Nothing to See Here? Ha!

This time of year exposes all the bird nests that were hidden right under our noses last spring and summer.

I think today was the warmest day we’ve had so far this year in our corner of Ohio. My car thermometer said it was 72F late this afternoon. In dire need of fresh air and a dose of Vitamin N (nature), I headed out to one of my favorite places, a Nature Conservancy property called Salamander Flats, where I often study dragonflies and butterflies in the summer. It’s a wetland that was recently restored after having been converted into farmland for many years.

Driving past it, you might think it looks like a huge ‘nothing burger,’ a big flat field of weeds. And especially at this time of year, you might think there’s nothing of interest there. No wildflowers blooming yet, no insects feeding on flowers, just a bunch of ‘dead’ brown plants. To that I say, “Ha!” Let me show you a few things.

First of all, this is my favorite time of year to enjoy the golden brown hues of the acres and acres of little bluestem. Add to that the movement caused by a brisk wind, and you’ve got yourself a lovely symphony of dancing grasses. Here’s a one-minute feast for your senses:

Did you notice a sound that wasn’t wind in that video? Yes, you sure did! Here’s another 30 seconds of zen — the songs of chorus frogs in the pond.

There were the first signs of blooms on the pussy willow:

And mosses starting to show new growth. This is a very common one in the haircap moss family:

A shrieking killdeer drew my attention as it flew over, and I was surprised that I managed to capture a pic with my macro lens. I wasn’t planning to photograph birds today.

Along with red-winged blackbirds and turkey vultures, killdeer are one of the birds that signify spring for me. Killdeer are common shorebirds that lay their eggs on the ground, often on gravel driveways. Here’s a picture of one on the beach at Lake Erie in the summer:

There were lots of teeny tiny wolf spiders crawling all over the ground. I managed a passable pic of this one:

I had a momentary thrill when a bright yellow insect flew up out of the bluestem and continued to fly just above the tops of the grasses as I watched it in my binoculars for about 20 seconds. It looked like a butterfly–it’s crazy early for them here, but I can’t imagine what else it could have been. I texted a friend who knows more about butterflies than I do, and she rushed over to help me try to relocate it. Unfortunately, the wind picked up a great deal and it got pretty cold. We never did find it, but had a good time seeing each other’s faces after a long, lonely winter.

It’s so incredibly rejuvenating to be outdoors without a coat, feeling the wind in my face, and having hope for a more normal year. Spring is best appreciated when you can see it, feel it, hear it, and touch it, all at once. Full immersion, so it gets into your heart and soul.

Longhorn beetle stowaway

And as I write this, spring is in more than my heart and soul — it’s in my house too. Something kept buzzing around my lamp near my head, and I finally caught it. This looks to be one of the longhorn beetles. I would imagine it hitched a ride home with me from Salamander Flats. When I uploaded the photo to iNaturalist, it suggested the Tanbark Borer (Phymatodes testaceus). I’ll have to wait to see if that gets confirmed by the real entomologists on iNat, but it’s a new species for me if that’s right.

Our weather is supposed to turn colder and wetter for a while now, but I’ve got enough of a taste of spring that I’m pretty sure I can make it through to the next warm spell. I hope you’re taking advantage of any chance you get to immerse yourself in the transition to this most amazing season!

7 thoughts on “Nothing to See Here? Ha!”

  1. I have been working in my garden some. Haven’t seen much more than bees at the crocus and an occasional stink bug. UGH… Fun to see bees working over the crocus. There has been a band of male red-winged blackbirds coming to the feeders. 20 at a time. After they get their fill of seeds they go through the duff and glean for bugs. Fun to watch them too. Haven’t seen a female RWBL as yet. At least not in our garden.
    Chorus frogs have been serenading us at our local park where we walk our dog. I think I hear Peepers in with them. Never can I see them. ha…

    1. Oh my gosh, Lisa, I spent 15 minutes scanning the surface of that pond with my binoculars, trying to find the frogs. It often sounds like they’re right in front of you, but they’re so hard to see!

  2. I’m with Daryl, you can leave out the spiders for me. Nice to think about Spring in Ohio, my favourite time of year there. The smells are great too, all the blooming trees and flowers and the rain. The dragonflies have been whooping it up here now that the weather has cooled a tiny bit. We are in Autumn and it’s just so hard to realise you are coming out of winter. Enjoy!

    1. You guys! Spiders deserve more love, LOL.

      It is strange to interact with each other on different sides of the planet as we’re having opposite seasons, isn’t it? Oh, and I’ve never investigated, but in my imagination, the dragonflies of Australia are fantastic. 🙂

  3. Kim-

    I think you are just around the corner from spring and bug heaven, although I really do not like wolf spiders! Just the other day I saw a boat go by my place named”Dragonfly” but I was too late to get a good picture. Just last week I spotted a small dragonfly on my daily bike ride and once again thought of you! Looking forward to a lot of springtime discoveries from you!

    daryl

    1. Yes, so close and yet so far, LOL. This is the hardest time, as we get a little taste of spring but we know winter isn’t finished with us quite yet.

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