COLOR IN NATURE............
My report begins with the color of nature at this time of year. Our morning walk in the rain made these colorful natural materials stand out. See if you can identify the ingredients: Jack-O-Lantern mushroom, Beach Pea, Rugosa Rose and Hips, Thistle, Russula Mushroom, Goldenrod, Jewelweed, Black Trumpets, Honeysuckle berries, Lichen, Earth Tongues, Turkey Tails, Chanterelle, Hygrophorus Mushroom, Jelly Club, Coral Fungi, Cortinarius Mushroom and Hemlock Varnish Shelf. To be honest, the colorful fungi came from a mushroom walk the previous day!

Now, we move on to Monarch orange and green. Most of you know the resting stage of this butterfly is green, well camouflaged if formed on a green leaf. No wonder we seldom find them out in the world of nature. This week we found two hanging from Hosta foliage that borders a patch of milkweed. Here it is one of them. We also experienced the emergence of a male butterfly and were able to label it as it begins its southward journey to Mexico. Here are the pictures to document this effort. The male with the small black dots on its hind wings is shown here. The butterfly had not yet flown at this point, but was hanging off a camper's zippered sweat shirt in case you were wondering. Its feet have little hooks on them that it uses for hanging until ready to fly.

To attach a sticky label, one holds the butterfly by the upper wings (held together). The label is pressed firmly, so it sticks to a hind wing over the large open oval. The label does not affect its ability to fly. If it is found, a number to call and report its finding is printed there. Through the use of such labels, the migration routes and final destination have been determined over the years. This research is still going on.

The summer season is winding down, up here in Maine. Some schools have opened, and plans are being made for a few last "hurrahs" before we all get locked into new schedules. I will still be hiking and exploring the world of nature. Yesterday when I walked in the rain, two toads hopped into the dune grass as I headed out to Head Beach. I circled around to check the Lily Pond, but there was no beaver activity there. The nearby turtle egg nest was undisturbed. Campers were mopping up after an overnight rain storm. Some were dodging puddles on their bikes. The air was mosquito-less! The surf pounded on the shoreline, but no one was riding the waves as I walked hunting for colorful things in the natural world while stumbling over a few misplaced bottles and food packages.

So here you have our story of color in the plant and animal world. 8/29/06 Sometimes colorful Ronnie