Saturday morning, with the temperature on its way to sweltering, I headed for the shady Henson Trail. At the big pond, bullfrogs barely bothered to produce a bark or two. Common whitetail dragonflies zipped and zoomed above the water and invading grass. The trees rang with cicada song, the sound of summer.
No snakes were visible on the creek banks near the bridge. No snapping turtle lurked in the deep pool downstream. The creek flowed in slow silence, awaiting the crash of the next thunderstorm. Damselflies darted and hovered; one landed on the railing near me. Damselflies fold their wings together at rest, unlike dragonflies. This was one of the delicate little bluets; I can’t tell you the species.
Many local nesting birds are done for the year or are feeding their second brood of babies. American goldfinches, though, are just getting started. They wait for thistles to bloom, because they use the thistledown to provide soft linings for their nests. So the goldfinches were quite busy, calling and singing in the open woods near the creek. If you listen to the rhythm of their call notes, they seem to say “Potato chip!” during their scalloped flight. (At our house, goldfinches are also harvesting catnip seeds and soon will be feasting on the seeds of their look-alike flower, black-eyed Susans.)
Alerted by a fellow walker to “two Bambis,” I scanned the meadow and found two spotted fawns lying in the grass near the bluebird box. They were so cute I paused to watch them.
Like a lot of people, I carry two simultaneous and opposing views about white-tailed deer. As individual animals, they’re beautiful, graceful, and a treat to see. As a species, there are way too many for the land’s carrying capacity—and that’s our fault.
So much in the relationship between people and nature is complex, conflicted, and difficult. I’m grateful to simply enjoy a morning’s walk in our small and semi-wild park.
Hi Cecily – lovely report! It captures so well that feeling of the height of summer, where even the animals can’t really be bothered to move too fast in the heat. That damselfly is a Variable Dancer – Argia fumipennis.
Thanks for the correction, Lisa! It didn’t seem to me to have a purple cast to it, but I bow to your expertise. What clues did you use to differentiate between a Dancer and a Bluet?