Stars Among Us

Saturday found My Guy and me doing some trail work in the rain along a local path that we’ve helped maintain for probably close to twenty years. On Sunday we went on one of the buggiest hikes we’ve endured in a while. But there was a prize to be had. And today. Ah today. What a gorgeous day. And few bugs. There was a reason for that.

We were in a wetland where the dragonflies were emerging. So this is a member of the Baskettail family. I’m just getting my dragonfly eyes back on and need to refresh my memory.

Looking at it from a different angle, my brain wants to call it a Spiny Baskettail rather than Common for it seemed dark behind its head and the dark basal marks on the wings seemed to match up, but . . . if you think otherwise, I’m open to clarification.

We also spotted Belted Whiteface Skimmers seeking meals, and there were damselflies on the hunt as well. If these Mosquito/Black Fly/Deer Fly-eating predators haven’t reached your backyard yet, know that help is due to arrive any day.

Not all the sights we saw were predatory and so we delighted that a few new butterflies of the season were in our midst, including this Mustard White, with its striking venation a feature of the spring brood. The coloring has to do with developing in the chrysalis during shorter spring days versus the pure white or mustard-color which occur in summer broods.

Also fluttering about were a few Canadian Tiger Swallowtails, adding bright dashes of color in a woodland growing ever so green.

While the butterflies help with pollination, this humongous Bumblebee was hosting a pollen party for one and if you look closely, you may see the yellow specks flying in the air and all over its face.

It was no surprise to see the pollen sacs on its hind legs filled to overflowing.

There was so much to take in everywhere we looked and we were glad we’d driven an hour and a half to spend time in this special place where one of My Guy’s favorite flowers grows. Though not in bloom yet, they are preparing and we can’t rush the season. I know some have blossomed closer to home, but think our location a bit further north meant things are delayed by a week or so.

Equally as fun to find was evidence of last year’s flower in the form of a football-shaped seed capsule–and we can only hope that some of those seeds will find the right conditions and show off their showy blossoms. Of course, those seeds might remain dormant until conditions are just right, so it could be years before we can enjoy them. We’re willing to wait.

Today’s journey found us enjoying the mountains and wetlands in Whitefield, New Hampshire, where there was still some snow on distant peaks. Look below the clouds and you’ll see what I mean.

So many stars we enjoyed and really have only honored a few here.

But the real star among us we spent some time with yesterday . . . until the insects drove us home, literally!

This Black Chipmunk and its forebears have been rather reliable residents on a certain trail and though I don’t spot one every year, it’s always a treat to meet it again. This was the prize.

As we watched, the chipmunk behaved as one would expect, dining upon seeds it had cached, then running along a log, jumping down to the ground, and disappearing into a hole beside a tree. I have to wonder how many more it may be feeding with its stuffed cheeks. And having observed 315 15-second game camera videos of a Red Squirrel a couple of years ago, and watching this particular chipmunk, as well as those who live around our house, I know that it repeated its routine from hole to food source and back to hole from sun-up to sun-down.

Melanistic mammals have an increased amount of the dark pigment melanin in their hair, and though they are considered rare, I know of at least three local areas where Black Chipmunks have been spotted for years.

There may be stars in the sky as this beautiful day gives way to night, but indeed there are many more stars at our feet if we take the time to notice.

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