Monday, June 25, 2012

Always Heed a Kingfisher's Warning -- Natural History of Vacant Lots 3

Today's guest blogger is my very own non-matrimonial spousal equivalent, Patricia Maher.  Pat is a homeopath, astrologer and a closet naturalist.  Pat is an avid birdwatcher, amateur entomologist, and passionate observer of the natural world and the body politic.
Always Heed a Kingfisher’s Warning…. And other cautionary tales
 by Patricia Maher

When Rebecca and I were first looking at land to buy in Akron, Ohio, we considered two pairs of lots – one on E Lods Street (no doubt a corruption of the Polish city of Lodz) and one on N Maple Street. Her relatives had settled in both neighborhoods in the early and middle parts of the 20th century, and we liked the idea of making those roots real. The City of Akron had made lots available to buy on both these streets.  We ultimately chose the N Maple St. site, in part because two kingfishers admonished us severely when we stood on Lods, warning us away. When we looked at the N Maple lots, two kingfishers buzzed us but didn’t comment.  Thanks for clarifying our decision!

Belted Kingfisher
I have learned that kingfishers have a lot to say, and like my mother – who was the crankiest of Virgos – they are usually saying to me something like “Oh for gods sake you had better not …”

The times I’ve ignored a kingfisher’s warning there has been hell to pay, for example, a kayak trip that turned unexpectedly perilous, with bad water, bad weather and a rescue (thankfully not me!).

So the site of our straw bale homes on N Maple St. is a short cul-de-sac that abuts the Erie Canal towpath, a 100-mile wooded walkway along the Cuyahoga River. The closet naturalist in me is thrilled:  I am surrounded by the delightful Babel of birdsong and insect calls, and I get to run around with my butterfly net. (Hmm, perhaps I’m not so in the closet!) It turns out that butterfly nets are rather hard to wield and I am out of practice, having last used one when I was about 9.  

There are kingfishers just down the street, hanging out on the river.  There are at least two pairs of nesting orioles across from my house, outfitted in an almost day-glo orange.  Just last week, I heard an outburst of sudden warning calls from songbirds; I looked up, thinking a raptor was nearby.  Well, it was Chessie, as I like to call Chesapeake, Akron’s own downtown peregrine falcon, as she zoomed past. (Chessie, after all, was the name of my first cat.)  Of course, it could have been McKinley, Chessie’s newest mate since her long time partner Bandit died in February. You gotta love a city that names its resident falcons!

Back to my butterfly net and my ungainly pirouetting across the construction site to catch butterflies.  Today’s catch and release netted a pale yellow Clouded Sulfur, and very manic small black butterfly that might have been a Northern Cloudywing, but I’m not sure since it escaped my net several times before I could get a good look. 

I knew Akron was the place for me when I discovered that there are Sphinx moths here, those beautiful giant daytime moths in art deco designs that fly around flower gardens like hummingbirds, slurping up nectar with their huge proboscises.  God I love them! Just couple of weeks ago I thought I saw one enjoying some water that had collected on the ground from my endless task of washing out earth plaster buckets. The moth was big and black with striking orange markings on its abdomen.  Hmm, not a sphinx moth after all but who was this handsome creature, I wondered? 

Peach Borer Moth
It turned out to be a peach tree borer, a clearwing moth that is considered to be a “wasp mimic.” Its larvae are terribly destructive, and bore into peach trees, unfortunately for our friends across the street who have quite an array of stone fruit trees growing up.

And oh, the wolf spiders!  Really long–legged. They’re everywhere: on the walls of my almost finished house, enjoying the cool plaster, and hanging out in the pile of empty buckets outside.  The homeopath in me has my milk sugar at the ready – I don’t think this is a remedy yet but soon it will be!  

1 comment:

  1. Cool! know so much about stuff I will admit, never noticed, very nice.


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