Posts Tagged 'Great Swamp'

Garters

Does this snake have a head at both ends?Eastern Garter Snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis).And another. Great Swamp NWR. I wanted to turn these into Ribbon Snakes. They were, after all, on tiny islands in the swamp. But look at the black marks on the sides of their faces. Ribbon Snakes, which are in the same genus, don’t have those. Compare my examples with this image of a Ribbon from the VA Herpetological Society.

Frog Songs

There were several species of frogs sounding off during the middle of the day yesterday at Great Swamp NWR. It was a… chorus… of several species. Lots of sounds I’ve never heard before. This one was the only amphibian actually seen out of the water; I’ve yet to find one of the peepers or chorus or tree frogs that sing out of the water. They blend in nicely. But meanwhile, in the water:

Wood Frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus, or Rana sylvatica in older sources) were the ones I definitely IDed. Some of their egg masses… just in time for the snow.

Skunk Cabbage

The holy grail of early spring.Symplocarpus foetidus, skunk cabbage, seen today in Great Swamp NWR. The only one we saw… but it’s subtle, and the place was ringing with the very distracting orgiastic songs of frogs.

More on this curious little heat engine.

April 1st or 2nd? Two years ago.

Dragons/Damsels

Remember the Sympetrums? Devilishly confusing meadowhawks. This a female; possibly a Ruby or Cherry-faced.The Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis) male is uniquely patterned with purple and blue. They are also called Violet Dancers.A male has a female in tandem flight position, either pre- or post-mating. This is another species I’m seeing for the first time this summer; spotted in Westchester Co.

A bonus in the archives: looking over some of my old posts, I realized I had never identified this specimen from Arizona:Mexican Amberwing (Perithemis intensa). Here’s our Eastern Amberwing (P. tenera) for comparison:Some differences: Eastern has smaller, redder pterostigma (the colored panes on the leading edges of the wings); Mexican lacks markings on top of abdomen. These are both males: Eastern’s graspers, at end of abdomen look much lighter.

More Purple Martins

Posh is the only word to describe the two Purple Martin housing units at the Great Swamp NWR Visitor Center. There are a dozen nest sites on each post. Not a single House Sparrow or Starling in the mix. And, whoa, were the martins busy. The martins glide more than our other swallows, and they are rather bigger. But it was the noise that was most arresting. (Here are some recordings from Cornell.) Blue Dasher is the prey here.Color is bee/waspy, but I’m not sure what’s for lunch here.There were still young to be fed.One of the red Meadowhawks has been captured by the… female on the right? (Haven’t honed my ability to separate the juveniles, of both sexes, from the adult females.)

Humming

Only one hummingbird species is regularly seen here on the East Coast, out of some nineteen species found in North America north of Mexico. This is the Ruby-throated (Archilochus colubris). Only the male has the nominal incandescent throat, but the lighting often makes it look dark.Hummingbirds also eat mosquitos, spiders, bees, aphids, gnats, fruit flies, even small caterpillars. Here’s a female.This feeder was at the Great Swamp NWR Visitor Center. Remember, if you’re feeding hummingbirds, don’t use red dye. Frankly, I’m skeptical that cane sugar is a perfect substitute for flower nectar (out of a plastic container, no less): better would be to plant the flowers hummingbirds love.
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Yesterday, Nazis and neo-confederates marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the President of the United States refused to condemn them by name. Other Republicans — members of a party whose modern power is built on a foundation of racism — could clearly see how far they’ve descended into the filth; a few of them called out the — swastika-waving, Hitler-quoting, posing with Trump in photos — shits for what they are. But Trump, in his silence, his “many sides” garbage, pissed on the graves and sacrifices of the more than one million American casualties who fought fascism in WWII. What an abomination. What a depraved piece of immorality. What an encapsulation of the man who lets racist scum like Sessions, Bannon, and Miller, not to mention Nazi-wannabe Gorka, pollute the White House and dishonor us all.

Hemaris thysbe

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth.I love watching these creatures at work. They are almost constantly in motion, never landing on flowers like bees and butterflies, and moving quickly between different flowers. I’m surprised these phone pictures came out so well. Although the moth is throwing its own shadow over its legs, there are bits where you can see that the legs are white, which nails down the species identification.

Unlike most moths, these are diurnal. There were a few working the bumblebee heaven of Monarda behind the Visitor Center at Great Swamp NWR. By a nice coincidence, at least two hummingbirds were dipping into a feeder on the other side of the center.


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