Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Memorial Day Picnic with Family

Memorial Day was a beautiful day...warm with a light breeze and low humidity. Most of our Ohio family members were able to be with us for the picnic.  Some of them brought loved ones with them...Our family is expanding.

Everyone brought food to share.  There was so much food that nearly everyone had food to take home as well.  Our refrigerator is well stocked with leftovers, too.  Ray was our griller...burgers and brats and veggie burgers.

Steve and Tom set up the area in the backyard...tables, chairs, tub filled with pop, water and watermelon, the tablecloth on the picnic table.  Sonja, Gretchen, and I laid out food on the dining room table. Everyone made their choices and went back outside to eat and enjoy the beautiful weather.

This was the first time in several months that I've seen Robert when he hasn't been acting on stage at the Troy Civic Theatre.

Steve has been staying with us for a few days.  He was a big help in getting everything set up for the party.  He chose the shirt because it was Memorial Day.

  Why is Eric smiling?

Here's why.  Katie came with him to the picnic.

I caught Tom and Sonja in a candid shot.  Tom was was talking with Ray and Sonja was checking the time since she was scheduled to work in mid afternoon.

Here is Gretchen who brought the delicious pasta salad that Tom and I had for lunch today and Ray, the griller.

Our newlyweds...John and Jacquie will soon celebrate their first wedding anniversary.

There seems to be a pattern developing.  Every time I take a photo of James, Steve is in the background...and I never notice he is there until I look at the photo on the computer.  Maybe, next time, James, you will have a photo all to yourself.

Samantha worked until 6 AM on Memorial Day so she was tired.  I was really happy that Victor did the driving.

I loved having all these people at our picnic, so glad I got to see them all on Memorial Day this year.  There is nothing as precious as a hug from a loved one and I got lots of hugs yesterday.

Seeing them brings back memories of other good times we have had together.

I remember other people on Memorial Day, too...my brother who is a Vietnam Vet, my mother  and her sister, Audrey, who always put peonies and other flowers on the  family graves, my sisters and brother-in-laws, the extended family...aunts and uncles and cousins.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Great Day at Magee Marsh, May 15, 2016

Tom and I decided to take a day trip to Lake Erie and do some birding at Magee Marsh, Metzgar Marsh and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. Migrating warblers and other birds stop at all three places before starting the next leg of their journey across Lake Erie to nesting grounds in Canada and the far north.

We invited a friend who is a beginning birder to come with us.  This was his first time to walk the Magee Marsh boardwalk.  It was a perfect day, a Fall-out Day.  There was a wind in the upper trees which drove the birds down.  We saw many of them within a couple feet of us at eye level.  To make the day even better, the temperature was in the sixties. (Fahrenheit)

When we arrived at the boardwalk, we were hungry so we had a picnic lunch before starting out on the boardwalk.

The birds were flitting about in the branches in front of the van.  I laid out lunch.  Tom and our friend birded. One of the first warblers that checked us out was a Northern Parula.  Our friend had seen the bird earlier in the week while on the Miami County Bike Trail but could not positively identify it.  He had no doubt this time.

"It's the bird I saw on the bike trail."

Northern Parula

We also saw a Baltimore Oriole during our lunch.

Baltimore Oriole

We were birding one day after the end of the Biggest Week in American Birding so there were still quite a few people on the boardwalk.

In the parking lot we saw cars and vans from all over the country as well as a few from Canada.

My favorite sighting was a Black-throated Blue warbler.  Tom was off down the boardwalk making his own discoveries.  John and I watched it with delight.  Better than seeing the bird was sharing it with someone who was seeing it for the first time.  Even though I have seen the bird beforeI didn't know that the blue feathers on its back are iridescent.  This time he was so close it was easy to see his shining feathers.

Black-throated Blue

Other warblers that we saw...

Black-throated Green

Cape May






American Redstart

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Brukner Nature Center Butterfly Transit Walks for May 1 and May 12, 2016

May 1

The Brukner Nature Center's front entrance is in the process of being updated.  All the plants we found butterflies on last year have been torn out.  The good news is that more will be put in.  Now, however, the lack of plants mean that we aren't seeing butterflies in an area where we usually find quite a few.

