Bugs June 11

After a fun day in New Jersey at Edwin and Kiki’s 60th anniversary party, I had yesterday off. Started by sleeping late and then went to work on some atlasing. Nothing all that exciting birdwise at Lot 1, although I did get a few more common birds that I had been missing up to now. In the field was a nice selection of butterflies.

Dreamy Duskywing

Hobomok Skipper

Started with the Dreamy Duskywing above and then lots of Little Wood Satyrs, Ringlets, Peck’s Skippers, a single American Copper, some Silver-spotted Skippers, and the Hobomok Skipper above.

Long Dash

Long Dash

On the way out, I had this very nice Long Dash.

After finishing up with Green and Black-crowned Night-Herons on the pond, I headed to the Beaver Brook Duck Ponds to do an ode survey. It had clouded up a bit, so I walked down and around the stream a bit before starting. Once it cleared up, I got going but didn’t find all that much. The mystery clubtail from last week’s survey didn’t show, but I did get a few decent pictures of Skimming Bluet:

Stream Bluet

After a lunch stop, it was still sunny (furthering my belief that it’s best to ignore the weathermen and just do things until it’s no longer possible), so I headed out to do some more odeing. I decided to investigate the Littleton heron rookery and got there around 1:30.

As soon as I started down the train tracks, a train came so I ducked into the brush. There were a bunch of teneral spreadwings, but I didn’t want to handle them, so they were left unidentified. Once the train passed, I continued down the tracks. A fairly large orange butterfly flew by. It wasn’t stopping, so I figured it was just another American Lady (funny saying that after last year) but that turned out to be a mistake.

Variegated Fritillary

It soon landed and was no American Lady. Not only was it a life butterfly, but the Variegated Fritillary was posing very nicely. I would have liked an underside shot, but no complaints.

I eventually continued on (and the fritillary followed) and soon reached the pond. On the way in, I picked up a bunch of first-of-season skimmers. At the pond, it was fairly quiet, except for numerous Marsh Bluets.

Marsh Bluet

Marsh Bluets in tandem

I watched the herons for a few minutes and looked for the Red-headed Woodpecker (possibly heard, but not seen). Other than the bluets, the only other odes were a few Four-spotted Skimmers and a Common Green Darner. Eventually I began working my way back.

When I first came here, I had thought I was hearing the woodpecker on the other side of the tracks, which was also very swampy. I took a walk in and found an Aurora Damsel and a Sedge Sprite, neither of which wanted to pose. On the way back, I took a few swings at some baskettails that didn’t get close enough and refound the fritillary, now showing its underside.

Variegated Fritillary below

Back at the car, it was still nice, so I decided to stop at Fort Pond Brook on the Acton/Concord line on the way home. I wandered around for a while, finding some Lancet Clubtails, many Spangled Skimmers, a Prince Baskettail, and some nice butterflies.

probable Wild Indigo Duskywing

Northern Cloudywing

Lancet Clubtail

After making the loop straight out, I walked the trail along the edge of the brook. I finally caught a few baskettails, all of which were Common. Down on the Concord side, I found a bluet that I eventually figured out as Turquoise, which was a new one for me.

Turquoise Bluet

As I left, I found one last interesting sight, the remains of an Ebony Jewelwing on the ground.

Jewel wings

A fun day to be out.

Big Day

Today was quite the day.

I was co-leading a trip for the Prospect Hill Park Advocacy Group with Judy Marino this morning. The trip started at 8, but I arrived at 7 to scout a bit. There was quite a bit doing and fairly quickly I added a new bird to my Waltham list when a Canada Warbler and Common Yellowthroat started chasing each other. I worked my way uphill and picked up 10 species of warbler, including several new for the year (Magnolia, Redstart, Nashville, Ovenbird). There was also an out-of-place Swamp Sparrow about halfway up. After reaching the water towers, I headed back down and added Waltham bird #2 when a Veery started running across the road. It proved to be annoying, as the bird stayed facing away and eventually dropped into heavy brush. I did finally get a confirming look and also found a second one.

Back at the bottom, we began the trip, which was a good mix of Menotomy and PHPAG people. Almost immediately, we got excellent looks at several Baltimore Orioles and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. The Indigo Bunting was less cooperative and the Canada Warbler had disappeared.

We finished poking around the bottom of the hill and drove up to Big Prospect. Since I had seen a lot just downhill, we headed that way. Almost immediately, a Common Raven flew over, extremely low. I had thought I heard one at the park about 2 weeks ago, so it was great to confirm a county bird.

The hill was nowhere near as active, with just a brief look at a Black-throated Blue and a short bit of Towhee song. We returned to the cars, and as we walked up, 2 ravens flew off the tower! Checking from the other side, there was quite a collection of sticks, so it looks like they’re breeding here. Quite a record.

Raven Nest

Although I didn’t see the birds return, we did spot them several times later.

We moved on to Little Prospect, where we enjoyed the view and this Indigo Bunting.

Singing Indigo Bunting

We moved on to walk around the south end. Partway around, we finally hit a pocket of warblers, including BT Green, BT Blue, Parula, and Black-and-white. They were also joined by a Blue-headed Vireo and another Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Walking around the back, I found my first Common Whitetail of the year.

The trip was clearly a success (even without a Downy!).

I decided to head over to Assabet River NWR and look for more dragonflies. Arriving around 1PM, I had my first Whiteface almost as soon as I was through the gate. It didn’t hold still for a photo (like almost every whiteface today).

The Boghaunter show started shortly after, right at the first wet spot. There were a few whitefaces around as well, but not cooperative enough to ID. One thing that was cooperative was an oddly-marked Azure.

