a woodpecker pecking away in search of a meal. When we finally got close enough we were surprised and rewarded with a male American Three-toed Woodpecker drilling away.

The American Three-toed Woodpecker’s small stature is deceptive. One study of its musculature and skeleton revealed that this woodpecker can deliver especially powerful blows. It’s been suggested this is due to the evolutionary loss of the fourth toe—an unusual trait shared only by the Eurasian Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers. With only three toes, these species may be able to lean farther away from the tree and thereby hit the tree harder than other woodpeckers, all of which have four toes.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Three-toed_Woodpecker/overview

While we were watching this guy drill away it became clear that there must be another individual out of sight on the other side of the tree given as we heard drumming even when this male was holding still and within a few minutes a female emerged from the hidden side of the tree.

American Three-toed Woodpeckers are much more numerous in disturbed forests than in mature green forest, so look for them in bark beetle outbreaks, recently burned areas (up through about 8 years after a wildfire), and other places with dead and dying trees. 

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Three-toed_Woodpecker/overview

There was only a short moment when both the female and male were visible in the viewfinder together but they do make a mine pair and 4 legs with three toes each well…that’s twelve toes.