Saturday, July 30, 2011

Trees down

We've been losing a lot of trees this year. There's been a lot of wind storms. These pine trees fell like toothpicks.

But there are some grateful creatures making use of the windfall.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Foraging in the Rain

A strange wind came out of the west this weekend bringing a cool, refreshing rain that came down nearly all day Sunday.

I took the opportunity to hike in the fresh drizzle. Along the trail I saw something jumping. Looking down expecting to see a frog or toad,  I caught sight of this tiny creature foraging in the rain.

It could leap quite high off of the ground, although it found this bit of grass and felt protectively hidden and moved no more. I snapped the photo and left it to its rainy forage.    

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Yellow Swallowtail

This Yellow Swallowtail Butterfly was foraging at the edge of a lake during a rain shower this weekend.

Swallowtail's host plants are the members of the carrot family, including dill, parsley, and hemlock. The butterflies will often congregate on scat for salts and minerals.

This one, I think, is after a drink.    

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blue Vervain

This plant not only attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, it has a history.

From tears of Isis to being placed on Jesus's wounds this plant is also called the devil's bane. It was thought to be a cure all and a favorite of witches. Which is probably why Walt Whitman placed it in the realm of  God in Splendor in the Grass:

I see the place of the idea of the Deity incarnated by avatars in human forms;
I see the spots of the successions of priests on the earth—oracles, sacrificers, brahmins, sabians, lamas, monks, muftis, exhorters;
I see where druids walked the groves of Mona—I see the mistletoe and vervain;
I see the temples of the deaths of the bodies of Gods—I see the old signifiers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Down of the Thistle

The down of the thistle is quite thick this year. Do you think it makes a prediction of the winter to come?

Whenever I see thistle going to seed I think of the poem The Night Before Christmas. And in this very hot July, the thought of a few frigged nights is quite cooling. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Obedient Plant

Obedient Plant is blooming in fields and sunny areas of Coffee Creek Park.

There are hybrids of this plant that are grown in gardens but it is a native wildflower.

When the flowers are bent they obediently remain in the same position, making them the perfect place for insects to take refuge in, closing the petals behind them like a door.  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wild Bergamot

Like a firecracker exploding out of a tiny box, Wild Bergamot explodes out of its little green box this time of year.

This native wildflower is a member of the mint family and a tea made of the plant will help you nurse a cold or other respiratory ailment.

This flower belongs in every garden, whether natural or cultivated and has been a favorite of poets.

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Baby

This little deer family was browsing the vegetation at Coffee Creek Park this morning.

The little one looks brand new and the Mama looked worn out.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Joe-Pye Weed

I love Joe-Pye Weed. It attracts birds, butterflies, bees and other insects. It is currently blooming along the fringes of bogs, marshes, and other wetland areas.

And with a heavenly fragrance I couldn't imagine how it came to be called Joe-Pye Weed. According to Wikipedia the name comes from a Native American by the name of Joe Pye who used the plant to heal people.

Joe-Pye Weed is a native wildflower.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Don't know about you, but I'm going to be spending a lot of time in the shade today looking at pretty wildflowers like this touch-me-not. The tiny little rays of sunshine yellow are brightening up even the darkest areas of the forest this time of year.

Stay cool.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Tiny Milkweed Universe

A whole universe exists on milkweeds. Besides the Monarch eggs and caterpillars, I've seen ants attending aphids and the worlds created by milkweed bugs seen here.

These tiny guys, no bigger than an average ant, will grow to be a little less than an inch. Because they feed on milkweed they are are poison to most predators just like Monarch Butterflies.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blue Heron

The geese are long gone from the marsh by this time of year.

This year is a particularly good one for herons; they squawk over the marsh as I walk through. I  regret that I've disturbed them from their dining on the multitude of frogs that have turned up to dine on the multitude of bugs that the hot, rain drenched days have created this year.

It is an amazing thing that nature knows to send the herons to eat the frogs to eat the insects; everything so connected and well balanced.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Don't mess around with Ma...

