Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Berry Creek Adventure

 Driving along Chandler road, euphoric about photographing the Red Milkweed Beetle and anticipating a nice hike toward Berry Creek, I decided I'd better check on the status of a large patch of Cow Parsnip that I hadn't checked for a while.  In their prime, the clusters of flowers on this member of the carrot family attract quite a variety of bug activity.  As soon as i got out of the car, I could tell they had pretty much gone to seed, so I drove on.
 With a couple of campers, I headed down the Oakland Camp entrance road toward Berry Creek.  One of the first notable sights was a newly blooming Brewer's Angelica that was playing host to a nice little ecosystem - a "herd" of aphids being tended by a half dozen ants that feed on their excrement.  Click on the photo for a closer view.  There was no apparent damage to the plant, and the busy ants were quite interesting to watch.
 Near the beginning of the dirt road up to the "oasis" where Berry Creek emerges from a culvert under the railroad tracks, we found a larger cluster of Angelica in which was hiding a white phase of the Goldenrod Crab Spider.  At first sighting, this one blended in quite well and it was not eating.  On our return a half hour later, it was eating a tiny black beetle.
 When we approached the pool, we spotted a large Crimson Columbine whose blooms I had photographed several times this past week.  Today it was a seed capsule that caught my eye.
 When we entered the shady of the large White Alders surrounding the pool, the large number of blooming Leopard Lilies were the most dramatic sight.  I took photos from several different angles and noted how all parts of the plant are photogenic in their own ways, although it is hard to take one's eyes off the flowers.

 In the vicinity there was lots of Self-heal blooming, as well as St John's Wort, Mugwort,  and Pennyroyal.  An herbalist's heaven I should think.
 The Pennyroyal was being visited by many Checkerspot Butterflies.  I keep looking for the amazing Red-shouldered Ctenucha moth that likes Pennyroyal, but it seems they haven't yet arrived this season.
 There's a nice patch of Showy Milkweed at this site, and there were some impressive Carpenter Bees visiting, but I've never seen the Red Milkweed Beetle here.  Maybe next year.
 Another blooming Angelica was swarming with tiny black beetles, a few Checkered Clerids, and a couple of Longhorn Beetles.  Click on this photo for an inside look.  Tomorrow's exploring will include looking under things.  I hope to find centipedes, millipedes, termites, and Jerusalem Crickets.

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