Summer Solstice 6-20-16

June 20, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Tonight at 5:34 p.m. CDT is the Summer Solstice which marks the northernmost sun for the year. It is the longest day and shortest night. Here is a bit more on things to notice today:


A new species of damselfly showed up last week on Monday morning. It was an Ebony Jewelwing, striking in its iridescence. It stayed around the pond most of the day, but it hasn't been seen since then. Perhaps it is looking for a mate to bring back. (Rose-colored glasses are on.)


Ebony Jewelwing damselfly 6-13-16Ebony Jewelwing damselfly 6-13-16


Great Spangled Fritillaries have been in the garden nectaring at the Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea).


Great Spangled Fritillary on Echinacea purpurea 6-19-16Great Spangled Fritillary on Echinacea purpurea 6-19-16


We are still seeing both male and female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. They're feeding mainly on insects but will take nectar. While we were weeding one day, we saw a female nectaring at these Indian Pinks (Spigelia marilandica) near the pond.


Indian Pinks (Spigelia marilandica) 5-23-16Indian Pinks (Spigelia marilandica) 5-23-16Margy Terpstra


And almost every morning, a hummingbird visits this vining Leather Flower (Clematis versicolor) that is in a pot on the deck right outside the breakfast room window. I hope to get a photo one of these mornings. It's a lovely plant that climbs to about 8 feet and each flower holds a lot of nectar. 


Leather Flower vine (Clematis versicolor) 6-12-16Leather Flower vine (Clematis versicolor) 6-12-16


With the intense heat the past week and lack of rainfall, we've begun some supplemental watering. I do enjoy weeding right after a good soaking, listening to the birds and staying in the shade by the pond.


The Lizard's Tail (Saururus cernuus) is in full glory right now. 


Lizard's Tail (Saururus cernuus) 6-19-16Lizard's Tail (Saururus cernuus) 6-19-16


And the purple Pickerel Weed (Pontederia cordata) is blooming, too, attracting many bumblebees and the occasional hummingbird.


View of Pickerel Weed (Pontederia cordata) at the pond  6-19-16View of Pickerel Weed (Pontederia cordata) at the pond 6-19-16


There have been a couple mornings when we've gone down to breakfast only to find the young, lame buck laying in the woodland back at the property line. The animal has a favorite spot picked out, perhaps to help him get up. These were taken from different angles on two days, 5-23-16 and 6-10-16.


Three-legged White-tailed Buck 5-23-16Three-legged White-tailed Buck 5-23-16Margy Terpstra Three-legged White-tailed Buck 6-10-16Three-legged White-tailed Buck 6-10-16


We've watched him as he gets up. His front right leg has had an injury since he was a fawn. In a world with natural predators, he would have been easy prey. The buck was caught on the trail cam again a couple nights ago. His pattern of three heavy footprints is easy to spot where the ground is soft.


Three-legged Buck 6-18-16Three-legged Buck 6-18-16


Earlier this month, my friend, Sue and I were invited to attend a workshop on Bird Identification and Conservation Biology out at Shaw Nature Reserve. We jumped at the opportunity and learned so much. In the very first class we discussed a diagnostic difference between Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers that I had not realized before. Usually, I will focus on the head and the bill. The Hairy Woodpecker has a distinctly longer bill in proportion to the head. But, when birds are moving around and maybe atypical in size, well, it can be a tough call. The new diagnostic detail is that Hairy Woodpeckers have clean, white outer tail feathers and Downy Woodpeckers have three black spots or small bars on their white outer tail feathers. Here are the Hairy Woodpeckers with their crisp white outer tail feathers.


2 Male Hairy Woodpeckers 3-14-142 Male Hairy Woodpeckers 3-14-14 2 Male Hairy Woodpeckers 1-8-152 Male Hairy Woodpeckers 1-8-15


And, here are Downy Woodpeckers with their barred outer tail feathers. The first photo is of a juvenile bird that still has a partial red cap on its head.


Juvenile Downy Woodpecker 7/5/05Juvenile Downy Woodpecker 7/5/05 Downy Woodpecker 10-13-13Downy Woodpecker 10-13-13

Not always easy to see, eh? Wow, I felt like a beginning birder again, excited to learn a new detail about a little bird that I see nearly every day! As they say, "The details of life are exquisite."


Happy Longest Day! May you also keep learning the new and wonderful details of life!





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