Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Preface to a Tollgate Creek Adventure

 On the announcements board, I posted a photo of a Goldenrod Crab Spider devouring a Checkspot Butterfly and a brief description of the Tollgate Creek Trail.  A certain enthusiasm was building, and I began to worry that maybe I was expected to produce a repeat of this scene.  But first, we had to check out a rumor of a very large beetle in one of the ladies' restrooms.  From the descriptions I was given, I figured it must have been a member of the family of longhorn beetles, Cerambycidae.  When the coast was clear, our little group went in and explored the restroom.  Didn't find the beetle, but we did find a great variety of beautiful moths. See the following several photos.

Before I gathered my guests for the hike, I went to the veranda of the main building to check on the progress of a wasp nest that I've been following for a couple of weeks. As you can see in the above photo, someone removed the nest.  The attachment points for two such nests are still visible in the photo if you click on it for a close-up.

 After our restroom visit, we crossed the railroad track to begin our Tollgate Creek hike.  One of the hikers noticed this beautiful paper wasp nest hanging from the eave of a metal building containing railroad communications equipment.  I hope that one is allowed to last the season so future hikers can see it.  It will probably get quite large.  I've seen ones bigger than a basketball.
 During a heat wave such as we are experiencing, the whole landscape seems to be turning gray and brown.  We're always on alert for spotting colorful things - the few remaining flowers in bloom, rose hops, apple galls on willow leaves, and so on.  So, I'm including here one such source of color for inspiration, a trio of ripe Gooseberries.

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