Posts Tagged 'Virginia'

Va Birds

Killdeer about to mate.
Bluebird of Happiness
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Trick one: this is eastern Virginia, so Carolina Chickadee.
Couple of Bald Eagles
Meadowlark, presumably Eastern
Barn Swallows and new nest.


Metric Paper Wasp (Polistes metricus); a first for me. (Dark markings on the fore tibiae are the tell here.)
A lot of Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma americana).
American Bird Grasshopper (Schistocerca americana). Largest grasshopper I’ve ever seen. Said to fly up into trees where disturbed, but there were no trees in sight.
In flight, an extraordinary good bumblebee mimic. When resting, which was not frequent, this Hairy-eyed Mimic Fly (Mallota posticata), shows her big fly eyes and tiny fly antenna. And there are clearly only two wings here; Hymenoptera have two pairs of wings.
Sculptured Pine Borer (Chalcophora virginiensis).
Phony beetlemania! This one isn’t even in the same genus. Chrysobothris dentipes.
Abdomen with the fringe on top? Feather-legged Scoliid Wasp (Dielis plumipes). Note how she is holding up the leaf away from her excavations.

Don’t Know Jack?

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
Found spiders lurking in a couple of these.

Slither and Hop

That’s right, Toto, we’re not in Brooklyn. This is a Little Brown Skink (Scincella lateralis) seen, like all the following creatures, in Virginia last weekend.
One of the Plestiodon. The Common Five-lined?
Fowler’s Toad (Anaxyrus fowleri). We kept hearing what I thought were American Toads in trees, but they quieted before I could record them. We didn’t hear Narrow-mouthed Toads in the same roadside ditch we’d heard them in before on an earlier trip. The latter sound like sheep..
Watersnake, Cottonmouth? A couple of iNaturalist observers call it as Eastern Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis) and were surprised to see it swimming. The four of us crashing around the woods above the creek may have set it flying atop the water….
Norther American Racer (Coluber constrictor). It just went on and on, even as it just sat there.


At Berkeley, the Harrison’s plantation on the James River, we thought we had an Monarch among the ghosts of Declaration of Independence signers and presidents.But looking closer, we discovered the famous Monarch mimic, the Viceroy (Limenitis archippus). The black band across the hindwings is the tell. And the diminutive size compared to the big orange royals.Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus). These do not get this far north. Pawpaw is major larval food plant for these.This is the spring form.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucous).There is a dark, intermediate form of females of this species as well as a yellow. Here’s the dark.


Red-headed Excavations

This Red-headed Woodpecker kept going in head-first and emerging tail-first to toss wood scraps away. This was in Virginia. It’s unusual to see one of these in NYC, although sometimes juveniles will show up — they don’t have the flag-like color blocking. During the winter of ’13-’14, a juvenile spent the winter in Green-Wood and by April was showing some adult plumage.So these Virginia examples are the first I’ve seen in full adult plumage. Wish I was closer…

Under the corrupt maggotry of Trump, the fundamentalists are running riot. The extraordinarily punitive anti-woman legislation in Georgia, Ohio, and now Alabama, and the salting of the federal judiciary from SCOTUS on down with radical reactionaries, suggests it’s likely Roe will be a thing of the past in some states. Here is a primer on how to protect yourself when abortion is illegal. Support the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Don’t forget, all birth control is on the Republiban (Republican-taliban) hit-list. Yet maternal health and infant mortality, curiously enough, are not on the GOP agenda. The states with the strictest anti-abortion laws have the worst infant mortality rates. From supporting the death penalty to pouring out more pollution, from supporting for-profit medicine to arguing that dead school kids are the price we must pay for the “rights” of gun manufacturers and lunatic gun nuts, the “pro-life” crowd is anything but.


We were hoping this Northern Watersnake would keep coming, passing under the boat launch dock we were standing on.But this Nerodia sipedon wasn’t playing. Instead it took shelter in these rocks, amid crabs, oysters, and periwinkles, peeping out occasionally to see if we were still there. Can you spot it?Here’s what we thought was a big Ratsnake (Pantheropphis obsoletus) soaking up the rays off the path. The cloudy eyes means this one is getting ready to shed.As you can see from the duckweed and young damselfly, these Acris genus cricket frogs are small, around an inch or so from bow to stern.But they pack a big voice. May not have noticed them if not for that, and the splashing.Tried to get a picture of their throats extending like pale balloons as they called, but no such luck.

All in southeastern Virginia.

A Behavioral Note

There are no points for brains when it comes to testosterone. During breeding season, some male birds repeatedly attack their own reflections. They think the reflections are other males. I’ve seen a Rudy-crowned kinglet go after himself in a highly reflective sculpture.Towhees are known for it this, too. This one did it to a line of half a dozen parked cars. This bird was probably nesting or wanting to nest nearby and so wanted all the rest of the Towhees out of the way. Interestingly, he repeatedly flew in from the front end of the vehicles, one after another. The mirrors are pointed backwards, of course, so the bird must have known that it would find “other” birds there. He was particularly obsessed with our car, which had its rear-view mirrors turned inward for parking, NYC-style. There was’t much space in there, and the reflection was pointed inward, yet again and again he flew into the gap.It was hard to get a perch on this weird, shiny, blue towhee…This amok-time is brief, thankfully, since it can be dangerous for the bird. Some things to do about it.

And another milestone: on May 11th, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere went about 415 ppm for the first time in human history. “Human history” here is not just the few thousand years of written history, it is the history of Homo sapiens. Human beings didn’t exist the last time there was this much CO2 blanketing the planet.


Three species of Plestiodon skinks are found in southeastern Virginia.Juveniles of the Common Five-lined (P. fasciatus) and Southeastern Five-Lined (P. inexpectatus) have these amazing blue tails.Adults are harder to ID if they’re not in the hand. I originally thought this one might be a Broad-headed (P. laticeps) because of the red in the head, but all the males of these three species seem to get this coloration during mating season. (There’s a tick crawling on this one’s head.)“Skink” comes from the Greek skigkos which made it to Latin as scincus, “a small N. African lizard (Scincus officinalis), formerly used in medicine” (OED). Tail of skink? We found ’em in three separate locations. It’s a skinky state.We watched this one scout every nook and cranny in this rotting log.

Raptor Wednesday

The #BrooklynKestrels female having a sip of roof water.They will bathe in such puddles as well. These were taken April 20th. May 2nd found them both in a London plane one block from the nest site. Spotted the female yesterday. A Common Grackle was buzzing her.Now that the trees have come out, it’s harder to see birds.Woodlawn Cemetery doesn’t have all that many squirrels. And one less, now.On our trip to Virginia, we saw about twenty Osprey. There were three or four Bald Eagles. This is one of them.From the road: a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks across a long southeastern Virginia farm field. One of these had flown across our bow with prey in talons towards this tree, and when I got the camera on the scene, there were two!


Bookmark and Share

Join 686 other subscribers
Nature Blog Network