August 1, 2013

Grasshoppers … pistachio green grasshoppers, vanilla striped. It is a month of insects, and we see new ones every year no matter how many years are spent on The River, some we only ever see once, some are greeted like old friends when they return, some of course bring an “Eww! not them again … forgot how much I can’t stand those things. When is it they leave?” On the Sphaeralcea mallows have appeared in their annual¬†clockwork way pillbug-sized and -shaped larvae of something, in masses on the stems and leaf nodes–black or dark brown in body, covered in what look like should be nasty stinging hairs. They’ll be around for some weeks, grow a lot larger and be everywhere and then suddenly disappear. Tom O. finds out that they are the young stage of that very beautiful golden bug I’d last seen a couple weeks ago, whose intricate patterns gave me to dub it the Tao Bug. Their scientific name has a beauty equaling their colors and patterns, and is a very apt one: Calligrapha serpentina.

A Gray Hawk comes bursting out of the mesquite branches and woods edge, with many tail feathers missing and the rest of the bird looking pretty ragged, too. Earlier that was its sad, pained wail I heard, as if it were pleading, “Can no one stop this??” … two insanely angry kingbirds burst from those branches now behind him, dive on him, shriek out in this hawk drive of theirs, delighting in their work and the opportunity this presents for them to show off their aeronautics