Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Ditch is Back!

Roadside Rainlilies--The Ditch is Back
Well, actually, the ditch never left, but I can't resist a good pun or title. But it feels like it's back again after a long winter. Yesterday, my photo buddy Maralee and I decided that it was high time that we checked out the ditch and we took a drive over to the other end of the county. And wow, was it worth it! The weather is warming up now and there's been a lot of rain so the ditch was literally hopping. Driving toward the ditch we could see Rain Lilies and Purple Thistle dotting the roadside and we knew this was going to be a great day. When we got out to look around, there were Worts everywhere-- Orange Milkwort and Spiderwort, tiny yellow Zigzag Bladderworts and Blue Butterworts.
Rain Lily (Zephyranthes atamasca)

Purple Thistle and all its Horrible Thorns! (Cirsium horridulum)

Zigzag Bladderwort (Utricularia subulata)

Blue Butterwort (Pinguicula caerulea)

Long Leaf Violet and Spider (Viola lanceolata)

Little spiders scurried around at our feet and tiny baby grasshoppers flew out when we stirred up the grass. There were Hatpins and Sundew and White Violets galore, and a couple of new flowers that we hadn't seen--we have some research to do to identify them. Maybe you can help! Continuing along, we found tiny white Duck Potatoes, a cluster of St. John's Wort and a huge bed of pretty Blue Butterworts. I was hunched over concentrating on getting a good closeup of one when Maralee called out "Snake"! I hurried over and was in time to catch sight of a gorgeous Coral Snake sliding through the grass. It was too fast for us to get a clear photo, but we were both pretty pleased about seeing the Coral Snake. Great day!
Funnel Web Spider

Duck Potato and Crab Spider (Sagittaria latifolia)

Big Bed of Butterworts

Can you See the Coral Snake in the Grass? Red on Yellow...
We found a cluster of old dried Hooded Pitcher Plants and another cluster with new flower buds about to open. Just about that time we realized that the tiny flitting butterflies that we were seeing all over were Little Metalmarks! I have so many photos of Little Metalmarks, but they are so pretty that I always have to take more. They were a bit darker than the ones we had seen in the fall and they looked fresh and gorgeous. They seemed to be particularly fond of the Fleabane and the Orange Milkwort.
Hooded Pitcher Plant Flower Buds (Sarracenia minor)

Little Metalmark Butterfly on Fleabane

We heard lots of White Eyed Vireos calling from the woods, saw Vultures circling over and watched bees and wasps and flies furiously feeding on the flowers. Little frogs croaked from the grass and tree frogs clacked from the trees because storm clouds were moving in. Swallowtail, Crescent and Skipper butterflies made brief cameos. There were a few annoying mosquitoes and gnats. This wet weather portends of a buggy summer, unfortunately. But the Sundews will have plenty to feed on!
Phaon Crescent on Fleabane

Dwarf Sundews and their Nutrients (Drosera brevifolia)

Closer to the ground were the Dewberries and Blue Eyed Grass, while the False Garlic and Coreopsis danced over their heads. We both agreed that this was just the beginning of a long season of regular visits to our favorite ditch. We'll be back.

False Garlic (Nothoscordum bivalve)

Mystery Flower--Let me know if you can ID it!

ps--I have learned that this is a Pineland Daisy (Chaptalia tomentosa).

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