rare Charitable Reserve
6/7 September 2015
Both yesterday morning and this morning the focus of my activity has been at the above location; yesterday with Miriam when we did our weekly monitoring, and today helping Ross Dickson with his bird banding activities. Given the intense heat, so unusual for this time of the year, bird activity diminishes greatly after about 09:00, but there is still lots to keep a naturalist occupied.
Several times I spotted this fine specimen of Homo sapiens, of the species Dicksonicus canadensis, where I carefully observed several unique and oft repeated behavioural routines. It seemed to particularly prefer this "hunt and seek in the grass routine," where partial camouflage did little to conceal its body from view.
Neotropical warblers are packing on fat and preparing to migrate to Central and South America and Miriam and I were very pleased to come across this male Black-throated Blue Warbler Setophaga caerulescens, still resplendent in his breeding plumage.
A Garden Cross Spider Argiope trifasciata is easily distinuished by the cross pattern on its abdomen. It often constructs its web near a porch light where it has a ready supply of insect prey attracted to the lights.
Here is the underside of the same spider.
This individual has clambered onto Goldenrod.
The Black-and-Yellow Argiope Argiope aurantia is a stunningly beautiful spider, often seen in its large, distinctive web. The female is most conspicuous and is observed more frequently than the smaller male.
When prey has been captured it is wrapped in a cocoon of silk and stored for future consumption.
I believe this is the male of the species, but I am not completely sure. It was in the same vicinity and habitat, and was smaller then the females shown above.
The web (see above) has a prominent zigzag ribbon of silk (a stabilimentum)crossing the middle. The males are small and, like other male spiders, have armlike sexual organs (pedipalps) used to transfer sperm to the female. This is a costly tryst for the male dies immediately after inserting his pedipalps into the female's sexual organs, his dead body safeguarding the paternity, by blocking other males.
Many hoverflies sp. (family Syrphidae) were observed, and the one shown below was attracted to the prolific growth of Goldenrod.
A small group of Cedar Waxwings Bombycilla cedrorum was flycatching from the top of a snag.
This Northern Brown Snake Storeria dekayi dekayi was sunning itself on a path and as long as we remained still and didn't permit our shadow to be cast upon it, it remained in position for several minutes. It is a small (22-23 cm) harmless snake whose main diet consists of slugs and earthworms.
The heat was oppressive, but the wildlife had to contend with it in ways we can barely dream of. The snake was a fine end to a naturalist's walk in the meadow.