Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day 2008

Happy Father's Day to my dad and all the other dads out there! This Father's Day was a perfect, almost-summer day for us here in SE Minnesota. Most of my day was spent outside and in the backyard, the baby robins are fledging. Here's a little one that made it as far as Mr. Johnson's trailer. I love its little downy feather "halo."
As has become our family tradition, Father's Day was celebrated at Forestville State Park near where my parents live in Fillmore County. We didn't know whether we'd be able to have our celebration here this year as there was lots of flooding in the park during this past week. However, the floodwaters have receded and things were looking pretty good. Here's a picture of my brother Dave walking over to look at the river (just past him you can see the far riverbank and a little bit of the river).You can see how the vegetation has been pushed almost flat by the force of the water. As near as we could tell, the water was probably at least 8-10 feet above the normal water level and we could see that there had been probably 2 feet of water in the picnic shelter (which is about 50 yards away from the river).

However, there were still lots of beautiful sights to enjoy and I was able to take plenty of pictures to share with you.

Last year at this picnic shelter, we found a phoebe nest right near the entrance. It was the first thing I looked for again this year and sure enough, she had a nest in almost the same location.It was pretty high, but thanks to my sissy's sturdy cooler, I was able to reach inside and count 5 little eggs.

Here's Mrs. Phoebe perched on the light near her nest.
And Mrs. Phoebe on the nest incubating her eggs. She was very quiet and didn't seem at all alarmed by our presence. I hope she's able to raise her little family without incident.

On the outside of the picnic shelter (right up under the eaves), I found this little brown bat taking a nap. I know a lot of people don't like bats, but isn't this just the cutest little face?

There were so many butterflies out today. I got to see my first Red Spotted Purple! What a gorgeous butterfly! Its colors were so brilliant, I wondered if it was newly hatched from the cocoon.
There were also some Giant Swallowtails flying around. Brother Dave had to tell me what this butterfly was and I managed to "almost" get a decent picture. I can see I still have lots of work to do on my butterfly ID skills.
The Solomon's Seal were blooming all over along one of the trails we explored.
We spotted this sweet little female American Redstart on the old bridge leading to the historic buildings at this park.She wasn't fearful of humans at all and appeared to be concentrating on trying to collect spider webs and little bits of flood debris still hanging on the bridge. Does anyone know if Redstarts use spiderwebs as part of their nests?

Along one of the trails near the river, we also spotted this Ebony Jewelwing (watching me watch her). The white spots in the wing indicate she's a female.
Here's a beautiful little beetle we saw on the sidewalk to the picnic shelter.It looks like the Six-Spotted Tiger Beetle in my Kaufman insect field guide, but I can't see any spots. I think Brother Dave told me the name of this beetle, but as usual, I forgot.

So those are the highlights of my day and once again, I've run out of day before I got everything done. It's going to be a long and busy week at work and I've got to get this post finished up soon and get to bed. Hope you all have a great week and get a chance to enjoy some nature in your backyard and beyond.


Deb said...

Great post, Ruthie! I have a phoebe nesting in the eaves of my house. And, yes the bat is cute, but if I caught it flying around in my house, I would whonk it with a tennis racket! I just do not get along with bats indoors.

Trixie said...

I *DO* love that bat face! I think bats are pretty cool. I like how they and swallows act so much alike.

Happy Father's Day to the family. I'm glad you had a lovely day with your family.

LauraHinNJ said...

That ebony jewelwing is a gorgeous dragonfly!

Sounds like a happy day.

Jayne said...

Wow, what a great day Ruthie! Love seeing that sweet Phoebe nesting. :c)

Mary said...

Beautiful birds (a quiet Phoebe? Are you sure?), beautiful butterflies, dragonflies, and beetles. Love that little emerald green beetle :o)

Have a great week, Ruthie. If you're busy, the time will fly by.


Windyridge said...

Fantastic pics especially the bat. Great job!

Marsha said...

What a beautiful place to celebrate Father's Day and thank you for sharing it with us! I have never seen a phoebe nest and the blue butterfly is gorgeous. Is this the park with Mystery Cave? We were there once when the kids were younger and the bats were everywhere inside the cave. They are only cute in someone else's photos :-)

Anonymous said...

Nice natuare pics from yesterday. Enjoyed seeing that little bat. It seems we have a lot of bats flying around what with the abandoned farm across from us. I think they are in all the buildings, but we see them at dusk on the hunt, it is so cool.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Deb,
I remember you showing Lynne and me the phoebe nest. I'm glad she stuck around after you got your windows in.
I've been fortunate to never have a bat in my house--there haven't ever been very many in my yard.

Thanks Trixie. I spotted this bat because it was flying around (in the daytime!) I couldn't figure out what that "brown colored bird" was so when I looked to see where it had flown, I discovered it was a bat.

Hi Laura,
When I looked it up in the field guide, I though "jewelwing" for a perfect name for this lovely insect.

Thank you Jayne. I'll have to check back down there in a couple weeks to see if I can get some pictures of baby Phoebes!

Thanks Mary! I found the trick to help catch up (a little) on comments: eat lunch at my desk while reading blogs!

Thanks Windyridge. I've never seen a sleeping bat that close.

Hi Marsha,
Mystery Cave is now part of Forestville State Park. We were in the "historic" Forestville section. (The Mystery Cave part is closed for a while because the bridge washed out last week). There are quite a few bats living in the historic buildings in this part of Forestville also.

Thanks Mom--glad you enjoyed the pics since you couldn't come along on our walk. Some evening you should go over to Lorne's farm and see if you can find which buildings the bats are coming out of.....

Ruth said...

Beautiful pictures of so many different things (I am not counting the bat ;-))I wondered how you were doing with all the flooding in the mid west.

Lynne said...

Hi Ruthie-
We camped with Art's brother and his family a few years ago at Forestville State Park. We toured the caves (YUCK! I hate caves!) The historic part was so much fun! There were folks in period dress, musicians, farm animals and story tellers. While we were doing the sing-along, the sky turned green and the wind tried to blow everything away. We ran to the shower building in time to hear that tornados were hopping up and down all over the place around that area. A little scary, but my kids and their cousins still talk about that trip as being one of the best we've ever taken together. Have a good week.

Mel said...

The beetle looks amazing!!!

Meggie said...

Looks like your family had a good Father's Day, Ruthie. Great shots! As usual, I've learned quite a few things from your post. Thanks!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What wonderful bits of nature you had to share with your father on his day. Great photos, thank you for sharing with us.

mon@rch said...

Looks like the most stunning day!

Anonymous said...

The bridge at Mystery Cave was not washed out. However, it did act as a dam for a huge pile of trees, limbs, and other assorted flotsam. The approach on the west side of the bridge was pretty rough and had been seriously washed by the river. We went there after we left the park on Sunday. The cave was open for tours and there were a few cars down there. I went into the gift shop and browsed for a couple minutes. Lovely day!!
Your sissy