Hurdman: the End of May in Photos

Hobomok Skipper

The weather has been really warm and sunny lately; almost every time I go out it seems new insect species have emerged. I’ve seen lots of butterflies, a few dragonflies, several moths (most of which remain unidentified), Six-spotted Tiger Beetles, and even a few caterpillars. The bird life, however, remains unchanged. I imagine most of the vireos and warblers are nesting now, and while I hear them every time I visit, I seldom see them. The “royal” swans are on the river again; so far I’ve only seen the Black Swans at Hurdman, but don’t have any photos yet.

Mammals, too, have become inconspicuous. I haven’t seen any this past week except for the usual squirrels in the tree tops.

One butterfly that has emerged in good numbers recently is the Little Wood Satyr. It is the earliest of the large brown woodland butterflies to emerge and the only one in our area with two relatively straight lines on the underside of its wings. It prefers woodlands and shrubby areas; although it sometimes feeds on sap or on flowers, it is more often seen resting on leaves.

Little Wood Satyr

The large patch of Canada Anemone just inside the feeder trail has begun to blossom.

Canada Anemone

I usually don’t see many insects on these flowers, even though they are quite abundant.

Canada Anemone

On one of my visits I heard the extremely loud begging calls of a baby woodpecker. It didn’t long to find this nest cavity; I watched until one of the parents returned with a beakful of food. It turned out to be the nest of a Hairy Woodpecker! On a subsequent visit I was able to photograph the baby woodpecker watching from the nest entrance:

Hairy Woodpecker

Lady beetles are common at Hurdman. I found this tiny 14-spotted Lady Beetle one me after walking through some tall grass and placed it on this leaf.

14-spotted Lady Beetle

I see the Wood Ducks on the Rideau River from time to time; although I saw a male and female sitting side by side on a rock the week before, this time I only saw the male Wood Duck. Perhaps his lady friend is sitting on a nest somewhere!

Wood Duck

I still see Silvery Blues every now and then, though usually just one or two each outing instead of five or six. I haven’t seen any more Eastern Tailed Blue around; they are usually quite abundant by the end of the summer.

Silvery Blue

Question Marks were abundant during the last week of May. After seeing only one here all spring, last week I saw eight of them on one visit.

Question Mark

Eastern Forktails have emerged now; they and the Powdered Dancers are quite abundant. I found this lady sitting on some Dame’s Rocket eating what looks like a May Fly. I am not sure what part she was eating, but a moment later the May Fly broke free and flew off.

Eastern Forktail with Prey

In the same area I found a Six-spotted Tiger Beetle walking about this rock. I was standing quite close to the rock when he landed, and was able to get some good pictures of him. Normally they are skittish when approached.

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle

Common Ringlets have also emerged in large numbers. They are found in grassy habitats, including roadsides, woodland edges and clearings, prairies, and bogs; not only do the larvae feed on many different grass species, they usually spend the winter in thick mats of dead grass as well.

Common Ringlet

Hobomok Skippers, too, are emerging. Its larvae also depend on grass as a foodplant. While most Hobomok Skippers are orange and brown, a few females are entirely brown with a few pale spots on the wings. These brown Hobomok Skippers (known as the “Pocohontas form”) are not nearly as common, so finding this one was real treat.

Hobomok Skipper (“Pocohontas” form)

One afternoon while walking down the feeder path I encountered a female Ebony Jewelwing perching on some vegetation in the shadows beneath the trees; when she flew, she looked like a big dark moth fluttering about. At the same time I was tracking the jewelwing I scared up this White Admiral perching on the ground. It was my first of the year, so I followed it until it landed on a damp spot on the ground. Of course, when I went to look for the jewelwing she was gone.

White Admiral

I came across a couple of striking caterpillars on my walks. This large fellow was noticeable as he sat on a leaf out in the open.

Caterpillar sp.

I am not sure whether it is the same species in both photos; I spotted this fellow on the stem of plant only a couple of inches above the ground.

Caterpillar sp.

These medium-sized dark moths have become very common, taking flight whenever I walk through a patch of grass. When I see them flying I am never sure whether they are moths or duskywings! I came across this one sitting out the open and took the opportunity to photograph it so I could finally figure out what it is. The Toothed Somberwing is on the wing from April to September and is unusual in that the adults are active both during the day and the night.

Toothed Somberwing

Finally, I captured a typical-looking Hobomok Skipper nectaring on some Dame’s Rocket.

Hobomok Skipper on Dame’s Rocket

The next two months should be fairly quiet as well…hopefully I’ll be able to find some more insects and baby birds to keep things interesting!

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