September 26th, 2008

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

80 acres: Small Beauties


Small beauties today included a dragonfly not photographed before (but seen), familiar damsels, a Queen butterfly perched on crepe myrtle, a new spider, and the first tiger beetle seen on the place...recognized because of my experience with the one in Palo Duro Canyon.

First, the dragonfly, a male Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Libellula pulchella, photographed against the sun's angle...a wary insect. 


The flashing white and black spotted wings are eye-catching.  The female has black spots on clear wings.

Next, the new spider, a red-velvet-upholstered jumping spider, Phidippus apacheanus.   It was very active and very fast...

                         

This spider somewhat resembles the Eastern Velvet Ant, which packs a powerful sting...but the spider is also a predator...so who's copying whose warning colors?

Finally, the first tiger beetle I've recognized on the place (thanks to the tiger beetle that caught my eye in Palo Duro Canyon, I knew right away it was a tiger beetle in the genus Cicendela.)
 

This fellow has brilliant blue/green iridescence on the legs and face, and coppery-green on the pronotum.  A fast runner and flyer...and very unwilling to have the camera too close.


 
 

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Nose to the Grindstone

3862 words so far today

18,620 so far this week (Monday through Friday, unless I write more later today.  It's tempting to go for the nice round 20,000 number.)

Particularly happy to make good wordage today since I indulged in a large supper last night that  did not entirely please the digestive tract.  I've been telling my brain it needs to be less dependent on such things, and it seems to be listening, finally.

All of today's was in Arcolin's POV area.  Some people should learn not to assume that the staggering drunk soldier in the alley is safe prey.    Had a certain two footpads lived long enough, they would have learned...but wisdom came too late for them.   Instances of cunning vs. lower cunning occur.   And lo, out of the darkness, a tunnel appears, with people around its entrance.  But wait--there's more.  Just not yet.

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

80 acres: I hear you....

I was sitting up at Fox Pavilion, watching a family of house sparrows and several male cardinals watch me (I haven't been there at that time of day recently and they were uneasy) when I heard something in the undergrowth about 25 feet away.  There's a tangle of vines, elbow-bush, black dalea, Ashe juniper and prairie flameleaf sumac, and from under it came a sort of scratching noise.  

I listened.  I didn't make any noise.  It got a little stronger, a little stronger.   I tried to figure out what it was--sometimes it had the double-scratch rhythm of a large sparrow...which, at this time of year, would be a spotted towhee.  But sometimes it didn't, and towhees, like other sparrows, are fairly regular in their scuff-scuff....scuff-scuff.   What else, I wondered.  Probably not a raccoon.  It was too early for a raccoon to be out, still low sun.  Could be an armadillo, though it was a little early in the evening.   Not a squirrel, in that particular patch of brush, and anyway, a squirrel would have scolded at least once.  Too much sound for mice or wood rats.  A snake winding its way through...possible, but not likely.  Coachwhips, who like that rocky knoll, move faster and make more noise.  

The noise grew closer to the edge of the clump of brush...and there was the noisemaker:

 
It ambled (but quicker than you might think)  to the cedar tree that shelters the Fox Pavilion guzzler and drank from the shallow overflow pan we put below the main guzzler.  I was about 25 feet away and could hear it drink, though not see it (it was partly behind the lower tub of the guzzler.)  Louder than a cat, quieter than a dog, fast little laps.

I went up to that area hoping to see the same species of tiger beetle and get more images, but instead a different beetle appeared.  Although some beetles cooperate by sitting on a flower or leaf for long enough to change lenses and get a good image, many don't.  This one took off running when it saw me (straight at me, in fact) and then, after it went past me, it went down a hole.  These are the best two images.  The one on the left was lightened, because it was hunkered down (momentarily) behind that dead grass clump, in the shadow.