Along the Air Line... 2012 - Spring, Part 4
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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Stan Malcolm Photo

 

 

April 13th.  Thirtytwo degrees and ground fog rising from the warmer marsh waters in the distance.  Frost where the sun hadn't yet reached it.

 

 

Several pairs of Canada Geese around, as well as singletons.

 

 

 

 

 

A Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) was back on its favored perch this morning.  I wonder if there are eggs in the nest hole below.

 

 

A second walk at 60 degrees.  Dog Violet (Viola conspersa).

 

 

 

 

 

Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta) were basking everywhere.

 

 

Whirligig Beetles (Family Gyrinidae; Dinutes sp.) spend most of their time at the water surface, seemingly swimming in rapid random patterns.  They will dive if sufficiently threatened, however...

 

 

...chemical defenses protect them from predators.  They have separate eyes above and below the surface and use their antennae to "echolocate" on bow waves they send out and which are reflected off objects in their path.

 

 

High-bush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) flowers are nearly open.  (The dry tendrils are left over from last year's grape vines.)

 

 

Lots of pollinators out on Dandelions.  This is a Flower Fly (Family Syrphidae).

 

 

A Cuckoo Bee (Probably Nomada sp. in the Apidae, Anthophorinae, Nomadini).  Adults lay their eggs in the nests of other bee species; thus the common name.

 

 

April 14th. Southwest of Goodwin State Forest in Hampton, the trail passes under Route 6 at Clarks Corner near Merrick Brook.  This photo looks north, back towards Goodwin.

 

 

Graffiti "artists" use the overpass as their canvas.

 

 

 

 

 

Improving the trail and making it more accessible would increase appropriate utilization and thus discourage vandalism.

 

 

On the Goodwin side of Route 6, the trailside ditches are loaded with Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris).

 

 

April 16th.  55 degrees at dawn.  One of three Great Blue Herons on the marsh.

 

 

Red Maple (Acer rubrum) seeds are about half way to full sized.

 

 

Serviceberry or Shadbush (Amelanchier arborea) is in bloom.

 

 

After 2:00 PM, I headed in for another look at the Great Blue Heron roost on the trail in Lebanon.  There were lots of Six-spotted Tiger Beetles (Cicindela sexguttata) along the trail.  (Yes, some have eight spots.)

 

 

 

 

 

Four of the eight active nests above a small marsh.  Note the Tree Swallow for size comparison.

 

 

Three more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See how they keep their heads steady despite rocking as the trees sway in the wind; then note a bird practicing "gular flutter", a means to keep cool.  (It was unusually warm today; high 80s.)

 

 

On a given day you can count on all the birds facing the same way; presumably into the wind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two still images of gular flutter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's rare that my camera focuses fast enough to capture a bird in flight.  This heron was moving fairly slowly.

 

 

The same bird with its landing gear down.  The lifted feathers on the top of its wings reveal that it is in aerodynamic stall.

 

 

It picked a particularly undersized perch...

 

 

...and didn't stay long.

 

 

 

 

 

A Duskywing skipper, a favorite of mine at this time of year.  This is Juvenal's Duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis).