Along the Air Line... 2012 - Spring, Part 1
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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Stan Malcolm Photo



March 20th.  The first day of spring and very foggy again.  I walked east to the marsh just beyond Route 207 where I'd seen Ring-necked Ducks before.  Sure enough, they were still there, though difficult to photograph so far away and shrouded by fog.






I walked to the far end of the marsh and was on the point of turning around when I heard crashing in the brush just below the trail.  I assumed I'd spooked some deer, but just then...



...a Northern River Otter (Lutra canadensis) bounded up and across the trail, quite close to me.  (Closer than it appears in this photo which was taken with the camera set for wide-angle photos.)



As the first otter headed down the bank to my left, a second otter came up on the right.



That otter paused, hesitant.



(Same photo, cropped.)



The second otter went back down the bank to my right, while the first otter dove into the artificial pond of a local Rod & Gun Club.  Since that pond is stocked by the club, I imagine the otter thought he was in heaven.  I lingered, hoping to see the second otter attempt to cross the trail again, but no luck.



Walking out, the fog parted briefly, offering a better view of the ducks.



Robins (Turdus migratorius) were everywhere.



March 21st.  Spider webs stood out in the early fog.









March 22nd.  West of Route 207, I found Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) flowers nearly ready to open.



I also found a viable Cecropia Moth cocoon.






Back out east of Route 207 in the afternoon at over 80 degrees fahrenheit.  Ahhh.  I saw my first Spring Azures (Celastrina ladon) of the year.  Presumably, this is a male "puddling" (drawing minerals from mud that are passed to females during mating).



I've been seeing Rove Beetles (Family Staphylinidae) for a week or more now.  Although capable of flight, generally their wings are compactly folded under their short elytra.



This Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) seems content in a sea of algae...



...overlooked by Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus).



Skunk Cabbage spathes are shriveling away as leaves unfurl.



I walked as far as power lines which transect the trail in Lebanon.



At that point, a beaver lodge graces a beaver-made pond.



On the way back, I spotted these two Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta)...



...and far across the pond near Route 207, I spotted this gigantic Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina), another first for 2012.



March 23rd.  Pussy Willows (Salix sp.) are showing pollen now.






March 24th.  I was joined on the trail by five students from Dr. Dave Wagner's UConn Entomology Lab.



More eyes and quick hands led to some interesting scoops (literally).  This is a Green Frog (Rana clamitans).



A Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon).



A very young Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta).



Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus sauritus).



I sensed a fair amount of skepticism when I mentioned once seeing a snail moving along, upside down on the surface tension of a water-filled ditch.  But then... of the students found one.  (Still boggles the mind that snails can do this.)



Bluets (Hedyotis - formerly Houstonia - caerulea) are blooming.



We also spotted the resident pair of Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) on the old United Distillers chimney.  More pictures of the Wagner Lab field trip here.



March 25th. An Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) made a rare visit to Raymond Brook Marsh.



(Backlit, and VERY far away.)



Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is now in full bloom.