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Old Jun 8, 2013, 8:52 PM   #1
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Default Mostly Rocky Fork

Have had the opportunity to spend much time at Tennessee's newest wilderness area lately, enjoying the lush green start to summertime. Here are some random scenes, flowers, and critters, mostly from Rocky Fork.

Since my last thread was about the "queen" of the lady's slippers, let's get a look at the emperor - the Hackberry Emperor butterfly. These rather small butterflies only perch briefly, but are bold enough to perch on us, as well as on more "typical" plant perches. Their caterpillars feast on Hackberry tree leaves.
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Old Jun 8, 2013, 8:55 PM   #2
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Summer's warmth and this year's abundant moisture means plenty of dragonflies. Here are a few views of a common, showy species - the 12 Spotted Skimmer. Very easy to approach, and keep returning to the same perch, so easy to photograph as well. Any preference among these different poses?
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Old Jun 8, 2013, 8:58 PM   #3
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Speaking of abundant moisture, here's one dragonfly species that's glad for the wet conditions. It's called a Swamp Darner, and does indeed thrive in swampy places. This one was a new record for our county. Even though it's a big and rather colorful "bug," it's often overlooked because it stays in the shade, and thrives where there are plenty of mosquitoes!
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Old Jun 8, 2013, 9:01 PM   #4
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Rocky Fork is a great habitat for Swallowtail butterflies too - plenty of their favorite foods, plenty of sunny openings, and plenty of mineral-rich puddles. Here's a "flock" of Tiger Swallowtails puddling, and one rather faded Pipevine Swallowtail enjoying my sweaty hand!
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Old Jun 8, 2013, 9:02 PM   #5
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With at least 5 species of Milkweeds, Rocky Fork is also a haven for Monarch butterflies. Here's a just-hatched Monarch caterpillar, surrounded by its favorite dinner - milkweed leaf.
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Old Jun 8, 2013, 9:04 PM   #6
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Young Black Rat Snakes are hatching in good numbers. They sure look different from the adults!
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Old Jun 8, 2013, 9:07 PM   #7
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How about some flowers? Here's a plant with an odd name - Daisy Fleabane. You can see where the "daisy" part comes in - they do look a lot like small daisies. But why "fleabane?" These plants were once thought to work to repel fleas! Apparently they do NOT repel our small native bees...
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Old Jun 8, 2013, 9:09 PM   #8
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Yellow Wood Sorrel is a common "weed" in many lawns. Children call them "sour grass" or "sour clover," and enjoy nibbling the sour leaves. Here are two of its less common cousins - the purple wood sorrel (lower elevations) and the mountain sorrel (higher elevations). Can you see the family resemblance?
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Old Jun 8, 2013, 9:11 PM   #9
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Down in the lower elevations, the Crossvines, Fire Pinks, and Tulip Poplars are pretty much past blooming. But many early-season blooms persist up in the higher, cooler places.
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Old Jun 8, 2013, 9:13 PM   #10
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And the Pink Lady's Slippers are still blooming here and there...
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