Azure

I’m guessing it’s a lucia form Cherry Gall.

A little further on was this American Lady.

American Lady

Another boghaunter showed up near the next wet area, posing nicely.

Ringed Boghaunter

Also in the general area was a single Stream Cruiser (who hid behind a pine) and several Springtime Darners.

Springtime Darner

Springtime Darner

Passing White Pond Road, the numbers increased. Soon there were 2-3 Boghaunters on the road almost all the time and many Whitefaces along the edge. There were also plenty of Eastern Pine Elfins, more Azures, and a handful of Tiger Swallowtails and Duskywings.

I almost got tired of the boghaunters, and gave up counting. However, at one point, something appeared to attack one. I heard the flutter as they collided and saw a second Boghaunter on top. I started snapping pictures while trying to figure out if they were about to mate or one was about to become the other’s lunch.

Two Boghaunters

Two Boghaunters

Two Boghaunters

They turned out to be mating as they flew away and moved into a wheel (not landing enough to get a shot off). I found a second pair in the wheel shortly after.

The whitefaces continued to stop at bad angles, but I was able to find a mating pair of Hudsonian and several male Dot-tailed that were old enough to be distinctive. The only one(s?) I got pictures of appeared to be Hudsonian.

Whiteface

The boghaunters continued in good numbers all the way down to marker #4. I’d estimate that there were at least 30 along the way.

Also along the way was a teneral Four-spotted Skimmer. I really wish everything posed like this one did.

Four-spotted Skimmer

(Click on it and then hit All Sizes to get a really good view)

Reaching Marker 4, I headed down Trail B, which was fairly quiet. However, once I reached White Pond Road, I started seeing more boghaunters and several more Four-spotted Skimmers. I’m guessing there were at least 10 more boghaunters, so that’s about 40. I followed Trail C back, but things slowed down a bit (other than a raven calling). I did find two forktails together (guessing I was just paying more attention after seeing the first to find the second).

Eastern Forktail

Fragile Forktail

Quite the day. Three city birds, one county, and tons of first-of-year stuff.

Early May Fun

Today was an excellent day, good birds everywhere. Starting at Arlington Res with just under 50 species, including 5 species of swallow, 6 warblers, and 5 blackbirds. A quick stop at Arlington Great Meadows was less productive (I was hoping for duskywings and elfins, but the clouds kept butterflies away), but I picked up a few more good birds including a Brown Thrasher, an Eastern Towhee, and a flyby Accipipter.

Later in the day, we headed out to Great Meadows in Concord. It was surprisingly slow, with only cormorants, mallards, geese, and swans on the water. A few Least Sandpipers made the trip worthwhile though.

Quiz: which one’s which?

This parula was singing in a bush well below eye level, wish the shot was a little better.

And this guy was singing right above (and another to the side, and 3 more further, and …)

Now you see me

Now you don’t

That got boring, so let’s sing instead.

No clue what this one was up to

Savannah posed nicely.

As did this Least Sandpiper later in the day at Great Meadows.

Assabet River Vultures

These guys all landed right in front of me. I got a good 60 shots. After I left, they moved on as well, and from the sound of things took the branch off with them.

Vultures!

This one really looks like a turkey at this angle:

Vulture

Vulture

Vulture

Vulture

Nothing other than these and the butterflies wanted to pose, but there were a few more things about including some Rusty Blackbirds (finally this year) and a Wild Turkey on the way over.

Red-headed Woodpecker

The big prize:

Red-headed Woodpecker

Unfortunately, he never got closer than probably a hundred yards, so I couldn’t do much with the camera. Luckily, he was distinctive enough that I didn’t have to run back for the scope.

But before he was found:

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker Excavating a Hole

Yes, that’s sawdust from him.

There were birds all over, including 6 species of woodpecker, singing Winter Wren, too many Tree Swallows to count, and this guy:

Osprey perched

Osprey with Fish

Even further than the woodpecker and after it had clouded over, but still was worth trying.

Owl Nest

Among other things, I took a walk around Lyons-Cutler Reservation today. Walking through the woods, I noticed an eggshell on the ground:

Egg

I started looking up and noticed a couple sticks in the tree right on the path. Looking carefully, a tail was visible:

Tail

At this point, I was fairly sure it was an owl, but not convinced. I took a few steps off the path and couldn’t find the bird. A few more steps however:

Ear Tufts

Guess that confirmed it. That’s Block Framingham 4. If the owner of the block wants more details I can try, although it was pretty much see the egg and look up.

Also had at least 4 Great Blue Herons on the nest.

Switching Hosts

A bit of a spam issue finally pushed me to switch hosts. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while for code hosting purposes (not to mention backup), so hello textdrive.

Thanks to PSF for the 3 years of hosting, recommended if you just need to dump files.

As I transition, I’ve lost the timestamps on posts, so things are out of order right now. Luckily it’s only a couple months of stuff.

Flickr Plugin

I decided it’s easier to use flickr for hosting pictures with the new camera. Flickr has a requirement that all photos link back, so it would get ugly pretty quickly if I had to do the link and image tag every time (although I could just cut and paste their code).

Instead, I wrote a Blosxom plugin that takes the url to the picture itself and a description and builds the link. It was all of 20 lines, most of which was blosxom required empty methods. The actual linking consisted of one regex match, a small bit of parsing that and then a replace with the url and image link.

Unfortunately, flickr urls include underscores and the Markdown plugin tried to make those into emphasis. Instead of just renumbering/renaming, I added a Markdown fixer that does a search and replace for <em> tags in the src links and reverts them to underscores.