I have recently rediscovered a local park. It had been years since my last visit. Back then it was a very overgrown area with a Civil War cemetery almost buried in it. It still has a National cemetery, but it is much more accessible. It’s just right for a casual morning or evening walk in the woods. On one of these walks I ran across some friends from the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. They were scouting out wildflowers and had seen an owl nearby. Since it was still a few hours to dusk, I headed over to the general location. After listening to the owl hoot a few times I was able to locate him. He sat around while I set up the tripod and 600 mm lens. After a few minutes, I discovered his mate sitting in the opening of a large hole in an old tree. She watched me for a few minutes and then hopped into the hole in the tree. What a great discovery only a few minutes from home.
One of the benefits to living in the Washington DC metro area is access to fantastic museums. Today a new display was delivered to the National Air and Space museum. It was so large it had to be delivered bolted to the outside of a Boeing 747. The NASA space shuttle Discovery was delivered to the Udar-Hazy museum for permanent display. It will replace the shuttle Enterprise which will be moved to New York.
After disposing of the dead Tree Swallow in the Blue Bird bucket – I found a dead bird in one of the BB houses I monitor two weeks ago and forgot about it – I went in search of wildflowers. I found a patch of Jack in the Pulpits along a stream. After an hour or so the dogwoods were calling. That’s when I spotted the butterfly. It was nectoring on the Dogwood tree. Unfortunately, it was too far away even for the 100 – 400mm lens. I hung around for a while watching the butterfly go from blossom to blossom. Then it was gone. But not for long. It came right to the path where I was standing. For about two minutes the butterfly flitted around hardly staying still for a few seconds at a time. I blasted off dozens of shots but only two or three are usable. I didn’t know what I had until I returned home and looked him up in my book Butterflies of North America by Jeffrey Glassberg. The only east coast butterfly resembling this one is the Hessel’s Hairstreak. I’ve been wrong before and could be this time, too. But I think I got it right. It’s a pretty cool find for me because these aren’t common in this area. You never know what wonders are there until you get out and look.
With the unusually warm winter now over, Spring is officially here. It sorta caught me by surprise when my friend posted pics of Blue Bells on her Facebook page. I wasn’t quite mentally ready for the season to begin. But Spring was here and I had to get out and see what was happening. A trip to one of the local parks revealed what the flowers already knew. Thousands of mergensia verginica were covering the ground with various shades of blue, pink and shades in between. Out came the 15 – 85 mm lens for some overview shots followed by the 100 mm macro. Down on my knees I crawled around looking at all the blossoms. This up close and personal perspective helped me find the best blossoms and perfect angles. It also made me more aware of the other flowers which I may not have taken the time to investigate. It’s a bit cool and breezy today, but the flowers won’t wait…
Three or four times a week I take a walk in a local park. Along one border of the park is a small stream. Along the stream is a nice buffer zone consisting of trees, shrubs and tall grasses. The buffer zone is an important feature of the landscape. It helps prevent erosion of the stream bank, provides nesting sites for birds and habitat for small creatures like mice, voles, insects, snakes, etc. Erosion control is important to help keep the stream within it’s banks and in keeping the water clear. Clear clean water is important for the survival of the fish, amphibians, crustaceans and other water creatures. With spring approaching, the birds are busy locating and claiming territory. There are three Mockingbirds which seem to have made claims to zones along the stream. I haven’t seen any females yet, but they are sure to be along pretty soon. The bird in the picture is an interesting subject. He has a deformed beak which must make it difficult to pick up food. Despite his deformed beak, he seems to be in good health. God will provide!