Journal for August 10, 2006

This was a good butterfly week. I found two new butterflies for the farm (and for Buffalo County), and two new butterflies for Pierce County when I was seed collecting.

Mike Reese keeps a record of where butterflies have been sighted in Wisconsin on his Butterflies of Wisconsin website, and I like adding to his records.

The new butterflies for the farm were a Gray Hairstreak and a Common Sootywing.

Here’s the Gray Hairstreak on some Partridge Pea near the house.

Gray Hairstreaks, unlike other hairstreaks, often rest with their wings open, so I was able to get this view of the top of its wings.

This is the Common Sootywing – a very black butterfly with tiny bright white spots.

Here you can see it’s bright white chin.

I found several Common Sootywings in Pierce County, and one male Checkered White – but couldn’t get a photo.

I also try to update the records for Buffalo County at the herbarium at UW Stevens Point. This week I found a shrub in our wetland that hasn’t been recorded in Buffalo County before. It’s Bog Birch (Betula pumila). In spite of its name it’s a calciphile, which means that it likes to grow in alkaline soils.

Bog Birch

Bog Birch closeup

The flowers in the prairies are gorgeous right now. I’ve been trying to take pictures of all the planted prairies for my records. Here are a few of them.

3 Finger Valley – this is its 5th summer.

West Center Valley Prairie – its 6th summer.

Pine Point Prairie – its 6th summer.

Prairie around our house – its 4th summer.

I found Flat-topped Aster (Aster umbellatus) in our wetland for the first time this summer. It’s a beautiful white aster that I had been seeing nearby, but this was the first time I’d seen it on our land.

Also in the wetland, the False Foxglove (Agalinis tenuifolia) has started blooming.

Mike did some mowing in 3 Finger Valley – some areas of Canada Thistle that we’re trying to discourage, and some other places that are in the low center of the valley that we’ve never planted. When the plants start growing back I’ll spray them with roundup and then plant prairie seeds there this winter.

Here’s Mike on the powertrac – he’s happy to have it working again – it’s been sitting in the garage with flat tires and an oil leak.

Downy Rattlesnake-plantain (Goodyera pubescens), an orchid that grows in our woods, is blooming right now. The leaves are fairly common and easy to recognize but I don’t often find plants blooming. Usually the deer nibble the flower stalks before I get a chance to see them.

If you look very closely at the flowers you can see that they look at least a little like orchid flowers.

Dragonflies are everywhere these days. I found 3 species at a neighbor’s pond this week – and they were all ones that I can identify! Here are a couple views of a male Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

A Cherry-faced Meadowhawk.

And a damselfly – a Lyre-tipped Spreadwing.

This is our neighbor, the woodchuck, on the rocks behind the house.

And this is a very friendly Eastern Tailed Blue that insisted on resting on my knee.

Here’s our house and the prairie around it. We take this photo every year to see how it’s changed.

It was a good butterfly week in town too – here’s a link to a story about St. Paul wildlife events.