April 10, 2022

Martha O'Kennon

Light snow. The ten-day forecast for Albion gives us 60's F in a few days. But that's just daytime temps. The night-time might still be in the 30's. Today it's 44 at 9:30 a.m. This starkly liberating creature is a Cooper's Hawk, shot from my neighbor Debby's house, but seemingly in charge of a Redbud tree in My Backyard! Deb's sister Pam made the ID.

The Crocus dominated the landscape - in spots. Thickly and sparsely. With or without stripes!

Here are a few more Crocus starting up in the Front Yard. Second is the Purple Hellebore, raising up its gorgeous buds, every day higher. If you click a couple of times on the first picture, you can see this amazing panoply of colors and scents. Especially if you click again. Use the mouse to move around in the picture. The Hellebore buds are another treat for your purple eyes.

Don't worry, when we do our Flower Walk, you'll see more and more Crocus. But right now we have the Ants to look at. Still only one kind (but recall it wasn't so long ago that we didn't have ANY!

The brown straw nest I've decided is probably not really Barklice. We have been watching this egg mass since the end of October, but here are two pictures from this week.

The Barklouse egg mass that I discovered tearing open a couple of weeks ago is slowly (thanks to the cool weather) opening and the nymphs are beginning to look like nymphs, and not just eggs. It is still cold and although you may think there isn't much change, picture 1 shows a shot from last week (March 30, 2022).

Here is a batch of Barklouse eggs: first is the nest from last week on March 30, and next is the same group this week (April 5, 2022). See how the eggs/nymphs are maturing inside the egg case.

I was about to say I didn't see any Bees this week, but suddenly the sun came out for a quick visit and the crocuses bloomed out and the Bees (the Western Honey Bees) came in for a lot of landings. I was told on iNat that all those Honey Bees that look so different are actually one species in this region. In picture 1, how many Bees do you see? I got three.

Sunday Morning. I was out getting a few more photos for the blog, and saw this strange sight. The honey-bee seems to be trying to scrape that pesky pollen off her legs! At one point, she scrapes a yellow bit off and then steps in it but finally gets it off. Sounds like what I'd do if I were trying to scrape something off my foot. Or maybe it isn't a Western Honey Bee. Flash! I just got a note from our fellow naturalis, Mary-Ann Cateforis. She says: Wow! I've never seen that. I've just read about it. I think there's a depression in the "outside" of the femur which is called the pollen basket and is used to carry pollen back to the hive. (This is all from memory, so you might want to check the details.) What an excellent video! Thanks.

Tim Lincoln, local beekeeper found this article. Could the bee be scraping pollen into its "pollen press" to compact it into a pellet?

Tim pollen baskets

One Beetle, two Bugs. First is an Asian Lady Beetle who appeared from under a dusty rug. Next, another of the Eastern Boxelder Bugs. Third is one of the Leaf-footed Bugs, Leptoglossus oppositus. Cousin Renee found it at a KOA site in Florida. Although a couple of people in Michigan have also spotted it, I'm not claiming it for Michigan....

So here we are in the Flies. How can there be so many Flies? And within Flies, so many Midges? And inside the Midges, so many non-biting ones? Here are three non-biting midges!

Here's another Midge, I think. It has some intriguing markings. Maybe it is a Fungus Gnat. For some reason I think of leg thorns as Fungus Gnat territory.

Here's a dead non-biting Midge that I got royally hooted at by asking if it might have been a Mosquito. Oh well. The third one is another bit of hoot-bait.

Another mystery Fly.

Here's a Crane Fly. Maybe a Winter Crane Fly?

Here's another Fly. And another. The third was identified as a Hybotic Dance Fly.

This is probably a Fungus Gnat.

Another Fly. And Another, and Another.

At last a Fly big enough to look up. It belongs to the genus Calliphora, so is one of the Big Blowflies. In fact it is one of the big Blue Blowflies, and is a lover of Little Friskies, which were left outside for Spooky.

How about that Flower Walk now? A big White Crocus about to open. The Easy-spread Purple Crocus. And the Winter Aconites, the first of the backyard flowers to bloom. We probably won't be seeing much of them until next year.

The Celandine Poppies are already just about to bloom. That was quick! In the South yard, the Japonica (Japanese Quince) are starting to bud up. And here is that hyacinth getting ready to bloom (pinkish, I believe).

The Squills come on slowly, but their minuscule blooms will surely surprise you! Click on picture 3 a couple of times to see them pouring themselves out of that big maple tree.

Here is something a little different. It's a Psylloid, maybe a Cacopsylla. The creature in picture 3 is a Greenhouse Millipede. Donel Moore found it a bit outside Albion.

Let's see what we found in the way of Spiders. These three are all Common House Spiders. They may vary from beige to black. Some of them even look as if they have a nose in the middle of a face.

There are still a lot of tiny Grammonota Spiders (the one with golden marks in their abdomens).

What is this one with the banded legs? Justin Williams (@jgw_atx in iNat) ID'ed it as an Araneoid Spider. He also ID'ed the second one (two shots of the same Spider) as a Dwarf Spider. This certainly has been "Tiny Spider Week".

Here it is late Sunday afternoon. The sun is warm (finally!) and so I went back for one more pass at the Spiders' favorite sunning-places. And found at least two kinds of Spiders. The first two here are probably of genus Bassaniana. (I am thinking the head segment is somewhat heart-shaped.)

The next two are an unknown (by me) species. And so is number 3 here, unless it's the same as 1 and 2.

Well, now for the pieces of resistance, here's a short section on our beloved fishes. Since it was over 60 F this afternoon, I tossed a tiny taste of fishy-food to the little darlings, only a small reminder of what the real spring will bring. It took some of them a good while to remember what those tiny flakes meant. They definitely did NOT remember the little tune that made them so happy last year. Still, they were happy to come to the top of the water and feel a warm breeze blow over their fins...

One good thing about the trees reflecting themselves in the pond is that the fishes seem to be swimming among the trees. And most people can't tell if a fish is swimming on its tummy or its back, so if you then reflect the whole scene again, here you have the trees in their usual orientation and a bunch of fishes swimming in them.

What a busy week! I've gradually let myself off my tether to go out to lunch, play some music, go to other things with wonderful people. I hear that the second booster shot is out and I must just go around the corner to get one! I'll be there Monday... I hope you all are also getting out more and doing more of the things that make you feel like you!

Love, Martha

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