First Butterfly Walk of the new year- A Juniper Hairstreak!

The colors on the juniper hairstreak are stunning!
The colors on the juniper hairstreak are stunning!

Well, today I took my first butterfly walk with Tom Gagnon of the season.  And what a walk it was.  We went looking for the Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus) and found it in the juniper stand on Mt. Tom.  We also saw a wild indigo duskywing, a dreamy duskywing, american lady, a tiger swallow tail, and newly out of their chryalis, an american copper and a pearl crescent! And if that wasn’t enough, great eyes caught site of a peregrine on the side of the cliff in the quarry!  A wonderful day! Remember to click onto the pictures to enlarge!

group mt tom
Here’s the happy group of butterfliers!
Notice that the hairstreak has tails to distract predators and have them focus on the rear. So the butterfly can escape flying forward!
Notice that the hairstreak has tails to distract predators and have them focus on the rear. So the butterfly can escape flying forward!
Wonderful!
Wonderful!
The wild indigo duskywing.
The wild indigo duskywing.
And the dreamy duskywing!
And the dreamy duskywing!
The American lady sat still for about half a second!
The American lady sat still for about half a second!
While the American copper posed for the camera...
While the American copper posed for the camera…

IMG_0949 american copper

And the pearl crescent soaked up the spring sunshine!
And the pearl crescent soaked up the spring sunshine!
Our fearless leader, Tom, always looking up!
Our fearless leader, Tom, always looking up!

No Snow but lots of British Soldiers…What?

IMG_1104 John and group mineral hillsI led a winter tracking hike into the Mineral Hills for Kestrel Land Trust.  There wasn’t much snow or mud even so there weren’t a lot of tracks to see.  But what a beautiful morning to be out in the woods!  The ice and snow was melting away, leaving the sun to warm up the lichen.  The name British Soldiers comes from the late 1700’s when colonists were still having a bit of a problem with british soldiers.  To me, they look like miniature tulips blooming. The pink earth lichen were also blooming all over the place!  And we enjoyed some horsetails as well.  Click on the photo to enlarge.IMG_0383 british soldiers 10 IMG_0377 british soldiers 9IMG_0365 group on top

Cladonia cristatella- British Soldier Lichen, Remember the fungus "houses" the algae and the algae feeds the fungus. The red flowers are actually spores. Once released, the spore will only become a british soldier if it comes into contact with the Trebouxia erici algae.
Cladonia cristatella- British Soldier Lichen, Remember the fungus “houses” the algae and the algae feeds the fungus. The red flowers are actually spores. Once released, the spore will only become a british soldier if it comes into contact with the Trebouxia erici algae.

IMG_0404 british soldiers penny

We also saw the seed containers of a grass correctly named Seedbox, hmmm, I wonder why?
We also saw the seed containers of a grass correctly named Seedbox, hmmm, I wonder why?

IMG_0386 pink earth 8 IMG_0392 pink earth hand IMG_0373IMG_0399 british soldier ice

Equisetum. This is a spore container called a stobili. Horsetails are living fossils, living on the earth for over 100 million years. Some were as large as trees, almost 100 feet tall! Now they grow 3 feet high.
Equisetum. This is a spore container called a stobili. Horsetails are living fossils, living on the earth for over 100 million years. Some were as large as trees, almost 100 feet tall! Now they grow 3 feet high.
Equisetum. This is a spore container called a stobili.  Horsetails are living fossils, living on the earth for over 100 million years. Some were as large as trees,  almost 100 feet  tall!  Now they grow3 feet high.
Pink Earth Lichen- Dibaeis baeomyces. It makes the earth pink! It also makes a crust and slowly help rejuvenate disturbed soils.

Berkshire Natural History Conference- What a Gem!

I had the pleasure of attending and videotaping the morning sessions of the 3rd Annual Berkshire Natural History Conference at Berkshire Community College.  What a gem!  Listen to this line-up, Tom Tyning answering the question Who Was Ralph Hoffmann?, Julie Richburg giving a tour of The Trustees’ Reservations and their Natural Communities, Bob Leverett giving us his top 8 Great Trees, Joe Kravitz exploring Global Climate Change in the Berkshires, and Jim Cardoza celebrating the Great American Turkey Success!  Yehaa!  Take a look down below for each of the videos:

Tom Tyning:

Julie Richburg

Bob Leverett

Joe Kravitz

Jim Cardoza

 

My Early Fall trip to the Cape

A snowy zen...
A snowy zen…

So I was hoping that, like last year, I’d see the hundreds of tree swallows feasting on the waxy bay berries.  But alas, the bay berries were still intact. BUT I did get to see hundreds of very cute surf scoters (colorful bills and white dots on the back of their heads), white-winged scoters (white eye liner), black scoters (all in black), and eiders fishing off of High Head.  Scoter is pronounced like voters.    Here is the video of the scoters, my video from last year, and some pictures from this year.

Last year’s video visit:

Scooters...
Scoters…
Scooters!
Scoters!
Shadows lengthening...
Shadows lengthening…
Hatches Harbor
Hatches Harbor
A great blue heron fishing on the salt marsh.
A great blue heron fishing on the salt marsh.
The old Chatham lifeguard station at Race Point.
The old Chatham lifeguard station at Race Point.
Clouds on the Moors,
Clouds on the Moors,
An iconic picture of the cape...a cormorant and seagull.
An iconic picture of the cape…a cormorant and seagull.

