Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Beautiful Breezy Sunday Ride, with Pictures and the Three Great Things

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Cornfields looking as if they'd been combed
Sandhill cranes walking in stately file
Swallowtails dancing on thistle bloom

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We had pouring rain this morning (yes! Another few days of not having to water my plants!), which cleared to a beautiful blue-and-white-and-green-and-gold day. Temperatures were in the mid-80s, and a lovely dry wind was blowing from the northwest.  A good afternoon for a ride.

The fields and ditches are taking on that summer-on-the-wane look. The pink and lavender wildflowers are nearly gone. There are still plenty of Queen Anne's Lace blooming, and a good sprinkling of orange daylilies, but these yellow flowers (Heliopsis I think) are definitely predominating.

There are telltale signs of autumn's imminence. Dry stalks, glimpses of turning leaves...

...and goldenrod. (Sigh. I'm not ready for summer to be over.)

I saw birds galore today. Sandhill cranes everywhere, including these three (and two more behind them) stalking solemnly through the grass:

And, perched in a treetop and no doubt looking for a teatime snack, this unidentified raptor:

I Googled "Wisconsin hawks" and "falcons" for all I was worth but couldn't find a match. Anybody out there have a name for this bird?

Down the road, my favourite giant clover field. That smudgy blur in the middle of the picture is a wild asparagus gone frothy.

A few hundred yards on, and a shadow fell over the field. Looking over my shoulder, I saw this very Cecil B. DeMille-ian cloud looming up behind me, dark around the edges but gilded by the sun in the middle. It soon passed overhead.

Here are the cornfields looking as if they'd been combed:

And some of the tallest, best-groomed soybeans I've ever seen. Such a lush green. Soon they'll start turning yellow too.

Another cornfield, much more accessible from the road. I like the tunnels between the rows.

Bug's eye view.

A lovely old barn foundation.

And further on, someone is trimming the verge.

I passed some giant thistles, at least 6 feet tall, covered with thistledown and goldfinches. (I wish that just once I could get a shot of goldfinches, but the little guys are too fast for me.)

Giant power lines buzzing overhead. Where is all that power going? Someone's life support machine, perhaps. A fan cooling a hot room. A freezer full of green beans. A computer on which a great novel is being written.

Around a few corners, I see the moon cradled in aspen leaves.

And a few miles further on, something earthier. Round hay bales all wrapped up in plastic...

...and Steerforth the steer eating a lonely supper. (At least I think it's a steer. I can never quite tell.)

A flag in someone's front yard. Long may she wave, though the stormclouds gather and credit ratings be downgraded!

More clouds piling up in the east. The small dark spots in the stubble field are sandhill cranes.

And just down the road, a glorious long stretch of thistles simply jammed with goldfinches and swallowtail butterflies. Of course the goldfinches got away, but the butterflies weren't so shy.

Grass seed head shining red in the westering sun.

And a final bucolic scene before I put away the camera.

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  1. That looks like a Swainsons Hawk, here:'s%20hawk.jpg

    Summer's not yet fully bloomed here yet. Feels like it's been a slow year. Our corn is only half that height!! I love the pictures you post, always the most beautiful little snippets:)

  2. Your fields look enormous! I like the butterfly, what kind is it?

  3. I'm not ready for summer to be over - it never really arrived here!

    Pomona x

  4. Such expanse! I am very unready for Autumn but it certainly is creeping up fast, here too. I did enjoy the Wild Asparagus picture. Thank you for taking the time to post all the pictures, you certainly live in a beautiful area.

  5. Thanks all!

    Claire -I think you're right. According to Wikipedia, this hawk isn't at all common in my neck of the woods (South Central Wisconsin) so I feel very lucky to have gotten this photo. Thanks for the ID!

  6. I thought it looked a bit like a red-tailed, but when I looked it up, it does look more like a Swainson's. How wonderful to be able to see (and presumably hear) the sandhills during the summer! We get them in March, but we've got to drive about four hours to see them. One of my favorite outings each winter!

  7. I agree that it looks like a Swainson's Hawk. Though according to my 1982 edition of the Reader's Digest North American Wildlife it only shows that this hawk is indiginous to the east in the Dakotas or possibly Minnesota (it's a very small map without borders drawn). "A western species common on the Great Plains..."

    -Your Niece in WNY

  8. Thanks niece! The Wikipedia article does say it breeds in the Midwest, "rarely in southwestern Wisconsin" or something to that effect. So I'm just assuming this one ranged a bit farther. Or maybe the product of a love match between a Swainson's and a red-tailed?


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