Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Phenology for 4/17/12: Iris and Terrapin

The system says readers have discovered this site while searching for articles about, and photos of, Bearded Iris. Someone was looking for the scientific name. Good luck--there's more than one scientific name. There are different species of Bearded Iris, with many crossbreeds and varieties. Iris germanica is the American favorite I grew up calling "oldfashioned iris." Iris sibirica and Iris ensata are also very popular garden plants. Wikipedia says there are over 200 different species of cultivated plants called iris, including a few that are scientifically placed in different genera but have an iris-like look. They come in all colors except true red (they can be pink, maroon, or wine-colored), but when things are described as iris-colored they're probably purplish blue.

The Blue Iris at the top of this page looks most like the one that started blooming in my back yard on Saturday:


Gentle Readers, we are pining to offer you fresh, pretty flower, animal, landscape, and other pictures at this site. We would love to become a primary source of digital art reflecting, and preserving, the beauty of southwestern Virginia and northeastern Tennessee. When the active members of this site get together in real life we always talk about things we've seen that we would like to share with you, from gardens, nature parks, craft shows, music festivals, antique shops...what the heck, even antique car shows, which are getting to be a popular tourist attraction. Send $20 to salolianigodagewi@yahoo.com (ask for a postal address if you don't want to use Paypal) and you'll soon be seeing our part of the world through our eyes.

Meanwhile, since I don't have a digital camera, I can only offer links to other people's pictures.

This morning on the way to the computer center I found an intact, unoccupied terrapin shell. The tortoise-shell-colored coat was still attached to the bone; the bowl-shaped top and shield-like bottom piece were still connected to each other. I often meet living terrapins, on the road and in the garden, and often find pieces of the shells of dead ones, but it's rare to find an intact shell in good condition.

Someone else out there was able to snap a good clear picture of the face of a living terrapin (scroll down the page). You have to love the striped effect in its eyes...


I like the mess of cormorants in the bottom picture too. Double-Crested Cormorants, Phalacrocorax auritus, can live on bodies of fresh water. I've not seen them in Gate City, but I see lots of them on the Holston River in Kingsport, and have seen a few strays on the Powell River in Lee County. They tend to overpopulate their habitats and become as messy as seagulls, but the sloppy, enthusiastic way they do everything birds can do, and the permanent silly grins their faces seem to have, have always amused me anyway.

Then on the insect scene, while the first batches of Tiger and Zebra Swallowtails and Silver-Spotted Skippers are still flying, the most conspicuous insects are probably the Eastern Tent Caterpillars, Malacosoma americana. Here's a safe-looking, academic-type site with a good clear picture of both caterpillar and moth: