Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pine Barrens Butterfly Adventure

[Above: Bog Copper; Below: Two-spotted Skipper. Both of these species are habitat specialists, and can only be found for a brief period of time each year in/near Pine Barrens bogs. Photographed in the New Jersey Conservation Foundation's Franklin Parker Preserve, by Tom Reed.]

[Pine Snake- another Pine Barrens specialty. This species reaches the northern limit of its range here, and is listed as a Threatened Species in New Jersey. The individual pictured was about five feet long. Photos by Tom Reed.]

June is a great time to look for butterflies, dragonflies and other critters that sometimes get overlooked by birders during the "heavier" migration periods. This morning I ventured out with the newly-formed South Jersey Butterfly Club to explore the Franklin Parker Preserve in Chatsworth, deep in the heart of the Pine Barrens. The Preserve is spectacular, featuring typical Pine Barrens habitats, as well as old cranberry bogs and other wetlands that are of great use to many species, be it birds, butterflies or a plethora of others.

Our target butterfly species this morning were Dotted Skipper, Two-spotted Skipper and Bog Copper. We were able to find all three, and also found other Pine Barrens specialties such as Pine Barrens Bluet (a damselfly), Elfin Skimmer (a dragonfly) and a variety of plants.

As for birds... typical Pinelands breeders such as Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Cedar Waxwing and Eastern Towhee were easy to find. While in the bog, a Green Heron and six Wood Ducks flew over, and there was an Orchard Oriole singing at the bog's edge.

To learn more about the Franklin Parker Preserve, visit the NJ Conservation Foundation's site.

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