And yet, they persist…

U up?

I haven’t been to the park much lately. Instead I’ve been riding my bike on the Oak Leaf Trail, and it is peak aster season right now. I hope you get a chance to get out and see them in all their glory. As luck would have it, there are even still a few butterflies around to make the pictures interesting. Mind you, I’m reduced to using just my phone, and I get people shouting “zip it up, buddy” as they ride by while I carefully wade through the flowers covered in bees on the side of the trail trying to line up a shot. In any case, here’s what I got.

Finally, not everybody is so brightly colored, and this little guy blended in quite well with the pavement as it slowly crossed from the railroad tracks to the Brown Deer Park golf course north of Good Hope road.

I hope it finds a nice little pond to swim in.

When the music’s over…

turn out the light, turn out the light, turn out the light. We all knew this day would come, we just didn’t know when.

Today I walked up one side of the park and down the other and didn’t see a thing worth taking a picture of. Oh, I might see something fun or pretty to show you from time to time, and if I do, I’ll post it here, but until then, we’re gonna have to put this thing on pause.

Before I go, here are some pretty asters, probably New England asters (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), finally coming into bloom, but I’m sad to say that I couldn’t find an equally pretty butterfly, moth, or bee to pose on them for us.

Thanks for tuning in, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the show.

The sun tries to make a come back…

It is forecast to be nice and sunny this afternoon, but in the meantime it is still pretty grey, and there were only a few critters willing to sit, stand, or float for a picture this morning.

On the river, a couple of mallards and a blue heron were going about their business, as usual. Birds gotta eat, eh?

On the pond, I didn’t see any frogs or turtles this time, but one wood duck hen was still there, and she was even willing to come in for a closeup.

Finally, at least one butterfly is still in the park, a monarch looking nice and fresh, and it appeared to be trying to dry out and/or warm up in what little sun there was poking through the clouds. It sure wasn’t getting any nectar from that ratty old fruit tree leaf, right?

And that’s all there was. Pretty slim pickin’s, but at least we got a splash of color, and there’s hope for the future.

The rain’s not done with us yet…

It rained all morning so I stayed in. There was a break after lunch so I ventured out to see if anyone was about.

I was happy to see two wood duck hens, two painted turtles, and even a huge bullfrog on the pond.

In the meadow by the boat launch, I found a bumblebee and a clouded sulphur (Colias philodice) on the goldenrod.

Finally, on the river, there were a few mallards.

Then it started to rain again, and I headed home.

That is all.

The rain lets up at last…

Well, the rain seems finally to be taking a break, but it’s still cool and dreary out. Baby steps, right?

I was out earlier than usual and saw no deer nor anyone on the pond, but the river was pretty busy. One blue heron and one sandpiper were there along with a couple dozen Canada geese and maybe a dozen mallards, but we’ve seen them all before, so I’ll spare you the blurry pictures.

The beaver still appear to be stalled, and the mudflats were surprising empty. The orb-weaver is still there but tucked up in some leaves at the edge of its web.

Pretty much the only thing I’ve got to show for walking up one side of the park and down the other is this picture of some pretty asters coming into bloom amongst some brown-eyed susans starting to fade.

Better luck next time, I guess, eh? Maybe the beaver will get back to work, a Cooper’s hawk will finally catch some breakfast, or the mystery in the river will reveal itself. Fingers crossed.

Will the sun ever return?

It was yet another cool, dark, and dreary morning, and the deer were nowhere I could see. Perhaps I was too early or too late or they’re just fed up with the weather, too. Instead, there was one lone wood duck hen on the pond.

There were no geese on the river, but a few mallards are still around.

The cedar waxwings were hunting over the river again, but on the far side, of course.

There was also a blue heron fishing on the river, but I must have startled it as I searched in vain for the sea monster from yesterday, and it resumed fishing at the falls, after a quick scratch first.

Bumblebees are still about, and here’s one working on a hyssop blossom.

Finally, I watched a Cooper’s hawk, perhaps the same one as last time, try at least three times to catch a squirrel, be repulsed each time, and fly away empty taloned. These squirrels are tough, I tell you! Don’t be conned by that cute little “who me?” pose.

Lastly, I did check for progress the beavers might be making with those cottonwood trees, but couldn’t detect any this morning. I did take some pictures, just in case, but won’t bore you with those.

The gloom continues…

The cool, damp, and dim mornings keep coming, and the park was nearly empty again today. The gang of four took advantage of the peace and quiet to sample the greenery on the east side of the southern parking lot, the crabapples and hostas in front of the Benjamin Church House, and the bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) acorns by picnic area 7. It’s nice that they let me tag along.

The river was quiet this morning, all the geese have moved on, and there were just a few mallards left. A blue heron was fishing when I arrived, but soon took off.

There is something in the water off the boat launch that swims fast and leaves a big wake. Yesterday, it looked just the the wake that a landing goose leaves, but there was no goose, and I thought I might be losing my mind and starting to imagine things. Today, it was much more obviously something was in the water, and it swam upriver for quite a ways. I can’t wait to catch a glimpse of who is doing that. It seems too fast for a turtle, and it’s probably not a freshwater shark because I saw no dorsal fin. Maybe a beaver?

Speaking of beaver, it’s hard for me to tell if they’re still making any progress on those cottonwoods. Maybe they’re just down to a harder layer and the going is slower or less tasty. I haven’t gnawed through a tree before, so I just don’t know.

The mudflats were mostly empty. One little bird, maybe a wren, toyed with me for a while, and this is all I have to show for my efforts. Definitely looks grey, eh?

