First of the season -- and it came over and perched very nicely right in front of me. An unaccustomed luxury -- I'm far more used to trying to ID swallows in mid-swoop.
The one rarity we were able to root out from among the thousands of gulls perched here at Edgeboro Landfill. This was on the East Brunswick Winter Bird Count. The count is sponsored by the town Environmental Commission, and we obtained permission to bird Edgeboro landfill (closed to the public). However, large flocks of gulls are often near the road and could be scoped anytime from outside the fence. Also Fish Crow Central.
This is a naturally-occurring hybrid between a (presumably) wild-type Mallard and an American Black Duck. They are supposedly fairly common (as hybrids go), although this is the 1st one I've seen. (The 2nd one was on a Christmas Bird Count a couple of days later. They were ~5 mi apart; I have no idea if it was the same individual. Both were flocking with Mallards.) Anas rubripes x platyrhynchos.
Normally I would take great pains to avoid disturbing nesting birds -- but I'm not too worried about Canada Geese. Several pairs have nested right alongside the trail along the lakeshore here. Here papa goose has come charging in from the lake to help defend his mate on the nest as I make my way past.
This Canada Goose had a day-old(?) fluffball that had already hatched, and she was still incubating the rest of her clutch. The baby retreated under its mother's wing as danger (us!) approached.
Normally we would take great pains to avoid disturbing nesting birds -- but we're not too worried about Canada Geese. Several pairs have nested right alongside the trail along the lakeshore here.
There were 3 Common Loons at Dallenbach lake in East Brunswick yesterday. This is the singleton; there was also a pair.
There were 3 Common Loons at Dallenbach lake in East Brunswick yesterday. This is the pair; there was also a singleton, not quite as far along in its spring molt.
I was shocked to discover this by the water's edge in Helyar Woods, looking like a picture straight out of a book. This is in a fairly built-up part of suburban New Jersey; the woods are part of Rutger's Gardens, used in the ag school's forestry program and a great spot for spring migrants. I guess I think of beavers as surviving only in the wilds of the Canadian north. But they're clearly making a comeback! The tree is a freshly felled Sweetgum, its leaves still green.
Cute little fellers, even if one of the little so-and-sos did get my butternut squash last year.
2 cm long
Huge katydid -- body 2.5 cm. Perhaps Amblycorypha? I think this must still be a nymph (there's a scary thought -- it's going to get bigger!); the wings don't seem full-length. I think this is who's been eating my Common Evening Primrose.
I think this is probably a Red-legged Grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum) nymph -- some Melanoplus sp., at any rate. Pretty little guy!
ID help welcome.
I think this is 1 animal. Venwu225 suggests that it's a larva feeding (or trying to feed) on a pupa, but the other possibility is that it's a pupa with the empty larval skin still attached, which is supposed to be common. This is 2 different angles -- the left panel shows the larva well, & the right shows the base of the pupa, which is attached to the leaf.
Very docile, once they settled down. Tended to drop to the ground if disturbed (perhaps a defense mechanism against bats?), but happy to perch on a finger. Picked this one up and placed on this leaf for a nice photo op. Wingspan 8 cm.
Best viewed large. Sunday I took part in the East Brunswick Environmental Commision's 2nd annual Big Day bird count. We had 88 species within city limits, some nice odonata (Springtime Darner), and some beautiful Lady's Slipper orchids in both pink & white. But the sighting of the day was undoubtedly this huge male Promethea Moth. It had just emerged from its coccoon and was pumping its wings up. Bottom view here. I had ~5' with it, & then it lifted off & flew immediately up into the top of the canopy. Incidentally, my companions both went back to the cars for their (much more serious) cameras, but by the time they got back it was gone.
That's the cocoon below (a separate shot showing the whole thing: bugguide.net/node/view/51372/bgimage) -- it's made inside a rolled-up leaf. Host plant here is a sassafras sapling. Typical wingspan is 75-95 mm. More info on BugGuide.
I showed this shot to my father, & he said, "Hey, those are teeth." Took me a minute to figure out what he meant, & then I said, "Oh! Of course!" The toothed submarginal markings, especially along the edge of the forewing, look uncannily like -- well, teeth. Eyespots are commonly described as mimicry of eyes designed to scare away predators, and the extended tips of the forewings on some of these giant silk moths as mimicking a snake head in profile, but I've never seen a discussion that mentions mimicry of teeth. However, if you were a bird, wouldn't you think twice about messing with something that looked like a big open maw?
The background is too distracting on these photos, even at f2.6. When I have time I will probably do a cutout & blur it. But they were burning a hole in my hard drive; just had to get them posted. :-)
I love the colors in the hindwing. Macro here. Wingspan ~6 cm.
Nectaring on Butterflybush at a friend's house (thanks, Jewel!) Tiny: typical wingspan is <3 cm (~1"). Butterflybush is somewhat atypical for this species, but I guess it was too good to resist!
"Caterpillar hosts: Many plants in the pea family including yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis), alfalfa (Medicago sativa); various species of vetch (Vicia), clover (Trifolium), wild pea (Lathyrus), and bush clover (Lespedeza); and others.
Adult food: This butterfly has a low flight and a short proboscis, thus is found at flowers close to the ground which are open or short-tubed. These include white sweet clover, shepherd's needle, wild strawberry, winter cress, cinquefoils, asters, and others."
Lots of these around -- finally got a decent shot. They seemed to favor this white Butterfly Bush -- I wonder if they have an instinct to go for white flowers so their white spot works as camouflage? Much larger than the grass skippers (altho still much smaller than the swallowtails & larger brushfoots; wing ~3 cm long), and very aggressive. In fact, I believe I saw one chase away a Monarch 5X its size.
My first decent shot of a Black Swallowtail. I have such a huge backlog of photos to post; tonight I figured I'd at least post a token one, & I was in the mood for something big & flashy. View large here.
Perfect little miniatures -- only ~1 cm long. Left uncropped to show the leaves & the density -- view original size.
There was a big patch of these growing in a mown grassy meadow. Pretty sure of the ID -- my field guide gives it as Viola primulifolia, but apparently (per plants.usda.gov), that has now been recognized as a hybrid of Lance-leaf Violet & Small White Violet. Lance-leaf likes wet places, & I think this meadow was relatively moist.
5.5 mm. Found in car while parked for a pit stop at the Wawa convenience store after a trip around the landfill (grassland, adjacent salt marsh, and of course garbage). No longer unIDed; many thanks to Charlie@LincsBeetles for the genus ID. O. melanopus looks like the only only on BugGuide that's in range & matches in appearance. It feeds on grasses, so landfill habitat makes sense. Nonnative, a pest of crops.
This turns out to be a sp. from Japan recently introduced to NY. This is the 1st record on BugGuide from NJ.
Cannot look at these guys without thinking about Martytdx's appellation: the flying shrimp.
Bokeh enhancement courtesy of Photoshop -- not much, just enough to take the rough edges off.