Along the Air Line... 2002 - August, Part 2
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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Stan Malcolm Photo

 

 

I'm still looking for a good picture of a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias). Until I get it, I'll settle for quantity over quality - as the following photos demonstrate.

The first series of four photos shows a heron with a large fish it had just caught. No fish story, this fish was easily 7 inches long.

The herons spend a lot of time grooming. First one wing...

...and then the other.

About August 10th, a Common Egret (Casmerodius albus) began appearing in Raymond Brook Marsh. It may be common now, but a century ago it was driven to the brink of extinction by feather hunters who gathered the showy white plumes (after killing the birds) to supply the fashion in women's hats. The yellow beak and dark legs distinguish this egret from other similar species.

Again, not the greatest of photos - but they'll have to do until I find a bird closer or start carrying a tripod to steady my long telephoto shots.

Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) are best seen in early evening when they swoop across the marsh hunting insects.

This swallow appears to be showing off a stunt for an appreciative audience.

August 18th dawned hot and humid - with low hazy clouds almost obscuring
the sun.

Phragmites, or Common Reed grass (Phragmites australis) is well over six feet tall.

Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus).

Evening-Primrose (Oenothera biennis). Flowers open towards evening and
wilt the next morning.

Finally, a decent picture of Jewelweed, or Spotted Touch-me-not
(Impatiens capensis).

You've got to try this! Touch a mature Touch-me-not seedpod like the ones pictured below and find out how the plant earned its common name.

Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) with its inconspicuous green
flowers is the prime cause of "hay fever" - not the maligned Goldenrod
(Solidago sp.) that blooms at the same time.

I have yet to see a Monarch butterfly this year - presumably because of the destruction of overwintering populations in Mexico. Viceroy butterflies (Limenitis archippus), like the one pictured on Ironweed below, mimic Monarchs - thus gaining a measure of protection from predators. Monarchs, as you probably know, are distasteful if not downright poisonous - the result of the caterpillars feeding on alkyloid-laden milkweed. Birds soon learn to avoid them. Viceroys are similar enough in appearance to be avoided by birds too.

Viceroys are considerably smaller than Monarchs, and have a narrow black stripe on the hindwings that is absent in Monarchs.

An Aphrodite Fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite).

A Tussock Moth (Orgyia definita, Family Lymantriidae) caterpillar. The characteristic four tufts of hairs on its back remind me of a toothbrush.