Insects at Mud Lake

Hover Fly

After leaving Andrew Haydon Park I went to Mud Lake to see what I could find. It’s getting late in the month, which means fewer warblers and insectivores (the most interesting songbirds in my opinion) are moving through. Still, there were sure to be a few insect-eating species still around, and if anything interesting had shown up, chances are it would be at Mud Lake.

I parked at the end of Rowatt Street again and walked through the open area toward the woods. There weren’t many birds around so I headed directly for the path in the woods. An Ambush Bug sitting in the middle of a white Yarrow blossoms caught my attention, so I stopped to take a few pictures.

Ambush Bug on Yarrow

There was a bit more activity along the Ridge. I saw two phoebes, lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Black-throated Green Warbler, both White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows, and a couple of cardinals. It was warm enough for the snakes to be out, and sure enough when I checked the rocky area where they like to sun themselves I found one curled up in the rocks.

Garter Snake

I left the Ridge and started walking along the water’s edge toward Britannia Point. Two Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers flew into the wooded area; this was probably the latest in the year I’d ever seen this species. When the ground became to soggy to continue walking next to the river, I went back up to the lawn and found this groundhog crossing the road.

Groundhog

A few Autumn Meadowhawks were flying, and I saw one unidentified mosaic darner. Then I saw a Turkey Vulture flying low overhead, as if it were about to land in one of the trees by the lake, so I headed toward the little lookout where I had seen the Dragonhunter back in July. The vulture hadn’t landed as I expected, but I did find a couple of Wood Ducks in the water, a pair of kingfishers across the lake, and even an Osprey flying overhead!

When I turned to leave I noticed a clump of asters growing next to the path, the blossoms all buzzing with insects. The vulture forgotten, I spent the next little while photographing the bugs that had come to feed on the asters. There were a few intriguing wasps which I haven’t yet identified, handsome with their pale yellow faces and long yellow legs. The purple asters and red leaves made a perfect background for these guys:

Wasp sp.

I also noticed a couple of hover flies coming to the asters. I’ve been looking for these small, pretty flies at Hurdman for a while now without any luck – I remember seeing lots of them there last fall – so I was happy to come across these guys. It took a while, but I finally managed to get a couple of shots I was happy with.

Hover Fly

It was time for me to head back to the car, so I turned around and started walking back to the Rowatt Street entrance. I checked the little path across from the parking lot, found an American Wigeon, then continued on my way. While passing some Viper’s Bugloss I noticed something orange on its blue flowers. I thought it might have been a butterfly at first, then realized it was an Ambush Bug! I had never seen an Ambush Bug on this flower before; they seem to prefer white or yellow flowers it can blend in with.

Ambush Bug on Viper’s Bugloss

I didn’t see much on my way through the open scrubby area, but I did think these buckthorn berries were worth photographing. They will become important sources of food for robins and waxwings as the winter sets in.

Buckthorn Berries

I also thought these asters were quite pretty. I’m not sure which species they are. I later noticed in one of my photos that there was an Ambush Bug in these flowers, too!


Asters

Although the seasons are changing and the first half of migration is winding down, I still saw many wonderful species today. The day was cloudy, but mild; it’s sad to think that October is just around the corner with its cooler temperatures and dwindling number of songbirds. It’s been a fabulous September so far, and I’ll hate to see it end.

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