Friday, March 18, 2011

A Sunny Day, butterflies, duckage & more...

Indoors is no place to be on a fine sunny day in March, so Tony Leukering and I had already hatched a plan to go 'bugging' in the north of Cape May County. The drive from my house to Tony's is through urban habitat pretty much all the way, so I was a little surprised to chance across a gathering of 13 Wild Turkeys on a private lawn along the route that I took!!

Some of the 13 Wild Turkeys on a private lawn in Cape May today. Turkeys are normally pretty elusive things, but spring fever always gets the better of them and late March/Early April is prime time around here to get good views of them. This should have been a better picture, but when I got home I discovered that my camera had been on the wrong settings all day! [Photo by Mike Crewe]

Our departure from Villas was stalled a while after Tom Reed reported a Cackling Goose coming in over Cape May Point with Canada Geese - but it didn't come our way. Spending the morning at the usual sites around Jakes Landing, Belleplain State Forest and Head of the River, we can report that Pine Warblers a-plenty are singing in suitable habitat throughout the area. I heard an Eastern Screech Owl call several times along Jakes Landing Road while Tony was photographing an Osprey carrying nest material out on the marsh. Ring-necked Ducks were staging on pretty much every pond we passed and Glen Davies joined us for most of the day. Messers Reed and Galick beat us to Heislerville and put out news of the Eurasian (Common) Teal which continues there. The bird favors the first empoundment on the left as you arrive at the site, though by the time we arrived a Bald Eagle (we saw two there) had flushed most of the birds out onto the tidal mud and after much searching we did manage to find it out there. Good numbers of Dunlin are building up at Heislerville, along with a scattering of Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs - more to come, I'm sure. Two Tree Swallows were near East Point this afternoon and David LaPuma reported a good Northern Gannet movement in Delaware Bay.

The bulk of today belonged to the butterflies though; Blueberry Azures seemed to be puddling along most dirt roads in Belleplain and we recorded a good scattering of Eastern Comma, Question-mark, Mourning Cloak and at least two Spring Azures; a five-species day! Will Kerling also reported to me that other butterfly chasers in the county added Small (Cabbage) White to the list as well as more of the species that we recorded.

The Celastrina nightmare begins a-fresh! The once easily-recognized Spring Azure has been carved up into a confusing assemblage of species which leave most of us baffled! Perhaps the most easily recognized is Blueberry Azure, though this 'species' has not been officially described yet. It comes in two forms, this one - with the dark central patch on the hindwing - is form lucia. [Photo by Mike Crewe]

This butterfly is also Blueberry Azure, of the form marginata. Both forms have the dark band along the outer edge of the underside of the hindwing. [Photo by Mike Crewe]

Will Kerling photographed this Eastern Comma at Beaver Dam Road near Goshen today. Note the six dark spots on the forewing and compare with yesterday's Question-mark picture (I've added it again below for you). [Photo by Will Kerling]

On a very different note, I photographed Tiny Bluets (Houstonia pusilla) in Coldspring today, having found it there last year, but too late in the year for photographs. This would appear to be the first record of this tiny native species for New Jersey (the nearest records are from Virginia and Maryland), so if anyone can help me with advice on whether there is a formal system for recording such things I would love to hear from them! [Photo by Mike Crewe]

No comments: