Along the Air Line... 2002 - June, Part 3
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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Stan Malcolm Photo


Since early June, I've kept in mind that it was Luna Moth (Actias luna) season. They overwinter in silken cocoons that fall with the leaves in autumn, hatching in late may or early June. I believe we have two broods per year in Connecticut, the second one hatching in mid-summer. Further north, the season is too short and there is only a single brood.

After several weeks actively searching, today (June 13th) I finally found a newly hatched adult.

Of course it wasn't as obvious as in the picture above. The moth was on the underside of a large leaf, just a few inches above the ground. I was very lucky to spot it.

Sleepy elephant?

The adult moths live only long enough to mate - assuming the birds don't get them first. In fact, their mouthparts are vestigial. Body fat stored up in the caterpillar stage sustains them through the winter and the brief adult phase.

The broad plumes of the antennae confirm that this is a male.

The first Water Lilies (Nymphaea odorata) are in bloom. In a month or two, they'll carpet Raymond Brook Marsh, occluding the yellow Pond Lilies (Nuphar lutea) that have graced the surface since late April.

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) gives an Oriental feel in this view.

Its true colors are revealed with a polarizing filter. Flowers in blue spikes will appear later in the season.

A Geometrid moth (family Geometridae). A rough translation of the Latin is earth-measure... a reference to the caterpillars which we know as inchworms or measuring worms. This one is Scopula limboundata, with the common name of "large lace-border".

This female Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) appeared to walk on water. Actually it hopped from lily pad to lily pad, picking off bugs from leaves and flowers - even turning over the edges of the pads to find bugs underneath.

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) again.

A male Rufous-Sided Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus).

Royal Ferns (Osmunda regalis) - looking down from the bridge over the Jeremy River.

Seedling maples. (Funny how some pages take on a theme, though unintended on my part. This page seems to have an oriental flavor.)

Father's Day (June 16th) and my son Ian (Homo sapiens - sorry, I couldn't resist) joined me on my walk.

Ian proved incredibly efficient at snake spotting. He counted nine. This is a Northern Water Snake (Natrix sipedon sipedon), common at the margins of Raymond Brook Marsh.

And this is probably an Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritis), a member of the Garter Snake group.

I've been trying to get a decent picture of a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) since they first returned to the Raymond Brook Marsh in April. This shot will have to do for now. An impressive bird with its six foot wingspan.

Contrast the enormous size of the heron with this yellow warbler on its nest.

A Beardtongue (Penstemon sp.) in the Snapdragon family (Scrophulariaceae).

Whorled Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia).

Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamonea) which grows three to five feet tall. Note the central cinnamon-colored fertile frond which bears the spores.

Evening on June 18th. I decided to pay another brief visit to the trail.

And that's it for June. (The family is off on vacation until the end of the month.) Lots of plants are in bud now, such as Milkweed and Spotted Wintergreen, that should be in flower by the time I return.