Hurdman at the End of August

By the end of August, Hurdman is still a better place for bugs than birds, although even butterfly and dragonfly species are beginning to decrease. I haven’t seen many of either, with Eastern Tailed Blues, Cabbage Whites, Common Ringlets, and Northern Crescents being the only butterflies I’ve noticed in the second half of the month. The only notable dragonflies I’ve seen are Common Pondhawk and Shadow Darner, two species which aren’t very common in this area. There are still Eastern Forktails and Powdered Dancers around, too, but the skimmers seem to have all vanished.

This is a mature female Eastern Forktail. I’ve been trying to get a good close-up of one for a while now, after realizing that nearly all my photos are of immature orange females (which I think are quite stunning)!

Eastern Forktail

My best bird sighting in recent weeks was a young Gray Catbird sitting on the grass next to the bike path. He was very close to the shrubs, so I figured he’d come out to enjoy some sunshine while his parents were out hunting. I’ve never had a catbird sit still for any length of time, so it was an amazing experience to be able to photograph him from about 10-12 feet away. Eventually he scurried back under the shrubs.

Gray Catbird

Yarrow is in bloom, attracting a good variety of insects such as this Small Milkweed Bug….

Small Milkweed Bug

…a very colourful beetle….

Mystery Beetle

….an Eastern-Tailed Blue…

Eastern-Tailed Blue

….and even a grasshopper! This fellow caught my eye not just because of his size, but because of his colours. He was all yellow, but the green patch puzzled me until I realized it was a wing!

Grasshopper sp.

Another flower in bloom right now is Tansy. The insects seem to like this flower just as much, as evidenced by the Northern Crescent and Pennsylvania Leatherwing sharing one plant.

N. Crescent and Pennsylvania Leatherwing

Eastern Tailed Blues are one of my favourite butterflies, and are usually easy to find here. On one outing last week I counted a total of five individuals along my route. I’d been trying to get some good pictures of one for a while now, and was successful when this one landed on the path in front of me.

Eastern-Tailed Blue

On my way back to the bus station I came across this lovely caterpillar in the middle of the bike path. I moved him to a safe spot on a milkweed plant, took some pictures and left. This is the same species I saw at Jack Pine Trail a couple of weeks ago.

Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillar

On a couple of visits I noticed a large mosaic darner zipping along the path near the entrance to the woods. He eluded me on the first two visits, but on the third I was finally able to track him down when he landed in a tree. I got a good enough look to identify him as a Shadow Darner, a species I’ve never seen at Hurdman before.

Shadow Darner

It wasn’t until the last day of August that I finally noticed some different birds. In the woods I found a female Scarlet Tanager, a Black-and-white Warbler, a Magnolia Warbler, and a Veery all in the same area; none of these birds were present during the breeding season, which means they are migrants moving through. In the open scrubby area I found about ten robins and two Cedar Waxwings feeding on the berries, and two Least Flycatchers were actively hunting among the shrubs. These birds all breed here, and I’ve seen (or heard) all three throughout the summer.

Least Flycatcher

Change is in the air at Hurdman; the end of August means a decrease in insects and an increase in birds. While I’ve enjoyed finding many new and interesting species of bugs, beetles, and other critters this summer, I’m looking forward to seeing what migration will bring. As an oasis of greenspace in the middle of the city, Hurdman Park is bound to attract its fair share of migrants in the coming weeks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s