Summer isn’t done with us yet…

Oof! It was warm, still, and steamy in the park this morning, and I read that 90°F is in our forecast for this afternoon. Unfortunately, yesterday’s rain didn’t amount to much, the paths were still dry this morning under the bigger trees, and the brown-eyed susans looked no less thirsty than before.

The pond was empty of birds, and only the three most-common critters (chipmunks, grey squirrels, and rabbits) were about, but a heron was fishing on the river, a slew of mallards were grazing on the river bottom, and a V of Canada geese flew overhead.

The more-photogenic activity took place yesterday afternoon before the storm rolled in.

Here’s a pretty female eastern black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes), “the state butterfly of Oklahoma and New Jersey,” sipping on one of many bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare) blossoms at the edge of the soccer fields. We’ve seen both before, but I don’t believe we’ve seen them together like this.

The stand of thistle also attracts bumblebees in droves, and sometimes it can get crowded.

And it isn’t just pollinators attracted to the thistle. Here’s another female black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia), but this time she appears already to have several meals in “storage”. Yummy!

So the thistle is a tall and very thorny plant, perhaps the closest thing we have to cactus this far north, covered in bumblebees, an occasional butterfly, and big spider webs full of big spiders and their future meals, and the goldfinch be like “you had me at ‘thistle’.”

Finally, I did get to witness some fascinating behavior this morning by a trio of northern flickers (Colaptes auratus), whom we’ve seen many times before, but of whom I have really struggled to get a descent photograph. This time, at least two of them were occupied by a bobbing dance and “wakka wakka” song, the likes of which I’ve never seen or heard before. Here’s a nice video of the dance, and the song is the third one down here. They are both worth experiencing.

My three images attempt to show the most exposed bird bobbing up and down and side to side for another bid on the branch just above it. Oddly, I cannot find a video showing both the song and the dance simultaneously, as I observed this morning. I guess if I had the right equipment, I could be posting some exciting, new, and never-before-seen behavior, eh?

Oh well, next time.

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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