My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

Posts tagged “checklist

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?). (more…)

Cattaraugus County Waterfowl Fieldtrip

Catt Co Birdclub

Last Saturday I attended our Annual Cattaraugus County Waterfowl Fieldtrip and our mission was to find as many early spring visitors as possible. We had a spectacular turnout with 15 people and a few were old friends that we had not seen in a while. The group located 54 species and 10 of which were species that were first of the years for me. The list of birds are as follows: (the * represents first for the year, CHECK) (more…)

Day Four – the Return

Woke up in the morning to find some snow on the ground. I really did not want to leave Cape Cod and drive the 9 1/2 hour trip back to Western New York. I did finally get everything packed up and started heading home. This is always where you start to reflect the many adventures that happened on the trip. (more…)

Day Three – The Meeting

Harbor Seal

I woke up extra early to visit Nauset Beach at Cape Cod because there had been talk that this would be the best location for finding some Harlequin Ducks. I ended up not taking the required turn and found myself at this very cool dead end road (and probably where I shouldn’t have been). Not only were their a zillion birds swimming around but on one of the rocks was a harbor seal. It was not too cooperative in letting me get a close photo but I did squeeze in a few pictures before it disappeared in the water. I really have to appreciate everyone who has the opportunity in seeing these guys on a daily basis. (more…)

Day Two – Exploring the Cod

Provincetown in the fog

I started my morning by heading to the farthest point of Cape Cod in a town called Provincetown. There had been talk of Northern Gannets near Race Point and I was dieing to find this bird since it would have been a life for me. I was very pleased to locate some fellow bird banders already there but we all found ourselves scratching our heads. In theory; everything would have been perfect for locating the Gannets except for the fact that the fog had rolled in. We hiked out to the waters edge (was low tide) but still had a hard time identifying the Red-breasted Mergansers that were only a few hundred feet away. Looking hard, we found something very unusual floating in the water. I pulled out the spotting scope and realized that it had whiskers. (more…)

Day One – The Trip

Turkey Vulture

After being out on the road for 10 long hours, you start to find yourself doing some 65m/hr nature watching. My adventure started at 5:30 this morning with a few mammals like the Deer, Raccoons and an Opossum. Further down the highway it started looking a bit like large snow flakes in the air! Nope, to warm for snow but there were many little moths that were attracted to my headlights. Finally the sun came up and I started seeing many of those common roadside birds like the Canada Goose, Red-tailed Hawk, American Crow and even a few American Kestrels. I did happen to see many Turkey Vultures flying around which is a species that I have been looking for my first for 2007 list! Finally – CHECK. (more…)

Things you find at dusk!

This evening I went out searching for some early arrivals of the American Woodcock here in Allegany State Park. My searching started close to dusk where I almost stepped on a caterpillar while getting out of my truck. Not exactly sure which species of caterpillar this is but looks like it could be in the dagger family (See photo below). Finding this little fuzzy caterpillar had encouraged me to continued searching for little things on the pavement. It didn’t take long before I located another caterpillar called the Woolly Bear. But, this one wasn’t photographable because it was about as flat as a quarter. You can only find on so many dead Woolly Bears on the pavement before you start focusing your energy on something else (like unusual sounds).

Along the Road

Didn’t take long before I heard my first sound of the night …. Could it be the twittering sounds of the woodcock during its display?? …. (more…)

Could spring be near?

White-tailed Deer

Rumor has it that spring temperatures will be around for this next week and there have been many signs that just maybe spring is finally starting to get close. Yesterday I heard one of those familiar signs during my walk around Red House Lake!! (more…)

BIRDS – My 2006 Nature Checklist

Office VisitorI decided to split up my 2006 Nature Checklist into 5 different categories; Butterflies & Skippers, Amphibians, Reptiles, Mammals and Birds! The birds are the next family of critters which I will be reporting on my findings here in 2006 in Western New York State. Since the list has 159 birds listed and so large, I decided to break it down to the 69 non-passerines and 90 passerines.

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker Ruffed Grouse

This has been such a fun year with the birds, I have NO idea where start and decided to leave everything up to the numerous pictures that I have taken! But, I would like to thank all of my volunteers and banding assistants who helped make this another successful year at the banding station.

