Multitasking Naturally

Header Image: Swamp Chaos

This is a follow-up to our last post about flowers. There was a tremendous outcry from a massive amount of our followers protesting the fact no bird images were included in the entry. Okay, so there was only one complaint about a post with no birds. Okay, so it wasn’t really a complaint, more of a “note”. Anyhow, our trip to Colt Creek State Park recently did provide us with more than just bouquets of blooms.

We were all “multitaskers” before that even became a thing. Even as infants, most of us could hold a parent’s little finger and smile at the same time. I distinctly remember, as a youngster, being able to walk, chew Dubble-Bubble AND blow big pink bubbles of the stuff simultaneously! One of the staples of 1950’s television was that guy on the Ed Sullivan Show (you youngsters can look that one up on the worldwide web) who would spin plates atop tall thin poles, increasing the number of plates/poles as a nation collectively held its breath knowing at some point there would be crashing and breaking. Now, THAT was multitasking!

Don’t get Gini started on the multitasking abilities of a mother and wife! It’s a prerequisite, no matter what it may be called.

You may have encountered “competition” birders who appear to be single-minded as they travel at break-neck speeds through field and forest checking off birds seen, heard and suspected. These athletes seem to be concentrating on nothing other than the next bird while ignoring all other flora and fauna on their path to glory.

While I used to think these high-speed birdwatchers had little appreciation for anything other than their lists (or in today’s technological world, their “app”), spending time with them has proved illuminating. To become an expert birder, they had to learn a bit about their target species. Education included where to find a bird, a bit about their biology, learning what they eat, how they mate, what their nest looks like, what is the best time of the year/day to look for them – they had to become amateur naturalists if they hoped to remain at the top of their game. In short, in their zeal to find large numbers of birds and new species, they had to learn to multitask in the natural world. Granted, most of these speedsters don’t stop to smell the roses, but they can quickly identify different habitats while at the same time scanning the area for the objects of their desire.

Gini and I are like that. Only in slow motion. With less on our agenda. Birding has been an integral part of our outdoor activities for a very long time. Not the only part, however. How could we explore an area such as Colt Creek State Park which was bursting with blooming flowers (re: our last post), rush past all those plants and only report that we saw some birds? Yes, we were excited to see a Cedar Waxwing, but we were equally excited to see the Purple Passionflower and the Blue Dasher and the Phaon Crescent and even the duckweed-camouflaged alligator.

Multitasking. In nature. Who knew we could do it?

Here are a few things other than just flowers we saw on the same day as reported in our “Spring Floral Collection”.

Just inside the park, atop a stop sign, an adult Red-shouldered Hawk gave us a look that said: “Move along. I’m hunting for breakfast here“. We did as requested.

Cattle Egrets are very common in our area and, true to their name, typically associate with herds of cattle. Originally native to Africa and Asia, they began showing up in North America in the 1950’s and are found throughout the south. Plain and white most of the year, spring breeding plumage transforms this male into quite a handsome fellow!

A Groundselbush Beetle (Trirhabda bacharidis) found on the host plant, Groundsel Tree, also called Eastern Baccharis or Sea Myrtle.

Gini practiced a little “Zen Birding” as she spotted a group of Wild Turkeys a few miles before we arrived at the park. She remarked that it had been a long time since we had seen turkeys within the park. This big Tom showed up a half mile into the park and said whatever the gobbler version is of “et voilà“!

We know spring is truly here when we start seeing some of the larger skimmer species such as this Bar-winged Skimmer (Libellula axilena).

Red-winged Blackbirds were very busy around all the water sources today involved in loud territorial spats, nest-building in the reeds and courtship behavior. This one rose above the crowd for a better view.

We are constantly amazed how nature can take plain colors such as brown and gray and produce an absolutely beautiful creature like the Dorantes longtail (Urbanus dorantes).

Gini exclaimed: “Bluebirds”! And followed immediately with: “And they have friends”! The oak tree revealed three Eastern Bluebirds and a half-dozen Cedar Waxwings. Gini’s eyes are not only beautiful, they’re darned efficient!

