Pointing out a Monarch caterpillar on Milkweed

The first half of this month’s walk at Otter View and the Hurd Grassland was led by OCAS board member Craig Zondag who is very knowledgeable and articulate on many nauture subjects, but one if his main interests and recent activity at the park lent this walk a decidedly insect theme. Monarch larva were found on Milkweed along the trail, as was another user of that plant, the Milkweed Longhorn Beetle. On the Prickly Ash bush where I saw the Giant Swallowtail Butterfly laying eggs a few weeks ago, we found three caterpillars of that species in varying stages of development as well as more eggs. Craig brought along a net and captured a damselfly and dragonfly that a young observer enjoyed looking at up close as Craig explained how beneficial to humans these insects are. On the bird front, we spotted a juvenile American Restart sporting some very fresh looking plumage, both Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos and Belted Kingfishers making their rattling call and diving into the creek. The bird sighting of the day though, was an American Bittern which seemed to come off of a perch on a tree before crossing the river to disappear into a marsh downstream.

Craig had to leave us before we went to the Hurd property, but the group that continued on were as usual rewarded with some very good observations. An Red-tailed Hawk spied hunting from the perches of fence posts across the road. Adult Monarchs and Giant Swallowtail butterflies were seen in the field, as well as Black Swallowtails, a Viceroy and a more uncommon Spicebush Swallowtail. Two American Kestrels soared above us giving everyone a good view. As we were heading back through a shortcut through a hedgerow, we heard a bird making a call note that no one recognized. Some of us got a brief look at what they thought might be a Thrush, but when it flushed out in view of another observer it turned out to have been a Brown Thrasher, A sighting that became a good opportunity to learn that call. Our last find before enjoying snacks graciously provided by Gale Hurd was a passing Osprey headed in the direction of a known nesting site.

All our bird sightings have been submitted to eBird. Full checklists can be viewed at the following links:
Otter View Park
Hurd Grassland

– Ron Payne