The Naturalist’s Notebook | Early September

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

Right now, Gray Catbirds are the most vocal animals. Catbirds are related to mockingbirds, and as you probably guessed, their call mimics the “mew” of the household feline. Mother turkeys can be observed crossing the road with their young. Double-crested Cormorants have been seen flying over Lake Michigan from the observation tower.

Monarch Butterflies and Ailanthus Webworms are the most numerous Lepidoptera (the order of insects that includes butterflies and moths) and are present a variety of locations. Webworms are especially common on a variety of flowers near the lakeshore.

For the last few weeks, snails have been seen on vegetation in front of the building and at various locations along the edge of the parking lot. Snails can be seen eating flower petals and their slimy trails on partially eaten flowers bear witness to their activities. An Ambush Bug that had captured a Honeybee on a Goldenrod flower was also observed in front of the building; these bugs tend to be easily found this time of year, even though they blend in to flowers quite well. Often, the first clue of an Ambush Bug is noticing another insect that isn’t moving (their victim!). 

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) in flight, possibly toward Mexico for the winter.

Many flowers are covered with large numbers of beetles, which is also very common this time of year. We have a variety of taxa (species), and they’re mostly after pollen. Spiders are creating very long tree to tree silk strands – and numerous small spiders were setting up their webbed homes.

A Snapping Turtle was observed extending the tip of its nose up out of the water to breathe at Mystery Lake. Interestingly, this turtle only retracted its head (rather than swimming away) when a large group gathered around to see. 


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