Saturday, July 31, 2010

Letterboxing at Arnold Arboretum

Lily finds an Eastern Redbud

This morning we took Lily to Arnold Arboretum. They offer some child-oriented activities on the last Saturday of each month. Today was pod day. Lily enjoyed the letter-box circuit they had set up, which ended with the "dangerous tree"--the honeylocust.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Late July at the Charles River Peninsula

Song Sparrow, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA

Bird families on display. Especially song sparrows. Into everything.

But also, red-winged blackbirds, cedar waxwings, and house wrens.

The property's the yellow-throated vireo continues. I don't know how successful the breeding was this year, but the male sings sporadically and I spotted him by eye for the first time in a while this morning. Also of interest, the tiny flycatcher below, which I initially took for a goldfinch. Only long distance shots. I assume willow but I didn't hear any singing to know for sure.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Great Meadows Day

Great Meadows NWR, Concord, MA

First, Great Meadows, Sudbury, where I walked the Red Maple Trail very slowly. A scarlet tanager couple was chip-burring constantly in the grove right off the parking lot. Low quality photos not worth sharing. But I did get a cool dragonfly perspective shot.

On the way to Concord, I stopped to take a look at the Sudbury River.

Goldfinch males tirelessly pursuing female, and then they all stopped to take a bath on the riverbank.

By the time I got to Concord, the skies looked like they might burst open. Winds began to gust. And then the sun came out. No rain.

The place is currently stuffed with great blue herons. Here is a long distance look at a group of four (you may have to click to see them)

Insect of the day: a Monarch? No I do believe its the faux version, a Viceroy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A sunny morning atop Noanet Peak

Noanet Peak, Noanet Woods, Dover, MA

There are few more pleasant ways to spend an early Sunday morning in mid-July than sitting on the rocks atop Noanet Peak gazing over the woods and listening to the birdsong. Hermit thrush and wood pewee and scarlet tanager songs and not one but two ruby-throated hummingbird fly-bys while I was resting there.

One tanager (not in his best plumage, unfortunately) was singing at just about eye-level, blood-red in the morning sun.

On the way down the hill, I ran across this young raccoon.

It was looking for an escape route and headed down a narrow branch. I hadn't realized raccoons could be quite so clumsy.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Morning on Mt. Greylock

Fireweed, Jones Nose Trail, Mt. Greylock

In Pittsfield over night, I took the opportunity to drive up Mt. Greylock early in the morning. NO ONE ELSE WAS THERE (at 5:30 a.m.).

I'd heard that Jones Nose was a good birding spot, so I spent most of my time there. Fireweed was in spectacular bloom and the assembled bumblebees were quite loud.

The area was birdy indeed, as you can hear from this recording. Snatches of veery, wood thrush, towhee, yellowthroat, redstart, song sparrow and most prominently, black and white warbler (the squeaky wheel song).

Also caught the song of an unseen mourning warbler. I didn't manage a recording of the whole song (a yellowthroat overlapped it) but I did get the "churr churr" part.

Favorite sound of the morning: a family of common ravens flying by so closely you can hear the whirr of their wings. And their ungodly screams.

And what July post would be complete without some insect life.

It's nice to see crane flies in their natural habitat (instead of bouncing around in the corner of some ceiling).

Here's a pretty yellow-headed wasp moth (probably Virginia Ctenucha).

And fritillary butterflies were quite common on the mountain, aggressively chasing away anything in their path (I'm guessing Aphrodite below)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Macro day!

Robber Fly, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA

It is amazing how quickly the bugs change from day to day. All of a sudden, a diversity of dragonflies, different colors and sizes.

The cicadas are also beginning to emerge.

And the horse nettles are blooming. Macro reveals a suitably eerie flower.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

More July CRP

Great Blue Heron, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA

I went out this morning to help clean up the CRP; filled up a whole bag with trash, mostly expended fireworks.

I was expecting to focus on macro bug shots again. Instead I got mega-fauna. The heron above was right across from the boat launch.

As soon as I entered the meadow, a red-tailed hawk took off screeching from the shag-bark hickory at the top of the hill. I looked again and there was another hawk in the top branches. Has our resident hawk finally found a partner? (Or a rival?)

And out on the meadow a mother white-tail was grazing with her fawn. They took off when they saw me; I don't know where they ended up hiding.

And I heard a veery. The first time at the CRP.

Of course there were insects to take photos of as well. Here is one (no ID yet) on an emerging goldenrod.

And here's a tiny pearl crescent, licking a rock.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Early July at the Charles River Peninsula

Yellow Warbler, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA

A gorgeous morning at the CRP [though the vandalism at the property continues--fireworks residue littering the paths and a tree swallow box opened up]. Six or eight young barn swallows assembled on the western edge, waiting to be fed.

Cool to see, though a little feeling of dread, as I knew I'd get attacked as I walked by. (I was right).

Elsewhere, a little bit of standing and watching for rustles in the foliage revealed orioles, blue-gray gnatcatchers, warbling vireo and yellow warbler children begging.

Friday, July 2, 2010

July Bugs

Black Swallowtail, Charles River Peninsula, Needham, MA

A sunny afternoon at the CRP, milkweed coming into bloom, it's time to set the camera to macro and start looking for small things. A nice crop of butterflies, mostly common, but still lovely to look at, and other things.

Start with the tiny eastern-tailed blue (the tail on this one is not that defined but is certainly visible).

A lovely wood nymph

And the ultra-territorial silver-spotted skipper; a few pleasurable moments were spent watching these guys chase each other around.

On to the milkweed, where we can see...

The small milkweed bug (yes, that's its real name)

and our old friend, the red milkweed beetle, taking the opportunity to party

The next two I can't ID but I thought they were interesting

This tiny bee, helping to pollinate the wild flowers

And this long fly [UPDATE: Horntail Wood Wasp] (I saw several of them in the same pose) resting on the long grass