Saturday, September 27, 2014

Butterflies at Wayland Community Gardens

I stayed close to home and checked out what was flying at the Wayland Community Gardens.   At first, I saw only Cabbage Whites and Clouded and Orange Sulphurs.  As I walked deeper into the gardens, I ran into Marjorie from the Mass Butterfly Club and together we searched for the wooly aphids that had been seen near the pit toilet!  We had no luck and had just said good-bye when I heard Marjorie shout that she had found them!  I hurried to join her, and together we carefully pulled the branch down and examined the wooly aphids for caterpillars.  We found none.

Soon, I found another branch with more wooly aphids and we repeated our careful examination and found one caterpillar on this branch!  Victory!  This is the only known butterfly caterpillar that is carnivorous, feeding on wooly aphids rather than plant material.  It was pretty exciting to find as neither of us had ever seen one before!  Eventually, it will turn into a beautiful Harvester butterfly.

You can see there are lots of ants around the wooly aphids.  Ants are in a mutualistic relationship with the aphids, protecting them from predators and eating the honeydew they excrete.  After reading that, though, I wondered why the ants didn't attack the Harvester caterpillar.  I later learned that the exoskeleton of the Harvester caterpillar is similar to the cuticle of an aphid, so the ants may "smell" aphid when in reality it's a Harvester caterpillar.  Chemical camouflage!

We were just leaving the wooly aphids when I saw a flash of orange fly by which I thought may have been a  Pearl Crescent.  I lost sight of it, but Marjorie found a Bronze Copper on a bloom of Goldenrod that must have been what I had seen in flight.  It was fresh and beautiful!   Within seconds, we spotted two more as well as an Eastern Tailed Blue.  Suddenly things were picking up!

Bronze Copper #1

Bronze Copper #2
This one moved more than the other two we saw.  It flew from grass to grass in the same general area.

#2 demonstrating tight-rope walking

Bronze Copper #3 stayed in this weed the whole time.

#3 again

Eastern Tailed Blue #1

Eastern Tailed Blue #2

Painted Lady



Shamrock Orb Weaver spider (I think)

Painted Lady #2


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

against its beautiful zinnia background


Friday, September 26, 2014

Birds of BHCL

I spent part of my lunch hour at Beals Preserve.  Unfortunately, there were workmen in three large trucks down by the channel, so any hope of seeing birds or ducks was dashed.

 Eastern Phoebe

 Black-Capped Chickadee

 Mute Swan

Maple-Leaved Viburnum

After work, I walked at Breakneck Hill Conservation Land and was entertained by lots of birds!

 Eastern Bluebird

They were hunting along the fencelines again tonight.  I just love it when multiple posts have bluebirds sitting on them!

 Downy Woodpecker

A few migrating songbirds joined the bluebirds on the fenceposts and also in the meadow.  Once again, I find myself unable to identify them.

 House Wren

American Tree Sparrow

 Eastern Phoebe, joining the fencepost hunters

I just can't believe the sun is this low in the sky at 6:15PM.

 another Eastern Phoebe on a fencepost

Eastern Bluebird

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Great Blue Heron at Hopkinton State Park

I had to pick up some kitten food at lunchtime today for our newest household member, Charlie.  He must be growing!  He's eating a lot, and I was completely out of his food!  We keep both our cats indoors, so they are not a threat to the local bird population!

I stopped at Hopkinton State Park on the way home.

I was surprised to find that the main beach had been drained.  There was a Great Blue Heron fishing in the small remaining channel of water.  The edge of the channel was dotted with bright, colorful flowers.  I read on line that an Indian festival took place there about a week ago.  I wonder if the birds like the flowers?

 Great Blue Heron

 Belted Kingfisher

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Eastern Phoebes at BHCL

Eastern Phoebes were the stars of tonight's walk at Breakneck Hill Conversation.  Unless you count the fall leaves, the pretty clouds or the bluebirds....

Eastern Phoebes

Canada geese

Eastern Phoebe with a snack

 Eastern Bluebird

 Eastern Phoebe