The Birds and Bugs of Ruthilda

Yes, I know, Ruthilda??? My friend Deb McLeod and her husband Ian live on a farm near this once thriving prairie town (near Biggar, Sask.) which is now down to a few inhabitants. However you could address a letter to S0K 3S0 and it would arrive at the Ruthilda post office. A group of friends gathered at Deb’s farm for a creative weekend and spent many wonderful hours making things from wood, fibre, paper and other found objects. During some early mornings and breaks from wood turning I was able to explore Deb’s incredible yard and garden for some of my favourite photogenic friends.

A male Northern Shoveler

Willet wading in a slough, looking for dinner.

Female Baltimore Oriole coming to Deb’s feeder.

I have never seen so many Brown-headed Cowbirds in one place. Here is a description of their unique reproductive approach taken from ‘AllAboutBirds’.

‘The Brown-headed Cowbird is a stocky blackbird with a fascinating approach to raising its young. Females forgo building nests and instead put all their energy into producing eggs, sometimes more than three dozen a summer. These they lay in the nests of other birds, abandoning their young to foster parents, usually at the expense of at least some of the host’s own chicks. Once confined to the open grasslands of middle North America, cowbirds have surged in numbers and range as humans built towns and cleared woods.’

The bushes around the farm yard were loaded with Cowbirds and Common Grackles.

A male Brown-headed Cowbird.

A female Brown-headed Cowbird.

Common Grackle.

There were a lot of Clay-coloured Sparrows in the prairie grasses close to the bushes.

There were at least three pairs of Mourning Doves cooing and nesting in the bushes around the yard.

Western Kingbirds were abundant around the yard. They are fun to watch as they sit at the top of the spruce tree and suddenly swoop out, grab an insect from the air and return to their perch.

Taking close up pictures in a strong wind provides lots of technical challenges. I moved to Deb’s garden and during the occassional lull in the wind was able to explore her Peony bushes and the lawn.

Peonies have some magical attractant for a wide variety of insects. This bush seemed to be audibly buzzing as I approached. As I drew closer and closer to the budding flower heads it became obvious who was generating the noise. Apparently the buds secrete a sweet, honeylike sap attracting flies and ants. Dr. Google assures me the ants are not necessary to remove the sap so the flowers can open, as some old tales declare.

My journey to convince people that flies are in fact beautiful begins in the next few images. Most likely it ends almost a quickly. However, macrophotography has really given me a new appreciation for the intricate structures and huge variety of colours displayed among these creatures.

Now for some closeups. The names have been provided by a website called BugGuide.
Red-eyed Fly.

Perhaps these belong to the ‘Flesh fly’ group.

You will all recognize a Lady bug.

A Blood bee.

A Bald-faced hornet

One of the Hover fly family.

The last few images were taken while lying on my belly in Deb’s lawn. It is amazing what tiny creatures live under our feet.
This is a Melanopline nymph.

Some type of Weevil.

Two images of a tiny leaf hopper that barely sat still long enough to get a picture. It is about 2 mm. in length.

I believe this is a Curved-horn Moth.

And finally a tiny spider that I followed for 5 minutes on its journey up and down the mountainous terrain of a freshly cut lawn.

Thanks Deb and Ian for a great weekend and a rich environment for photography.

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  1. Nola Leighton June 22, 2022 at 1:30 pm #

    Love the photos Trent. The close ups are amazing. I can picture you on the grass watching them. Just FYI, I don’t approve of cowbird child-rearing practices. They should raise their own offspring!

  2. Leona June 22, 2022 at 12:42 pm #

    Amazing, as always. Thank you.

  3. Rita Nickorick June 22, 2022 at 11:34 am #

    Amazing photography. When I was reading the descriptions, I was struck by how your writing has a similar feel to Shelly’s. Thank you

  4. Shelly Marie Benoit June 22, 2022 at 10:18 am #

    Whenever I swat a fly I will think of your admonition to attend to their “beauty”! Love the ladybug’s brilliant red. And all the rest continue to amaze me with your eye and your skill behind the lens.
    Well done, as always Trent.

  5. Don Harris June 22, 2022 at 6:46 am #

    Thanks, as always, for sharing your curious spirit and closeup ‘in-sights’ of your lens – camera, eyes,.and mind.

  6. Jan C June 21, 2022 at 9:28 pm #

    Some of the bugs are quite prehistoric looking! Thanks Trent.

  7. mary June 21, 2022 at 7:00 pm #

    Super good photography. Thankyou

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