Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nature Notes: Mesa Verde - the small stuff part 2

these were abundant along the trail

as were these

a rock wren (Salpinctes obsoletus)

a wasp, munching on a caterpillar

and two animals I was particularly excited to see: a Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis)
it was basking right on the path, but it fled quickly when we came along, rattling loudly all the time.

and a Velvet Ant (Dasymutilla sp.) - I had heard of them, but never seen them. They are not ants, but solitary wasps. The female is wingless and after mating, she will search for a bumblebee nest to lay her eggs in. They camouflage very effectively as ants and have an extremely painful sting which has earned them the name of cow killer.

Most of the photos in the last two Nature Notes posts were taken during a single two hour walk along the trail ... it pays to take things slow and to keep an eye on the ground. It takes a while to learn to spot animals form the corner of your eye, but once you learned the trick, you'll be amazed at what you see.

Nature Notes is hosted by Michelle at Rambling Woods

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