Common Merganser black billed cuckoo

Here is my list of non-passerines which I have listed in taxonomic order by common name (I would be happy to send you their Latin name for any species in question):

1. Canada Goose 36. Red-shouldered Hawk
2. Tundra Swan 37. Broad-winged Hawk
3. Woodduck 38. Red-tailed Hawk
4. Gadwall 39. Rough-legged Hawk
5. American Wigeon 40. American Kestrel
6. American Black Duck 41. Merlin
7. Mallard 42. Peregrine Falcon
8. Blue-winged Teal 43. American Coot
9. Northern Shoveler 44. Killdeer
10. Northern Pintail 45. Greater Yellowlegs
11. Green-winged Teal 46. Spotted Sandpiper
12. Ring-necked Duck 47. Wilson’s Snipe
13. Lesser Scaup 48. American Woodcock
14. Long-tailed Duck 49. Bonaparte’s Gull
15. Bufflehead 50. Ring-billed Gull
16. Common Goldeneye 51. Herring Gull
17. Hooded Merganser 52. Great Black-backed Gull
18. Common Merganser 53. Rock Pigeon
19. Red-breasted Merganser 54. Mourning Dove
20. Ring-necked Pheasant 55. Black-billed Cuckoo
21. Ruffed Grouse 56. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
22. Wild Turkey 57. Eastern Screech Owl
23. Common Loon 58. Great Horned Owl
24. Pied-billed Grebe 59. Barred Owl
25. Horned Grebe 60. Northern Saw-whet Owl
26. Red-necked Grebe 61. Chimney Swift
27. Double-creasted Cormorant 62. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
28. Great Blue Heron 63. Belted Kingfisher
29. Green Heron 64. Red-bellied Woodpecker
30. Turkey Vulture 65. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
31. Osprey 66. Downy Woodpecker
32. Bald Eagle 67. Hairy Woodpecker
33. Sharp-shinned Hawk 68. Northern Flicker
34. Cooper’s Hawk 69. Pileated Woodpecker
35. Northern Goshawk

Gray Catbird

C. Waxwing Nashville Warbler

Here is my list of passerines which I have listed in taxonomic order by common name (I would be happy to send you their Latin name for any species in question):

70. Eastern Wood-pewee 115. Magnolia Warbler
71. Acadian Flycatcher 116. Black-throated Blue Warbler
72. Alder Flycatcher 117. Yellow-rumped Warbler
73. Willow Flycatcher 118. Blackthroated Green Warbler
74. Least Flycatcher 119. Blackburnian Warbler
75. Eastern Phoebe 120. Yellow-throated Warbler
76. Great Crested Flycatcher 121. Pine Warbler
77. Eastern Kingbird 122. Prairie Warbler
78. Northern Shrike 123. Palm Warbler
79. Blue-headed Vireo 124. Blackpoll Warbler
80. Red-eyed Vireo 125. Cerulean Warbler
81. Blue Jay 126. Black-and-white Warbler
82. American Crow 127. American Redstart
83. Common Raven 128. Ovenbird
84. Horned Lark 129. Northern Waterthrush
85. Tree Swallow 130. Mourning Warbler
86. Northern Rough-winged Swallow 131. Common Yellowthroat
87. Cliff Swallow 132. Hooded Warbler
88. Barn Swallow 133. Canada Warbler
89. Black-capped Chickadee 134. Scarlet Tanager
90. Tufted Titmouse 135. Eastern Towhee
91. Red-breasted Nuthatch 136. American Tree Sparrow
92. White-breasted Nuthatch 137. Chipping Sparrow
93. Brown Creeper 138. Field Sparrow
94. Carolina Wren 139. Fox Sparrow
95. House Wren 140. Song Sparrow
96. Winter Wren 141. Swamp Sparrow
97. Golden-crowned Kinglet 142. White-throated Sparrow
98. Ruby-crowned Kinglet 143. White-crowned Sparrow
99. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 144. Dark-eyed Junco
100. Eastern Bluebird 145. Northern Cardianl
101. Veery 146. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
102. Gray-cheeked Thrush 147. Indigo Bunting
103. Swainson’s Thrush 148. Bobolink
104. Hermit Thrush 149. Red-winged Blackbird
105. Wood Thrush 150. Eastern Meadowlark
106. American Robin 151. Common Grackle
107. Gray Catbird 152. Brown-headed Cowbird
108. European Starling 153. Baltimore Oriole
109. Cedar Waxwing 154. Purple Finch
110. Blue-winged Warbler 155. House Finch
111. Nashville Warbler 156. Pine Siskin
112. Northern Parula 157. American Goldfinch
113. Yellow Warbler 158. Evening Grosbeak
114. Chestnut-sided Warbler 159. House Sparrow

cliff swallow nestling Common Yellowthroat

I can’t wait to see what birds in 2007 will bring me.