 

 

 

 

A Walk on the Wild Side… well maybe not so wild but pretty cool!

IMG_9510 groupI had the great pleasure of going out on another butterfly walk with the great butterfliers, Tom Gagnon and Bill Bonner.  We visited the Northampton Community Gardens on Burt’s Pitt Road.  Wow, what a day.  Tom and Bill led a fantastic walk through the Gardens, sponsored by the Massachusetts Butterfly Club.   Take a look (click on any picture to enlarge):

This fiery skipper was spectacular!
This fiery skipper was spectacular!
I think I'm in love! This buckeye just stole my heart!
I think I’m in love! This buckeye just stole my heart!
This variegated fritillary caught everyone by suprise. Look at it posing for the camera...
This variegated fritillary caught everyone by suprise. Look at it posing for the camera…
This painted lady was showing off.
This painted lady was showing off.
Wow!
Wow!
We found a glob of bird poop. Nope, this is the caterpillar for the giant swallowtail.
We found a glob of bird poop. Nope, this is the caterpillar for the giant swallowtail.
This one has its osmateria out. It emits a very smelly odor to deter predators.
This one has its osmateria out. It emits a very smelly odor to deter predators.
They then go into a chrysalis until spring...
They then go into a chrysalis until spring…
And with one of the most incredible miracles in nature, emerges as a beautiful butterfly.
And with one of the most incredible miracles in nature, emerges as a beautiful butterfly.

giant swallowtail from above

Just a Taste of the Mt. Tom Bio Blitz

IMG_9296 serenity before the survey
A bit of serenity before the start.

Here’s just some pictures of the Bio Blitz on Mt. Tom.  I’ll put up a couple of videos in the next few days.

We first had to measure the timber rattlesnake.
We first had to measure the timber rattlesnake.
IMG_9341 rattlesnake eye
The snake was encouraged into a tube to protect everyone.
IMG_9357 green frog
A green frog in the previous wave pool.
IMG_9371 american copper butterfly
An American Copper.
IMG_9377 white-tailed deer
A white-tailed deer.
A meta morph spotted salamader.
A meta morph spotted salamader.
A very small finger clam.
A very small finger clam.
A black racer.
A black racer.
And birder...always looking up!
And birders…always looking up!

Immature Little Blue Heron Shows us its Fishing Technique

IMG_8363 three lillies bestI had the pleasure of watching an immature little blue heron fish at Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area.  Little Blues almost never get this far north and when they do, they are usually only found along the coast.  What a treat!  And it posed for some get pictures as well.  Click on images to enlarge.

IMG_8365 very close straight on copyIMG_8350 copyIMG_8317 leaningIMG_8309 leftIMG_8365 very close straight on copy

Fitzgerald Lake Butterflies!

An endangered Dion Skipper
An endangered Dion Skipper

I celebrated a beautiful morning on the 4th of July at Fitzgerald Lake with Butterfly Club of Western Massachusetts.  Led by Tom and Bill, we went out looking for the Dion Skipper, an endangered butterfly here in Massachusetts.  It can be found on marsh milkweed, especially on the dam.  Success, we found a beautiful specimen hanging out right where they thought it would be.  But along the way, we saw an Appalachian brown, great spangled fritillaries, a monarch butterfly and a caterpillar, and a silver spotted skipper.  As we were leaving, a red admiral showed up on the parking lot to add to the fireworks of the morning!  Remember, if you click on a picture it will expand it:

The group at the dam.
The group at the dam.
The appalachian brown
The appalachian brown
A monarch caterpillar
A monarch caterpillar
A female monarch
A female monarch
a silver spotted skipper
a silver spotted skipper
Another picture of a dion skipper
Another picture of a dion skipper
A great spangled fritillary
A great spangled fritillary
two frits side by side!
two frits side by side!
A red admiral guarding the parking lot...
A red admiral guarding the parking lot…
A splash of fireworks to end the hike!  Thanks Tom and Bill!
A splash of fireworks to end the hike! Thanks Tom and Bill!

 

Things are looking up, its Spring! But also look down!

Look down because there are wonderful early spring wildflowers just asking to be admired!  Take a look, and remember, click the image to enlarge…

Spring Beauty is a cute little flower that ranges from white to almost purple. Native americans cooked their roots like a potatoe
Spring Beauty is a cute little flower that ranges from white to almost purple. Native americans cooked their roots like a potatoe
IMG_5578 spring beauty grove
A grove of Spring beauties.
IMG_5585 spring beauty group
Spring beauty
IMG_5577 spring beauty
Spring beauty
IMG_5406 hepatica
And then there is the incredible hepatica!
IMG_5384 hepatica 2
Hepatica
IMG_5382 hepatica
Hepatica. Click on this image and zoom in!
IMG_5396 hepatica grove
a hepatica grove
IMG_5399 blood root
The blood root catches everyone’s eye!
IMG_5387 blood root with leaves as a jacket
Doesn’t it look like the blood root is using its leaves as a coat?
IMG_5389 blood root grove
A grove of blood root. Sap from the roots is blood red in color. Native americans would use the sap as war paint or to dye baskets.
Blood root keeping warm...
Blood root keeping warm…