Along the Air Line... 2011 - Summer, Part 8
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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Stan Malcolm Photo

 

 

August 8th. A Luna Moth (Actias luna) caterpillar found wandering on the trail.

 

 

Fallen from a tree above, it was searching for a place to spin its cocoon.

 

 

Really nice clouds this afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two hawks circle high and a turkey vulture low all ascending a thermal.  Effortless flight.

 

 

 

 

 

Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) passed by in a group.

 

 

 

 

 

A Cantharid beetle (Family Cantharidae, Chauliognathus sp.) on Knapweed (Centaurea sp.).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knapweed puts out an enormous quantity of pollen, here being gathered by a bee.

 

 

 

 

 

August 9th.  I encountered the group of Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) again, this time confirming that several were juveniles.

 

 

 

 

 

Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) are increasingly found massed together at rest and in flight.  It was on September 2nd last year that they massed like this and began their migration to the southern US and Central America.

 

 

August 10th.  A broad-winged hawk perched above the marsh.  Probably a Red-Tailed but I didn't get a good look.

 

 

Back to the marsh in late afternoon, a jogger pointed out this snake, an Eastern Black Racer (Coluber constrictor), only the third I've seen on the trail in ten years.

 

 

The lack of keeled scales confirmes the ID (the more common Northern Water Snakes scales are keeled)...

 

 

...as does the fact that it was roughly seven feet off the ground at the top of a shrub,  Racers are known to hunt birds from perches in trees.

 

 

August 13th.  Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), an invasive that's spreading at Cranberry Bog in East Hampton.

 

 

 

 

 

A Green Heron (Butorides virescens) hunting.

 

 

Looks like it got a Bass, but perhaps too big and spiny to swallow.  It was released after flopping around a bit.

 

 

Fluffing its feathers (in frustration?).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late afternoon, back starting from the Route 85 trailhead in Amston.  This is Great Ragweed (Ambrosia trifida).

 

 

Note the abundant yellow pollen in the inconspicuous green flowers.

 

 

Woodland Sunflowers (Helianthus divaricatus) are in their prime...

 

 

...with many of the central tube flowers open as well as the peripheral ray flowers.

 

 

A young Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon).

 

 

The resident Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos).

 

 

Flat-topped White Aster (Doellingeria umbellata).

 

 

Round-Headed Bush Clover (Lespedeza capitata). Descriptions show it with inconspicuous white flowers, but in all the years on the trail, I've never seen them.

 

 

August 16th.  Bee... dragled?  A Bumblebee caught out overnight in the cold rain and just beginning to warm up and dry out.

 

 

A little later and another Bumblebee was very active.  Both were on Woodland Sunflowers.

 

 

Virgin's-Bower or Wild Clematis (Clematis virginiana).

 

 

 

 

 

A Vespid Wasp (Family Vespidae) on Great Ragweed.

 

 

A nymphal Leaf-footed Bug (Family Coreidae, probably a nymph of Acanthocephala terminalis).

 

 

Larva of a Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae).

 

 

The composit flower head of New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis).

 

 

 

 

 

An Ambush Bug (Family Phymatidae) has captured and killed a Bumblebee.

 

 

The bug's beak has pierced the bee, injected digestive enzymes, and is now extracting the bee's pre-digested body fluids.