Monday, June 30, 2014

Wild Turkey Babies

A beautiful Eastern Tailed-Blue landed right in the middle of the trail this afternoon at Breakneck Hill Conservation Land.  I just love this tiny blue butterfly.  This one was fresh and beautiful and had both of its tails. 

Eastern Tailed-Blue

This appears to be a mass of eggs on the underside of a milkweed leaf.  If anyone knows what they are, please message me.

ripening black raspberries
(thanks to Josh for the correct ID)

Banded Hairstreak


I thought it was a Monarch at first glance, but no.  It has the extra black line across the lower wings.  It is a Viceroy.

Widow Skimmer

Oftentimes, the food source is also a hiding spot for a predator.  The insect above was dead and dangling from the milkweed flower.  I couldn't see a spider, but I bet it's in there, somewhere.  On yet another milkweed flower, I saw a bee also attached by one leg, but it was still alive and was struggling to try to fly away.

Silver-Spotted Skipper

 Little Glassywing love triangle

 Two were already in the act of mating, but that third one would not leave them alone.

After work, I thought I'd try Chestnut Hill Farm again and see if I could find a Baltimore Checkerspot a little closer to the trail.  I didn't, but I did spot the Wild Turkey, which I had forgotten we had seen the last visit.  

Wild Turkey

Quite a few poults flew into the trees last time, so I watched this "single" turkey carefully.  It paid off.  She was shepherding at least 8 babies through the grass.

That's a lot of turkey!

poss. Field Sparrow (not sure of my ID)
I asked Alan to take a look at this, and he thought poss. Bobolink but wasn't entirely sure based on this photo.  I think he's right.  That was a bird I was looking for at this location!

The evening light and the meadow grasses kept catching my eye.  There's so much variety!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Black-Billed Cuckoo at BHCL

I am repeatedly surprised at how often I find something new at Breakneck Hill Conservation Land.  Today, there were a couple of surprises!

First, on my morning walk, it was a Black-Billed Cuckoo.  I have only ever heard this bird calling before (at Great Meadows in Concord), but I had never seen one.  Wonderful!  Love its devil red eye!

Black-Billed Cuckoo


I found blooming Dogbane at the top of the paved hill and to the right.  This can be a real butterfly magnet, so I'll be keeping an eye on this area!  It is a relative to milkweed, and you can see some similarities to the flower color and shape.  It's really pretty close up!

The milkweed is ready.  Now for some monarchs!

Freddie and I met in the afternoon for a walk at Chestnut Hill Farm.  

I saw a juvenile Northern Cardinal in the parking lot.

Northern Cardinal

I was quite excited to see two Baltimore Checkerspots there, flying near the trail but not being very cooperative for photos!  This one looks a little worn, but beautiful nonetheless!

Baltimore Checkerspot

I am a sucker for beautiful grasses, and this particular one gets the gold ribbon!  How pretty!

After Chestnut Hill Farm (where we neither saw nor heard any Bobolinks), we decided to continue with a walk at BHCL.

Leaf-Footed Bug

Duskywing spp.  

Banded (?) Hairstreak
(I have trouble distinguishing this from Edwards, so am not sure.)

Striped Hairstreak

Red Milkweed Beetle love fest

Now, for the butterfly that interested me the most.  It was small, looked like a Banded Hairstreak, but seemed to have an abnormality with its lower wings.  Poor thing.  I don't think it could fly.  After looking at it for a while and not being able to ID it, I thought I'd try to pick it up.  Then, I transferred it over to Freddie's hand so that I could get a closer photo of it than when it was on the grass.

 Banded Hairstreak

Aw!  A cute little bunny.

Last, but not least, the fox kits in my backyard were out again tonight.  A third one came out of the woods to join in their foxy games.  Adorable!  Hope they continue to stick around!

The Moose Head

Our last day dawned grey and rainy, the rains that would contribute to flooding in Denali National Park and require rescue of stranded tourists.  George and I were up at 5:30AM to go in search of wildlife and make the most of our last day.

Of course, we drove South on Seward Highway and stopped at and near Beluga Point.  We had been skunked so far this trip on Dall Sheep sightings.  This was our last chance.  Success, thanks to George's sharp eyes!  It was so gusty, and they were so distant, that it was challenging to get crisp shots.

George also spotted this juvenile Bald Eagle.  (I must have still been asleep.  I was not spotting anything!)

We stopped at the Moose Flats picnic area and noted this warning sign before we went into the woods.   George made a lot of noise while we were here!

Arctic Wintergreen
(These woods were filled with it.)

The scenery was beautiful, as usual, but what really struck us in this valley was the bluish-green color of the river.  At this stop, I saw a yellow warbler and a sandpiper, but it was raining so hard, I did not get photos.

There are still original telegraph poles along the Seward Highway, some still adorned with glass insulators.

George kept reminding me to watch for moose as we drove along, which -- of course -- I was already doing!  At one point, I yelled "I see a moose head"!  He quickly pulled over as he asked "moose head?"  Yes, I saw a moose head!  It was peeking over the railroad tracks!

 All of Alaska at its feet, and this moose stands on railroad tracks.  Go figure!

One final impression I had of my visit to Alaska was that they have the most beautiful cultivated flowers everywhere.  Hanging baskets, planted beds, formal gardens, potted plants.  Color, color, everywhere.  One of our guides said that because the growing season is so short, the people like to make the most of it.  Here is a little taste:

That's it for my Alaska posts.  I hope to go again, and I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about it!  Go!!!