A Picnic Visitor

Earlier this month we went to a church picnic at Valley Falls State Park near Fairmont, West Virginia.

Great spangled fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

Great spangled fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

We were sitting in the picnic shelter when this friendly Great spangled fritillary (Speyeria cybele) decided to check us out, possibly wondering if we had any butterfly food handy. After flitting about, settling from time to time on the table, it decided to sit on Lisa’s hand. It sat there for quite a while, briefly flew away, then returned to sit a while longer. I’m not sure whether it wanted us to give it something or if it was just saying “Hello”. In any case, it enchanted us by its presence.

Great spangled fritillary (Speyeria cybele) showing wing underside

Great spangled fritillary (Speyeria cybele) showing wing underside

Note: any entomologist, professional or amateur, who knows more than I do is welcome to correct my identification of this butterfly. Just leave a comment. On the other hand, I have complete confidence in my identification of Lisa.

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Heron Hunting

Still in the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, not far from the heron statue, a living Great Blue Heron stands like a statue while hunting in the pond.

Great Blue Heron hunting by the pond

Hunting Heron

The Season of the Cat

Warm spring, nearly summer-like, days have descended on Clarksburg. We have done some yard work, and the cats have been nearly in cat heaven.

Grubby Kitten (black cat) sleeps on sun-warmed patio

Grubby Kitten sleeps on sun-warmed patio

Grubby Kitten sleeps in his favorite place — on the sun-warmed stone patio.

Update: This was Saturday. By Sunday afternoon, winter had returned bringing cold showers, sporadic snow, and dips into freezing temperatures, and this will continue for another week or so. April’s little surprises continue.

A Surprise Visitor

Buddha with Yellow-throated Warbler

Buddha with Yellow-throated Warbler

For the past several days we’ve had a new visitor hanging out at our bird feeders, one we’ve never seen before. It’s a Yellow-throated Warbler (Setophaga dominica). You might just barely see it as a tiny yellow dot between two white dots on the lower far right in the picture above. The rest of its body just blends into the background. Sorry — my camera isn’t good with distances.

Seeing this bird among the sunflower seeds is rather a surprise. Yellow-throated warblers are in this area during the summer breeding season, but like most warblers they’re insect eaters and don’t come to seed feeders. But I guess our little friend arrived somewhat early, and the insect supply isn’t yet up to standard this year. Anyway, it’s a very pretty little bird and we’re glad it’s come to visit us.

See a good description, with decent pictures, from Audubon.org: www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/yellow-throated-warbler

Tussock Moth Caterpillar

This striking, yellow fellow appeared on the back of a chair on the patio last September.

Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Tussock Moth Caterpillar

I think it’s a White Marked Tussock Moth caterpillar (Orgyia leucostigma), a voracious species, native to the Eastern US. Don’t be tricked into touching it. The pretty little hairs are sharp and they will irritate your skin.