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Archive for the ‘wildlife’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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On Monday I spotted this beautiful Zebra Swallowtail butterfly (Protographium marcellus) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Normally Zebra Swallowtails are very skittish and are in almost constant motion. This one, however, was so involved with the flower that it did not immediately fly away and allowed me to capture this image.

Zebra Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On Wednesday I spotted this colorful Common Buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) perched on some goldenrod at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. The fact that the butterfly was facing downward gives this image an abstract feel that I really like. My mind does not immediately register that this is a butterfly and instead focuses on the wonderful shapes and colors.

Common Buckeye

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I haven’t seen many Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) this season, so I was thrilled when I spotted this one on some goldenrod on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

The habitat of Monarch butterfly has been threatened in recent years both in the United States and in the areas to which Monarchs migrate. According to an article yesterday at oregonlive.com, the Monarch butterfly is currently under government consideration for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Monarch butterfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This tattered male Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) seemed to be auditioning for a role as a replacement for the goose on this sign on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Or perhaps he was merely seeking a place of refuge—all dragonflies are welcome here.

Great Blue Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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