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Spring means wildlife!

treefrog
Lots of cool wildlife to see at Drumlin Farm this week. Here's a smattering of photos, most of which remind me how much I want a better camera.


This is a fairly robust garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis). They are our most common, or at least most conspicuous snake. This one was basking near a staff-only path when I spooked it. It crawled into the bushes, so I had to use my flash to get a picture.


This is the face of a carrion beetle (probably Necrophila americana). We find them in the raptor cages, mating and laying eggs on the remains of the dead mice.


This gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) was hiding in a crack in the greenhouse, singing loudly. They have excellent camouflage when they are on tree bark and lichen, but less so on man-made materials or (see icon) on man. They can change color from whitish through gray to green.


I never got a clear shot of this drama--perhaps I should have shot a video. A cellar spider has caught a carpenter ant and is wrapping her prey in layers of silk. The ant is struggling, curling her body but her legs are bound. I don't know if the spider caught the ant without biting it, or if the ant's exoskeleton is too tough for the spider's fangs to penetrate, or if the ant was bitten but hasn't fallen into paralysis for some reason.


These three are of the same small bird (a warbler?) that was collecting nesting material about 10 feet from me. It was frustrating not to get a better picture.


Large yellow-and-black vespid wasps are suddenly common at the farm, testing our ability to be tolerant. They take an interest in a person, and hover very close to that person's head. The two times I saw this happen, the person kept their arms down and tried to move their body out of the wasp's interest, to little avail. This one on the windowsill was uncooperative with my rescue efforts, trying to sting me through my rubber glove when I seized her by the wing.


This is not a stinging insect, but mimics one for protection. This is a hover fly (family Syrphidae) in a rare moment of rest. I shot about a dozen pictures, and this is the only one that's halfway decent. They have evolved some of the most maneuverable flight of all the animals, flying sideways and backwards and holding perfectly still in the air in ways that would dazzle a hummingbird.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
brush_rat
May. 27th, 2007 02:30 pm (UTC)
Weird about the wasps. I know the bee populations are in rapid decline, but last night a friend was telling me that the park he jogs at is suddenly overwhelmed with them and part of the parking garage at his work was shut down because a huge population has developed there. Any chance you can post an entry talking about the whole bee situation?

Also, there is no way I could pick up a wasp in a million years. I'm breaking out in a cold sweat even thinking about it.
urbpan
May. 27th, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC)
Part of the confusion is that the widely reported decline is limited (I believe) to the honeybee species.

It's easy to get the impression that all stinging insects are disappearing, but (sorry to say, apiphobes) that's not the case. The "park suddenly overwhelmed with them" may be suffering from a sudden appearance of yellowjackets. The parking garage incident does sound like honeybees. The fact that the population of them is in decline doesn't mean that they're totally gone.

The reason the media is going nuts over it, is that there are commercial concerns involved.
ankhanu
May. 27th, 2007 06:15 pm (UTC)
Part of the reason for the seeming explosion in vespids *could* be related to the fairly mild winter that we had. If relatively few died while overwintering the population will be higher than normal.

Just a guess.
ankhanu
May. 27th, 2007 06:23 pm (UTC)
Small bird could be something like a female common yellowthroat, immature cerulean warbler, or the like. That's the best I can do :/
urbpan
May. 27th, 2007 08:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Hopefully, if she was building a nest nearby, I'll see her and her mate again!
momomom
May. 27th, 2007 06:30 pm (UTC)
"This is not a stinging insect, but mimics one for protection. This is a hover fly (family Syrphidae) in a rare moment of rest. I shot about a dozen pictures, and this is the only one that's halfway decent. They have evolved some of the most maneuverable flight of all the animals, flying sideways and backwards and holding perfectly still in the air in ways that would dazzle a hummingbird."

This is such a good example of how well you write, getting across the science in conversational terms.
urbpan
May. 27th, 2007 08:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much!
droserary
May. 27th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
My favorite hover fly photo. Now that kind of photography takes lots of patience and luck.
bellelvsbeast
May. 28th, 2007 08:48 am (UTC)
Aw all these bugs are so cute! I love that little carrion beetle, and the wasp is cool looking too...also the hover fly! What a good bug to mimic...
Love the cute little snake and the little frog! :)
And that spider wrapping the ant! AWesome...;)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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