Friday, May 27, 2005

End of Migration

Yesterday I took a short walk around a little pond at the UConn Health Center. The Canada Geese have some little goslings now. They were feeding in the grass, while a few other adult geese floated around in the pond.

In a tree overhanging the pond I saw a male Orchard Oriole hopping around and singing.

On the way back to my office I stopped by the outflow stream and found a male Wilson's Warbler in a bush. In our parking lot the Warbling Vireos were singing.

I noticed that the Coltsfoot that were flowering last month have gone to seed and have little fuzzballs on the end of long stalks. The Russian Olives are in full flower with tens of thousands of tiny yellow trumpet-like flowers. The smell is very powerful and can be detected a long way from the bushes. It smells a bit spicy.

This afternoon at lunch I took a walk at the MDC Reservoir on Farmington Avenue in West Hartford. The vegetation has fully emerged, save a couple of trees. I watched a six-spotted tiger beetle running on the path in front of me. It flew a few feet when I got too close. A Gray Tree Frog was calling high in a tree near the trail.

At one of the ponds I saw a fine Northern Watersnake slip into the water of the small reservoir when I approached. There was some vegetation in the water which it hid in. I moved the vegetation and the snake, about 2 feet long, swam away underwater.

On the insect front I saw a few skippers (a mulberrywing and a dusky wing of some sort), a ringlet, several pearl crescents and a black swallowtail. I also saw the first dragonflies and damselflies of the summer.

I climbed up onto a small ridge, past some huge dead hemlocks killed by wooly adelgids. On the top of the ridge I watched a Red-eyed vireo feeding in the canopy of a large oak tree.

Friday, May 13, 2005

May in Connecticut

Its been a bit difficult finding time to post, but I have been out and about.

This morning in Farmington I watched a Red-shouldered Hawk being harrassed by an American Crow as it circled above our parking lot at work. On Monday the hawk was sitting quietly in a small tree right outside our building for several hours. A couple of Mockingbirds were scolding it.

Last Sunday three of my children and I took a walk in the woods behind our house and made our way up onto the ridge overlooking our neighborhood. Many of the spring flowers are out including Dwarf Ginseng, Canada Lily and Wood Anemone. The maidenhair ferns are just coming up in a little patch near Dickinson Creek, which runs along the border of our property.

My goal in getting up on the ridge was to look for a Raven nest. For the past month I have seen a pair of Ravens in our area and I suspected that they are nesting at the top of a cliff on the ridge. We made it up with quite a bit of protest from the kids. Sure enough the Ravens were up there and circled us. I didn't find the nest but their activity was very suspicious.

On the way back home we found an old White-tailed Deer carcass. The Carrion beetles were finishing off the remaining flesh. The kids wanted me to bring the entire skull, spine and ribcage home. I ended up pulling off the skull and putting it in our woods to let the beetles finish their job. The carrion beetle larvae look a bit like wood lice with segmented armor.

Two pileated woodpeckers have taken up residence in our back woods and we've had some great views of them as they work a dead tree and fly back and forth in the woods flashing their black and white wings.