Saturday, May 10, 2014

Red Efts at Burncoat Pond

I headed to Spencer early today, hoping to get a birding hike in before the weather turned.  It was not raining when I left the house, but that was short-lived.  I had to leave the camera in the car for the first 45 minutes.  I had wonderful close-up sightings of two Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks competing over a single female, a Yellow Warbler and at least a dozen Ovenbirds.

When the rain stopped, I grabbed my camera and went back to the same area, hoping to see the Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks again.  After the rain, the humidity really cranked up, and the black flies came out in full force.  At the end of the hike, I had many dead black flies smashed on my forehead and under the brim of my baseball cap.  ICK.

The best part of the hike was when I hit the woods.  The trail had a lot of leaf litter, and soon I was noticing Red Efts (which are the juvenile form of Red-Spotted Newts) creeping around everywhere.  I counted close to 30!!    When I was heading for the parking lot, two women and two small children were entering the trail and they were all carrying buckets.  I hope they were not going to collect any Red Efts.

They were not red; they were orange.  They varied in size from a couple inches long to about 5 inches long.  They seemed very aware of me, and moved out of the way or changed direction if I got near them.

 This one is hiding under a leaf.

Egret in swamp across the street

When I got into the car and looked in the rearview mirror, I discovered my forehead was decorated with smashed black flies.  They crawled up under the bill of my baseball cap and hung out right where it met my forehead.  ICK, ICK, ICK.  This was the worst day of black flies so far this spring.  Swarms of them.

My next stop was Turkey Hill Brook Farm where I met my Facebook friend, Ellen Sousa, for the first time and picked up a couple of seedlings for Spicebush (a caterpillar host plant for Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies).  Before I left, I made sure to take some pictures of some beautiful raindrop-covered Blood Root in her front garden.

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