 While walking through the marsh, my path crossed that of this cute little raccoon family. Mama coon was followed by 3 baby raccoons.

What? You don't see 3?

Ah--there it is, hurrying to catch up with the others. I wish I could show you the closer picture that I was taking of what I thought was a baby but ended up being of Mama.

I can't because as I was setting up to take the picture, Mama rushed out at me with a growl telling me to back off the family. I decided to rush the other way and heed her advice.  


Friday, July 15, 2011

Spider Dance

In a tiny piece of shade two spiders danced together. I watched as they lifted their legs and touched only the tip to the other and then, as if too shy to go any further, they backed off for a moment.

But soon the spiders were touching each other again. I left them still performing their dance in the summertime shade.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rosy Mushrooms

After a recent rain the bog at Indiana Dunes was covered with tiny orange mushrooms with rosy centers. They are as beautiful as any wildflower.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Butterfly Weed

A member of the milkweeds, Butterfly Weed attracts many insects, butterflies and even some hummingbirds included.

One of its many common names is Butterfly Love.    

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Year of the Frog

2011 is surely the year of the frog; I'm finding them everywhere--thousands of tiny frogs in pathways, roads, and stream side.

Is this a picture of a toad or a frog?  You can bet that it is a frog. All toads are frogs, although all frogs are not toads. And in some cases it is difficult to determine those toads among the frogs.  

Monday, July 11, 2011


Summer Pickerelweed is just beginning to bloom. This native water plant blooms in bogs, wetlands, and lowlands.

Pretty as it is, it is also edible. It produces seeds that, I am told, are quite tasty and the leaves are edible as greens. I often catch deer nibbling the plants in the marsh.  

The plant is named for pickerel, the fish that is sometimes swimming among the roots.  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dragonfly Days--- Eastern Pondhawk

This male Eastern Pondhawk was hanging out at Willow Slough on the fourth of July like a drop of blue right out of our flag.

A closer look at the shoreline told a tale of a giant dragonfly hatch. In the lower right of this picture is a discarded escoskeleton that a dragonfly crawled out of as it transformed from a water dwelling insect to the beautiful flying insect.

There were hundreds of escoskeletons lining the shore of the lake---perhaps that was why there weren't many mosquitoes.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dragonfly Days Amberwings

Smaller than most dragonflies, the tiny Amberwings are easy to identify.

This one was sunning on its favorite rock the other day at Murphy Lake and casting an amber shadow.  

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Water Snake

Moving in and out of the rocks along the shore  this pretty little water snake  was hunting minnows, frogs, and insects to eat at Lake Murphy in Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area.

Reports of Water Moccasins were highly unfounded; and highly unlikely this far north in  Indiana.

The little Water Snake was offended by the case of mistaken identity.    

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Coming of the Cone Flowers

Here comes the summer display of Coffee Creek's wildflowers. The first coneflowers are making their appearance.

You won't see a better display anywhere than right in here in Northwest Indiana.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sweet Summertime

Summer has just started but autumn is on its way with the coming of the asters.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Let Freedom Ring!

Happy Independence Day! What a precious gift we were handed by our forefathers. May we never take it for granted, but guard it with every breath we take.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Language of Flowers--Birdsfoot Trefoil

Birdsfoot Trefoil is native to Asia, Europe, and northern Africa. It's considered invasive in North America.

It's sometimes called bacon and eggs or butter and eggs. It's coloring Indiana roadsides yellow this time of year.

In the language of flowers it gets no respect; maybe because it is poisonous to humans it denotes revenge.  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dragonfly Days

Birders call nearly unidentifiable brown birds LBJ's short for "little brown jobs." 

The same could apply to newly transformed dragonflies, as this one is. The dragonfly is shiny bright and looks brand new. Some colors are starting to show through ...or disappear depending on the type of dragonfly. It is often nearly impossible to distinguish one newly transformed from another.

My best guess is that this one is a White-faced Meadowhawk but it could be a Ruby or Cherry-faced too. And I didn't have time to stick around while it matured. Sure was pretty though...