More signs of summer…

I spotted somebody new this morning, if you can believe it! The image isn’t very good, and this is the best of a bunch, because the water and low light really messed with my camera’s autofocus, but that’s a pretty big fish, and it has found itself cut off from the river in a mini “oxbow” pond north of the falls. It was “breathing” pretty heavy, and I hope some rain comes soon, for its sake, but in the meantime, let’s play who can name that fish! The body and coloration make me think some kind of trout, but the mouth doesn’t look right.

Near that same “pond” this morning were also one of the several mallard families I’ve spotted in the last few days, and mom was on her toes this morning, so I kept my distance.

Meanwhile, back up on top of the bluff, here’s a gorgeous monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), basking in the afternoon sun, who we’ve seen in the park since the start of June, but not like this before. He’s a male, judging by the single extra little black spot on each hindwing, and I observed him actively and repeatedly chasing either pretenders to this milkweed throne or potential mates. I couldn’t really tell which, and it was tricky enough just to get this picture, because it seemed that every time he sat still for a second, one or more other monarchs would fly up, and then they would all swirl up into the air and bolt off in the same direction, with only one returning alone each time.

Here are some black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta), sunflower family natives to Eastern and Central North America, and in various stages of opening up at the north end of the wildflower meadow. I almost didn’t see them mixed in with the lance-leaved tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata) we first saw a couple of weeks ago.

And here’s some wild garlic, onion grass, crow garlic or stag’s garlic (Allium vineale), a “perennial, bulb-forming species of wild onion, native to Europe, northwestern Africa, and the Middle East” growing along the east side of the parkway just south of the tunnel. I’ve been watching it develop since May, wondering what on earth it was going to open up into and when.

The little husk that the entire blossom was once crammed into is the whitish thing sticking up in the background. You can see the long (18″), slender (1/8″) stalk which supports the whole thing heading off to the right. The dark balls at the center are “not technically seeds.” Instead, “the bulbils that compose the flower heads are like tiny bulbs and can be sprouted.” reports that the taste is “somewhere in between onion, garlic, and chives.” Sounds delicious, eh Carolyn?

Check out this crazy-looking little t-shaped Plume Moth (Hellinsia homodactyla) almost hiding in plain sight on a bright pink Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense) blossom. Even its legs are camouflaged.

Speaking of thistle, the first blossom on the musk thistle, which finally opened just about a week ago has already gone to seed, looking like a shaving brush, enough for the birds to be pecking at it already. And, yes, that would be an exciting image, but all we’ve got is this still-life for now.

Finally, here’s another monarch because 1. they are everywhere now, 2. they seem to like posing in the bright morning sun, and 3. who doesn’t want to see a monarch? This one appeared to be only interested in extracting some breakfast from that red clover.

That’s it for this morning, folks. Anne and I are off to Kohler-Andrae State Park to see her fam this afternoon, so wish me luck, and maybe we’ll have some fun pictures from my field trip for tomorrow’s report.

Published by Andrew Dressel

Theoretical and Applied Bicycle Mechanic, and now, apparently, Amateur Naturalist. In any case, my day job is teaching mechanics at UWM.

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