Sunday, August 26, 2007

Insects from Kingsville

Quite a few nice insects were flying in Kingsville on Saturday. Ones that I was able to capture with a camera include a pearl crescent, what I think may be an eastern tailed blue without the tails, a common buckeye, and finally, a female slender spreadwing damselfly using her black awl-shaped ovipositor to lay her eggs in common rush, Juncus effusus.




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Kingsville Swamp

When you go to a swamp, what to you expect to see? Frogs of course. In addition to very common green frogs and bullfrogs, I recently saw an American toad, spring peeper, and leopard frog at a property in Ashtabula county. I like frogs, and it was good to see so many hopping around on a humid, mild, late summer day.



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Friday, August 24, 2007

Pick a side

Plenty of mammals out last night in Kenney Park.

First, an eastern cottontail rabbit.


When I made it down to the river, I saw about six deer lapping up the floodwaters. The water has gotten so high that is has overtopped the banks, filling up small depressions in the woods. The carp seem to be hiding out in these pools, and the deer like to drink from them.

Here is a doe with twins. I was surprised to see that the fawns are still very spotted this late in the season. Another observation: They ate the leaves of amur honeysuckle without hesitation. Anyways, Megan and I see deer crossing the river frequently. Last night, and for the next few days, they are stuck on one bank or the other.




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More on the Olentangy and Ohio Flooding

Last night I went to check the Olentangy River, and the water was up higher than yesterday. Actually, it was higher than I have ever seen it. The first picture is from last night, the second is from two nights ago. Hopefully, the river has crested. Although the two pictures aren't perfectly the same, you can see where the water has risen by comparing the trees. Also, a patch of upland vegetation was completely submerged last night that was dry two nights ago.


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Just for kicks, I went to the USGS Ohio water resources website to see if the Olentangy is retreating. The simple answer, it isn't. I'm sure that water is gradually being released from the Delaware dam, and we might see these high levels for the next day or so. In fact, I just looked again at the USGS site for this stream guage, and they say that the stream is "is completely regulated by the Delaware Dam since 1951." Here is a nice graph provided by the USGS of current water levels on the Olentangy at Worthington, which is just a few miles above where I shot the pictures:

This graph measures the total water flowing through the stream past the gauge. Normally in August, the average is less than 100 cubic feet of water per second. Wednesday night, when the second picture was taken, the river was discharging about 2000 cubic feet of water per second, and last night, that figure had risen to about 3500 cubic feet per second and rising! That is a ton of water!

In fact, according to the USGS, during the last 40 years, we have set a record for August 24th. The highest recorded discharge for this part of the stream on this day was 2990 cubic feet per second, which we reached in 1980.

So, I'm wondering what the maximum discharge recorded for this station has been?

USGS has that information too. Looking at this graph, the Olentangy is holding its own. Discharges of 5000-6000 cubic feet per second happen about every year, although I'm not sure why there is such a large gap in the middle of the graph. I'm glad I wasn't around in the flood that happened about 1960. 15000 cubic feet per second would have been a real doozy.

So, lets turn now to the Blanchard river, which caused all the flooding in Findlay, Ohio.

The Blanchard is rather calm and placid in August, with discharges averaging less than 100 cubic feet per second, about the same as the Olentangy River. So remember, the Olentangy is way up and it is only discharging less than 4000 cubic feet per second. Here is what the Blanchard has done over the last week:

Take a look at the scale. Yes, the river peaked at just under 20,000 cubic feet per second! That is a ton of water, and that is why there was such catastrophic flooding the in the area. When that much water is flowing through the river, it just simply floods its banks and goes where it normally doesn't go. Lets look at the historical graph for the Blanchard to see how this flood compares with historical highs.

And there you go. You have had to been alive in 1915, it looks like, to see have seen a flood like Findlay has experienced. That the peak flow was over 20,000 cubic feet per second! Yes, they do happen, but not very often, at least when compared to the life span of a human being. In geologic time, floods like this are common.

My thoughts this morning go out to all across Ohio that were affected by all of this rain that northwestern Ohio has seen in the past week.


