Meet the Slugs – Monkey Slug Caterpillar Moth

Monkey Slug - Limacodidae - Phobetron pithecium (4677) - Horseshoe Bend Natural Area, Texas County, MO
Monkey Slug – Limacodidae – Phobetron pithecium (4677) – Horseshoe Bend Natural Area, Texas County, MO

The final and perhaps most stunning of the slug moth caterpillars that we were able to find this past summer was the Monkey Slug, or “Hag Moth” caterpillar.  This particular one was first noticed by Sarah on the upper side of a dogwood leaf during a visit to Horseshoe Bend Natural Area near Houston MO.  We went on to find two in this particular tree.

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Monkey Slug – Limacodidae – Phobetron pithecium (4677) – Horseshoe Bend Natural Area, Texas County, MO

A leading thought on why these guys look the way they do is to mimic the shed exoskeleton of a tarantula.

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Monkey Slug – Limacodidae – Phobetron pithecium (4677) – Cuivre River State Park, Lincoln County, MO
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It’s Swan Season!

Trumpeter Swans - Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO
Trumpeter Swans – Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

 

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Trumpeter Swans – Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

 

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Trumpeter Swans – Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

 

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Trumpeter Swans – Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, St. Charles County, MO

Wilson’s Snipe on the Confluence Road

Wilson's Snipe - Scolopacidae - Gallinago delicata - Confluence Road, St. Charles Co, MO.
Wilson’s Snipe – Scolopacidae – Gallinago delicata – Confluence Road, St. Charles Co, MO.

With everyone on Facebook posting their great photos of our Thanksgiving Snipe, I thought I would go ahead and process and share before they got lost and forgotten for months.  The photo above is, in my opinion, the most pleasing way of capturing a shore bird.  The back of most shore birds are often their most colorful and patterned side.  I like to try and capture the from behind with their head turned so to see their eye and the length/shape of their bill.

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Wilson’s Snipe – Scolopacidae – Gallinago delicata – Confluence Road, St. Charles Co, MO.

I did not bring a wider lens on this morning, but I wish that I had.  I counted 17 Snipe within a pretty close distance of each other in a section of sweet and soft mud.

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Nares Deep! Wilson’s Snipe – Scolopacidae – Gallinago delicata – Confluence Road, St. Charles Co, MO.

In the image above one can imagine the depth they can get with those lance-like bills as they probe the mud for invertebrates.  Check out the video below to get an idea of how these guys feed.

-OZB

Meet the Slugs – Elegant-tailed Slug Moth Caterpillar

Elegant-tailed Slug Moth - Limacodidae - Packardia elegans (4661)
Elegant-tailed Slug Moth – Limacodidae – Packardia elegans (4661)

I found only a few Elegant-tailed Slugs this year and all were found at Hickory Canyons Natural Area in Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri.  The image below documents the only occasion where I found more than one slug on the same leaf, here a Spiny Oak Slug was found on the same curled leaf as our new Elegant-tailed Slug.

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Spiny Oak and Elegant-tailed Slug Moths – Limacodidae

Birds of the Texas Gulf Coast – Cowbirds

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Bronzed Cowbird – Icteridae – Molothrus  aeneus – Anahuac NWR, TX.

Of course, going to a new region for birding is great for finding those species that you have long-anticipated being able to see.  In the Texas gulf coast region the Roseate Spoonbill, the Tri-colored Heron, the Crested Caracara and quite a few others can be fit into this category.  I have done enough of this type of birding now to get just as excited by the surprises – finding the species I wasn’t expecting, or had not even heard of.  The Bronzed Cowbird was one such species during our trip in May.

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Bronzed Cowbird – Icteridae – Molothrus aeneus – Anahuac NWR, TX.

And the way we got to see this bird for the first time, by performing this hovering display for the ladies, was quite memorable.  He kept this position – not moving his head from the chain-link section seen  here for several seconds.  Check out the bright red iris on these guys.

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Still Performing – Bronzed Cowbird – Icteridae – Molothrus aeneus – Anahuac NWR, TX.

We also saw a few of the more common Brown-headed Cowbirds.  It was nice seeing them in open habitat where they actually belonged and not reeking havoc in the fragmented forests back home.

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Brown-headed Cowbird – Icteridae – Molothrus ater – Anahuac NWR, TX.

-OZB

Pawpaw Sphinx

Pawpaw Sphinx - Sphingidae - Dolba hyloeus (7784) - August G. Beckemeier C.A.
Pawpaw Sphinx – Sphingidae – Dolba hyloeus (7784) – August G. Beckemeier Conservation Area, St. Louis County, MO.

 

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Pawpaw Sphinx – Sphingidae – Dolba hyloeus (7784) – August G. Beckemeier Conservation Area, St. Louis County, MO.

 

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Pawpaw Sphinx (Brown Phase) – Sphingidae – Dolba hyloeus (7784) – St. Francois State Park, MO.

 

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Pawpaw Sphinx – Sphingidae – Dolba hyloeus (7784) – Piney River Narrows Natural Area, Texas County, MO. Parasitized.

Birds of the Texas Gulf Coast – Common Nighthawk

The Nighthawks were abundant and cooperative during our visit to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge.

Common Nighthawk - Caprimulgidae - Chordeiles minor - Anahuac NWR, TX.
Common Nighthawk – Caprimulgidae – Chordeiles minor – Anahuac NWR, TX.

 

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Common Nighthawk – Caprimulgidae – Chordeiles minor – Anahuac NWR, TX.

 

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Common Nighthawk – Caprimulgidae – Chordeiles minor – Anahuac NWR, TX.