Friday, July 31, 2015

July 25, 2015...Brukner Butterfly Transit


We were searching the plantings around the Interpretive Center porch when I spotted this.  Both Tom and Phil took photo after photo.  This is the first Monarch we have seen on the transit this year.


We also found these larvae.  After checking in Caterpillars of Eastern North America by David L. Wagner, I think they are young Milkweed Tussock Caterpillars.

Nancy and Phil were in charge of the transit today.  Ruth and Jackie were at a Native Plant Convention.  Tom and I and our grandson, Steve, were the other members of the transit group.

Tom saw this female dark phase Tiger Swallowtail near the new porch when he came downstairs from looking at birds.  The rest of us were on the woodland section of the transit by then.

Dark Phase Female Tiger Swallowtail

Meanwhile, in the woods, Phil was taking photographs of an Anglewing.  I think Nancy got a good enough look at it to ID it as a Eastern Comma.


We saw the most butterflies along the Brukner Drive.

Summer Azure

Question Mark

The silvery curve and dot are visible on the underwing.

Silver-spotted Skipper on Purple Coneflower.

This photo I sent to Ruth for identification. It reminded Tom and me of a fritillary but seemed small.
Ruth decided it was a Tawny Emperor.  Tom and I rechecked in our field guides and agreed she was right. The eyespots on the hind wings cinched it.

Tawny Emperor

This was not my day for taking photos of butterflies.  Maybe next week.  Steve found other things for me to photograph.

Northern Spring Peeper

Green Frog in Catface Pond



Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lilian Nichols Shows Us How to Make a Basketweave Cane with Polymer Clay

Lilian Nichols--basket of flowers

We have learned to make the various flowers in previous sessions.  This time we learned to make the basket to put them in.

We chose three colors plus black cut in triangles to make our Skinner blends.  Notice that each triangle is a different size.  From left to right, black is the smallest, second color is much larger, the third color is largest of all and the fourth color is second smallest.  (If you don't know how to make a Skinner blend, almost every polymer clay how-to book tells you how.  I expect that you can find directions on the Internet also.)


DeeDee's Choices

Pauline's Choices

Next we made blended the colors by putting our triangles through our pastry blenders over and over.



We needed a long narrow strip so we folded the rectangles in thirds.  We folded the black to the black, the second color to the second color and so on.

Let's follow Annette as she lengthens her now narrow strip.

Each time she ran it through the pastry blender she adjusted the pastry blender to make the strip thinner and as a result the strip grew longer.  Finally it was so long that it was difficult for her to handle by herself so Lilian cranked and Annette guided the strip.

The next step is to cut a 1 1/2 inch (3.8 cm or 4 cm) piece off one end.  Stack that piece on top of the new end.  Proceed until you have a stack of pieces.

Below are DeeDee's pieces stacked.

Here is my stack as I am cutting it so I will have two stacks with edges like the one in Dee Dee's example.

Lay the light edges together so the new stack looks like this.  I pressed these close and sliced off a strip lengthwise which I used later to make a twisted basket handle.


Annette's before (above) and after (below) she has added a piece of white, then a piece of black on both sides of the block.  Note she has covered the long light strip side.

Now comes the squeeze and stretch time.  This takes careful work because we want the various colors to keep the proportions of the original, the difference being that all of them will be smaller.
Rectangular blocks or wood or plastic can help you keep the cane the same size from one end to the other.

Squeeze and stretch until you have a cane 14 inches long.  (35.5 cm).  The inch on either end tends to be distorted.  After discarding the ends, cut the remaining 12 inch (30.5 cm) cane into 12 equal sections.

Here are 10 of DeeDee's sections of cane.  She cut 2 more for a total of 12.

The next step is assembling a new cane using the 12 pieces.

Row 1

Row 2 is the reverse of Row 1, Row 3 is the same as Row 1 and Row 4 is the same as row 2.

Add  thin strips of black along edges where they are needed to form a straight-edged rectangle.

Now  it is squeeze and stretch time.  I discovered that I had a tendency to squeeze the corners too much.  I plan to practice this cane again.  The center section was more evenly squeezed and stretched than the ends.

Below is my center cut.

The cane is now ready for using.  I sliced off 8 slices to make the upper basket.  I placed 4 in a row and the other 4 below those.  I made the edges and handle by twisting the scrap I had sliced off the original stack.  The lower basket is 2 rows of 3 slices.

Annette covered a small vial.  the lid is to the right back.

DeeDee was still debating what she would do with her cane at the end of our session.

 She cut off a thin slice to bake and serve as a reminder for future reference.

Friday, July 24, 2015

July 18, 2015...Butterfly Transit at Brukner Nature Center

Below are photos by four walkers on the transit this week.  We didn't see as many butterflies as last week but we saw some special ones.

First of all, Ruth found several Spicebush caterpillars in a different instar (stage) from last week.  These looked more like the caterpillars shown in most field guides.

Larva of Spicebush Butterfly

Some of the forty Red Admirals were still around.  Most of them were looking a little bedraggled.

Red Admiral

Red Admiral  
This one is in better shape than the first example.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail below is looking as though it has had some close calls, too.

Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

In this photo taken by Tom, you can see the yellow and black pattern on its body, as well as its six legs and its proboscis with which it siphons up nectar.

Someone spotted a dark swallowtail on low vegetation but, before anyone could identify it, it flew up into a tree.  Jim saw where it went and took picture after picture.  These two enabled Ruth to identify it as the dark phase female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Although all the males are black and yellow, only some of the females are.

Dark phase Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail with wings spread:

Dark phase Female Eastern Swallowtail with wings closed

Jim got a good photo of the Red-Spotted Purple with its wings closed, also.  Red-spotted Purples move fast and don't often take a rest break.  They have no red spots on them if you look at them from above which sometimes make people wonder how they got their name.  They are the size of the dark colored swallowtails but have no "tails".

Red-Spotted Purple

We were nearly finished with the transit when Ruth pointed out this Silver-Spotted Skipper getting a bit of nourishment from a bird dropping.  Numerous butterflies feed on dung of various animals.

Silver-Spotted Skipper

We are still seeing little blue butterflies.  Most that we saw close enough to identify were Summer Azures.

Summer Azure

We are always looking for other creatures besides butterflies.  We found Northern Spring Peepers for the third week.

And we found these green tree frogs as well.

Jackie spotted this Walking Stick and held the leaf so I could get the picture.  The Walking Stick is in a nymph stage.  Like some other species of insects, it hatches from an egg, then molts as it grows.This nymph is well camouflaged by its color.  After its final molt it will look like a brownish twig.