August 5 – Hot diggety days

Monday night I went out to photograph an orb weaver spider that builds her web in the sweetgum tree in the back yard every night.  I ran into it twice while letting in Kane before I learned to go around it.  As soon as I walked out the door my lens and display fogged up.  So humid!  I hassled with the flash quite a bit, and eventually got something useful.  The web is closest to perfect right after it is constructed, as every prey item destroys a bit of it.

Not-ready-for-the-world Wide Web

I did the dog and cats run on Tuesday morning, by bicycle again.  There was a leopard frog in the driveway.

They don’t usually sit still this long.

I voted, stopped at the insurance agent and went home.  I prepped the kayak and had Savannah shuttle my car down to LaGrange.  I put in at Canton and floated down the Mississippi.  Actually, I paddled the whole time.  It only took about an hour and a half to go the 6 miles. 

On the launch ramp at Canton.

This big tow left a wake of gentle swells that were no real threat.

The trees at water’s edge are covered with vines.  Also, many were knocked over from the flood, mostly cottonwoods and maples.

This pushboat came up behind me. I think they moored the little barge on an island.

This big cottonwood log washed up on a spoil island at the mouth of the Wyaconda River.  It was a convenient perch for a Great Blue Heron that was one of many evading me.  I also saw a couple of bald eagles, many swallows, some shorebirds, and American crows.

At one point it rained on me but only for a minute or so.  I must have been under the only leaky cloud for miles around.  There was no lightning or I would have been off the river in a second.  It did storm later in the day, and kept Savannah out of a shift at the pool.

The lady who administers Stacey’s federal grants was visiting, so Stacey invited her over for dinner.  We took her to Primo’s for ice cream and gave her the 50-cent tour of Canton. 

The floodgate has been removed, so naturally I went to the brush dump Wednesday morning.  I actually dropped off some brush.  Many dragonflies were basking in the area, and I took advantage.  There was mostly the same species I see over and over again.  I tried to get some ideal shots.  I cut up some firewood and hauled it home.  I then undertook one of the most unpleasant tasks of the year, flushing the gutter on the back porch.  Again, I was cursing the designer of the thing.  Great big surface area + tiny gutter = serious drainage problems.  The opening is so narrow that you can’t just scrape out the crud like in a normal gutter.  Leaves and debris accumulate and decay, forming soil that completely fills it.  I had trees growing in it. No joke–black locust seedlings.  Even with a pressure washer, it wasn’t clearing out.  I got disgusted and attached some downspout brackets on intermediate points and drilled a hole in each one.  Later I’ll cut it out to full size with a sawzall and attach a downspout.  It may not drain any better, but it will be easier to clean. 

Twelve-spotted skimmer.

Thursday I went to QU to help grade some writing samples.  We got lunch and a small stipend for it.  Afterward I ran some errands and stopped by the new Jade-Orchid-to-be.  Steve and Wanaree were just leaving, but they stayed to give me a tour.  They really have fixed the place up.  They should be all done and moved in soon.  I went to the RSVP banquet in Hannibal, an event coordinated by Stacey.  I was the official photographer, and I got a nice dinner. 

This painted lady was basking in the morning.

Friday I went to Lowell’s.  We fished three rounds of the lake.  I went through all three of my baitcasting rigs, ending with no line or a rat’s nest and a broken line.  I had fun in the process, as the bass were hitting on a surface lure (Zara Spook).  I used various others throughout the day, including a grasshopper popper that had never previously caught a fish.  I always buy these insect crankbaits, perhaps because they’re cute.   It attracted a few small bass.  After lunch we put a bolt in the floating dock, which is now nearly done.  We did another round of the lake, then I filleted the days catch (plus a few left in the fish cage over the previous week).   We tried a trick we learned a couple of years ago: taking the skin of the bass and baiting up a hook.  I caught two large catfish this way and got bites from a couple others.  They sure pull hard!  I ended with 8 bass.

The Virginia ctenucha, a day-flying moth.

Great clouds on this day.                                                Bald-faced hornet.

Saturday we went garage saling.  After that I was pretty much seduced by the Olympics and didn’t accomplish much beyond a few small jobs. 

Sunday morning I took a bike ride.  I took the route that includes a crossing of the Wyaconda River–without a bridge.  I undertook this with some apprehension, as the last time I tried it I hit a big rock, stopped and fell over into the water.  I didn’t want to repeat that, especially with the camera. 

Here’s the approach: steep, muddy and rutted on both sides.

But what’s this?  They must have poured a concrete slab during last year’s drought.  It made the crossing easy and fun, if less challenging.

The river looks fairly inviting here.  I think I’ll kayak this section.

Stacey found this longhorn beetle in the shower.  That’s one ugly bug.

They finally put my trip report on the Wyaconda River on the site here:

Monday I did the dog and cats run, watched a lot of Olympics, and put up a new butterfly calendar here:
I took another little bike ride in the afternoon, just cruising around looking for butterflies, mostly.

A Red-spotted Purple was cooperative.

A cabbage white loves oregano oregano.

Prettiest perch I’ve ever seen a cicada killer use.  I think it’s a gallardia flower.

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