Swallowtail Caterpillar, 2018

Swallowtail Caterpillar, 2018

My goal is to hone my observations + note-taking over the next few months...

09.01.19 - Bullfrog

Our bullfrogs have by now all fully morphed from tadpole to frog. Our largest, a huge female, is the size of a dessert plate when she is at rest by the edge of the pond. She is the largest frog we’ve ever had…and she is beautiful. I can’t begin to imagine how long she must be outstretched! When I photographed her recently I was quite close; her feet appeared to measure at least 5-inches from ‘heel’ to toe!

09.02.19 - Remaining…

Ms. Ruby-throated Hummingbird is still visiting our feeder and flowers. The Catbirds remain…and so do the monarchs.

09.04.19 - Ninebark

Of the three ninebarks we picked up at the season-end sale at Lowe’s (of all places?!), the two on the patio are in bloom!

09.05.19 - Hummingbird

Spotted hummingbird nectaring at the trumpet vine.

09.07.19 - Carolina Wren

A solitary Carolina wren has been a constant visitor in our backyard, hopping among the beds…visiting the woodland garden and picking spiders from their webs among the rocks in the fire pit.

09.10.19 - Cardinal (Fledgling)

Mrs. Cardinal has been feeding her hungry fledgling on the ground beneath our feeder (black oil sunflower seeds).

09.12.19 - Swallowtails

Our bronze fennel has been covered with swallowtail eggs and caterpillars all month!

09.14.19 - Swallowtail (Caterpillars)

Counted 8 caterpillars on the fennel tonight; early instars all the way up to large caterpillars.

09.15.19 - Monarchs & Milkweed Bugs

The Monarchs appear to be flying south; some stop to nectar but there has been no sign of caterpillar activity and no signs of chrysalises (newly formed or vacated).

Lots of large milkweed bug nymphs on the swamp milkweed in the meadow garden, clustered inside dry/open seed pods.

Also…no recent sightings of Hummingbird.

09.16.19 - New England Asters

The NE Asters we re-located from the side yard to the meadow garden are tall (5’+) and blooming! They look beautiful against the goldenrod - and glow bright purple in the sunshine.

09.18.19 - Dragonfly (Eggs)

A female dragonfly just deposited eggs beneath the rocks surrounding the pond. She was large - maybe 3-4” in length - and dark-colored. I used a dental mirror to try to locate the eggs but could not find any (with my naked eye).

09.20.19 - Catbird (Young)

After thinking they’ve flown for the winter, Michael spotted a catbird visiting the pond this morning. We think he may be the young (former fledgling) hatched in late-summer.

There are lots of sparrows at the feeders. The young cardinal is still being fed by its mother.

09.21.19 - Butterflies

There are bees and butterflies covering the asters. Fritillaries, hairstreaks, skippers, whites, etc. visit the aromatic and blue wood asters all day-long.

On the blue wood aster I discovered a caterpillar that had been parasitized by (most likely) a wasp - it presented with 3-5 white oval eggs on its body.

Monarchs are definitely flying south…not even stopping to nectar.

We found a cutworm on Benjamin’s Violet’s Pride rose - he gleefully removed it & fed it to White Fish.

…hearing a blue jay.

…surprised to still see small frogs appearing around the pond.

…realizing the cicadas are no longer chirping/clicking.

09.22.19 - Berries

Currently berrying…

yew (red), honeysuckle (salmon), bittersweet (red), holly (red), virginia creeper (blue), solomon’s seal (blue), viburnum (pale pink and blue), poke (deep purple)

09.23.19 - Hummingbird!!!

Benjamin spotted Hummingbird this morning! She was visiting the blue cardinal flowers.

The Field Cam

We set up our Mountrie field cam at the pond a couple weeks ago…as a result, we’ve camera-trapped:

a bullfrog coming out at dusk,

house sparrows at dusk/dawn

a few feral cats throughout the overnight

and most notably…a possum!

09.25.19 - Caterpillars

This morning, after I retrieved the memory card from the field cam, I checked on the swallowtail caterpillars that we’d observed on the bronze fennel just the previous evening. The air was very cool (the high 40s) and the dew looked frosty (although it has not officially frosted).

All of the caterpillars appeared adversely affected; in fact, I noticed the largest one (which I spotted over a week ago & assumed it had moved into a chrysalis by now) is in the same position in which I initially discovered it! I fear they’ve (a.) been parasitized in some way, (b.) are afflicted with a fungal infection or something like that or…(c.) simply failed as late-season caterpillars.

09.30.19 - The End of September

Our beautyberry is berrying - bright pink-purple berries! The witch hazel is golden-leaved, but (honestly) not very pretty. Same goes for the Virginia creeper…the deep red is beautiful but the leaves are mottled with black spot. We’ve heard a bullfrog call on more than one occasion this past week…and the huge female is still hanging around her favorite rock.

Last night, around dinnertime, I was surprised to discover a bunny in the grass next to our fire pit! We have not seen a cottontail grazing in our yard in years - ever since we began removing so much sod. I am happy to report he/she is currently grazing out in our meadow garden as I type.

This month I tried recording my observations a bit differently. I jotted down quick notes in my spiral-bound notebook on a rather semi-daily basis and then, later, transcribed them here (without considering additional questions or analyzing observations and such). Once-in-a-while, when I was feeling brave, I attempted to illustrate a note with a sketch or two.

I definitely enjoyed quick note-taking versus the ‘forming well thought-out queries’ version of journaling. But…still haven’t quite worked out all the kinks. We’ll see what happens in October…

Jessica Allen explores the fields and forests of Pennsylvania with her artist-husband, Michael Allen, and their son, Benjamin. She shares her observations through words and pictures of everyday magic and beauty she sees in her world.