I’ve still got some pictures left over from the weekend, if you can believe it, so here they are.
This first one features a pair of mute swan cygnets, and I took it on Sunday after I was inspired to look up just how big they are by the spectacular Saturday fly-over. I read that gray turns out to be the “natural” cygnet color, and ones with the white color morph are known as “Polish swans”, they are “found only in populations with a history of domestication,” and “Polish swans “carry a copy of a gene responsible for leucism.”
They all turn white when they grow up, so I guess it’s a moot point anyway.
Here’s a handsome common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus), which I first showed you back in May. It is close cousins with the smaller rock pigeons that nest under the bridges over the Milwaukee River at either end of Estabrook Park. I see them here often enough and usually leave them alone, but this one just seemed to be begging for a photograph.
Here’s another ruddy darter dragonfly, which are pretty common lately, but this one perched on such a nice bright red stem that I thought it was worth another shot.
On Sunday, the thistles I was wading through to photograph butterflies were also full of bees, as you can probably imagine, and I am happy to report that we all left each other alone. Once in a while, however, the expected buzzing would sound disturbingly near and incessant, and upon closer inspection, I witnessed this fascinating behavior, where one “bee” would hover over another.
It turns out that these little pollinators are not even bees at all, but hover flies instead, evolved to mimic bees for the protection from predators such appearance affords. There are “about 6,000 species” of hover flies, and I’ve seen several in Estabrook, but it might take me awhile to pin down exactly which ones these are.
Some mate in flight, and perhaps that’s what these mid-air traffic jams are all about.
The hover fly below, however, stood out for a different reason. It was absolutely huge, and that helped me look it up pretty quickly. It’s a hornet mimic hoverfly (Volucella zonaria), and “can reach a length of 25 mm (0.98 inches)!” Further, they mimic “the European hornet (Vespa crabro), by its size, by its appearance and [by] its buzzing flight,” and thank goodness I haven’t yet met any of the real thing yet!
Finally, there were also several bumblebees hard at work, and here’s one on a different variety of thistle.