 Our best sections for finding butterflies on May 1st turned out to be on the sections just beyond the meadow on the Hickory Ridge trail.  There we saw seven Red Admirals.

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)  Wingspan 1.75-2.50 inches (4.4-6.4 cm)

We also saw four Eastern Commas in the same area.

Two Eastern Commas ( Polygonia comma)  Wingspan 2.0-2.4 inches (5.1-6.1 cm)

Jim found this American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis).  They are similar to a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui). Seeing the underside makes the identification easier.

American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) Wingspan 1.75-2.40 inches (4.4-6.1 cm)

The Henry's Elfins (2) were found flitting around the redbud blossoms just as they were on
April 24.  This photo is from April 24.

Henry' Elfin (Callophrys henrici) Wingspan  0.9-1.2 inches (2.3-3.0 cm)

Other butterflies that we saw were Cabbage Whites (4) and a Pearl Crescent.

May 12
The transit group attempted to monitor the trail on May 7 (Saturday) but it was not a good day for seeing butterflies...spitting rain, wind gusts, temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  The group gave up on counting butterflies.  Nancy and Phil went out on Thursday, May 12,  which was a nicer day.  They found butterflies but they were elusive so Phil didn't get photos of them.  They counted a Red Admiral, a Silver-spotted Skipper, a Pearl Crescent, 5 Cabbage Whites.  In addition, two orange butterflies flitted by so fast, neither Nancy nor Phil got a good look at them.

However Phil did get these photos of turtles who live in Cattail Pond.

Painted Turtles (Above)

I'm not sure which turtle this is.  I know Snapping Turtles live in the pond but there may be other species, too.  I'm not sure the back is lumpy enough to be a Snapper.

I am reporting this on May 14.  Neither today nor tomorrow will be a good day for counting butterflies.  Today the high is predicted to be about 50 degrees Fahrenheit and there is a frost warning tonight.  Weather forecasters are suggesting that delicate plants should be covered.

We have had a few nice spring days but many more days when May has felt like March.  All of us are hoping for a few weeks of spring before the hot days of summer show up.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Brukner Nature Center Butterfly Transit Report for April 24, 2016

Our official season got off to a slow start.  The butterflies were around.  We were all seeing them.  But the weekends, when we could get together and count were cold or wet or both for the first two weeks of April.

The first day we walked was April 17.  The day was warm enough (80 degrees at 2 PM) but the butterflies must have been napping.  We listed flowers instead.  The bluebells were in full bloom and we saw hundreds, maybe thousands of spring beauties.

On April 24, Tom and I went to a play so we missed the walk.  I wished I could be in two places at once.  It was a beautiful day for butterflies.  The butterflies recorded were 2 Cabbage Whites, 2 Eastern Commas, Henry's Elfin, Pearl Crescent, 3 Question Marks, 5 Red Admirals, and a Tiger Swallowtail.

Jackie Watkins was the photographer of the day.

Is this a Henry's Elfin?  Henry's Elfin (Callophrys henrici) Wingspan 0.9-1.2 inches (2.3-3.0 cm)
Henry's Elfins primarily host on Redbuds (Cercis canadensis) when they are in bloom.

Silhouette of a Henry's Elfin

 An unidentified Duskywing (Erynnis)

There are eight Duskywings found in Ohio.  All of them have somewhat similar markings.  It usually takes an expert to positively identify them.

 Another view of the Duskywing

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) Wingspan 2.25-3.00 inches (5.7-7.6 cm)

The Question Mark is one of the Anglewings which have irregular wing edges.  It has a silver dot and curved line on the underside of the hind wing which looks a bit like a ?.  This is one of the species that can be found feeding on rotting fruit, dung, and carrion as well as sap.

Underside of Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) Wingspan 1.75-2.5 inches (4.4-6.4 cm)

This is another species that frequently visits sap flows, dung, and fermenting fruit.

We have been watching for Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia) and today the group found them.