Not much color again this morning, and I can’t believe I was photographing butterflies just last week. Therefore, just for the color of it, here’s another picture of common sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) from the mudflats this morning, that we first saw by the boat launch over a month ago. At the time, I had no idea how long the blossoms would last, and in this picture, you can see how the tiny, individual florets, slowly open from the bottom to the top, transforming the center from a hemisphere into nearly a full sphere as the ray florets press back towards the stem.

Maybe the sun will come out again for the weekend. At least we’re not getting snow yet, as my sister, Sue, reports from Colorado, right?

Autumn sticks its toe in the door…

Well, autumn is unofficially off to a cool, dark, damp, and breezy start. The silver lining, for me at least, was that the park was empty with not a car in all three lots. Sweet. Not that I don’t want to share! You are more than welcome to join me, but sometimes a little solitude can be nice, if you can get it, right?

Anyway, I saw no deer, but the geese that were noticeably absent yesterday were back in force this morning. There were probably 4 or 5 dozen on the river, and as I continued south, small flocks would take off and fly past me on their way south as well. Safe travels as you Fly Away Home, my friends!

In the meadow by the boat launch, I spotted this little critter trying to hide in the grass. I don’t know what’s up the the raccoons lately, but after seeing nary a hair on their head all summer, now they seem to be everywhere.

It seems that the beaver are not making much progress on their first cottonwood tree and have focused their energies on the second. I sure hope they succeed with both. I’m not the biggest fan of losing these big trees, but leaving the trees dead and standing seems to be the worst option of all. The trees are dead either way, and if they don’t fall the beaver don’t get the calories they need. Come on guys! You can do it!

A little further south, the pheasant back mushroom, on the other hand, is making good progress and is noticeably larger and less pig-nosed than just yesterday.

On the mudflats, the magnificent spotted orb-weaver from yesterday was gone, along with its web, but a blue heron was back to fishing along the river. I had initially written “I wonder how long they’ll stick around,” but then I looked up their migration map only to see that we might enjoy such sights all winter. All of Wisconsin is within their “year-round” range. Woo Hoo!

Also on the mudflats were a few damselflies, and this one on a knotweed blossom might be the same American rubyspot (Hetaerina americana) we saw back at the start of September.

Finally, just so you’re not left with only shades of blue and grey, here’s one more flower-of-an-hour I caught open yesterday. Enjoy your last dash of Labor Day color!

Happy Labor Day.

It was cooler and breezier this morning than yesterday, the park was just about empty, and this young deer took advantage of the moment to fill up on acorns in front of the Benjamin Church House. I’m sure the squirrels up in the tree busily knocking down the acorns were thrilled about that.

The beaver continue to make some progress on the couple of cottonwood trees, but it is not as obvious as on previous mornings.

Perhaps they’ve been too busy harvesting arrowhead roots (Sagittaria) instead, which I read have been “prized for millennia as a reliable source of starch and carbohydrates.” Apparently “Indian people [sic] often sought caches of Sagittaria tubers stored by muskrat and beaver.” At least I hope that’s what’s going on. Here’s what patches of arrowheads, just off the mudflats, look like after a harvest.

Also along the river, our old buddy, the dryad’s saddle, aka pheasant’s back mushroom (Cerioporus squamosus) looks like it’s going through “the “pig nose” stage” one more time.

Back on the mudflats, yet another knotweed, this one goes by the names lady’s thumb, spotted lady’s thumb, Jesusplant, and redshank (Persicaria maculosa), is in full bloom and feeding the bumblebees.

Finally, this good-sized spider, perhaps a spotted orb-weaver (Neoscona crucifera), has woven quite an impressive web, easily 2 feet in diameters, strung between a tree branch and the tall grasses below. It’s in the same family, Araneidae, as our black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia), and we’ll have to wait for a nice heavy dew for a decent picture of the web.

And that’s that. Nary a bird today, well except for robins and chickadees, of course. Perhaps the rest all took advantage of the stiff breeze out of the north today and are well on their way to warmer destinations. Bon Voyage!

The show seems to never end…

Wow, oh wow! What a fabulous morning! It was raining and blowing hard when we got up, but the rain moved out over the lake by 9am, the winds died down, and I could have heard a pin drop on the mudflats by the river as the sun tried to come out. The Farmers Market sure lucked out, eh?

Before I got to the mudflats, however, I was treated to this spectacle right on the path behind the soccer fields. I guess the robins really felt the need for a bath.

Then, on the mudflats, look who gave a second chance. That’s right, a giant ichneumon wasp (Megarhyssa atrata), which we first saw back in July, posed perfectly.

Further north along the river, the beaver have been busy since yesterday! Not only have they made noticeable progress on the first tree, they’ve even started on a second!

On my way back south again, I spotted this little painted turtle, not even 3 inches long, doing its best superman impersonation. It looks like the one we saw on a lilypad about three weeks ago, and it’s even in just about the same spot.

Also on the mudflats, this pretty little butterfly caught my eye, an eastern tailed-blue (Everes comyntas) in the same subfamily, Polyommatinae, as the ‘summer’ spring azure (Celastrina ladon neglecta) we saw about a month ago.

Finally, still on the mudflats, I spotted this little guy, who for all the world appears to be a northern waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis), a warbler. They’re baaaack. Their breeding grounds start a bit north of here, and so this one is enroute to its wintering grounds in Central America. Woo Hoo! Our first fall migrator!

Lastly, nearly over the spot where the robins were bathing a couple of hours earlier, this little eastern wood-peewee (Contopus virens) also sat still for a second on its way to SOUTH AMERICA! Our second fall migrator!

This morning turned out to be like cutting open a geode. Nothing but grey at the start, on the outside, but an absolute sight to behold once I get into it.