Along the Air Line... 2012 - Spring, Part 11
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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Stan Malcolm Photo

 

 

May 21st. A White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) buck in velvet, far across the marsh.

 

 

May 24th. Blue Toadflax (Linaria canadensis) at the Route 87 crossing in Lebanon.

 

 

 

 

 

A hundred yards east brings you to several downed trees with large bracket fungi...

 

 

...which are home to Forked Fungus Beetles (Bolitotherus cornutus).  Four beetles are huddled together, wedged between the fungus and the bark.

 

 

I also discovered a number of Flat Bugs (Family Aradidae).  Not obvious in this picture, but their bodies are very flat, allowing them to fit into narrow bark crevices.

 

 

On bark or bracket fungus, they are very difficult to spot.

 

 

May 25th. Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina) are laying eggs in the soft earth beside the trail in Raymond Brook Marsh.

 

 

 

 

 

First sighting of a Baltimore Oriole nest right above the trail.

 

 

June 1st.  Multiflora Roses (Rosa multiflora) are in full bloom.

 

 

Dark stamens signal fading blossoms.

 

 

Some Multiflora blossoms have a pink cast.

 

 

...but nothing compared to the dark pink of the large Pasture of Carolina Rose (Rosa carolina).

 

 

A male Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) approaching the nest...

 

 

...with a green caterpillar in its beak.

 

 

No sign of young, but the eggs have surely hatched if caterpillars are being brought to the nest.

 

 

A Cherry Gall Azure (Celastrina serotina) on White Clover.

 

 

My best guess is one of the Sallows, perrhaps Grote's Sallow (Copivaleria grotei).  It was resting on Elm.  UConn's Dave Wagner confirms that it is a Sallow, either Grote's or Roland's (Psaphida rolandi).  He say's it is "prepupal and has lost most of its color."   Dave is author of the two most important guides, "Caterpillars of Eastern North America" and "Owlet Caterpillars of Eastern North America".

 

 

Adult Sallow moths are cryptic on bark, some adding a touch of lichen markings to their act.

 

 

June 3rd.  A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodius) with a huge catfish in its beak.  Surely it can't eat that thing!

 

 

Apparently it could.

 

 

In this shot, it almost looks like the bulk of the fish has caused the body to expand and the feathers to stand on end like a puffer fish.

 

 

Sips of water helped the fish down the bird's throat.  Looks pretty normal now, but I wonder if it could get off the ground with all that extra weight.

 

 

An Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) keeps a wary eye out, ready to bolt for cover.

 

 

I see four ticks: an engorged one at the back of the ear, and three smaller ones - one on the ear and two near the eye.  Dark patches in the disturbed fur may well mark the sites of other ticks.

 

 

A male Black-winged Damselfly (Calopteryx maculata), also called the Ebony Jewelwing.

 

 

I noticed two pearlescent eggs on the undersurface of a Hickory leaf.

 

 

A mite was curious about them too.

 

 

 

 

 

The row of pores circling one end mark the point where the egg will split when it's time for the bug to emerge.  The "bug" is likely to be a True Bug (Hemiptera); specifically a Leaf-footed Bug (Family Coreidae).

 

 

June 5th.  A walk on the Colchester Spur.  Lots of Ox Eye Daisies (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum) in bloom.

 

 

 

 

 

Rattlesnake-weed (Hieracium venosum).

 

 

The leaves of Rattlesnake-weed are distinctive.

 

 

An afternoon walk over the Lyman Viaduct.  Carpenter Ants (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) tending their Aphid "cows" on Curly Dock (Rumex crispus).

 

 

 

 

 

In return for protection by the ants, the aphids share sweet honeydew released from their abdomen when stroked by the ants' antennae.

 

 

Scrambled-egg Slime Mold (Fuligo septica). in woods west of Lyman Viaduct.