Last week in Schenley Park I stopped by the Westinghouse Fountain to see swamp milkweed and a photogenic bumblebee.
My cellphone camera was able to capture it in flight!
As I left the fountain a doe crossed W Circuit Road and walked between parked cars to the woods beyond. A fawn soon followed but jumped back in fear before the cars and stopped in the road. Fortunately there was no traffic. It was joined by a second fawn.
The two approached me (I missed that shot) then turned away …
… and were joined by a second doe.
Eventually they all walked between parked cars and caught up with the first doe.
Schenley Park’s numerous deer aren’t afraid of people but they learn to fear cars at a very young age.
p.s. My cellphone can take nice closeups of bumblebees but fails on deer at a distance.
Last week in the city parks I saw a single fruit and signs of fungus.
In Frick I was surprised to find a pawpaw fruit. I don’t usually see any because the grove of pawpaw trees in Schenley is a clonal clump that rarely produces fruit. This lonely pawpaw will ripen in September.
In Schenley Park tar spot fungus (Rhytisma sp.) is forming on Norway maple leaves as it does every summer. In July the spots are yellowish. By fall they’ll turn black like spots of tar.
Though the fungus can infect other maple species, it only touches Norway maples in Schenley. Norway maples are invasive so I don’t feel so bad.
(photos by Kate St. John and one from Wikimedia Commons; click on its caption to see the original)
This week brought lavender flowers, green fruit and an overabundance of frogs.
I found American bellflower (Campanula americana) blooming along the Duck Hollow trail with some plants reaching six feet tall. My close-up, above, shows how the pistils avoid being fertilized by their own pollen.
Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) always has a bad hair day. At Schenley Park a long-legged insect stopped by for a sip (top right of flower).
In July the unripe fruits of white fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus) are green. This fall they’ll turn dark blue.
At Panther Hollow Lake, which is actually the size of a pond, pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) is blooming …
… and there’s a serious overabundance of bullfrogs. Here are just a few examples.
Herons don’t nest at Schenley Park but may visit for some easy prey. Where’s a great blue heron when you need one?
This week I found two bottlebrushes in Schenley Park.
Eastern bottlebrush grass (Elymus hystrix) is a native perennial bunchgrass that grows in partial shade, often at the edge of forests. This one was exactly where we should expect it, glowing in the sun by the Bridle Trail.
Meanwhile the bottlebrush buckeyes (Aesculus parviflora) by Panther Hollow Lake showed off in a last hurrah. They were spectacular from a distance on 9 July but up close the lowest flowers on each spike were faded and brown. Their show is about to end.
There was plenty to see this week in Schenley Park even though the weather was hot.
My best visit was on Thursday morning when my friend Andrea convinced me to come out at 7:30a. I’ve been missing a lot by sitting at my computer until 9am. Best Bird: Louisiana waterthrush! Waterthrushes don’t breed in the park but they stop by in transit before and after breeding.
Best flowers this week include the bright yellow flower (above) near the Westinghouse fountain, a cultivated variety of St. Johnswort (Hypericum).
Teasel (Dipsacus), an invasive alien, has not bloomed yet but the flower buds are visible between the spikes.
Spotted joe pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum), above, has buds in the leaf axils but when it blooms the showy flowers at the top attract all our attention. This year I’ll have to watch for the side flowers as well.
Enchanters nightshade (Circaea canadensis), below, blooms from the bottom up and has plenty of buds yet to open. The lower buds in the photo are on a different branch.
Bugs are quite evident now but they are difficult to photograph because they move(!). Below, this silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus) appeared to be rubbing its abdomen on the bird dropping. Was it ovipositing?
Aphids are not plentiful this year — yet — but it’s only a matter of time. There’s only one winged adult in this photo but the juveniles will grow up, sprout wings, and fly to other Helianthus plants to reproduce. It won’t be long before I think there are too many.
And finally, some bugs are never seen but we know they were there … as this leaf attests.
On 17 June six friends and I gathered at Wolf Creek Narrows to bird watch and botanize.
I was hoping to find ramps (Allium tricoccum) in full bloom but we were too early to see the balls of flowers that become these unusual starburst seed pods. Note that the leaves in the background are a different plant. Ramps don’t have leaves when they bloom.
There are white foam patches on plant stems now in western Pennsylvania that indicate it’s spittlebug season.
Spittlebugs are nymphal froghoppers that suck the juice out of plants and excrete it as a sticky foam to protect themselves from temperature extremes, dessication and predators.
I’ve never seen a spittlebug but I haven’t looked closely. Fortunately Rod Innes’ 2011 video shows what these insects are up to. Way cool!
There are also some coming attractions outdoors.
Mulberries are bearing fruit in western Pennsylvania, attracting birds and smashing on the sidewalk. Read more about them in this vintage article: Mulberries Underfoot.
Schenley Park’s bottlebrush buckeyes are almost ready to bloom as shown below on 11 June. Stop by the park in early July to see the flowers in full glory at two locations: South side of Panther Hollow Lake (left side of lake as seen from Panther Hollow Bridge) and across West Circuit Road from the Westinghouse Fountain.
When bottlebrush buckeyes bloom they look like this.