02 Jun

Click here for sketch map of walk.

keywords: butterflies, hawthorn, late-spring flowers, deer

After our ice-storm of a couple of years ago, the forest along the creek (between the bridge and the Swim Pond) is more open. Some ground plants are celebrating the fact.

The Ebony Jewelwing is a common (& elegantly named) denizen of forested stream banks.

A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was making its way up a hickory trunk. Unlike most of our other Woodpeckers, Sapsuckers are migratory, so this is probably a fresh arrival.

Out by the Swim Pond, this unfamiliar (to me anyway) skipper was skippering...who could it be?

Turns out it's the dark version of this species - the Hobomok Skipper. This picture was taken at another time, but regular Hobomoks were flying nearby when I took the above photo.

This Question Mark butterfly was also by the pond; a butterfly whose caterpillars feed upon Elms and related trees. It's a hibernator, so this one may be a faded survivor of the winter.

Pearl Crescents began showing up in the low forest and were scattered along most of the rest of our trek.

The pasture above the Swim Pond was 'hopping' with butterflies and dragonflies.

And along the edges some Hawthorne were still in bloom. David Werier, an excellent botanist, introduced us to our local Hawthorns last week, 10 species on the Farm and counting.

Hawthorns are particularly interesting because they are a set of largely native species which are now found predominantly on farms. One character that one uses to ID the Hawthorns is how fuzzy the flower stalks are. Compare these stalks ..

to these. Claudia will guide you through some of tour Hawthorns in an upcoming blog, so stay tuned.

However, I'm allowed to talk about the bugs on the Hawthorn - ants were numerous as were tiny flies (whose identification I will leave to a more devoted entomologist).

This leaf beetle, a so-called Dichelonyx, was hiding out in the Hawthorn foliage. Apparently, this group is composed of leaf-eating beetles whose larvae who feed on roots.

The Little Wood Satyr is closely related to the Common Ringlet and you can see it in their flight. Both bounce about the fields as if dangling from an unseen string. Both this species and the Ringlet were common about the pasture.

This is a Common Ringlet, photographed on another day, in another field. They don't always have such sharp coloration but you can usually pick up the flash of rusty orange as they fly.

Also afield was the Peck's Skipper, one of our most common skippers. It has a long flight period from May to October, probably encompassing at least two distinct broods or sets of hatches.

There were numerous dragonflies about also, probably cueing in on some of the same flies that were occasionally haunting my head.. This one appears to be some sort of Clubtail, probably hatched from a larva that grew in the Creek (rather than the pond) below.

As I moved up towards the top of Phudd Hill I began turning rocks, a few Red-Backed Salamanders and the occasional ground beetle and ant, and this fuzzy fellow - apparently the cocoon of a Woolly Bear Cartipillar or, to use the more conventional naming pattern, of the Isabella Moth.

An Isabella Moth, the adult of the Wooly Bear caterpillar, photographed last summer at a light on our back porch.

The flowers were relatively scarce on the hillside, although the spore capsules of the mosses looked eager to pop.

The view from Indian Lookout, just about at the summit of Phudd Hill (close enough for me in any case).

There is still the occasional Columbine flowering on the rocks.

Wild Geranium scattered from high to low through the forest, some, like this one, equipped with green Sweat Bees.

According to Claudia, this is Round-leaved Ragwort... can't say I see the round leaf... guess that's why I'm not a botanist. In any case, only saw the one of these in flower.

The yellow-flowering Cinquefoil was all about; those ants are busy, and probably collecting pollen or nectar.

The small, aptly-named Canada Mayflower is abundant.

At least one species of blueberry (Vaccinium) is still flowering. It seems relatively common and vibrant on the top of Phudd Hill, at least relative to the tentative Oak saplings.

If one thinks about this forest picture for a minute, you'll realize that this mowed-lawn appearance is unnatural.

A closer inspection of some of the Oak tips reveals that they have been browsed by a rather sloppy nibbler - the tips consistently show this 'ripped edge' appearance. Good evidence that they have been browsed by...

White-tailed Deer. Deer, like some other ungulates, don't have upper incisors (the teeth at the front of the mouth). They do have lower incisors - not pictured here - which clip off browse by cutting against a leathery upper palate. This leaves the rough cuts shown in the previous photograph. It seems likely that heavy deer browsing is favoring Vaccinium over Oak atop Phudd Hill, and if deer populations remain high, one might predict that, as the older Oaks die off, the hilltop might move towards being a large Blueberry opening. Not only is Oak regeneration being curtailed, but high deer populations are probably also reducing the populations of various wild flowers, including our native orchids.

Not so many butterflies up top, but there are odonates, like this Spreadwing. Spreadwings are a group of damselflies who hold their wings in this half-closed/half-open manner. Its larva probably grew up in one of the permanent ponds nearby.

And finally, this photograph which I just took from my window as I work into the night finishing this blog. OK, it's been Photo-Shop'd a bit, but I did just see my first Fireflies of the year!

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Posted by on June 2, 2011 in Nature


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