Monday, April 11, 2011

THE DELICATE SIDE OF WILD

Today found Douglas, Shade, Happy and I walking along the lake on the Tellico Hiking trail.









I just completed therapy on my lower back this morning and was cautioned not to put any stress on it for awhile.  That means no canoing.  The wind is very gusty and is creating white caps on the lake making the use of the motor boat less than fun.  The hiking trail was the logical place to visit.  I sincerely believe that walking helps my back and strengthens the muscles around the spine.  It's just a guess.





We set out at a brisk pace with the dogs soon in the lake swimming.  Did I think they wouldn't?  I got it into my head that I would like to find a tick in his natural environment which would be on long plant stems or bushes.  I tore a sheet of paper from my note book and held it under what looked like prime tick habitat and shook the weeds and various plants.  I also inspected the tops and bottoms of different plants to see if I could identify one of the little miscreants lying in wait to jump onto an unsuspecting host.  Many different insects dropped onto the paper but, no ticks.  The imp below is what I'm looking for.  I picked this guy from under my watch band yesterday morning while brushing my teeth.
  I grasped onto a tall weed stalk and prepared to shake it when I noticed the fellow in the shot below.  He was very well camouflaged:

He is almost impossible to see and can't be seen unless one is looking for something in particular and the eyes happen to fall upon him. I hope he eats ticks.





I checked my spider book and can not find anything even close to this spider.  He reminds me of what we used to call "garden spiders" when I was a kid on the farm.  He's a pretty one.  Just received an email indicating that this is a Grass Spider.  Mystery solved.  Thanks Paul.






With Spring come the butterflies and the new green growth of seedlings.   An oak tree starts it's life on the forest floor beneath it's parent.
There ahead, on the path, are Spring Azure butterflies.  They are all resting on a moist piece of soil.  Some, but not all, butterflies seem to be drawn to these wet patches of dirt.  I have tried to find out the reason but can not discover any definitive explanation as yet.
Note the two orange markings on the edge of the wing on the butterfly below.  The previous photos show these markings also but they are much more clear in the bottom photo.
As I was photographing these Azures I noticed another group of butterflies that were black with white spots on wing and abdomen.  As usual I couldn't find a representation in my bug books that came even close to this butterfly.  It resembles what is called a Skipper in size and shape.  There are many variations of Skippers but I could not find this one.  It follows below:  NOTE:  I only now discovered that what I thought were black butterflies with white spots are really a moth.  The scientific name is Thyris Sepuichralis of the Thyrididae family.  The common name is Mournful Thyris.  I discovered the most remarkable site that identifies butterflies and moths.  It is a marvelous way to identify these creatures.  You can even submit photographs of the moth or butterfly and professionals will return your email with a definitive identification.  Your photos will then be posted on the site.  The link is http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Thyris-sepulchralis
These spotted moths were sharing a mud hole with the Azures.  I watched them come and go but could not see them carrying anything away.  I can only assume they are extracting some nutrient from the moist earth.
I came upon a piece of muddy soil that held hundreds of Azures.  As I prepared to take the shot with the camera; a little white dog with brown speckles came running at full speed and planted his feet in the middle of the butterflies creating a burst of butterfly activity.  Happy shows up at the worse times.  It would have been a great shot had I the big camera with the 135mm lens attached.  The butterflies launched vertically around her feet and appeared as dust tossed skyward when impacted by a horses hoofs while running.  I can't get mad at her for wanting to be with me. 

The wind is getting vicious and is driving the water into the shore line with force.  It doesn't bother my two swimming friends.  They have been from the shore to the water with every hundred feet of trail we cover. 




The day swings from bright blue sky to dark overcast and back again in minutes.  Something appears to be brewing.  Shade, Happy and I await Douglas at this really pristine spot.  I notice wild flowers growing back in the woods.




This flower is called fire pink.  It's one of my favorites.  It can be spotted far, far in the darkest forest due to its brilliant color.  It's a happy flower.






Not far from the fire pinks are these beautiful yellow Dwarf cinquefoil .  Thank you Gretchen and Paul.  
We had better get moving.  I want to do this mile and a half loop of this trail before we leave.  I'm feeling my old self returning.
A sudden darkness falls upon the lake and the wind picks up in velocity.  There is absolutely something in the wind today.  It won't happen now as the clouds aren't storm clouds but, I bet we get some weather tonight at some point.
The shadows on the lake are beautiful.  They lend a flavor of impending foul weather.  I love it!
We are almost back to the truck and we have completed the mile and half loop of the trail.  I feel good about that.  Now, if I only had a canoe here.  I'd be demolished into smithereens against the shore by the wind.
The back held together for the hike so I guess the physical therapy I took this morning was a good thing.  It made my lower back sore but, I worked that out with this hike.  I just noticed my lower back is not tired today like it was after the hike yesterday.  Maybe progress is being made.  See you next time.  I have a feeling that the real adventures will resume shortly.  Stay safe....