Along the Air Line... 2017 - Fall, Part 1
The Air Line Trail in Eastern Connecticut - Stan Malcolm Photos

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Stan Malcolm Photo



September 23rd.  First full day of Fall.  First Woolly Bear (Pyrrharctia isabella) of the season.  It's the caterpillar of the Isabella Tiger Moth. The bright orange oval just behind the head is a spiracle, the entry point for air distributed to the trachaea serving the head and thorax.  Abdominal segments each have their own spiracles.









Despite popular myth, the width of the orange band is determined by the life stage of the caterpillar: at each larval molt, the band gets wider.



Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) still around, but shy and far out on the north side of the marsh.






September 24th.  Beaver (Castor canadensis) in the pool behind the dam closest to Old Colchester Road.









Ripples reveal the presence of a nearby beaver.















Winterberry (Ilex verticillata).






Asters (Symphyotrichum sp.).









Yellow Bear (Spilosoma virginica), caterpillar of the Virginian Tiger Moth.



Hickory Tussock Moth (Lophocampa caryae) caterpillar.



No, not caterpillars; they're larvae of Sawflies.  (And no, sawfiles aren't flies, they're in the order Hymenoptera that also includes bees and wasps.  So much for useful common names.)



Their light color is a thin waxy bloom.



Under the wax, their skin is dark.



Butter-and-eggs (Linaria vulgaris).



Bouncing Bet (Saponaria officinalis).



Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is one of the first plants to show fall colors.






September 25th.  Hawk out on a limb.  I'm lousy at hawk identification but think this is an immature Northern Goshawk (Accipter gentilis), though immature Cooper's or Sharp-shinned quite possible.  UPDATE:  Three strikes and I'm out.  Friend Russ Smiley ID'd it as a Merlin (Falco columbarius), a small falcon, hunter of small birds and large insects. 
Read about them at Cornell's "All About Birds" site:









September 26th.  Early fog lifting.






September 26th, continued.  An afternoon walk east of Cook Hill Road in Lebanon.  White form female Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme).



Male Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme).






Cabbage White or European Cabbage Butterfly (Pieris rapae).



Eastern Comma (Poygonia comma).



It gets its name from the silver comma shape on the underside of the hindwing.



Lots of pollinators around, including this Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)...



...Bumble Bee (Family Bombidae)...






...and this Blue-winged Wasp (Scolia dubia).









Lots of Differential Grasshoppers (Melanoplus differentialis).









Katydid (Family Tettigoniidae).



I saw 5 or 6 Chinese Mantids (Tenodera aridifolia).



Raptorial front legs - check out those "teeth" - and large eyes capable of 3D binocular imaging and accurate distance estimation.



It looks like this one escaped from an attack by another mantis: note the chewed spot on the wing.






Color is variable.






Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) with several true bugs; I'd guess family Miridae.



Knapweed (Centaurea sp.).



Several species of asters. 






Chicory (Cichorium intybus).



Just a few Bluets (Houstonia caerulea) still blooming.



Fruits of Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara).



Winterberry (Ilex verticillata).






Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca).






Asiatic Dayflower (Commelina communis).



Several species of mushrooms.