Eastern Bluebird
Cedar Waxwing

Bright emerald green in the pine forest understory grabs your attention. An immature male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) will retain the female coloring for two-three weeks before turning pruinose blue.

Palm Warblers are migratory in our area and are becoming scarce as they return to their northern breeding grounds. The yellow on the belly of this one indicates it is the eastern or “Yellow” sub-species. Palm Warblers west of Hudson Bay typically have light-colored bellies without yellow.

Rounding a bend in the trail, we caught a White-tailed Deer by surprise. She didn’t seem too alarmed and eased into the brush and disappeared.

Frogs were on the brunch menu as every time this Little Blue Heron stabbed at the water you could here a high-pitched “squeak” and a splash.

Just pretend you can’t see her. She knows you can but she worked so hard on that camouflage we don’t want to hurt her feelings.

American Alligator

By far, the most numerous butterfly species we encountered this morning was the Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae). The Purple Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is one of their main host plants and was blooming profusely. This individual was visiting a Florida Hedgenettle (Stachys floridana).

Those green eyes, a white face and blue abdomen advertise the little male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) is present and accounted for.

One of the few moths active in daytime is the Ornate Bella Moth (Utetheisa ornatrix). We’re happy about that as it certainly looks good in full sun!

Although we’ll soon be seeing them everywhere, the first sightings each spring of the Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina) is like finding a gold pendant you haven’t seen in a long time.

The grass beside the trail hides a large number of small creatures. It’s hard to believe we could miss such a bright thing as the Phaon Crescent (Phyciodes phaon), but unless they move, which they do constantly (!), you would never know you almost stepped on one.

Very small and jewel-like, an Orchard Orbweaver (Leucauge argyrobapta) busily attended her weaving duties as we watched her toil against the backdrop of a massive cypress swamp.

Accomplishing several things at the same time. Multitasking. Call it what you will, once you enter Nature’s bailiwick, you just can’t help yourself.

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

26 Comments on “Multitasking Naturally

  1. I raised four sons so I felt like an expert at multitasking….back in the day! Now I love getting out in nature and taking my time on whatever comes my way. I might even forget to take a drink of my water until I’m all the way back to the vehicle! LOVE the deer you saw and the different types of dragonflies. And now…more about me. lol I think I’ve made a mistake on an ID on my latest post if you get a chance to look. I’ve hesitated to change it because I’m not sure. (a hint…it’s a nest) Thanks! And enjoy your day, Diane

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    • Raising children requires one to learn how to multitask in order to survive! Congratulations on raising four boys.

      Thank you for the nice remarks. It was another great day in Florida’s outdoors.

      I sent you an email regarding your nest.

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  2. Good to see birds on here, thanks to Gini. It takes a lady to point us chaps in the right direction Wally. And to show us how to multitask.

    Wow. That Ornate Bella Moth is unreal. I guess nothing much would want to eat those colours.

    Enjoy your week ahead my friends. I am about to help with the packing (or maybe not). It’s a job best done by the wholly organised multitasker. I think my temperature gauge will be in competition with you next week – its 22 degrees at our second home.

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    • Thank goodness my Lady continues to steer me toward the correct course!

      Her multitasking skills were apparent early in our relationship. Not only could she perform several tasks simultaneously, she was an expert at persuading others to do the same. She is: The Multitask Whisperer.

      Thank goodness she can see (and hear) beyond the buzzing bugs and blooming plant life to remind me there are birds all around us.

      Good luck with escaping the work involved in packing — I mean — good thinking in delegating the packing to an expert multitasker.

      We’ll try to have fun here in the swamp whilst you and Sue frolic in the sunny isles of Greece.

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  3. Once again, extraordinary. That bella moth is one I have not seen before. A new one. Of course each and all photos shared are magnificent, but I must add your light sense of humor in your narration is most enjoyable.

    (Thanks for commenting on both of my blogs)

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  4. I suspect that multi-tasking is something that most of us have done for most of our lives without giving it a second thought, but now there is a name for it. I am typing this note and sipping on my coffee too. Does that count?

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    • I’m certain you’re correct, David. Parts of society can no longer function without sets of labels.

