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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Critters everywhere!

We live in the middle of town. Okay, it's a smallish town of around 15,000 people, but it has houses and cars and pavement, our street, connecting downtown and the fairgrounds, is heavily traveled, and our yard is small: a walled garden of around twenty by sixty feet or so and lawn strips  wrapping around a corner lot--nothing like the suburban half-acre we left behind in West Virginia. We do have trees--maples, dogwoods, and sweet gum--and are across the street from the city arboretum, but this place is not a pristine ecosystem. It is, however, home to a fair amount of wildlife, even if one does not include the omnipresent squirrels.

Goldfinches and titmice are common (okay, we cheat by providing easy access to sunflower seed),

and every morning a handsome cardinal makes himself heard from the highest branch of the sugar maple in the walled garden. Today, a young robin that had figured out how to leave the nest but had not quite mastered the flying thing spent several minutes hopping around on our patio, trying to figure out how to get off the ground. (One must love adolescents, of whatever species.) By the time the camera was retrieved, the bird had flown.

Our tiny pond seems to be hosting frogs, despite having been drained and cleaned in early spring. Something that is not a cicada makes quite a racket at night. Checking frog calls online, I am suspecting some sort of tree frog or peeper, though the American toad is a possibility. Given the number of hostas and their accompanying slugs in that part of the yard, toads would be welcome guests.

The pond is also home to mosquito larvae, despite the fact that I gave in and tossed in a mosquito dunk this month. The good news about that is that we now have lots of dragonflies and damselflies darting about, engaging in the sort of aerial combat that makes me glad I am too small to interest them as prey. This little beauty, I think a blue-fronted dancer, held still long enough to be photographed.

We would never know that bee populations are declining from the action in our lawn strip. I am not good at bee identification but in the last two days have verified at least honeybees, two types of bumbles, and a very handsome green sweat bee.

 I do love the cute little pollen pouches that foraging bees collect on their legs.

We are also starting to get quite a few butterflies. This gorgeous fritillary has been feasting on our coneflower and rudbeckia the last couple of days.

 I suspect that this lovely creature began its life very near here, as fritillary caterpillars feed only on violets, which are found in the thousands in our lawn strip and the arboretum's grassy areas. (Note: if you want butterflies, don't get rid of your violets.)

One last shot of a well-fed fritillary.

Who would have expected a wildlife refuge here?

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