The three Bs: birds, bugs, and blossoms.

What? Which three Bs are you thinking of?

First the birds. Now that the thistles are going to seed, the goldfinches are starting to be all over them.

The young brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater), whose eggs were laid in the nests of other species, appear to be now getting out on their own and somehow learning to socialize with other cowbirds. Below, from left/top to right/bottom, is one that clearly looks smaller and fresher than the others, one calling to her pal, and then the two of them gettin’ right to work rustlin’ up some breakfast.

The mallard ducklings keep on growing under their mom’s watchful eye along the river. You may recall we met this brood of five, one of which is inexplicably yellow, a couple of weeks ago.

Finally, one female wood duck visited the pond again and took a lap around the island. I wonder what she’s looking for.

Onto the bugs, and first up is this master of disguise, maybe a “mid-instar with small wing pads” of the narrow-winged sand grasshopper (Melanoplus angustipennis), blending into the rough concrete at the kayak/canoe launch at the north end of the meadow.

Next is this astounding giant ichneumon wasp (Megarhyssa atrata), who had sadly met her demise before I found her. I put a dime, which I found in the parking lot a little earlier, into the picture to give you some sense of scale. She is huge, but that’s not a stinger, it’s her ovipositor, which she uses to “lay eggs into the hard wood of tree trunks.” Fantastical, right?

Finally, some new blossoms are beginning to open up. From left/top to right/bottom, we’ve got wild bergamot or bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) just off the path north of the beer garden. Only a little further up the path is some orange jewelweed, common jewelweed, spotted jewelweed, or touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis), which earns that last common name because “the seed pods have five valves which coil back rapidly to eject the seeds in a process called explosive dehiscence, [and] in mature seed pods, dehiscence can easily be triggered with a light touch.

Well, there you have it, boys and girls. Just another summer day in Estabrook Park brimming with amazing sights to see. Don’t forget that tomorrow is the Shorewood Farmers Market, and maybe I’ll see you there.

Published by Andrew Dressel

Theoretical and Applied Bicycle Mechanic

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