Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Beauty at Breakneck Hill Conservation Land

The radio said that we'd have the most sun in the morning, so I didn't want to waste it.  I headed over to Breakneck Hill Conservation Land for a little walk.  I wasn't the first one there (at 6:30AM).  I'm still hoping for some fawn sightings this year.  So far, I haven't seen a single one.  I'm guessing that means I need to get there earlier still!

I was not disappointed by this visit, however.  Little surprises can appear at almost any spot on the property.  It's what I like about taking hikes the most.  You never know what you will see.

Eastern Bluebird (juvenile)

My first treat (if you don't count the bluebird) was down by the pond.  I often hear a Baltimore Oriole singing in the trees here but rarely see him.  Today he popped into view for a couple seconds.

Baltimore Oriole

Mouse-Ear Hawkweed

Cow Vetch

I heard a hawk screeching, so I moved toward the sound and soon saw it perched high in this tree with two rather nervous American Robins occasionally dive-bombing it.  He flew off soon after I was close enough for photos.  They use a Red-Tailed Hawk's screeching sound in movies, especially westerns, when they show an eagle.  Eagles don't even make that sound.  I find it fascinating that even though they know it's wrong, they just keep using it and spread the misconception among movie-goers.

Red-Tailed Hawk

Because I stopped in this particular spot on the trail to photograph the hawk, it put me in the right place to find a Spicebush Swallowtail resting on a blade of grass.  I don't know if it spent the night in this spot, but that certainly seemed possible.  It was totally still, and I was able to take as many photos as I wanted.  Surprisingly, this was the only butterfly I saw the entire hike.  Gorgeous, isn't it?  The way you can tell it's a Spicebush (easy when it's stationary) is by looking at the top row of orange spots, which is interrupted by a blue triangle.  Black Swallowtails that look similar have a row that is made up of orange spots without interruption.  Both these species tend to flap their wings rapidly, so it makes it hard to see in the field, unless they are perched.  Sometimes, though, you can see it at home in your photos.

Spicebush Swallowtail

Indigo Bunting

As usual, I saw and heard several Indigo Buntings.  Yesterday, in this same spot, I was attempting to photograph this bird when a man talking on his cell phone walked by and spooked it.  Today, I had this beautiful sight all to myself.

Here's another Indigo Bunting in silhouette.

Multiflora rose is in bloom around the edges of the property (and even in isolated spots through the meadows).  I walked down the trail behind the orchard, with the thicket on one side, and the perfume was just amazing.  I am sorry that it is a problematic invasive species.  It smells divine and looks so pretty in bloom.

Multiflora rose

Cedar Waxwing

Eastern Kingbird

 White Campion

 Great Crested Flycatcher (near the parking lot)

The sun was still hanging around at noon time, so I took an early lunch break and went back for more BHCL.  Really, I am just trying to familiarize myself with who's flying where in preparation for Saturday's nature walk at noon.   More about that later...

Black Swallowtail

Sulphur Cinquefoil
(love those heart-shaped petals)

European Skippers

Common Whitetail (female)

Seven-Spotted Lady Beetle

 Little Wood Satyr, old and worn

Little Wood Satyr, new and fresh

Harlequin Darner

Hobomok Skipper

Pearl Crescent

Eastern Bluebird

OK....more about the walk.  Saturday, June 14th, I will be helping Southborough's Open Space Preservation Commission to lead a walk at Breakneck Hill Conservation Land.  We'll be looking for any and all nature sightings, such as butterflies, beetles, birds, dragonflies, and native wildflowers!  From my own experience, an hour is plenty of time to see good things at BHCL.  More time would just be icing on the cake!  If we have sunshine and warm temperatures, the butterflies will definitely be out!  I hope you will join us!  

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