Two somewhat similar but not closely related insects, the Large Milkweed Bug (left insect in the composite photo) and the Red Milkweed Beetle. Large Milkweed Bugs are true bugs (order Hemiptera), while Red Milkweed Beetles belong to the order Coleoptera, the largest order of insects. Both species are obligate milkweed consumers, a distinction they share with the caterpillar of the Monarch butterfly. And like the Monarch, they are toxic to predators. Both of these insects can be found at Montrose during the summer by examining clusters of Common Milkweed. Photographed in July 2019.
If you plant it they will come. A few years ago the Butterfly Garden at Montrose was boring, low diversity, non-native lawn grass. Since then it has been planted in native wildflowers to attract butterflies, and attract butterflies it has. This magnificent Red Admiral was enjoying the early morning sun (with a little help from Spiderwort) on July 4, 2019. Well, the colors are sorta red, white, and blue.
Montrose isn’t good for just birds. I found this Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis) roosting in a tree on May 24. See, bats really do hang upside down. Thanks to my Facebook friends for identifying this fellow.
The birding wasn’t very good this morning but the fishing sure was. A lucky fellow caught this beautiful Brown Trout from the end of the Fishhook Pier just before I got there. Actually, I didn’t know it was a Brown Trout at the time but I did some research and Brown Trout is the best match (it turns out that fish identification can be just as difficult and challenging as bird identification). Brown Trout are native to Europe and Asia but have been introduced to many places around the world, including the Great Lakes. This one was about 2 feet long and 10-12 pounds.
Oh yeah, I also had a first cycle Great Black-backed Gull, so the birding wasn’t a complete loss.
This morning I saw a strange fish at Montrose, a fish I’ve never seen before. I’m familiar with most of the local fish and I can at least place them into larger categories, e.g., salmon, bass, pike, gar, but this one looked nothing like any fish I’ve ever seen in the wild. It reminded me of a cod and I vaguely recalled that there is a freshwater cod-like fish found in the Great Lakes called a Burbot. When I got home I did some research and my mystery fish matches up very well with a Burbot (Lota lota). According to Wikipedia, Burbot are benthic in nature, which means they inhabit the lowest levels of a body of water, which might explain why I don’t see them.
The best bird this morning wasn’t even a bird but a Beaver. I saw this one swimming south in Lake Michigan, hugging the fishing pier. I’m always surprised how big Beavers are when I see them in the wild; I’d say this one was 2.5 feet long and maybe 40 pounds. There really isn’t any suitable Beaver habitat at Montrose so I think most pass through and don’t stay long, though there is evidence in the form of chewed branches that they use the Dunes.