Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Rare Butterfly at Lake Kittamaqundi

Long-tailed skipper. I chanced upon it puddling on wet ground beside the path on Monday afternoon (Sept. 18). About two inches long, it's related to the silver-spotted skipper common around here during the summer. Usual range for the species is further south in the United States and into the tropics, but it can stray northward. This generated some excitement in the Howard County butterfly survey, and the Maryland Biodiversity Project requested a photo for its database. (MBP is under Nature and Wildlife Links in the blog margin. Information about the butterfly survey is on the Howard County Bird Club site also in that section.)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Saturday at the Lake; the Bird Club's Fall Count

I had an early start at Lake Kittamaqundi yesterday for the Howard County Bird Club's Fall Count 2017. I covered the lake and vicinity as other club members counted at locations across the county, then we gathered for the Tally Rally and potluck at a member's house in the evening. (Most of us entered our lists on eBird, adding to that database for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.) Here are a few scenes and birds that I took while counting around the lake. A few flocks of joggers were active in the morning, plus some swarms of insects at the edge of the water, which made for an interesting scene in the photo below.

Male Downy Woodpecker

Young Great Blue Heron in the Little Patuxent River next to the Lake

Double-crested Cormorants Raise Their Wings to be Counted

Fish Crow at the Lakefront -- identified by voice

Half of a Pair of Hairy Woodpeckers -- larger relatives of the downy

Dramatic Afternoon Sky

A Pair of House Finches

Our Path Cruiser -- I'm glad to see the regular patrols by police now.

Jewelweed Attracts Hummingbirds -- but not during the count!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Monarch of the Lakefront

Above: A monarch butterfly nectars on the ornamental flowers at the Lakefront yesterday afternoon. Below: Other recent butterflies around Lake Kittamaqundi and a scene....

monarch caterpillar

monarch caterpillars

variegated fritillary

cloudless sulphurs

painted lady

eastern comma

common buckeye

eastern tailed-blue

algae mats "grace" the lake surface in late summer

Saturday, September 9, 2017


That's birders' code for "First of Season Pied-billed Grebe". The bird was at the Lakefront with mallard friends at Lake Kittamaqundi yesterday morning. Usually a visitor during migration and sometimes staying in the area through winter, the species has been documented in Maryland during the summer in recent years.

In the last photo here, a green heron explores the wooden pier at the Lakefront.

Friday, September 8, 2017

American Redstarts Bathing

At the Howard County Conservancy earlier this week. Photos above are the redstarts in a stream. Photos below are the Grassland Loop and a great spangled fritillary.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

There's a New Water Weed Eater in Town

Added this morning: Better photos taken with another camera. In the background of the first view below is the new installation of vintage posters for Columbia's 50th Anniversary.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Cloudless Sulphur

The large yellow butterflies flying around Lake Kittamaqundi and other locations now are cloudless sulphurs. They are indicated as uncommon, but this summer I have counted as many as four or five in a single walk around the lake, and I've seen fewer of what is normally the more common orange sulphur, a smaller relative. (Sulphurs are in the same family of butterflies with the cabbage white.)

Photos, all taken at Lake Kittamaqundi this summer, show the cloudless nectaring on a favorite flower, the cardinal flower; laying eggs ("ovipositing") on partridge pea (the other host plant for this species is senna); and puddling (extracting moisture and minerals)  in a group of three on freshly turned soil earlier this week.

More information about butterflies of Howard County and an ongoing survey can be found on the website for the Howard County Bird Club   . (Float your cursor over Butterflies in the Natural History block for a pull-down menu.)