      Your typing turned out well and we trust the coffee also had the desired outcome.

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  5. Yes, “Taxonomy can be so – taxing”, but you do it much better than most – especially me! And thank you for the new word: pruinose.

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  6. This post was filled with more than the usual number of “Wait. What?” responses. One came when I saw your Ornate Bella Moth. I couldn’t remember if a prettily colored moth I found here was the same. It wasn’t, but our Ailanthus webworm moth (Atteva aurea) is a pretty orange, white, and black creature with much the same design and the same habits, like daytime flying. The other thing that stopped me was the Eastern Baccharis. We have two Baccharis species, but I thought I’d never heard of this one. In fact, I have. It’s B. halimifolia, although I’ve never heard it called Sea Myrtle or Groundsel tree. I’ll have to look for the beetle.

    The Orchard Orbweaver and Gulf Fritillary are familiar and favorites. I’ve yet to see them this year, or the Passionflower. As for the multi-tasking, I compare my two ways of being in nature to the searching or browsing I do online. Sometimes, I got out with a specific goal in mind: “Are those white spiderworts growing in the same spot?” Most of the time, I simply go out to see what I can see. Those are the days when I find things like a pink bluebonnet or a mama gator with her babies napping on her back. Sometimes, I swear I hear someone whispering, “Psst! Look over here!” And there “it” is.

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    • Florida and (I believe) Texas are home to both moth species. To me, they are similar and I try to remember the Ailanthus has white spots outlined in black while the Ornate is just the opposite. (Then I process the pics and still look them up for confirmation!)

      The USDA calls B. halimifolia “Eastern Baccharis”, Florida’s Dept. of Ag. calls it “Groundsel Tree” or “Sea Myrtle”.

      Taxonomy can be so – taxing.

      Nature seems to provide us hints sometimes. Often, I’ll see a common bird, bug or bloom and almost pass it by. A closer look shows something different and interesting in proximity. (I have “helpers”, you actually get Mama Nature whispering to you!)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I thoroughly enjoyed every single word of this post, Wally!! What a treat to go on this wildlife walk with you and see so much through your and Gini‘s eyes!

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  8. Please don’t give up your multi-tasking, Wally (and Gini). This post has given my day a heart-warming start. Thank you!

    I’m not going to pick out any favourites here as they are all superb, but as well as (of course!) the dragons, I was struck by the beauty of your butterflies, the moth, and especially that spider!

    I think that I too am a multi-tasker when out with the camera, flitting from taxon to taxon. However, I increasingly find these days that my mind wanders off into areas totally off-subject, and I have to snap back to the task in hand, wondering what I missed en-route!

    My very best wishes to you both – – – Richard

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    • Thank you, Richard. Since we didn’t even know we had been multitasking during the past 50+ years, I imagine we’ll just keep doing it the best we can!
      At least you’re still able to snap your mind back to the task. Once mine wanders, which is more frequent these days, Gini has to go searching for it on my behalf.

      Tell Lindsay Gini’s knee is hurting in empathy. Hey, perhaps we can get a surgeon to agree to a “two for the price of one” replacement special?

      All the best from the Colonies.

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  9. Multitasking indeed. That wander proffered such an abundance of Nature’s gifts. And all well-presented by the wanderers. In a way I also can be on a mission while out making photographs but not so much in only looking for a particular group but in totally forgetting my last subject/photo as I look for the next. I am sometimes surprised when reviewing my shoot on the computer at what I forgot.
    Your orchard orbweaver is much more colorful than those I find here in the yard. The crescent I see most often here e is the Pearl which bears resemblance to your Phaon. If the red-shouldered hawk says to move on, well that expressions says “or else”.
    Lovely post, Wally.

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    • Steve, thank you very much for such kind comments!

      I have been trying hard to be a better observer in the field, but, still, as you point out, an image will come up during processing where I’ll be surprised. I guess life would be less fun without surprises.

      We lucky to have both Pearl and Phaon Crescent flitting in the grass around here. Remembering which is which, another story.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Aren’t we lucky to be able to do things all of our lives without having to place a label upon it!

      We hope your mid-week is going really well, EC!

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