WABC Field Trip Notes — Frederick Municipal Forest

Maybe we went too far by calling this the snakebit season — for it very nearly was.

The intrepid foursome of organizer Tom Stock, Beth Johnson, Walter Gould and I met up at the Frederick Watershed Forest area this morning for a WABC field trip to check up on some of the target species Tom and I had seen independently over the past couple of weeks, notably Indian Skippers and Hobomok Skippers.  What we didn’t count on (after merrily tromping through much waist high grass and scrub, not to mention crawling over the odd rock and fallen tree), was that probably our best sighting of the day would be a rattlesnake spotted by Walter.

Right off the trail waiting to snag one of the mountain bikers who — with a lone jogger — were the only other folks we saw at our first and most productive stop.  Note the very cloudy eye — this rattler was getting ready to shed, and that’s the dead skin obscuring his vision.  Nearly blind and bloated from swallowing air to split the skin, rattlers are not in the best of most just before they shed.  This one suffered us well enough, though, and eventually moved off through the brush where we encountered on the next trail over on our return.

Lep-wise, it was also a very good day.  Top find was a very early Edwards’ Hairstreak  (life butterfly for me), freshly emerged in the field that Tom has known numbers of them to frequent during their (usually July) flight period.  Indian Skippers were also out, but nearing the end of their strong flight this year — they and the abundant Tawny-edged Skippers were mostly worn and tattered.  Northern Cloudywings, also quite fresh, put in a strong showing too, as did Spicebush Swallowtails.A target species for this trip -- Indian Skipper (photo Tom Stock)  We dipped on the Hobomok Skippers.

Harry Pavulaan asked us to keep a special eye out for tiger swallowtails.  At the ridgeline where we started our trip, we saw several very large, very light colored tigers that we were pretty sure were Applachian Tiger Swallowtails.  They had some of the classic signs — the large blue band on the ventral hindwing, and the contiguous line of submarginal spots on the ventral forewing.  As we traveled down the mountain along Fishing Creek, however, we began to pick up much smaller, more buttery-yellow tigers.  We didn’t get a chance to net one, but they seemed to fit the classic Eastern Tiger Swallowtail GISS.

As close as this area is to DC, we were all sort of scratching our heads why more WABC members and other naturalists aren’t reporting from Frederick Forest more often, when out of the woods at our second stop marched the Gibbses — Denise and Ron.  They’d been mostly looking at odes at another waterhole not far off of Gambrill Park Road.  Beth helped us ID a number of odes on our trip as well, including Slaty Skimmer, Spangled Skimmer, Calico Pennant, and Carolina Saddlebags.

Probable Appalachian Tiger (Walter Gould)




The full list is below, using the NABA/BIS convention for field trip data:

-==| Field Trip |==-

Date: 06/11/2011
Number of Species: 22
Number of Individuals: 224
Frederick Municipal Forest
MD , USA   21702
Notes: WABC Field Trip with leader Tom Stock, Beth Johnson, and Walter Gould.  Most species viewed along trails a short distance off of Gambrill Park Road north of Tower Road.  Partly sunny and warm, with temperatures in the low 80s and a light breeze.  In the field from 1000 hours to 1500 hours.  Habitat mostly grassy verge and fields surrounded by oak/hickory forest; much of it running along the banks of small freshwater impoundments.  Nectar sources were scarce but included small amounts of red clover, dewberry, and viburnum.

WABC Field Trip
Common Name    Scientific Name Life Stage      Number Seen     Notes
Zebra Swallowtail       Eurytides marcellus     Adult   1
Black Swallowtail       Papilio polyxenes       Adult   3
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail       Papilio glaucus Adult   14      4 definite appalachiensis; 2 easy nominate eastern; the rest undetermined
Spicebush Swallowtail   Papilio troilus Adult   22
Cabbage White   Pieris rapae    Adult   42
Orange Sulphur  Colias eurytheme        Adult   1       Seen by Rick only when he doubled back along Gambrill Park Road after the field trip
Edwards’ Hairstreak     Satyrium edwardsii      Adult   1       very early, very fresh
Eastern Tailed-Blue     Everes comyntas Adult   9
‘Summer’ Spring Azure   Celastrina ladon neglecta       Adult   23
Great Spangled Fritillary       Speyeria cybele Adult   1       fresh, nectaring on just-opening dogbane
Eastern Comma   Polygonia comma Adult   1
Mourning Cloak  Nymphalis antiopa       Adult   1       Seen by Rick only, kicked up the cars in the caravan as he brought up the back.  Species also noted on same day in same area by Denise Gibbs.
American Lady   Vanessa virginiensis    Adult   2
Red Admiral     Vanessa atalanta        Adult   1
Red-spotted Admiral     Limenitis arthemis      Adult   9
Little Wood-Satyr       Megisto cymela (includes viola) Adult   26
Silver-spotted Skipper  Epargyreus clarus       Adult   26      observed by Walter ovipositing on Robinia saplings
Northern Cloudywing     Thorybes pylades        Adult   7
Dreamy Duskywing        Erynnis icelus  Adult   4
Least Skipper   Ancyloxypha numitor     Adult   1       seen by Beth and Rick only
Indian Skipper  Hesperia sassacus       Adult   13
Tawny-edged Skipper     Polites themistocles    Adult   16

This entry was posted in Events and Meetings, general butterfly news, sightings, Washington Area Butterfly Club. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to WABC Field Trip Notes — Frederick Municipal Forest

  1. Lisa garrett says:

    Went to Fred Watershed last Sunday with my mountain biking husband.
    We went to Gambrills State park up by the Tea Room for spectacular views of blooming mountain laurel and unique fly poison blooming in spikes throughout the drier woods.
    Saw many appalachian tiger swallowtails just emerged and flying together in a cloud
    also two fresh morning cloaks that were patrolling large sunny rock patches and fighting with an angle wing, spicebush swallowtails, red spotted purple and zebra swallowtail.
    They paid no attention to blues or whites flying by. It was fun to watch the fighting.
    Also many clouds of swallowtails (spicebush, dark ones) fluing throughout the trees.
    I wish I could have joined you this weekend as my husband mentioned the place you went was a great place for dragonflies and we did not get to visit it on our trip.
    Yes it is a great location for Leps, Odes and flora.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s