16 April, 2017 Happy Easter! Happy Spring!
Pony Pasture (and the rest of the mid-Atlantic region) are bursting at the seams. I don’t know where to begin. But a lot of pictures this week. Zebra swallowtails (Eurytides marcellus) are as bright and cheerful and iconic an image of Spring as you’re likely to see here in central Virginia. In the insect world, anyway:
The host plant for zebra swallowtails is the pawpaw (Asimina triloba). Pawpaws are practically the dandelion of Pony Pasture; they grow everywhere in the park. In our area they won’t have fruit until mid-August but they’re flowering now. I took this picture on Thursday:
Tuesday (the same day I took the zebra swallowtail picture) I also photographed this Barred owl (Strix varia):
Wednesday (the day after the zebra swallowtails, the day before the pawpaws) I “got,” in moderately quick succession, a pair of Northern Rough-winged swallows (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) (my first, possibly), a Carolina wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) singing so loud I’m sure they could hear him in his native state, a pair of Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) cobbling together a new nest at the edge of the parking lot at Fulton Bank off Chippenham, and a female Brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) sorting through the grass at the edge of my front yard. First a pair of Rough-winged swallows perched on a sign:
Just FYI, I am not a whiz at bird identification. I’m not one of those people who just looks at a bird and says “Oh, look, it’s a… ” I often have no idea. I “cheat” with a terrific app called Merlin Bird ID from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I had no idea what those rough winged swallows were and I did not know what that brown-headed cowbird was. But when you open the app and tough “Start Bird ID,” the first question it asks is where you saw it. And gives you possible locations, beginning with “current location” since it knows where you are. After you tell it where, it asks when you saw it, beginning with today. Then it offers seven possible sizes beginning with “sparrow-sized or smaller”, through robin-sized, crow-sized, and topping out at “goose-sized or larger.” Each question you answer narrows the field. The next choice is nine different main colors; you choose between one and three main colors. Then it offers a list of possible birds; hopefully you find yours. I’m sure there are plenty of others, but this one has been effective for me.
Flowers now are (of course) beginning to burst forth. I generally rely on Evelyn Flower ID for that. She taught me a year or two ago about the Spider wort at Pony Pasture:
Some flowers I’ve known since I knew what a flower was. This one is on a tree in our front yard; I knew that Dogwoods were my Dad’s favorite since I knew what “favorite” meant:
The Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) began blooming this week; I took this picture this morning:
Back in the fauna world, I saw this morning what I believe is my first Eastern Snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) in Pony Pasture. Its shell was maybe a foot long. This was in the creek at the western edge of the Willow Oaks Country Club golf course. In keeping with Easter Egg Hunt theme, there is a high probability this is a female either going to lay eggs or coming from laying eggs. It’s that time of year:
I’m running out of space! My blog post runneth over! Speaking of Easter and eggs and new birth, frog egg masses must be hatching; there are more tadpoles in the puddles every time I visit Pony Pasture. This is from this morning’s hike:
An enormous fungus, also from Pony Pasture, also from this morning:
If you were afraid I’d actually let a week pass without posting a deer picture, you can breathe now – I took this one Thursday morning at guess where:
White lilacs from our backyard:
Rabbit (a.k.a. “Peter Cottontail”) also from our backyard:
Enough already! Come back next week – if you can stand it! Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring, Happy Sunday, have a wonderful week, all best,