Saturday, May 31, 2014

Butterflies at Breakneck Hill Conservation Land

It's graduation weekend, and family is in from out-of-state.  One of our traditions is to visit Bearskin Neck in Rockport.  The weather forecast for today was not too good, low 50s, breezy and mostly cloudy, with some passing showers.  We hoped for the best and headed out at 10AM.  The sun was out and although the temps were cool, it was a gorgeous day on Cape Ann.

Here are some scenes around Bearskin Neck:

Motif #1

A quick stop at Good Harbor Beach followed by a ride on Atlantic Avenue, Gloucester.

Then, we drove Route 133 to Ipswich where we enjoyed a lunch stop at Periwinkles, and on to Boxford where we enjoyed an ice cream stop at Benson's.  Finally, we finished up with a ride down the road where my Mom grew up in Andover, and a quick stop to say hi to her cousin Carol.

Once home, since the sun was still out the the temperature was still warm enough for butterflies, my sister and I went for a quick walk at Breakneck Hill Conservation Land.  One of the first butterflies my sister spotted, in the front meadow, was a Silvery Blue!

Silvery Blue

Little Wood Satyr

Spotted Cranesbill

Red-Tailed Hawk w/ small rodent
(click to enlarge)

When we arrived at the back meadow, we took a right onto the little side field where I have previously found lots of butterfly activity.  We didn't see much in the field, but when we stopped at the end of it, several varieties of butterflies emerged from the woods to entertain us.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Mourning Cloak

Horace's Duskywing 

Hobomok Skipper

As we walked down the back meadow, we tried several times to see the Indigo Bunting.  We could hear it, and I eventually spotted it in a tree, but it flew off before my sister could spot it.  We saw it several other times, but each time, it flew off, taunting us, before my sister could see it.

The trail closest to the woods was filled with dragonflies and a couple more Hobomok Skippers.  The dragonflies kept chasing the butterflies away.

Common Whitetail

My son graduates from high school tomorrow!  Good night, all!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Blue-Winged Warbler at BHCL

44 degrees....but the sun was shining!  I'll take it!  I didn't get out early enough to be the first person there.  Dog walkers were already leaving as I was coming up the hill, and another person was already doing laps in the back meadow.  The trails were extremely wet, and I could feel my feet getting wet as I walked.

Dew was covering the meadows this morning.  In that one simple way, everything is changed.  What might otherwise be a dull (or oft-taken) subject matter becomes a new, shiny sparkling jewel.  The trick is to try to capture it in a way that others can enjoy it too.  It is quite a challenge.  Many of my photos did not reflect what I was hoping to share with you, but I was happy with some of them.  What a beautiful start to the morning!

Spotted Cranesbill

 Eastern Bluebird

 Pink Ladyslipper w/ one dewdrop hanging on the bottom

Chipmunk pair
Did you see the 2nd one?

Barn Swallow
again in the parking lot mud gathering nesting materials

My iris are blooming, one at a time so far, in the front garden.  Here is the "bloom of the day".

Also, my local Carolina Wren was out and about today, so I caught a few photos of it before it went into hiding.

Carolina wren

I went back to BHCL at lunchtime, hoping for butterflies.  It being the first sunny day after cold and rainy weather, I figured they would be out.  I was not disappointed!  Although they may be local common varieties, it was a joy to watch them and try to photograph them when they paused for a moment in their flights.

Common Ringlet

White-Banded Toothed Carpet moth
(Thanks to Betsy on Facebook for help with ID)

Pearl Crescent

Just after the footbridge in the second meadow, I heard a birdsong that was new to me and soon spotted a new bird, a Blue-Winged Warbler!  This was in the same area where a bunch of Spotted Cranesbills (wild geranium) are blooming in the meadow, which were attracting lots of butterflies!  I was walking back and forth between the warbler and the butterflies, talking out loud to myself about how great it all was, and probably looking downright crazy!   It was great!

 Blue-Winged Warbler (life bird!)


My balloon of excitement was somewhat deflated after I posted my "find" on a birding Facebook page and was told that it was a common species and that if I "tried",  I could find 40+ in the neighboring town  of Westboro.  Harumph!  It was a very exciting sighting to me.  Sometimes serious birders can be a real drag!  I was not on a guided field trip.  I still consider myself a novice birder.   I was out tramping around my own local hiking locale.  I heard a new-to-me birdsong, spotted the bird high in the tree, and later ID'd it all myself.   I haven't been doing this all that long, and every life bird, especially a warbler, is still a big deal!

Little Wood Satyr

Common Ringlet

Pearl Crescents
(These two contributed to my crazy behavior - what could be prettier?)

 Spotted Cranesbill

 American Copper

Dusted Skipper

 Mourning Cloak (imitating bark)

Silvery Blue

gorgeous buttercups

Blue-Eyed Grass 
w/ what I think is Augochloropsis metallica (green sweat bee)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Barn Swallows at BHCL

I took a morning walk at Breakneck Hill Conservation Land before work.  I couldn't even get out of the parking lot to start because the Barn Swallows were flying in to the mud puddle and collecting nesting materials.

 Barn Swallow


Because it was early Tuesday morning after a three day holiday weekend, mine was the only car in the parking lot.  I thought maybe I'd have a good chance at seeing the fox with fewer people around.  I had no luck in that department, but there was a beautiful doe in the meadow.

White-Tailed Deer

She is looking a bit on the thin side, in my opinion, and she was curious about me, inching towards me a bit before turning and running into the forest.

Clouded Sulphur

Chipping Sparrow

Spotted Cranesbill


Looking back

Indigo Bunting

I listened for the Indigo Bunting, but didn't hear it singing, so I felt lucky to spot it up in its usual tree.  Also, for the first time I spotted Pink Ladyslippers at BHCL!   I saw four, plus one that looked as if it had been picked or eaten by deer, plus other foliage without blooms.  Wow!

Little Wood Satyr

Clouded Sulphur, Common Ringlets and Little Wood Satyrs were already on the wing.

Strawberry Oak Gall

This is the prettiest gall I've seen to date.  It is made by a Callirhytis seminator (wasp) and only looks this way in the spring.  It darkens to an orange color with age.  It almost looks like the dice people hang from their rear-view mirrors!

Yellow Warbler (Lynn, this photo's for you!)
(This bird is participating in the witness protection program.)

The last few visits to BHCL, I have heard a Common Yellowthroat singing near the parking lot.  Sometimes I have seen it flying from the trees there into the shrubs in the pasture, but today it was singing high in the trees, and I was able to get a good look at it.

Common Yellowthroat

Eastern Kingbird

As I crossed the footbridge to the parking lot, two Eastern Kingbirds landed on this post, one at a time, as if to stop to wish me a good morning before I left.  Nice!  What a great start to the day!

I love the fact that I can find something new and be surprised over and over again at a place that I visit so regularly.  That strawberry oak gall was cool, as was the deer (It's been a while since I've seen one there) and of course the pink ladyslippers!  BHCL, what a lovely oasis in the midst of town!

I chose Beals Preserve as my lunchtime destination.  A Pink Ladyslipper had been reported there, and I wanted to check it out.

Yellow Pond Lilies


 Found it!

There were five more in the same general area.  Nice!

Indigo Bunting
presiding over the meadow

 Transverse Flower Fly 
(Helophilus fasciatus)

another Jack-in-the-Pulpit