Spring sightings door-buster sale at Estabrook!

Last year, on Easter Sunday, I clearly remember searching high and low in vain for a rabbit picture, just cuz, and this year, almost the first thing I saw as I entered the park is this little cutie, working hard to help to keep the lawn look neat and trim at the Benjamin Church House. Of a dozen pictures, this is one of the few in which it took a brief break from the buffet to look my way.

If that weren’t special enough, wait till you see this next one. The weather was so gorgeous yesterday afternoon, that I took another quick swing by the pond, and look how I found there. Our first painted turtle (Chrysemys picta) of 2021, just 3 days earlier than last year.

And if you thought that was amazing, hold onto your hats, because here comes the first butterfly of 2021, a mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) freshly up from its long winter’s nap and trying to soak a little sun on the pavement of the Oak Leaf Trail. I read that they “have a lifespan of 11 to 12 months, one of the longest lifespans for any butterfly,” and that “the adult butterflies hibernate during the winter months … making it one of the first butterflies to take wing in the spring!”

Almost as amazing as seeing this beautiful creature, to me, is the crazy confluence of events that lead to me getting this picture. It starts last fall, if you can believe it, is when I first spotted one as I rode by on my bicycle, and I was so surprised to see a butterfly so late in the season that I immediately looked up what it might have been when I got home. That’s when I learned that they hibernate instead of migrating.

Fast forward 6 months, and when Anne got home from her bike ride yesterday, she said she saw a black butterfly. The image of a mourning cloak popped right into my head, and I had no hope of going out to find it for myself, but I went for a bike ride anyway. Sure enough, it jumped off the pavement just as I approached, and I hopped of my bike to try to get a picture with my phone, but had no luck. I think it got stuck to the shirt of a rider going the other way and I couldn’t find it.

So I continued my ride, and on my return, there it was again, a bit further south. This time, I hopped of my bike, whipped out my phone, chased right after it, and it soon settled down on the pavement one more time. Finally, I was on my hands and knees in the middle of the path taking this picture, when a couple sped past and startled it yet again. I couldn’t find it after that, but I did have a picture, and I absolutely cannot believe my luck.

Okay, one last tidbit. There was just a paper published this year about how butterflies bolt into the air so quickly. They actually shoot a jet of air out from between their wings as they clap them together.

Back to the pictures! Here’s our first bee of 2021.

Here’s our first belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) who appeared finally to be trying to get down to fishing from this birch tree over the river and not just rocketing past me on the wing.

Here are a couple of new shots of a female northern flicker from this morning.

Here’s another nice violet and another new blossom just up in the forest along the river, which my sources tell me is Rue Anemone (Isopyrum thalictroides)

Finally, I am sad to report that our heroes on the southern tip of the island in the pond appear to have stopped incubating. She was off her nest yesterday afternoon, and I wasn’t too worried because it was a nice warm day to cover her eggs and take a quick break. She was off her nest again this morning, however, and just snoozing on the west lawn, so that’s not a good sign.

Meanwhile, the goose on the northern tip was still on her nest this morning, so we still have a hope for goslings on the pond near the end of April. A pair of wood ducks were also around, so we can also have a hope that she’s using one of the two nesting boxes on the island, and we might see a wood duckling, too, but that will be much later.

Lastly, I spotted this fun bit of beetle art, so here you go. I read it was likely caused by “one of about 6,000 species in 247 genera of beetles in the subfamily Scolytinae,” so that’s about as far as I plan to dig into that topic.

I bumped into Charles again this morning, and he reported spotting a yellow-rumped warbler, so I have a hope of seeing one soon, too.

Published by Andrew Dressel

Theoretical and Applied Bicycle Mechanic, and now, apparently, Amateur Naturalist. In any case, my day job is teaching mechanics at UWM.

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