MAMMALS – My 2006 Nature Checklist

Trouble Bears

I decided to split up my 2006 Nature Checklist into 5 different categories; Butterflies & Skippers, Amphibians, Reptiles, Mammals and Birds! The mammals are the next family of critters which I will be reporting on my findings here in 2006 in Western New York State. Most of these sightings are coming from mammals getting into my trash, destroying my banding nets or even trying to get into my house. But, on occasion I do come across those few individuals who are just remarkable in every way. I don’t plan on doing every species but here are just a few that I would like to share.

Albino Woodchuck An Opossum hanging out

The most memorable mammals for the 2006 year was “marshmallow” the albino woodchuck. Without a doubt, marshmallow became the talk of Allegany and if not anything else, the most photographed mammal of the park this year. I always saw him drawing attention from our patrons who would have him approach while trying to having their picnic at the picnic grounds. He always would stick very close to the road and almost cause numerous accidents by individuals trying to get his picture! It was a sad day on the 11th of August when marshmallow ran into the road and was hit by a vehicle while marshmallow was trying to avoiding someone’s dog.

Cotton Tail Red Squirrel

The bears obviously put on a show this year along with many other furry critters. Being able to visually identify the fisher with those strange screaming sounds at night was my most amazing find for the year. I have already decided that since I am unable to take its picture in 2006 that for 2007 I will be spending my time trying to record its vocalization. They have woken me out of a deep sleep numerous times this year and this time I will have the microphone always ready.

White-tailed Deer Raccoon

Raccoons are always fun to watch along with numerous deer that cross my path on a daily basis. Beavers being found in the window well are another unique situation that I never expected to be seen in 2006. Although, I didn’t identify any shrews or moles like in previous years. I also missed out in the Gray Fox and one of the Weasels which I occasionally find.

Here is my list of Mammals which I have listed in taxonomic order by common name (I would be happy to send you their Latin name for any species in question):

1. Eastern Chipmunk

2. Northern Flying Squirrel

3. Black Squirrel

4. Gray Squirrel

5. Fox Squirrel

6. Red Squirrel

7. Beaver

8. Muskrat

9. Porcupine

10. Woodchuck

11. Opossum

12. Big Brown Bat

13. Little Brown Bat

14. Northern Long-eared Bat

15. Black Bear

16. Coyote

17. Fisher

18. Red Fox

19. Mink

20. Raccoon

21. Eastern Striped Skunk

22. White-tailed Deer

23. Eastern Cottontail

24. Deer Mouse

25. House Mouse

26. Meadow Jumping Mouse

27. Meadow Vole

28. White-footed Deer Mouse


I can’t wait to see what mammals in 2007 will bring me.

REPTILES – My 2006 Nature Checklist

I decided to split up my 2006 Nature Checklist into 5 different categories; Butterflies & Skippers, Amphibians, Reptiles, Mammals and Birds! Reptiles are the next family in my series of species that I have kept track of within Western New York State. I have also taken the Reptiles and split them up between Turtles (4) and Snakes (6).

the eyes

Some turtle species like the Eastern Painted Turtle can be consistently found in the same area day after day. Then if you’re lucky you could find turtles which are more secretive and it then becomes blog worthy. Last spring I had one of these experiences with a snapping turtle that approached me while I was out in the water searching by flashlight for spring peepers. Suddenly I felt something hit my rubber boots and this large snapping turtle climbing over my foot. I quickly tried to grab it but within a blink of an eye it crawled under a clump of grass. I did my best to grab it but was out of reach and I did not want to loose any fingers. We had so much fun that night.

