A Walk in the Arboretum

I took photos of a wealth of natural life at the Arnold Arboretum yesterday. Among the birds, dragonflies, frogs, and plants, only one of the subjects was accessioned: Wilson’s spiraea (Spiraea wilsonii).

Wilson's spiraea flowers
Wilson’s spiraea

Quite a few wildflowers were in bloom. Both white clover (Trifolium repens) and red clover (Trifolium pratense) are in the legume family. A close look at the flowers reveals the common pea-flower shape. Both plants are native to Europe and nearby lands.

White clover flower
White clover
Red clover flower
Red clover

Also native to Europe, the ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is in flower.

Ox-eye daisy flower
Ox-eye daisy

Our fourth plant — surprise! — is also native to Europe. This one is highly invasive, however. Black swallow-wort (Cynanchum louiseae) is a vine with opposite leaves and small, dark flowers.

Black swallow-wort buds and flowers
Black swallow-wort

The Virginia strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) is a native plant, beneficial to local wildlife. Another plus: edible fruit!

Common strawberry flowers and leaf
Common strawberry

I saw this eastern chipmunk between some magnolia trees and a stream. Chipmunk must be synonymous with cute.

Eastern chipmunk
Eastern chipmunk

I found a white-breasted nuthatch upside down on a white pine branch.

White-breasted nuthatch clinging upside down to a branch
White-breasted nuthatch

A flock of cedar waxwings was picking the fruit off a Sargent cherry (Prunus sargentii) tree. I observed an odd behavior: one waxwing handed a cherry to another waxwing, who handed it back. This went on for a little while until one of the waxwings swallowed it.

Cedar waxwings
Cedar waxwings

Apparently this is courtship behavior and the birds are of opposite sexes. I managed to get a shaky video of one of the exchanges.

I found bullfrogs in two of the ponds near the Rose Garden.

American bullfrog in shallow, muddy water
American bullfrog

I was able to get a photo of one of the butterflies I saw. The common ringlet feeds on grasses. No coincidence, then, that I found it in a grassy area.

Common ringlet butterfly resting in grass
Common ringlet butterfly

I turned to bugguide to get identifications on two of the more obscure insects I saw. I found the first, a sawfly, on a plant under a honey locust tree.

Sawfly, a black insect with red thorax

The second was identified as a satellite fly, most of whom are kleptoparasites, meaning that they steal food from other insects. Satellite flies apparently steal from bees and wasps. If it were up to me, I would name it the bristle-butt fly.

Satellite fly with bristles on its behind
Satellite fly

Some of the most beautiful creatures I saw today were dragonflies and damselflies. I saw a common whitetail dragonfly resting on a branch and another resting on the sidewalk.

Common whitetail dragonfly with large, white abdomen
Common whitetail dragonfly

A female common pondhawk and a male twelve-spotted skimmer were both resting near one of the ponds.

Female common pondhawk dragonfly
Female common pondhawk dragonfly
Male twelve-spotted skimmer dragonfly
Male twelve-spotted skimmer dragonfly

Compared to the dragonflies, the eastern forktail damselflies were tiny and plentiful. I found both a male and an older female (females turn from orange to blue-gray as they age) near the ponds.

Male eastern forktail damselfly
Male eastern forktail damselfly
Female eastern forktail damselfy
Female eastern forktail damselfy
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