More Birds and Bugs

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) female

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) female

It seems that every day now I am seeing more and more hummingbirds.  I can be working in the garden and hear this little motorboat sound by my ears as their rapidly beating wings are just a few feet away.  At first I thought of them as only occasional visitors but it’s apparent that there are multiples to be found.  They are territorial and I’ve seen a little whorl of hummingbirds as three of them went round in a rapidly moving and rising circle into the sky.  More typically I’ll see them visiting the garden while I’m bird watching in the morning.  Then it’s just a small movement out of the corner of my eye and I’ll turn and see a little visitor like the one pictured above just about five feet away, clearly people watching…

Sometimes I’m completely stumped trying to figure out what bird has come to visit.  That happened a couple of weeks ago and I turned to 10000birds for help.  I emailed my distinctly poor picture to Charlie and got back a response within the day that I had found a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher without its tail.  Well, as it turns out, it was just my picture that excluded the tail and if I had sent the picture that I had of the bird from the rear it would have been easier for him to identify…

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)

I tried to follow up this successful id with a second picture last week of what I think might be a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher but so far no response.  I can imagine they get a lot of requests.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher? (Empidonax flaviventris)

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher? (Empidonax flaviventris)

As you can see he’s been busy chasing bugs.  Apparently the Gnatcatchers and Flycatchers are major assistants to the Swallows that have chief reign over our skies.

When it comes to bugs I saw one last week that was a new discovery for me.  It was crossing the deck and I was not quite certain as to how to react — I know am allergic to hornets and I managed to get a bee sting on my eyelid on the 4th of July weekend (my fault, not the bee’s, he got stuck between my glasses and my eyes) — but I chose my usual course and fetched the camera.

Eyed Click Beetle (Alaus oculatus)

Eyed Click Beetle (Alaus oculatus)

It turns out to be an Eyed Click Beetle.  The rather fearsome eyes are just a camouflage item and despite his fearsome appearance this guy is harmless and actually does a fair amount of good eating bad actors while in the larval stage.  His name comes from a defense mode whereby he compresses and then does an acrobatic spring (with a clicking sound) to scare his enemies.

Another contributor to insect control on the property was found on one of the Shasta Daisies.

Crab Spider (Misumena vatia)

Crab Spider (Misumena vatia)

This guy is also called a Flower Spider.  It hangs out on flowers waiting for choice little edibles to come walking or flying along.

Crab Spider detail

Crab Spider detail

I had this mental image of this crab spider trekking all over our seven acres looking for the perfect white flower to match his camouflage.  However as it turns out these spiders are able to change color to match their environment.  Much more sensible when you think about it.  Imagine if human beings had the same ability…

I’ll close with one more picture at late evening as the sun is setting and the fireflies are twinkling about the yard again — it’s magic time…

Fireflies overlooking the pasture

Fireflies overlooking the pasture