Wednesday, July 17, 2013

WHAT Is That Bug On My Butterfly Weed?


 This is an immature acanalonia or leaf hopper .. a nymph. While looking at my butterfly weed plant I noticed a piece of dandelion fluff. I thought it looked beautiful in the sunlight and thought about taking a picture of it. As I moved in for the picture I noticed this little bump on the stem right next to the fluff. The bump appeared to be looking at me ... I got closer and then a little closer and took a few pictures of the little creature completely forgetting about the dandelion fluff. The fluff appeared to be attached to the creature. I thought the poor thing was stuck. Turns out that the fluff is this nymph's waste. After researching and figuring out that this was an immature leaf hopper, I learned that they eat sap from many different kinds of plants. The extra water and sugar they don't need streams out the rear end of the bug like dandelion fluff.. how weird is that! It just walks around with a stream of fluff attached to its rear end.



I ended up finding three of them upon closer inspection. This little poser and two more on a leaf. Funny what you see when you hone in and focus on something. I walk past glancing at things all day long and probably miss alot of really interesting tiny details. Researching and learning a little something about this creature was fun. Now I hope to see one in adult form. Very intriguing to me .. a mystery unfolding in my yard as I wait to turn the page and see the next chapter or stage of this awesome little creature.
























 
 
 
Take some time to enjoy 
the little things throughout 
your day today and see 
where they may lead you.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

2013 Illinois Spring Bird Count Day


For five seconds the world stopped around me ..
 Golden-winged Warbler at Prairie Park

Five seconds of eye bulging wow .. followed by a smile that stretched off my face. I thanked God and couldn't stop smiling, sighing and saying thank you. Obviously a life bird for me! ... and right in my neighborhood! I saw it land on this branch just about twenty feet from me out of the corner of my eye while photographing palm and yellow-rumped warblers. I knew what it was THE second I saw it ..I stopped breathing, started hyperventilating and fumbling with my camera trying to focus. Luckily I was able to snap two shots as it paused here, then off it went into unpathed woodland. I just stood there smiled and repeated the words thank you. These are the moments! Awed, blessed and thankful.


I was surprised to only see one Magnolia Warbler today while out counting.



Yellow-rumped Warblers on the other hand were abundant. The lawn was filled with them and yellow warblers as we entered the park and it didn’t stop there. The wooded paths along the Kishwaukee River and throughout the park were dripping with them. These little masked warblers moved through the woods collecting bugs robin hood style. By the time we were finished here we counted 65 yellow-rumps. I have never seen so many! I even had them in my own yard this year!



Rubberneck moment 

An interesting yellow-rumped warbler at the lagoon in Northern Illinois University grabs your attention right away. No glancing past this bird thinking 'oh another butter butt'. White faced, no mask, kind of has a hooded look. At first I thought oh boy!.. black-capped vireo. Nope, all the other markings point right to yellow-rumped warbler. Very unique bird to view. He is both handsome and social. He hangs out by the bridge under the pine trees in the lagoon.



We saw 8 black and white warbler throughout the day.
Here one pauses to see who is walking up the path. 
Hello handsome.


This one has his eye of the prize .. two seconds later that bug was in his belly.


 High up in the tree tops a blue-gray gnatcatcher trying to decide which bug to eat first at this all you can eat bug buffet.


 A handsome yellow warbler sets his sights higher...


... then  lower, very attuned to the movement of the bugs around him.


A lovely female yellow warbler scanning her surroundings as we pass.

We saw a total of 25 yellow warblers through out the day!
Even had one in a tree in my own front yard.



Palm warblers were out and about .. singing, hopping along paths and lower in trees than many of the other warblers today. 
Great views. We counted a total of 20 today.


Only saw two ruby-crowned kinglet today. This little speedster stopped and posed for just a second... long enough to collect a memory.


One of my favorite birds to see each spring is the american redstart. Stops me dead in my tracks every time I see one. This handsome fella flew on to a branch just a few feet from us. We stopped and watched him for a shot period. He caught a few bugs and was on to the next further down the path. We saw four today, all male.



A sweet nashville warbler at prairie park.



A spotted sandpiper meanders near the pond on the path closest to the birch trees and bench at Northern Illinois University.


I watched this solitary sandpiper eat what looked like a worm in two seconds flat.


 Indigo bunting, a first for my yard .. took this pic through my window without checking settings because I was so excited!


and a few lincoln sparrows visit my yard too!

Total species count for the day was 54 with individual totals of 427 birds  
Great day!