Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2019

Some people see spiders as creepy and others see them as cool. I am definitely in the latter category and was happy to spot this Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia) during a recent trip to Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge.

I love the zigzag pattern that is a distinctive characteristic of the webs constructed by this species of spider and was thrilled that I managed to capture the zigzag in this shot. This spider is pretty common and has a lot of different common names including zigzag spider, writing spider, yellow garden spider, and golden garden spider. Zigzag Spiders can get to be pretty big and I have seen them capture large prey including, alas, dragonflies. It is amazing to see how fast the spider is able to wrap up its captured prey in web material. In case you have never witnessed the process, here’s a link to a 2017 posting that shows a spider wrapping up a freshly caught damselfly.

zigzag spider

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

As many of you know, I love trying to capture images of dragonflies in flight. This Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) cooperated by periodically hovering a bit during a recent trip that I made to Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. The first two images show you some of the details of the dragonfly’s body, including the way it tucks in its legs when in flight, and the final image gives you a wider view of the environment in which I was shooting.

Slaty Skimmer

slaty skimmer

slaty skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

Last Friday I spotted this handsome adult male Calico Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis elisa) while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge with my friend and fellow dragonfly enthusiast Walter Sanford.  Earlier this month I did a posting entitled Mosaic Wings that featured a photo of an immature male of this same species that had a bright yellow body. This image gives you an idea of how the body color changes to red as the male Calico Pennant dragonfly matures.

 

Calico Pennant

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I spotted this strange looking caterpillar recently while exploring Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. I was intrigued by all of the tufted spines sticking out of its back—I am pretty sure that it is upside down in this photo. Over the years, I have learned that it is best to avoid spiny caterpillars, because many of them are poisonous.

I sent a copy of a photo of this caterpillar to the helpful folks at bugguide.net and one of the viewers there suggested that this is an Eastern Buck Moth caterpillar (Hemileuca maia). I have not yet been able to get a confirmed identification, but according to Wikipedia, the caterpillars of this species are, “covered in hollow spines that are attached to a poison sac. The poison can cause symptoms ranging from itching and burning sensations to nausea.”

Fortunately I kept my distance when I captured this image with my long macro lens. I have no desire for a close encounter with a spiny caterpillar.

Eastern Buck Moth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

As I was searching for butterflies last week at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, a flash of brilliant yellow suddenly crossed my field of view. It took a moment for me to figure out what it was and then I realized that several American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) were diving into a field of Black-eyed Susan wildflowers (Rudbeckia hirta).

I waited for a long time, hoping in vain that the goldfinches would perch in the open on the flowers nearest me, but mostly they stayed buried deep in the vegetation. Here are a couple of long-distance shots that give you a sense of my experience with these colorful little birds.

 

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I was really thrilled to spot this spectacular Black Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) last week as it fed on some kind of thistle plant at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. There are several dark swallowtail species in our area and I often have trouble telling them apart. In this case, though, I could see the distinctive back dot inside the orange dot which is telltale sign that this is Black Swallowtail. I highly recommend a helpful posting by Louisiana Naturalist that points out way to distinguish among four dark swallowtails—it is a reference that I repeatedly return to when I have a question about a dark swallowtail.

Black Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »

I don’t see rabbits very often during my visits to various wildlife parks. Perhaps the numerous hawks and eagles in the area keep the rabbit population under control, or at least make the rabbits especially cautious and stealthy. I was happy therefore when I spotted this Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) during a recent visit to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and thrilled when he posed momentarily for me.

This rabbit looks to be an adult, but somehow all rabbits are “bunnies” to me. I suspect that is because I had a rabbit as a pet for several years and got used to playing with him every day. I would let Prime Rib (yes, that really was his name) out of his cage and he would happily run around me as I sat on the living room floor, periodically bounding over my outstretched legs.

It was a sad moment for me when Prime Rib died and I can’t help but think of him every time that I see one of his cousins in the wild.

Eastern Cottontail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »