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Gifts of April

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The old pear tree that dates from the original farm on our site has horrible rock-hard fruit, but it more than makes up for that shortcoming in April blossoms. The deer and butterflies like the fruits, especially when I mow over them. Brrrrp!

Any time I see a forecast of 80 degrees on April 3, I plan to take a walk. Chet and I set out on the Loop to see what we could see. The first tiger swallowtails drifted overhead--a good omen, though I worry for them, because it's all of 39 degrees and dropping as I write this. April is nothing if not cruel. It's the cruelest month of all. But yesterday, Chet and I were in the moment, basking in her warmth.

Falcate orangetip butterflies fluttered ahead of us, just a foot off the ground as is their wont. I've long since given up trying to get a photograph of a FOTI. They never alight, and I've learned to enjoy the spectral orange on their wingtips as they go by, eating them up with my eyes. Which I kept peeled for the first Henry's elfin, Incisalia henrici. Those are hard to come by, but easy to photograph. A surefire April specialty of Indigo Hill. I adore these little dark bugs. They fetch up on black raspberry twigs to watch for rivals. Their brood plant is redbud, and there's plenty of that around. Gorgeous little things. I'm happy with the way the telephoto blurs out the background for a nice, unicolor backdrop. This could be the cover for Enjoying Elfins More, huh, BOTB?
On this day, I carried my 300 mm. lens, and I was thrilled with its performance. I could shoot butterflies without disturbing them in the least. No creeping up on them with this lens! It's tricky to get it to focus, but when it works, it works really well.

At the overlook, spring was creeping up the valley. How green is my valley! I was eager to see what was blooming farther down on the rich slopes in the Chute. I was not disappointed. Spring beauties and dentaria were going full bore.
Some bee-mimicking flies (dressed for cold weather, I noted) and an honest hymenopteran were vying for space on the dentaria blossoms.
I didn't even see the little flying wasp until I viewed this on the computer screen. I love how the camera captures what's there, whether we see it or not.

Coming back up toward home, a violet smiled shyly from the forest floor. I haven't keyed this one out yet, but it had a round, slightly downy leaf and the most bewitching blue color. I don't think it's Viola sororia. Maybe downy blue violet? If Jim McCormac ever commented on other people's blogs, he could tell me. That was a taunt, in case you missed it.

A chipping sparrow sang to the clear blue sky. This male was giving a slow, melodious trill. The male only a couple dozen yards down the driveway was giving a dry, buzzy, colorless trill. I thought it was interesting that they were countersinging with such different styles.
Chetty was thrilled to be back out in the woods, even if he got a tad hot when he scared up a pack of turkeys and two deer. They had to be pursued.He's back, victorious, sending me pictures of fleeing turkeys.See the splashes of mud on his back? That's the spatter of a high-speed doggie. We're drunk on April.


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