Monday, July 31, 2017

Caraway eyes and robber flies

It's anniversary time!  I believe this is our fourth anniversary in the South.  One year we went to the coast, and the other years to the mountains in North Carolina.  This year we'd originally planned to go to the coast, but had some unexpected expenses come up last minute that made it seem a little less than prudent.  We then thought we might head to the mountains to hike, but my still-healing ankle made me a little hesitant to try really steep inclines.  We finally settled on a simple day trip to Athens, Georgia, to see the state botanical gardens.

I love that water lilies are always in bloom on our anniversary.

We saw lots of beautiful dragonflies.  These are both in the Erythemis simplicicollis family, with the common name pondhawk.  Isn't that a great name for a dragonfly?

Another great find was this robber fly who'd captured a carpenter bee.

Also called "assassin flies," they can easily catch prey in flight and insert a neurotoxin to subdue it.

Here's a lovely grasshopper!  His striped eyes remind me of stubby caraway seeds.

Finally, we saw some aphids deliriously sucking the fluid from a lily, little legs kicking in pleasure. These guys know how to have a good time!

I was really delighted to spot a lizard that I've never seen in South Carolina:  a five-lined skink. Check out that tail!

Skinks are tiny...only about 8 inches long, and almost half of that is tail.  They can detach these tails if needed, to avoid a predator.  Scientists theorize that this is the reason for the brightly-colored hue of the tail, to direct predators to that end of the body.  The skink can lose the tail with no problem...the head, on the other hand, is indispensable.

I saw my first cotton flowers - so lovely!  I love the clasping leaves and the way the light shines through the petals.

Beautiful light all around.

Their hydrangeas aren't doing much better than ours at this time of year!

Star-shaped seed pods...

---more lovely spirals.

I spotted this bulbous fungus on a juniper fir.  It's apple cedar rust gall.

Left to its own devices, these will sprout pretty cool-looking orange fingers.  They'll dry and then send spores everywhere. It's best to remove these as soon as possible!

After our easy walk around the gardens, we gorged on steak tacos at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, then went to a local nature preserve to hike more.  A stomachful of steak and 95 degree temps do not a pleasant hike make.  We only made it a mile or two before I threw in the towel.  I truly felt like Michael Scott on his Cure For Rabies Fun Run. It was better to be at home - in air conditioning!  I did give Todd one of his anniversary cards a little early (he gets several!).  This was probably influenced by the fact that I've started watching Breaking Bad again.

I love making cards and don't do it nearly enough!

Otherwise, on the homefront, our goz are taking regular practice flights.

All except for - gulp! - a certain flipper-winged goose, who has been ominously absent from the group this week.  Maybe he's got a cozy nest at the other end of the pond...I'll continue to keep an eye out for him.

Have a great week!

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