White-breasted Nuthatch

We have white-breasted nuthatches in our neighborhood occasionally; they may also be successfully nesting. I think this may be a fledgling. He looked a little rough and he was a little to awkward to be an adult. This individual was hangning out in the large black walnut that grows in the fence line between our street and the parking lot above.


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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Frosted Whiteface?

The frosted whiteface, a dragonfly only found in Triangle Lake Bog State Nature Preserve, is quite a find in Ohio. In the state of Maine, where my wife's parents live, they are not rare.

I think this may be a male frosted whiteface. I'm not sure, but again, this would be another life dragonfly for me. This individual caught my eye when it landed in the shrub zone of the bog at Little Pond. I managed to fire three shots before I got too close and it zoomed away.


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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Olentangy

This evening I made it down to the Olentangy River to see how it was doing. Would it overflow its banks? We haven't had as much rain as northwestern Ohio, and a dam above Delaware, Ohio, help store some of the floodwaters above Columbus, but I was still pretty surprised to see just how full the Olentangy was. In July, some parts of the river were only one to two inches deep, and now, these intense August floods.

I normally walk in an amongst these trees. Now, their roots are getting a nice summer bath.


Blue fronted dancers didn't have their usual driftwood and rocky perches. They made due with mud and other plants on the stream terrace.


Aphids seemed to be attacking quite a few cut-leaved coneflower plants.


I typically can wade in the river here, to the left of the tree line in the picture below. To the right of the tree line is typically terra firma. Tonight, I could have gone on a wild kayak ride.


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Back to Maine and the Crooked River

Megan's parents live about one mile from the crooked river in western Maine. We drove to a rest area adjacent to the stream and walked south from the parking area.

Here I saw a "life" dragonfly, what I think is the fawn darner, or Boyeria vinosa. I kept seeing them buzz around rocks in the stream, but finally, we almost ran into one perching along the banks. I captured a few shots before it flew off.


After realizing these creature were pretty predictable in their flight patterns, I sat on a big rock and waited for a dragon to approach. I was seated about 10 feet away from a emerged log, and each time a dragon would approach, they would would travel up and down the log. I thought to myself, surely I can get a picture of this dragon in flight, right? About fifty or so shots later and a lot of frustration, I was able to capture one image. Here it is.


The crooked river was awesome. Clean air, cool water, gentle breeze. Here Megan takes it all in.


And how authentic Maine is this. A real live fly fisher person. I didn't see him catch anything, but it sure looks fun. Check out the lush ferns growing on the opposite bank.


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The bee strikes again

John Howard of Adams County saw my post with the eastern tailed blue and bee, and he sent along this fantastic picture of an Edward's hairstreak, Satyrium edwardsii. He also had another insect creep into his photo, and he wrote me saying that what I probably had was a type of halictid bee. I've been keeping my eyes out for these little green guys and they seem to be flying around all types of plants right and burying their faces into flowers.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Great Blue Skimmer

I was looking at pictures from earlier this summer, and came across a photo I had taken of a dragonfly in Kenney Park. I had not identified this species previously. Last night, I saw this picture again, and thought, could this be a great blue skimmer? I sent it off to Larry Rosche, and he said it looked good. If so, it would be quite a find for Franklin County. I checked the Ohio Odonata website, and I know the maps there are slightly out of date, but according to that sight, this species hasn't been recorded in Franklin County since before 1950.


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Monday, August 20, 2007

These are making you sneeze

Here's a tribute to two plants that make me miserable this time of year, and send me to the medicine cabinet for my allergy remedy of choice, Claritin. (Seriously, just looking at these things sets me off. I just sneezed twice while writing this, Megan yelled bless you from the other room).

The two ragweeds, Ambrosia artemisiifolia and Ambrosia trifida..



And no, goldenrod is not what makes you sneeze! I think people just see fields of goldenrod about the same time their late summer allergies flare up, and figure that it must be the fields of yellow that is causing their suffering. Goldenrod, though, is not pollinated by wind, but by insects. Wind pollinated plants give us problems, since the pollen floats around the air and eventually winds up in our noses, causing us to have these annoying immune responses. These two plants are both annuals, so they are likely to be found in recently disturbed places, such as an empty lot in a new development, or any exposed dirt area.
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Wait, I want to be in the picture too.

