Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Once Upon a Field Season



This is a blueberry field on April 22. Notice that it is 1) not in bloom and 2) raining.

A different field, on May 4. You may notice that it is still quite grey and, in fact, the day this picture was taken it was also raining. (This will be the ongoing theme of field season.)

The ongoing dismal weather grounded the local turkey vulture population. They liked to hang out in one particular dead tree near this field. You can see them in the above photo, but here is a close-up.

The next day was another rainy one. Since bees don't like the rain very much, I didn't see very many. I did see some other beautiful little things:

A green spider amid the pink blooms, how very Lily Pulitzer.

I think this tiny arachnids is some sort of crab spider. That flower is about 8 mm long.

Back at the field station, I saw this little guy puffing himself up against the cold weather. A few buzzed me at my field sites as well, but I didn't get any photos. Too bad the light was so dull, you can't really see the ruby-red.

Eventually the weather dried out a bit and we had clear skies for a few days. Of course, the Pinelands are a fire-happy ecosystem, so when I looked up and saw this:

I placed a call to the police to find out whether I needed to evacuate my field site. Fortunately it was a controlled burn and was put out quickly. It smelled very nice, actually, since they were burning a patch of pine forest.

Oh! Right! I also saw some bees!

Since it was a very early season, most of the Bombus I saw were queens. You can tell Bombus queens from workers by the fact that the queens are as big as your thumb and sound like helicopters, while the workers are relatively quite small (especially early in the season). This is probably Bombus impatiens. Fun fact: bumblebees are actually as soft as they look.

A number of other native bees appeared at my field sites, although generally not in any great numbers. This is one of my favorite native bees. It's in the genus Colletes and the orange hairs make them look like they're wearing tiny fox-fur jackets. Eventually they get around to sticking their heads into a few flowers, but they don't work constantly like the bumblebees do.

I'll post again soon, but it's been so long that I have to split things up over several entries. In the meantime, click on the photos to see them larger -- they look really good full-screen, thank goodness I learned how to use the macro on the camera before the season started. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Aliza said...

so cool...where were you exactly?