Half Day of Butterfly Searching
I started getting spring fever (again) after taking my lunch break yesterday (temps were in the 70’s). Something told me to get my butt outside and start search for butterflies!! At 1:30 I took off from work and drove over to the Wolf Run area of Allegany State Park (one of my favorite butterfly spots). In about 1 1/2 hour’s time I had found 17 species of birds and a few wildflowers peaking out of the ground. Leaks were really teasing me and YES, their odor did follow me for the rest of the night. I saw the leaves of trout lilies, toothwort and something else that could have been spring beauties peaking out of the ground. Leaving my favorite little forested flower area, I heard a Barred Owl vocalizing in the middle of the day (about 3pm)! A second owl some distance away began responding back (who cooks for you? who cooks for you all?). Bent’s life history series states that, (quoting someone else) “Contrary to my expectations the Barred Owls are not appreciably more active in twilight hours than at other times, and I think they are quiet, possibly asleep, at night. I am certain that in an ordinary degree of darkness they cannot see”. So, it appears that these owls can be just as much diurnal as nocturnal. I continued listening to them for quite a while as I walked back towards my truck. No butterflies had been yet but I did come across my first Dragonfly for 2007 (Green Darner … CHECK). The picture below of the Green Darner taken on August 11th, 2006 when I was with Jeremy Martin.
I then headed over to an area called Cricks Run which is another favorite butterfly area that I visit! Back along the trail there was this long winded bird singing its beautiful song. CHECK – first for the year Winter Wren!! Waiting for the wren to start singing again . . . I ended up hearing a trilled bird singing fairly close! Do note that there is a series of birds that all sound somewhat similar and do this trilled song!! They include the Dark-eyed Junco, Swamp Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow and Pine Warbler!! Quickly going through all of the clues in my head on the different ways to distinguishing these species, there it was! In its full feathered outfit, my first for the year . . . Pine Warbler – CHECK!! I continued my hike along the old road and in about a half hour’s time I still hadn’t located any butterflies yet! Grrrr..!
I quickly stopped at home to feed my kitties so that I could get back outside to continue my adventure. Heading over to ASP Rt. 2 to do some birding (because I had given up on searching for butterflies) I come across a police officer in the middle of the road. My first thought was that an accident had happened. I pulled over and apparently some “bad” kid took off running through the woods (during their fieldtrip to Allegany)? Last time I saw so many officers searching for someone in the woods was when Bucky escaped from prison this summer. They even had the police helicopter searching for this kid. I believe after a few hours of searching that they did finally corner him and took him into custody.
I wasn’t going to let some bad ass kid disrupt my birding adventure, so off I went along ASP Rt. 2 and found a bunch of birds. I quickly located 2 more Pine Warblers, then some Ruffed Grouse spooking me after taking flight, and there were many Fox Sparrows around. I enjoyed hearing many of the Kinglets and Brown Creepers making the woods sound like an orchestra of bird songs. I did notice that the Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows had already started fighting over some of the bluebird boxes that are placed out there. Unexpectedly I come across an American Kestrel who was preening its feathers after it had probably been migrating all day (I rarely seen them in this area). I then see this light colored sparrow out in the grass. Something told me to investigate it and so I slowly pulled my camera out from my backpack . . . . click, click, click! Trying to get closer for a better picture …. it flew away!! I then tried burning the field marks in my brain!! Was it?? Could it have been?? That’s when you find yourself starting to second guess your identification?? Lucky I had some pictures to help confirm my sighting and sure enough, I finally got my Vesper Sparrow picture ~! (see below)! I ended up with 34 species of birds, two of which were first for 2007, and one dragonfly species for 2007! What a good day I had but still no butterfly species for 2007. Although I did have a few moths flying around.
BTW: another wonderful photographer and flickr friend (NatureShutterbug) has recently ventured over to the blog world. You are really going to love this blog (I do) and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to preview it before it had gone live. I am proud to announce the NatureShutterbug website at: http://www.natureshutterbug.com/wordpress/. Please take the time to visit the site and say hello.