You know how you'll come back from vacation and you'll have a few shots where some strange little kids jump into the background of the picture and make faces? Well, the same thing happens at Kenney Park along the Olentangy River, except that unwanted insects, rather than kids, are somehow getting into my photos.

On Sunday, I was really tired after working the day before, but my trigger finger was itching since I hadn't been back to the Olentangy River since Megan and I arrived back in Columbus. A few steps off the pavement and I saw the first lepidopteran of the day, an eastern tailed blue. This tiny butterfly was pretty ragged looking, and it was checking out pokeweed. I took several shots, but look what happened to sneak into one of them! Some type of flying green metallic thing. I'm not sure if this is a bee, wasp, or fly, but it is kinda neat. I don't think I could have captured a shot like this if I had tried 1000 times.

So, onto the next butterfly, this one also very ragged, a pearl crescent. This individual was getting nectar from a goldenrod plant. I put the camera on burst mode and ran off a bunch of shots. Sure enough, back at the house, another intruder had crept into the photo, this time a cabbage white butterfly. What is going on?

Apparently in this shot, the cabbage white had left, leaving just the spectacular pearl crescent.

After photographing the crescent, I strolled down to the river, and I noticed that my favorite rock from which to fish was occupied by two pancakes. Oh wait, those aren't pancakes, those are spiny softshelled turtles. The spiny softshell loves to bask on rocks and logs in the Olentangy, and even on its muddy banks. But they are really wary. You can't get within fifty feet without them sliding into the murky water. Luckily, today, I was watching for them, and sure enough, I was able to get a few nice shots by hiding behind a sizable cottonwood tree. As soon as I creeped down the bank to get a closer shot, these guys slid off into the river. Back at home, I checked out the photos, and this time, another flying insect had crashed my photo. Two American rubyspots appeared in the photo, one flying, and one basking on the rock.

I'm taking this as a sign that I most definitely need a camera with clear and precise viewfinder. That Canon Rebel XTI really sounds good right now. Ok, I guess that really does sound like a pretty bad excuse to get a new camera.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Maine Damsels

Dragonflies and Damselflies darted in and out of the swamps and bogs at little pond. All types, from bluets to spreadwings, and meadowhawks to darners were present in Maine. Here is a roundup of the damselflies of Little Pond.

First, the damselflies:

Eastern forktails, a tiny little damsel that we have in Ohio as well, were quite common.

Here is the male. He is perched on bog rosemary, Andromeda polifolia var. glaucophylla, common in bogs in Maine, but a shrub that has become extirpated here in Ohio.

And this, possibly, is a female. Female damselflies are typically much less striking than their colorful male counterparts. Although not as boldly colored, they still possess a sublime beauty.

Here, I think I have another eastern forktail mail, but this guy has more of a bluish color. He still has the distinctive lines on his thorax that somewhat look like exclamation points, but notice, there is not a complete gap like the fragile forktail, a species I did not see in Maine.

Next up we have a sphagnum sprite, Nehalennia gracilis. This species is named because it lives in habitats with sphagnum moss, and bogs are bogs because of sphagnum, or peat moss. The emerald green thorax tipped me off that this guy was interesting. I remember people pointing these out to me last year at Singer Lake Bog in northeast Ohio, but this was the first time I had photographed this species.

Next up is what I believe is a vesper bluet. I haven't seen this species before, but Larry Rosche writes in his book that this species lives in lakes and is most often seen sitting on lilypads, so I think I'm on the right track. The neon yellow thorax and the blue abdominal segment look to match the illustration in his book as well.

To switch things up a bit, now we'll enter the world of spreadwing damselflies. These can be difficult to identify, and I'm not even going to try to guess which species are in the following pictures. Note that these damselflies hold their wings out at an angle while at rest, while other damsels hold their wings closed and above their thorax.