Along the side of the road! Wood Turtle

The next exciting day was on the 1st of June 2006 where I didn’t find one but two unusual turtle encounters. Earlier in the day we had a male Wood Turtle crossing one of the dirt roads here in Allegany. Each year I sometimes come across one or maybe two Wood Turtle here in Allegany. What was so exciting about this find was that this guy was in an area which I had never seen them in this area before. That wasn’t the highlight of the day, it came later heading into town to get some pizza. I found this female Snapper looking for a place to lay her eggs in the gravel. This Snapping Turtle was very laid back and surprisingly it allowed me to get very close for a few pictures! I quickly took a few shots and let her do her thing. I did return later in the evening to find that she had successfully crossed back across the road without any harm.

there are times you shouldn't use you macro lens Painted Turtle and Mini Me

Then you have those unusual encounters where you find this strange thing stuck in the middle of the road (or bridge). In late July this happened to an Eastern Spiny Softshell and luckily a concerned individual safely removed it from being run over by passing vehicles. It happened to have gotten stuck in the middle of the bridge and couldn’t figure out how to get over the edge. You might wonder how I ended up getting involved; well this person placed this turtle into a bag and brought it to my office for me to identify for him (people bring me unusual presents all the time). Shocked by this unique find, I quickly knew what this funny looking turtle was a Softshell and that we needed to return it back to the lake. I found it amazing how quickly it dashed into the water once we released it.

Here is my list of Turtles which I have listed in taxonomic order by common name (I would be happy to send you their Latin name for any species in question):

1. Common Snapping Turtle 3. Eastern Spiny Softshell
2. Eastern Painted Turtle 4. Wood Turtle

Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)

This year I didn’t spent too much time looking for snakes and only really missed out on seeing the Eastern Milk Snake from my previous years checklist. The highlights this year had to have been seeing three Smooth Green Snakes. Typically I only find green’s squished on the road and rarely lucky enough to find them alive! While at the Audubon Nature Pilgrimage this year, Rex had two live ones that he had found (and let me hold one). Then in late June while leading a group of people into the Old Growth Forest we happen to find a Smooth Green in some of the vegetation. I think we also found a Garter that day and the walk quickly turned into a reptile talk. We released the snakes where we found them and continued back talking about forest ecology. It was one of those few times that I didn’t have my camera with me.

Ringneck in the hand Ringneck in the leaf

Regarding other species of snakes, the Northern Ring-neck Snake truly put on a show for me year. I found some tiny ones around the admin building and even found one while it was snowing out in October. I was successful this year in photographing a Northern Water Snake after numerous unsuccessful attempts throughout the summer. Common Garter snakes were just as common as always and can’t wait believe where they were being seen.

Here is my list of Snakes which I have listed in taxonomic order by common name (I would be happy to send you their Latin name for any species in question):

1. Northern Water Snake 4. Eastern Garter Snake
2. Brown Snake 5. Northern Ring-neck Snake
3. Red-bellied Snake 6. E. Smooth Green Snake

Water Snake

I can’t wait to see what reptiles in 2007 will bring me. Maybe even a Timber Rattlesnake??

AMPHIBIANS – My 2006 Nature Checklist

I decided to split up my 2006 Nature Checklist into 5 different categories; Butterflies & Skippers, Amphibians, Reptiles, Mammals and Birds! Amphibians are the next family in my series of species that I have kept track of within Western New York State. I have also taken the Amphibians and split them up between Salamanders (8) and Frogs (7).


This year I had hopes of finding a Hellbender or Long-tailed Salamander along the Allegany River Valley but just didn’t take the time to get out and find them. Maybe 2007 will bring me these two species as “lifer” yet alone 2007 Salamanders that I don’t normally find. I also didn’t take the time to head out to Audubon’s property to see any of the Four-toed Salamanders which I had done in years past.

Spotted Salamander Vernal Pool

The “Salamander Night” occurred on the 12th of March 2006 this year which is much earlier than I can ever remember in years past. There were no larger numbers of them migrating to the vernal pools this year but more scattered visits over the whole week (than just one night). If you have never heard of “Salamander Night”, it is the first “warm” rainy night in the spring where the Spotted Salamanders migrate to vernal pools to breed. Many other critters like Wood Frogs and Spring Peepers can also been seen on this big night as many of us naturalist brave the elements to assist these Salamanders in crossing the road’s (and not get squished).

