Sunday, June 11, 2006
Don't Forget To Stop And Smell The Buttonbush
Yesterday, at noon, the weather report said the actual temperature was 92 F, but it "feels like 108 F". (How do they know?)
It did feel like one of our hotter days so far, but there was a nice breeze that mitigated some of the oppressiveness. It had been a day of multitasking for me...some blogging in the morning, a mowflex workout, carving a bat to glue on to the bathouse, piddling, taking Emma for her ACT exam, picking tomatoes and peppers...anyway, it was time for a break.
So I walked down to my poor shrinking pond. The catfish and bream are now confined to the center of the pond, in an area not filled in by submerged plants. They were hungry and noisely devoured the food pellets I tossed to them.
It was hot. It was midday. Not a great time for critter pics, but the area around the pond was swarming with insect life...and none of it was the bitey kind. That was nice. The banks of the pond are covered with marsh pinks and some plant that looks like a delicate, kneehigh version of queen anns lace...gotta look that one up. Whatever that little plant is, it was alive with insects.
I wasn't really set up for macro, so I headed into the willow-buttonbush swamp at the south end of my linear pond. Maybe some bird was flitting around in the shade.
In the swamp, I crouched down and tried to call in a bird, but they were too smart to go out in the noon heat. Then I noticed this buttonbush blossom. It was hanging in a shaft of light and was constantly busy with insects. Bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, wasp-looking flies, they all came to this one blossom in the 15 minutes that I crouched there.
Buttonbush is a wetland shrub with beautiful, unusual blossoms that seem to only last for a day. If you get close, they have a nice scent, but it's not a strong scent that grabs you as you walk by. Insects love it and a buttonbush is usually good for a bug shot.
It was pretty fascinating, watching a parade of insects visit and share this blossom. It was pollination central. It was also something, I would have totally missed had the birds I was originally seeking been present. I would have been focused on stalking them and would have not noticed one of many buttonbush blossoms, teeming with life.
After a while, my toes were cramping from kneeling and it was time to go.