Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Memories of Spring, Reflections on Summer
[Five-lined Skink, Belleplain State Forest, June 2, 2008 on the last of CMBO's spring Butterflies, Botany and Birds walk. We'll be offering this walk, led by several naturalists of different specialties, again next year. The muted pattern on this individual, and the orangy color on the head, indicate a male. Some Five-lined Skinks are much more patterned, darker with light lines. Photo by Teresa Knipper, click to enlarge.]
I've been remiss in not publicizing more of the great things we've been seeing on our Monday afternoon Butterflies, Botany and Birds in Belleplain walk. Now that that weekly walk has ended for the season, perhaps some photo highlights will whet the appetite for next year. Special thanks are due to Will Kerling, Margi Heuges, Teresa Knipper, and Bert Hixon for helping out on this walk with me. Cool temperatures made the butterflying difficult sometimes, but Little Wood Satyrs, American Ladies, and Red-banded Hairstreaks were flying on the last walk, and since the general theme of the walk was to "look at everything," that's what we did all spring, in the old naturalist and nature walk tradition
We're in that briefest of lulls, the Cape May summer. As Clay and Pat Sutton put it in Birds and Birding in Cape May, "The time between the last departing Semipalmated Sandpipers in early June and the first southbound Greater Yellowlegs in late June is in fact agonizingly short for the avid birder who doesn't want to miss anything (and has to do at least some cursury yard work or token home repair.)"
And it's not really a lull at all. Clay and Pat go on in their terrific book, ". . .with the variety of breeders, and the sheer size and scope of the expansive nesting colonies, the breeding season (summer, to some) is certainly more than just a pause between the better known migration seasons." Amen! It's delightful to watch these colonies, such as the Least Terns at the Cape May Migatory Bird Refuge, go through their rituals, and to see the young go from egg to fledgling to independence. And don't forget the breeding land birds - at Belleplain on Monday, for example, we watched a male Summer Tanager feeding on just-now-ripening Mulberries in a tree on the road to the dump south of Lake Nummy. CMBO offers breeding bird walks at the Beanery every Saturday starting June 7, and our standard Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge/Meadows walk on Monday and Cape May Point walk on Wednesdays continue through the summer, as does the Bird Walk for All People every Thursday at the State Park.
[Northern Fence Lizard, Bellplain State Forest 6/2/07. This one was a male, with electric blue on the sides and throat below. An excellent Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of New Jersey, by Vicki Schwartz and David M. Golden, was put out by the state in 2002 and is available at CMBO. Photo by Teresa Knipper, click to enlarge.]
[Mountain Laurel in bloom, Belleplain. This photo was taken 5/19/08, but it's still blooming strong there now, a dominant shrub in the understory. Photo by Don Freiday.]
[Pink Lady's Slipper, Belleplain 5/19/08, photo by Don Freiday. Something to be appreciated - and NOT picked or transplanted from the wild. Click to enlarge.]
[Blue-eyed Grass (actually a tiny iris), Belleplain 5/19/08. Photo by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]
[Wolf spider carrying her babies, Belleplain 5/19/08. Photo by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]
[This Barred Owl hooted, and then responded to hooting by flying in, at 3:00 in the afternoon, 5/19/08, certainly a highlight of the Belleplain walks. Photo by Don Freiday, click to enlarge.]
[Watching the Barred Owl, which hooted at us for 5 minutes or so before it's mate called back in the forest, and it turned, hooted to her, and disappeared, leaving some very happy people!]