Sunday, August 16, 2009

Question Mark?

The threat of weather created another very slow weekend. A storm in the Gulf, finally big enough to be named, Claudette is to blame for our gray skies and noisy afternoon thunderstorms. Fortunately, the bulk of the storm is hitting the Panhandle of Florida and is missing Troy. I will also be keeping an eye on Ana and Bill which have formed in the Atlantic and are making their way towards Florida. Generally, I don't worry much about hurricanes. We are far enough inland that we won't have too many problems from a hurricane other than wind and rain. The rain is something that I worry about right now though. Our water level is on the high side of just right and I would like to keep it that way.
On my drive through the park this morning, I spotted a huge group of Quail! There were 25-30 of them. I have never seen more than 6 together in the park so it was really pretty exciting. I tried to get photos of them, but I failed miserably. They are so good at darting through the thick underbrush and hiding. There were 30 birds and all I got was a blurred photo of ONE of them! I enjoyed seeing them though, and hearing them. They sound sort of like a whisper of a Turkey's gobble. During the drive and once I arrived at the office I spent some time playing pick-up-sticks to clean up after the storm yesterday. I also blew off the walkway to the spring first thing this morning. There were so many leaves on the walkway! The rain knocked some down, I'm sure, but after an hour or two there were already leaves on the walkway again. I guess that time of year is coming. On my way up the walkway with the blower, I found a small Green Tree Frog who was very good at avoiding the blower, it climbed the wall! I also found another wall climber who was MUCH larger. The Fishfly is really a neat looking critter, but they are big! It was probably about 4-5 inches long from end to end. The first people in the park, a large group of divers, met me at the top of the walkway just as I was finishing up. They turned out to be the only people in the park until about 11:00. While they were underwater, I made a little more noise and blew off the porch of the cabin.
I went for a drive on the Gator a little later to make sure that there were plenty of honor envelopes at the entrance station. As I passed a small downed tree, I noticed a mother Turkey and several of her young. Because I interrupted them before I saw them, I don't know if they were roosting or about to start flying lessons. I also didn't really have time to get a great photo, but I wasn't going to miss another giant flock of birds today. When I got back to the park, I decided to walk around with the garbage pickers and the bucket. I was glad to see that there really wasn't much garbage. I was able to get all the way around the spring, the picnic area, and the parking lot without having to empty my bucket to make more room. I found more bugs too! I saw several Question Mark Butterflies today on one side of the spring. I was able to photograph more than one of them and I was able to see for sure that it was the Question Mark and not the very similar Comma. I had photographed one once before but I wasn't able to see the defining characteristic on its under-wing. If you look closely on the lower part of its wing, you will see a very small, bright white question mark shape. The next photo is another Question Mark Butterfly with its wings open. The one with its wings closed has wings that are in good shape, they show off the jagged and leaf-like appearance. The one with open wings has been weathered a bit so its harder to make out their unique shape. I felt very lucky to capture the butterfly shots that I did today, but to top it all off, I got another dragonfly! Either the bugs are getting slower or I am getting better.
After lunch, things finally started to pick up a little bit in the park. I occupied myself talking to visitors until my relief arrived later in the afternoon. I chatted with her a bit before I headed out to Adams Tract. A new problem had arisen with the septic tank and I needed to check it out. I was able to temporarily solve the problem, until the professionals arrive. When I was in college, I went on more than one trip to the local (and many other) waste water treatment plants in the area. I really did not think at the time that I would ever again need to know the processes involved. I know even more than I would like to now. On a brighter note, I saw two deer on the drive in to the Tract. They walked into the woods a little, but I was still very close to them with the truck window open to take the picture. They were ready to run if they needed to, but they weren't going to go further than they had to. The last photo is of two Hanging Thieves. They are a type of Robber Fly like the one I saw last week. I read that the Robber Fly I photographed last week is a slow clumsy flier that relies on a sneak attack to catch its prey. The Hanging Thief is much faster and can even catch prey in mid air. This one had caught a mate this time, but I liked how the photo made it look like a blurred mirror image of the first fly.


Anonymous said...

the robber fly photo is just awesome and makes me either want a fly swatter or to get ready for the bug invasion! I can just imagine some funny captions for the photo. (And I love that they are on diamond plate!) They look like fierce fighters.

Miner Fan said...

Trying to remember my password! If you see this I must have got it right.

Ranger Amy said...

I liked the diamond plate in the photo as well, it definately add to their threatening appearance. No need for the fly swatter though, they feed on other insects, not humans.
I guess you found your password, Jen! I see you!

idyllicchick said...

Even without the quail you had a great photo day! The pic of the flies is phenomenal!