Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mosquito Food

It was a pretty quiet Sunday, it must have been a good football weekend. People came into the park as soon as I opened the gate, but only a few. The same 15-20 people in the park by 10:00 am were the only people I saw all day. They were all great people and I was able to spend quite a bit of time with all of them. I also spent some time working on my bird ID skills while standing in the woods, feeding mosquitoes. It was a good day, aside from the itchiness that I am suffering from now.
After opening the park and the visitor center and greeting the first divers, I took a walk around the park. On the walkway to the spring, I found a plump and squishy Persimmon that had fallen. I picked it up to toss it into the woods so that it did not get smooshed into a big mess on the walkway. I also noticed a critter hiding under the Persimmon. First things first, I photographed the Persimmon before I tossed it and then went on to inspect the critter that I had uncovered.
The critter was certainly spider-like, but not quite a spider. This is a Harvestman. I'm sure that you have encountered a Harvestman before. A Daddylonglegs is a Harvestman as well. They are Arachnids, but are more closely related to mites than spiders. Spiders have two body segments and a Harvestman has just one. This critter does not have the ability to make silk or spin a web. It is an opportunity feeder that will eat just about anything that it happens across, maybe it was even munching on the Persimmon.
When I was back at the top of the walkway, I checked in a couple more divers and took a moment to enjoy the sky. I think it looked like a watercolor painting.
Next, I headed down to the river. I walked all the way down to the water and found a few pieces of garbage to pick up. I also checked out our new signs. I asked my co-worker to hang them last week and today was the first time I had seen them. He did a great job. Overall, we try to keep the number of signs in the park to a minimum. People come to the park to see natural resources, not signs. We have so much trouble with people who want to fish in the swim area, especially when the water is high. We also have trouble with boaters who bring their dogs to swim with them. Most people are understanding and are happy to comply with the rules when I talk to them, others challenge me with "Well there ain't no siiiign." For those who do not think that a personal invitation from the Park Ranger is enough, here's your sign!
On the way back up, I passed by the iron ranger where people drop their payment envelopes if the enter from the river. A very cautious Anole was waiting for me to move along so that he could come out to soak up the sun.
The rest of the day was spent wandering the park, taking care of visitors, doing paperwork, and even a little birdwatching. One park visitor had come towards the office to ask a question. I met him halfway, answered his question, and walked with him towards the picnic area. We heard a woodpecker and he was interested in where it was coming from. We both stood there for a while, looking up and shifting ourselves around to check all sides of each tree. When we didn't find it, I showed him that you can feel the trees to find the one that the woodpecker is on. We found the tree and watched a little more. He thought that he saw something at one knot, high in the tree. We watched the spot and finally, a tiny beak became a black head with a red crown, and finally a giant Pileated Woodpecker emerged from the hole and flew away. I was watching the trees after that and spotted a few other woodpeckers. I think I need a better camera before I can be a better birder. I can't zoom far enough with my current camera to catch most birds, and I usually have a chance to identify things only when I'm looking at my photos later. I am working on my birding skills though.
The day wouldn't be complete without insects and flowers. Here is what I found while roaming the park.
This is a pretty little Skipper. I love the unique arrangement of their wings.
I don't have a name for these lovely little flowers, but they were a good find today. They were so tiny and all alone in a huge mass of green leafiness. I didn't even see the purple color inside until I got close to take the photo.
This butterfly is a Pearl Crescent. I see these tiny butterflies everyday and I have gotten photos of them a few times. They usually perch with their wings spread. I was amazed that it was holding its wings closed long enough for me to take a picture and it was only when I got home and looked at my photos that I realized it was laying its eggs!
This giant grasshopper had a beauty of its own as it glistened in the sun.

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