Along the Air Line... 2010 - Spring, Part 10
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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May 6th. Pink Lady-Slipper Orchids (Cypripedium acaule).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus).

 

 

Poor little guy has a tick behind its ear and possibly another on its shoulder.

 

 

May 7th. An afternoon exploratory hike on the Air Line Trail just east of Willimantic, in search of Great Blue Heron nests I'd heard about.

 

 

I found three nests in a beaver pond adjacent to the trail and just a short walk from Route 66.

 

 

All three nests (right of center in this view) were active.

 

 

Two of the nests were in the same tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although a stretch for my camera, the view with binoculars was quite good.

 

 

The trail heading east is wooded, with a lot of pine.  There are many side trails.

 

 

Not much blooming, but I found a few Pink Lady-Slipper Orchids
(Cypripedium acaule)...

 

 

...including this one which had attracted several Halictid Bees.

 

 

The orchid's pouch is split in the middle.  The bees are guided by the color pattern, fringes of hairs, and the narrowing shape.

 

 

They push their way in, but must exit past the pollen masses ("pollinia") and out through the top of the flower as the entrance is structured to be one-way only.  The pollinia are quite large - much too large for these bees to carry on their backs: the orchids are probably pollinated by something much larger (i.e., Bumblebees).

 

 

Birdfoot Violets (Viola pedata) were a pleasant surprise.

 

 

 

 

 

They were among Dwarf Cinquefoils (Potentilla canadensis).

 

 

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) was also in bloom.

 

 

 

 

 

May 8th.  Back to Raymond Brook Marsh and vicinity.  Early Azalea (Rhododendron roseum).

 

 

 

 

 

Why would I share a bird poop photo?

 

 

Ah, this is a special bird poop; it has wings! Schlaeger's Fruitworm Moth (Antaeotricha schlaegeri).

 

 

A female Six-spotted Orb Weaver spider (Araniella displicata).  Thanks to Lou Sorkin of the American Museum of Natural History for the identification.

 

 

 

 

 

Just to give you some idea how locally plentiful the Pink Lady-Slipper Orchids can be.

 

 

Catching up on some common but unobtrusive flowers blooming now. Canada Mayflower or Wild Lily-of-the-Valley (Maianthemum canadense).

 

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Bastard Toadflax (Comandra umbellata), a root parasite.

 

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Morrow's Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowi) is at its peak.

 

 

Common Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus).

 

 

 

 

 

Common Buttercup (Ranunculus acris).

 

 

Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea).

 

 

May 10th. A chilly, breezy morning had Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) and a few Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) huddled for warmth on the sunny side of shrubs.  There were probably 50 of them.

 

 

Puffed up for maximum insulation from the 37 degree cold.

 

 

I also saw a pair of American Goldfinches (Carduelis tristis).  Male...

 

 

...and female.