I must confess. I’m a stalker. Of flowers and ferns and leaves and twigs and buds and bark and insects and birds and mammals and tracks and scat and cycles and systems. Of nature. Every day. All day long.
Sometimes I circle round and round, checking on the activity of a particular area over and over again–all the while mentally noting any changes. Minute by minute, day by day, week by week. I can’t help myself. My stalking is addictive. As it should be.
Right now, one of my focal points is the multiflora rosa that blooms in our yard. Yes, we can get into all the reasons why this invasive shouldn’t grow here, but I, too, am an invasive species–my ancestors arrived on a boat, possibly bringing some seeds or roots with them.
Multiple species pollinate the massive display.
Their pollen sacs bulge as they quickly move from anther to anther.
Meanwhile, sawfly larvae munch their way across leaves.
Sawfly is another word for wood wasp–certainly makes sense. But right now, their larvae look like caterpillars. Very hungry ones.
And because I took time to look, I noticed. When I first spied this little guy about the size of a nickel, I thought it was either a small snail or a dried up leaf that. Curiosity pulled me in closer–thank goodness. Located about three feet above ground, this spring paper hid from predators all day, waiting to munch on insects and spiders tonight. I know this shot is sun drenched, but do you see the X on its back? Its name–Pseudacris crucifer–breaks down to Pseudo (false), acris (locust) and crucifer (cross bearer).
I’ve also been stalking the grasshoppers again, much as I did last year. Every day, I’ve noted that they are a wee bit larger–measuring almost an inch. But today, I found a giant among them.
Then I went further afield, but to another familiar spot that I frequent. Heal-All blooms there with its square stem and whorls of florets.
The upper part of each floret provides a darker hood over the lower fringed landing platform. I’m surprised I didn’t see any action today. But don’t worry. I’ll keep stalking.
The ferns also drew my attention, like this lady fern, with its graceful appearance and sori in the shape of eyebrows.
Hay-scented fern offers another lacy look, but the size and shape of its spore cups at the margin of the underside make it easy to recognize. Look underneath. Always.
While I’m focused on ferns, here’s a clue to differentiate a cinnamon fern from an interrupted fern once if it doesn’t feature a spore stalk. Cinnamon ferns have obvious hairy underarms. Do you see the tuft of hair at the rachis?
Not quite the same for an interrupted fern. I love the hunt.
Cinnamon and interrupted ferns are both members of the Osmundaceae family, which also includes royal fern, so named for the fertile frond topped with a crown.
Bead-like in structure, the capsules have evolved from their aqua-green color a couple of weeks ago to a rusty shade. Eventually, they’ll turn dark brown after releasing their spores.
Because I was near water when I spied the royal ferns, I also had the joy of once again stalking exoskeletons that remain where dragonflies emerged. Such a special monument to their metamorphosis.
And . . . young American toads hopped all about at my feet.
But one of my favorite focal points of the day–a painted turtle. She had her own mission–to lay eggs. After I saw her, I noticed another and so I did what any good stalker would do, I circled about the area looking for others. Only the two. But that was enough.
I’d made the two-hour round trip to Portland this morning to pick up my macro-lens that had taken two months to repair–0r so they say. As I got used to using it again, I found myself having fun figuring out the focus. I’ll continue to stalk and continue to learn–on so many levels.
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