Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Butterflies (and some birds) in the southern Berks

Late July or early August can be wonderful in the southern Berkshires, especially if you can avoid the tourists who come from NY, VT and all parts of MA. We, of course, don't consider ourselves tourists in the same sense....although I'm not exactly sure why that is. The above shot is of that extensive marsh (with the Great Blue Heron rookery)....part of which you can see just by pulling off the road along Rt. 7 south of Stockbridge.

And the photo below is from a barn in Tyringham where we still had Barn Swallows being fed! This Rose-breasted Grosbeak certainly took her time posing for my camera. And this immature Red-winged Blackbird was an easy guy to spish in for a photo as well. Luckily when I'm shooting plants and flowers, I don't need to worry about their flying off. This Arrowhead was in the marsh in Stockbridge along Rt. 7 too. Part of the Konkapot IBA we documented several years ago follows along Monument Valley Road off of Rt. 7 between Stockbridge and Great Barrington. We often check out the water right off of Stony Brook Road. This trip we were rewarded with lots of interesting skippers in the reeds where the brook crosses under the road.

We had several Broad-winged and Mulberry Wing Skippers in this area.And it's always interesting to find Bull Thistle....I forget it's a biennial. And down in Sheffield we found our first Common Buckeye of the season! And while looking for Hackberry Emperor I spotted this Galium Sphinx Moth and managed to get this one, slightly blurry shot before it disappeared.But our real reason from coming to the southern Berks this particular weekend was to see if we could find a Giant Swallowtail. Since there had been several reported in the area just days before, we were cautiously hopeful. And sure enough we had at least 7....all of which Mark spotted from the car. They really are a BIG butterfly! Just look at the size comparison to the Monarch in the Butterfly Bush below....And this Halloween Pennant also put in an appearance for the camera as well.One of the more interesting invertebrates of the day was this Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar. They were all over this one area near October Mountain.In Tyringham we had more than a dozen Pearl Crescents trying to get some salts from a drying mud puddle.Queen Anne's Lace (aka Wild Carrot) is another biennial plant. Although I have to admit I see it everywhere so I really did think it was an annual. Pretty though....In New Marlborough we went to check to see if the Giant Swallowtails had made their way east along the CT border -- but we didn't have any. There were good numbers of Question Marks though. I finally learned how to identify this from the Comma from above....it's that black horizontal bar just at the end of the dots. Comma's don't have that! I always tried to get an underwing shot so I could see whether it was a Question Mark or Comma. But I learned that the Comma can also have a separate dot....so now I go for the upperwing shot. However one skipper I never get confused it the Silver-spotted Skipper. It's a big dark skipper and the white patch is unmistakable. We followed this Spicebush Swallowtail all over a dirt road to try to get a decent shot. Back up in Tyringham we checked along Breakneck Road and found lots of Spotted Knapweed. Looks superficially like a Bull Thistle (also in the Sunflower family) but has a definite "pineapple" look to it. Along the road we also had large numbers of Viceroy's.... To end our foray we stopped and visited at Rawson Brook Farm to get some GREAT fresh goat cheese....and of course to see how the young goats were doing. It was hot and they just seemed to want to sit it out either under or on top of the little platform.You can beat a day like this....even though there weren't a lot of birds....the butterflies and other bits of nature certainly made up for that.


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