In mid-July I visited Marlborough Forest with a couple of friends. Pat and Melanie had never been to the Cedar Grove Nature Trail, so I thought I’d introduce them to this wonderful trail. It was a warm, beautiful morning, and quickly grew very hot. The deer flies were annoying, but this time there were no swarms of Racket-tailed Emeralds, Common Pondhawks and Chalk-fronted Corporals to keep them at bay.
In the woods just beyond the parking lot we heard an Eastern Wood-pewee and a Red-eyed Vireo singing. Cedar Waxwings flew by overhead, and in the distance we heard a Blue Jay squawking.
The open cedar area proved more interesting. I didn’t see any Silvery Checkerspots, but there were several Dun Skippers and Peck’s Skippers in the vegetation right beside the path. We also heard White-throated Sparrows singing and came across a pair of Clouded Sulphurs mating.
At the entrance to the pond we came across our first dragonfly, a probable Belted Whiteface. He was sitting in a sunny patch and didn’t object to being photographed. He didn’t do anything about the deer flies circling us, either!
There were a few birds around the pond, including Wood Ducks, Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, a Common Yellowthroat, and a Song Sparrow singing. I looked for the kingfisher that sometimes perches on the bridge but didn’t see or hear him. A couple of Calico Pennants were ovipositing in the water.
In the woods we found a Racket-tailed Emerald patrolling a sunny clearing, a trio of Black-and-white Warblers, an Ovenbird, a Black-throated Green Warbler singing, and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. There were only two Ebony Jewelwings at the bridge, but Pat found this rodent skull on the ground nearby. Its long, yellow front teeth identify it as a rodent, possibly a beaver based on the size.
I had never been beyond the bridge before, and thought this stone on the other side looked like a gravestone!
“Gravestone” in the woods
There wasn’t much to see or hear in the woods on the other side of the bridge. We came across the log shelter about 20 minutes later, and that’s when this large beetle landed on my binoculars. I heard him before I saw him, sounding like a giant buzzing wasp or dragonfly! Pat picked him up and put him on a log.
A Really Big Beetle
Across from the shelter a narrow path led to the pond. Pat and I followed it to the water, where we saw a Kingfisher fly by and heard a couple of Swamp Sparrows and a Virginia Rail.
Again there wasn’t much to see or hear in the woods, but once we entered the open area dominated by cedars we found more butterflies, including this Baltimore Checkerspot.
It wasn’t as great an outing as I had expected due to the lack of variety in butterflies and dragonflies, but we had some good birds and it was fun showing Pat and Melanie one of my favourite places. The heat and the deer flies had become almost unbearable by the time we finished at noon, and a bite on my right hand swelled up so much that I couldn’t even curl my hand into a fist later that evening. It was a small price to pay for the outing, although I sincerely hope that the deer fly that bit me makes a juicy meal for one of the dragonflies that call Marlborough Forest home!