Tuesday, May 19, 2009
always something new
Lots of good stuff today....
I found a wasp on my kitchen floor the other day. Fortunately for me, it was already dead. My family thought I was nuts, but I saved it. AND I was able, with some help from a co-worker, to identify it. It was an eastern yellow jacket (I'm really glad it was dead - I don't like getting stung), but what, to me, was interesting was that it was a queen. I had looked in my bug ID guides, and didn't find anything that was quite right. Susan at work had a book with a photo of a western yellow jacket, so I googled eastern yellow jacket - et voila, BugGuide.net showed me what it was.
In other news, I've found two "new" creatures in my yard in the past couple of days. I'm sure that they are not really new, only that I have never seen them before. The first was what turned out to be an eastern milk snake. I have a small stone retaining wall at the front of my house, and lots of garter snakes are often seen there. At least one chipmunk lives in the wall also. Anyway, I heard a rustling in the leaves and peeked over to see what might be making the noise. It was a snake, but not one of the ones I usually see, which are blackish, with yellow stripes. This one was brown with lighter and darker patterning - I'd never seen one like it here. I meant to look it up, but got distracted (that happens a lot). At work today I was getting ready to do a program with one of our corn snakes, and there in a box was a milk snake that had been smushed, poor thing. At least we can thank it for its use in education.
And I saw a common yellowthroat this morning, for the first time. I heard a loud, unfamiliar song in my rhododendrons this morning. I followed the voice, and before long I saw a little grayish bird with a yellow throat and an unmistakable black eye patch. Given its physical appearance, the thought that it was a common yellowthroat came to me immediately, and a quick reference to a couple of bird guides confirmed my idea. I don't consider myself a "birder", by which I mean someone who goes out specifically looking for birds, but I do like to be able to identify the birds I do see. And I don't keep a list - life, year, or otherwise - but I am beginning to understand why it might be fun for some people to do so. It is very satisfying to feel that I now have another bird in my personal, mental ID guide. I'm a very visual learner, and once I've seen the bird for real, I can usually remember what it is. Now keeping track of bird songs and calls is another matter....
And the last piece for today is bloomin' lady slippers! They were everywhere today.