The three critters of the night Spotted Salamander Eggs

Here is my list of Salamanders which I have listed in taxonomic order by common name (I would be happy to send you their Latin name for any species in question):

1. Red-spotted Newt 5. Northern Slimy Salamander
2. Northern Dusky Salamander 6. Wehrle’s Salamander
3. Allegany Dusky Salamander 7. Spotted Salamander
4. Red-backed Salamander 8. Spring Salamander

An American Toad

This was a wonderful year for me taking Frog pictures and I was able to capture all 7 species of frogs that I had seen this year! I was most proud of capturing my first ever “pictures” of a Bullfrog and Pickerel Frog. I wasn’t that successful in finding any Gray Treefrogs within the Allegany State Park area (the one species which I missed out on this year). I did see someone’s pet gray but they don’t count for my list! As most know, I have fallen in love with the Gray Treefrog ever since I first saw them in Michigan many years ago. Next years goal is finding this species here in the park (which they have been recorded vocalizing in years past). Expect the blog world to be woken up with my excitement when that happens!

Its about to jump - no bull about it This really is my first Pickerel Frog

Here is my list of Frogs which I have listed in taxonomic order by common name (I would be happy to send you their Latin name for any species in question):

1. American Toad 5. Northern leopard Frog
2. Spring Peeper 6. Pickerel Frog
3. Bullfrog 7. Wood Frog
4. Green Frog  

cooling off in the pond Northern Leopard Frog

I can’t wait to see what amphibians in 2007 will bring me.

BUTTERFLIES – My 2006 Nature Checklist

Butterflies play with shadows also

I decided to split up my 2006 Nature Checklist into 5 different categories; Butterflies & Skippers, Amphibians, Reptiles, Mammals and Birds! I would like to start this series with my 45 Butterfly & Skipper species found within Western New York State. There is no doubt that my 2006 numbers are slightly lower than previous years and this is primarily due to it raining every weekend from Late July through Columbus weekend in October. The rain kept me from getting out in the field each weekend and shortened the amount of time which adults were able to be located flying around during the late summer/fall months.

summer azure Friday it hatched

Here is my list of Butterflies and Skippers which I have listed in taxonomic order by common name (I would be happy to send you their Latin name for any species in question):

1. Black Swallowtail

16. Meadow Fritillary

31. Common Ringlet

2. E. Tiger Swallowtail

17. Pearl Crescent

32. Comm Wood-Nymph

3. West Virginia White

18. Baltimore Checkerspot

33. Monarch

4. Cabbage White

19. Question Mark

34. Silver-spotted Skipper

5. Clouded Sulphur

20. Eastern Comma

35. Dreamy Duskywing

6. Orange Sulphur

21. Gray Comma

36. Juvenal Duskywing

7. American Copper

22. Mourning Cloak

37. C. Checkered Skipper

8. Striped Hairstreak

23. American Lady

38. Least Skipper

9. Eastern Tailed Blue

24. Red Admiral

39. European Skipper

10. Spring Azure

25. White Admiral

40. Indian Skipper

11. Summer Azure

26. Red-spotted Purple

41. Peck’s Skipper

12. G. Spangled Fritillary

27. Viceroy

42. Long Dash

13. Aphrodite Fritillary

28. Northern Pearly-eye

43. Hobomok Skipper

14. Atlantis Fritillary

29. Eyed Brown

44. Dun Skipper

15. Silver-bordered Fritillary

30. Little Wood-Satyr

45. Pepper n Salt Skipper

First Day of Butterflies Common Checkered Skipper

My first butterflies were located on the 11th of April with 4 Eastern Comma’s and 1 Mourning Cloak along Bay State Road. My peak of butterflies observed was 22 species within 3 hours on the 21st of July 2006. In past years I have broken 30 species within a day’s time.

Baltimore in the leaf shadow Great Spangled Fritillary

Even with this strange weather, there were a few butterfly highlights which I could not forget to report! The first had to be relocating a Baltimore Checkerspot on the 13th of July. This is the first which I have seen these guys flying around since 2002. I also enjoyed photographing the Common Checkered Skipper over at the Jamestown Audubon on the 10th of September 2006. The Silver-bordered Fritillary’s were wonderful while spending the day with Jeremy Martin on a flickr get-together at the Zaepfel Nature Sanctuary. My last memory was raising and releasing so many Monarch Butterflies this year for their migration south!

Silver-Bordered Fritillary Silver Bordered Fritillary

I can’t wait to see what butterflies in 2007 will bring me.