Monday, April 9, 2012

Small Packages

 [Azure, near Belleplain State Forest's famous "triangle" on Saturday. Dozens of azures fluttered about along the trails and roadsides, rarely resting long enough to give you time to get down on the ground with them and take a picture.]

Now that it's Monday morning and we're rushing off to work, or are supposed to be, it occurs to me that the smallest package of all is a weekend in spring. A weekend when you want a week, or a month, a year. A weekend, in this case, spent pursuing nickel-sized butterflies in sheltered nooks in an otherwise windy Belleplain State Forest.

 [Henry's Elfins, tiny but striking, were the most common of three elfin species. A tailed species, Henry's have a "frosted" hindwing with two white spots at each end of the post medial line (the line framing the dark inner half of the hindwing.]

Birds were fairly quiet in the wind and cool on Saturday, something confirmed by Jim Armstrong, Bert Hixon, Shaun Bamford et. al., who were finishing up a field trip when we met them at Belleplain's headquarters. Certainly a lot more Pine Warblers were present than we were hearing, ditto Yellow-throated Warblers. The Pines I suspect are busy nest-building, perhaps the Yellow-throateds as well. A Louisiana Waterthrush did sing near the little footbridge over Lake Nummy, an atypical location for this bird. But at least it was a very butterflyey day.

[The gaudiest elfin, Eastern Pine Elfin on Tom Field Road.]

[We saw only this one Brown Elfin .]

[Duskywings were abundant, but always landed spreadwinged to absorb the sun's heat, so it was difficult to confirm whether they were Horace's or Juvenal's (have to see the underside of the wing to reliably tell). These are slightly larger than the elfins, size of a quarter maybe.]

[Greater Yellowlegs foraging along the shore of Lake Nummy.]
A high tide visit to Heislerville on Sunday was a bit of a disappointment, because the impoundments are still very full and supported only a couple yellowlegs and a Killdeer. The rookery there was active, however, with Double-crested Cormorants joining the Black-crowned Night-herons and egrets in constructing nests.
And now the weekend has disappeared, like the Swallow-tailed Kite that flew over us at mile 3.1 on the Garden State Parkway shortly before sundown on Sunday, headed inland. I'd like both back, please. . .

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