Journal for June 21, 2019

After the cool, rainy spring, we’re starting to have some warmer, sunny days. Everything is lush and green, but the flowers and butterflies are behind where they are most years at this time.

Center Valley in its summer green


We found a Blue-gray Gnatcatchers’ nest near the top of a birch tree that leans across one of our walking paths.  The outside of the nest is covered in lichens.


Yellow Lady’s Slippers are blooming


This is one of the Wood Lily plants that I planted on a cleared prairie hillside.  I’ve been watching the bud get larger.



And finally it bloomed.


We saw a Red-headed Woodpecker one day – it was here for about 15 minutes – only the second time we’ve seen one here.  I keep hoping they’ll find our savannas and settle down to nest.


This is a south-facing slope that was once a prairie/savanna but had grown up into a thick brushy woods.   For the last four or five years we’ve been clearing trees and brush and raspberries, and the native prairie plants are coming back.  These are Wood Betony and Wild Geranium.


This spring I also found Violet Wood-sorrel,


and Yellow Star-grass here.


This is Hill’s Thistle – a rare plant that I got as a seedling a few years ago and planted in one of our prairie remnants.  This year it’s going to bloom.


Valerian is another rare species.   I had planted it as a seedling several years ago and forgotten about it, and this year it bloomed.


A small prairie opening with Balsam Ragwort in the middle of one of our cleared savannas


Balsam Ragwort


Indian Paintbrush


Prairie Phlox


Low Bindweed – a lovely native morning glory that doesn’t twine or climb


White is the dominant flower color right now in Buffalo Ridge Prairie – mostly Northern Bedstraw and White Wild Indigo.


Northern Bedstraw


Butterflies have started to appear on our driveway.  These are Eastern-tailed Blues.  They hold their wings closed most of the time.  When they fly up near our feet, they show off the blue upper surfaces of their wings.


These are Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars.  They’ve spent the winter as small caterpillars in nests made of grass and silk webbing.  In the last few weeks we’ve been seeing dozens of them eating leaves along the edges of our driveway.  Soon the adults will start emerging.


Mated Gorgone Checkerspots


Dusted Skipper


We’ve been seeing more Painted Ladies than usual this summer – most years we see only a few.


Giant Swallowtail nectaring on Indian Paintbrush


Sometimes I even see butterflies at night at my moth lights – this is a Hobomok Skipper.


Frogs are even more common at the moth lights.  This one looked like a rock


until I looked from a different angle.


These are all Gray Tree Frogs, but they vary in color from gray to bright green.


Mothing has been slow this spring and summer – too much rain and cool weather.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Eight-spotted Forester – a lovely little day-flying moth


Mournful Thyris – another day-flying species – one that I hadn’t seen before.


This one is called ‘The Herald’.


It has an odd way of resting on a surface.


Lemon Plagodis




And here’s the best recent bear photo from our trail cameras.


Walnut Woods with summer afternoon sun