Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer is for the Bugs

Many of my previous posts have featured Hornsby Bend as a favorite place to go watch birds.  Hornsby Bend is a biowaste treatment facility with 3 large ponds, and trails along the Lower Colorado River.  Roads around the ponds give you close views of the water fowl who overwinter on the ponds and space to stretch your legs.  During the winter months, the ponds are as crowded as the first day of school with hundreds of feeding ducks, and over 50 different species of birds in and around the ponds and river stream.  However like summer's empty school yards, the ponds are quiet with only a handful of coots and an ocasional turtle head breaking the glassy water surface at this time of year.  It is now that my attention shifts from birds to bugs on our weekly hikes.

Of all the insects at Hornsby Bend, the order that is impossible to ignore are the Dragonflies- Odonata.  I don't know the number of dragonfly species in the Austin area, but there is a large variety to see.  My favorite part about dragonflies is the range of colors, and of course their agile flying stunts; zooming up and down, zig-zagging, loopy-looping, stop and going.  It's no wonder that their eyes are so big; enabling them to see and react in time as they speed everywhere they're going.  Taking pictures of these devils was a little harder than I anticipated, they always land just a foot or two out of the camera's reach, and move just before you get the camera in focus.  I would try to get a few snaps and then run catch up to Jacob and the dogs only to see another dragonfly which needed to be photographed.   I haven't taken a bug net along to catch any insects, but can imagine the extreme variety camouflaged in the shrubbery.  Yes, summer is for the bugs!

Common Whitetail on a tent caterpillar nest

A Common Whitetail trying to land on a Widow Skimmer

A male (pink) and female (orange) Rosette Skimmer
A tiny Amberwing (less than 1 inch long)

Female Easter Pondhawk

Male Pondhawk

Scissor-tailed flycatcher (or dragonfly catcher)

Argiope spider

Are you coming?