Finally spring

Sort of. I went out in early May and there still weren’t many flowers about, but I found a few cool things. Mostly it was just a relief to be in the warm temperatures and amongst all the life stirring and whirring.

First up – a blue azure butterfly (aka Celastrina ladon ladon) takes in the sun on probably one of its first days out of the leaf litter. Hopefully there are enough flowers open to sustain it through these somewhat harsh spring days. These are the first butterflies to emerge in spring that have not overwintered as adults. Instead they overwinter in the pupa stage. Longer days, warming leaf litter and the flowering of spring ephemerals are all factors in their emergence. This one looks very fresh indeed. They mostly rest with their wings closed and you’ll get a bright flash of pilot light blue when the males are in flight. They fly so erratically they’re hard to track and even harder to see when they land. They’re about the size of a US nickel. I’ve read that many caterpillars in this group of butterflies eat fruit and flowers rather than leaves. Maybe this is the source of the reason they are sometimes tended by ants. Hm. I know ants do that with aphids for the sugary substance they produce, but didn’t know they do the same with these. A little squeeze and the ant gets a sweet snack and the caterpillars get an armed escort wherever they go. Evolutionary cross-species cooperation is so cool.

Little blue – 2 image accidental stack that worked!

Next is some smooth lungwort lichen – I found this bit of it on a branch blooming with algae after recent rains (that’s the green bits on the margins). This variety of lichen is easily identified by the white foliose and brown/reddish apothecia, round spots that contain spores to spread the fungi part of this biosymbiant. It grows on sugar maples mostly. This is a 19 image stack.

Lobaria quercizans

And a tiny seedling about 2cm high. I think it’s a balsam fir, but it probably won’t survive for me to find out. This is a 30-image stack and I love the photobombing sporophyte.

A wee tree to be

Next more lichen – Common greenshield! Hardy and prolific, this lichen is often the first to re-populate areas hit hard by pollution. It’s one of the nicest patches I’ve ever come across and I spent some time in Lightroom with luminosity masking and brushes to really bring up the contour.

Flavoparmelia caperata

Onto some bigger things! Well some of them are bigger anyway. Some are still small, fluffy and adorable.

Goslings!!

Only two, which isn’t a lot for Canada geese, but they weren’t far from where I was walking and even though I don’t usually bother with this species, I will give it a go for babies. I bet they were only about a day old. Look at the little head shake on this one!

Shake!

Dad was close by, but I had to zoom out in order to get everyone in frame and there wasn’t enough detail in the kids to be interesting. So it will have to be mom. It fascinates me that male geese actively raise their young, but male ducks don’t.

Sticking close

A cool situation became clear while I was taking these pictures. A pair of geese without goslings stayed between me and the family. They did that barking thing they do occasionally, always communicating with each other and never taking their eyes off me. No doubt they would have charged me if I decided to wade in. Altruism is a hot topic in evolutionary biology circles and from the little I’ve read about it, I bet you the two guards are related to the parents. Either offspring or siblings most likely. The urge to pass on one’s own genetic material is the strongest, but siblings are a close second.

Guard

And a Red-winged blackbird sitting on some bent and floating reeds on the shoreline. I’d seen a few of them doing this while watching them. Most of the time they light on cattails or trees, but many were on logs and things like this, dipping a beak into the water or chasing bugs. I had to crouch down and position in a break in last year’s shoreline plants that were between us. Luckily it was there!

I get a trill

Check out this snoozy beaver I came across! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a practically fluffy beaver before. This one was sunning on the edge of a little island on the edge of a flowage and was only about 35 feet from me on the path. They don’t see well so I stepped slowly and carefully sideways so I could get clear of some plants in between us. It would rouse from time to time and then put its head back down to loll in the warming sunshine. The light was harsh (it was a different day than the shots above and below), but I did my best. When the wind died down there were reflections and I got lucky with this shot –

Sunbather

And on the way back to the car, this little scene caught my attention. So gently does the snow fall that these faded scenes of summer gone by still stand in the spring. Soon fresh greenery and flowers will replace the old. There is still grace there though. It’s like a fancy floral arrangement.

Therefore grace

This little walk around a flowage was a scouting session for kayaking and if the weather permits, I’m going to hit one or two of the flowages I explored in the next few days. The rack is on the Jeep and my new kayak dolly is in the back. Can’t wait!

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