Eastern Tailed Blues

Eastern Tailed Blues

I returned to Hurdman later in the week to see if I could catch up with the Eastern Tailed Blues I had seen on Monday and to look for the Eastern Kingbirds. I didn’t find the kingbirds, but I did come across a few more small Eastern Tailed Blues as well as two larger Silvery Blues. In fact, I saw no new birds on my walk, but the songs of the Yellow Warblers, American Redstarts, Warbling Vireos, Red-eyed Vireos and Gray Catbirds were still fresh to me. I saw a Yellow Warbler land in what appeared to be a nest in the fork of a tree well off the trail, and kept my distance. It occurred to me that I haven’t seen or heard any Least Flycatchers around, either, except for the one near the entrance to the feeder path several days ago. I usually hear them calling in the open areas around the bike trails, but not this year. Perhaps they – and the kingbirds – are nesting in a different part of the park.

The Star-of-Bethlehem flowers were still blooming. Fascinated by their creamy white flowers, I took some more pictures:

Star-of-Bethlehem

I looked around the grassy area near the entrance to the feeder trail but couldn’t find the Springtime Darner. When a medium-sized orange butterfly landed on the path, I stopped to have a look. It was an American Lady, the first one I had ever seen at Hurdman. She was quite worn, indicating that she had been on the wing for a while:

American Lady

Tartarian Honeysuckle was in bloom; I find the colour of its flowers beautiful. Although it is considered invasive, shading out ground vegetation and displacing native shrubs, Tartarian Honeysuckle does benefit wildlife by providing nectar and pollen for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, hummingbird moths, various bees, and hover flies. The berries are eaten by robins, starlings, Cedar Waxwings, and other birds; the seeds are distributed to new areas in bird droppings, thus causing the plant to spread.

Tartarian Honeysuckle

Garlic Mustard, another invasive species, was abundant along the path through the woods. I found another Red Admiral feeding on the flowers; it was only after I had taken its picture that I realized that it had only one antenna!

Red Admiral

In the clearing beyond the feeders I was surprised to find a groundhog rooting around on the ground. It was just as surprised to see me, and ran up to the top of this snag. This is my first confirmed groundhog for Hurdman Park; I thought I saw one last summer, but it bolted so fast beneath the shrubs that I couldn’t be sure. As there are no lush, green, manicured lawns at Hurdman I wasn’t sure whether they lived here or not, but now I have proof!

Groundhog

I didn’t see any other Eastern Tailed Blues on my walk so I returned to the grassy area where I had seen them earlier. I saw a large blue butterfly flutter past me; at first I thought it was a Silvery Blue until I realized it was two smaller butterflies locked together. They landed on a dead twig, and I was able to photograph them and confirm them as Eastern Tailed Blues. This is the first time I’ve photographed a mating pair:

Eastern Tailed Blues

By then it was time to return to work, so I packed my camera away and headed back to the buses. It was another fun outing, with my first groundhog and American Lady for this area and my first photographs of a pair of mating Eastern Tailed Blues. It’s hard to believe that such natural wonders are only a 10-minute bus ride from work!

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