Friday, July 11, 2014

Monarch at BHCL

I've been watching for Monarchs at BHCL for a few weeks now.  Once or twice I thought I might have seen one, but wasn't sure so wouldn't claim it.  There is so much milkweed at BHCL that it is sure to attract them.  Monarchs will only lay their eggs on milkweed, so it is an extremely important plant for survival of the species.

The overwintering population of Monarchs in Mexico this past winter was about 1/3 its normal size, so we are all hopeful that the population will thrive this summer and that the species will rebound a bit from its losses.  Reports have just started trickling in for Massachusetts sightings.

I was able to confirm my suspicions of a monarch sighting today by using my binoculars.  I couldn't get near it.   While I was watching it through my binoculars, a barn swallow swooped towards it and nearly caught it!  No!!!!  I have no photo record of this particular individual, but I am still happy I saw it.

Here are the other things that caught my eye today:

Halloween Pennant

Common Wood Nymph
blending in with the leaf litter

Pearl Crescent

I haven't seen too many of these this year, and this one is fresh and lovely.

Gray Hairstreak

This hairstreak was right in the middle of the trail.  It flew in a crazy zig-zaggy pattern very near the ground, and I just barely caught sight of the blur of it as it flew by.   I think it's such a pretty little thing.

After work, I went to Beals Preserve to see if I could get lucky and see a Green Heron that was recently reported at Ice Pond.  I flushed a female Wood Duck when I approached the pond.

A little bit later, I ran into Alan B., and he graciously permitted me to tag along with my camera at the ready while he checked the pond and WHIP transects for the evening check for the Southboro Open Land Foundation amphibian survey.  The buckets (buried in the ground with a barrier on one side) at the pond were all empty, but there was one small garter snake at the WHIP transect.  We also found a Green Heron at the pond and had a fly-over Great Blue Heron!

Keep an eye out!  Spotted wintergreen is in bloom all through the woods!

Spotted Wintergreen

At the WHIP transect, there are a lot of plywood boards laid out on the ground.  These provide good hiding places for snakes.  Alan went to each one, lifted the board, and checked carefully for snakes.  There was only one, and I didn't even see it initially.  The snake is very relaxed under the board, so you have a little grace period when the snake is still before it realizes what has happened.  Then, it moves very fast!

Garter Snake

He's got some damage on his tail.  Maybe had a close call with some kind of predator....

Green Heron (finally - my first of 2014!)

By the time Alan checked the pond transect, most of the good daylight was gone in the forest.  There were tons (30+) of froggies at the edge of the pond.  Here are my best photos of them.

 At least five little froggy heads above water in this photo!

Note:  I saw the Mama fox and all three kits tonight when I returned home.  No photos as the good light was gone, but I'm glad they're still nearby!

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