Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nature Notes: Spring Magic

The woods are exploding with life and color. The first green comes from the wild leeks, or ramps, that grow in drifts among the trees. I decided to try cooking some this year, and set out with a basket to harvest a few - keeping an eye out for morel mushrooms, which often grow among them under oaks.

Little did I know how tenacious they are, and that the stems would snap long before the bulbs pulled up. Having nothing to dig with, I came away empty handed.

Ramp Season


I wish I could capture the beauty of the wild flowers carpeting the forest floor right now. They are all so small, and don't show up nearly as well in a photo as they do in real life. Cut-leaved toothwort, spring beauties, trout lilies and violets are all in their full glory now, and the triliums are already in bud.

Cut-Leaved Toothwort

Spring Beauties

Trout Lilly and Friend

I never thought I'd say this about an insect that wasn't a butterfly, but this little critter was my thrill for the day. I actually gasped when I saw it.

I thought at first it was a kind of tiny hummingbird moth, gliding from flower to flower, hovering and drinking from them with that long beak. At one point, several were floating together like a flock, moving as one. It was absolutely magical, like nothing I had ever seen before.

This one settled near my leek basket just long enough for me to snap a photo. A Google search turned up its identity: It's called a bee fly. The bee fly family is very large, but remains one of the most mysterious. Much remains unknown about its life cycle and habits.

Bee Fly

Every time I think there's nothing more to discover in my own backyard, I find something new and wondrous.

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Thyra said...

How wonderful spring is. Beautiful photos as always.

A piece of news said...

That bee fly is a little spooky looking. I've never met one before! The leeks I had in my garden last fall really gave me a run for my money. I had to dig around them to get them out. Maybe you can go back and get some with the right a bobcat. ;)

Daryl said...

WOW .. very interesting .. I am not a liker of bugs of any kind .. I think butterflies dont count as a bug.....just sayin'

And those flowers .. awesome

Carver said...

The flowers are so beautiful. You got some great close-ups. I also have trouble photographing the small ones that carpet the ground as a mass and usually end up doing close-ups. I've never heard of a bee fly. Great shot. It almost looks like a dragon fly with a fat body.

Johnny Nutcase said...

what a great post! I love all the pictures and your enthusiasm ! Wild leeks, yum. I love leeks :) Gorgeous wildflowers and i like your little bee friend, too!

EG Wow said...

Beautiful post! Your forest is very beautiful right now!

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful post and photos, the flowers are gorgeous! the bee-fly is a cool looking bug.

squirrel said...

You have a nice clear photo of the bee fly. They are pretty cool.

ramblingwoods said...

I am so glad you were able to id the bee fly. I would have been thrilled to find it too and you got a great photo Vicki...I was wondering why our woods doesn't have flowers like that, but it is wetland and right now it is wet. I will have to keep checking back to see if anything comes up...Thanks for the inspiration to do that... Michelle