I headed out with Daisy and Dukie mid-morning, prepared to stay out for my usual long morning in the field. The sky was hung heavy with dark clouds and a cool, damp breeze blew from the west, which felt wonderful. As we passed through the woods I noticed mushrooms. White ones, brown ones, yellow ones, orange ones, gilled and boletes... lots of mushrooms! They were everywhere, reminding me that I must post my last journal entry from late August that is all about mushrooms, which I'll do soon. Today though, I wanted to get out to the fresh breezes of the pipeline and let the dogs get some exercise, so we continued on.
We passed a patch of purple top tridens (grass) and I grabbed a seed head to pull the seeds off, which I often do, tossing the seeds here and there as I walk. This time though, the seeds weren't ready to fall off, but I did get a handful of the tiniest little insects - smaller than my pinkie fingernail. I first thought, baby grasshoppers, but their skinny black legs were the same width (less than a hair's diameter) all the way from body to foot - none of the muscles you find on a grasshopper. I leaned in to other grass plumes and saw that they were everywhere - 10 - 20 on each. Further down the hill I checked again and found a few more, although not as many as on top of the hill. It was fairly quiet as I walked, except for the soft trill of field crickets. A red bellied woodpecker chirred in the woods, and a lone crow flapped over my head with a single, unenthusiastic caw!
I settled to draw next to a round-leaved thoroughwort. It's such a tidy, well behaved plant, I can imagine transplanting one into my garden. It's cousin, hyssop-leaved thoroughwort, is a different matter. It grows everywhere across all three pipelines, so I imagine it does a better job getting its seeds out and about - not a good candidate for a garden, but a nice home for tiny crab spiders! I picked one branch to draw (both plants are much fuller than these on the page) and ended up bring two size X-small spiders back to my seat. After studying them I set the spiders in the grass away from me.
I drew for an hour or so, until I felt some tiny spits of rain. I packed quickly, and then realized it had stopped spitting rain for the moment, so even though we still headed home, we went the long way. I wanted to look for a third thoroughwort I know grows down by the creek, named boneset. I couldn't find it, but that's ok... the dogs and I all needed the extra exercise.
I returned home with soggy shoes and pants wet to the knee. The dogs slurped the ice water I put down for them (yes, I admit, they are spoiled) and then collapsed on the cool floor for naps.
A few photos from the past few weeks around Middlewood: a tiny mushroom,
a dead butterfly's wing,
a handsome Assassin Bug,
a beautiful mushroom with a beautiful name: Lactarius indigo,
a macro photo of a spider web in the sun,
a Fiery Skipper on thistle,
a Pearly Crescentspot.
NEW PHOTOS: the tiny insects on the grass seed heads... anybody know what they are?
Click on images to enlarge.
Look who I found snacking on a mushroom... yum! yum!