Friday on the Hot Eastern Shore

So, I’ll confess:  I really wasn’t going lepping on the Eastern Shore yesterday.  In actuality, I was going down to Salisbury Airport to twitch for the large numbers (comparatively) of Upland Sandpipers being seen on the the grassy areas between the tarmac runways.  In vain, as it happens — Uppies would be a life bird for me, but I’ve dipped every time the past couple of years I’ve gone hunting them.  Yesterday was no exception.

But before the disappointment of the late afternoon in Salisbury, I stopped off at a couple usually productive sites to see what leps were out and about in the heat.

First stop was just across the Bay Bridge at Terrapin Park, which you can actually see off to your left as you come across the bridge onto the Eastern Shore.  There are a few salt marshes there, one of which has a nice perimeter trail with a few blooming swamp milkweeds, and that’s where all the action was: especially the hordes of Broad-winged Skippers.  A Delaware Skipper was the coolest find of the batch.

I finished with a walk around the meadow area, but the blazing sun sent me on my way after about another hour and I moved on down Route 50 to the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville, known to many seasoned naturalists by its old name of Horsehead Farm.  At CBEC  the activity was right around the Visitor Center, especially on the ornamentals in the butterfly garden.  One thistle plant at pond’s edge right off the education center veranda held a number of small skippers, including what apparently was a country record Southern Broken-dash.

Southern Broken-dash, courtesy N Lavers on picasaweb

Last lep stop was a drive through a couple of normally very productive areas around Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge:  Key Wallace Drive, the Wildlife Drive, Bestpitch, and Shorter’s Wharf Road  But it was pretty much a dead zone — no nectar sources, the roadsides have been mowed first and now drought stricken.  Bone dry.

All this brought me to the Salisbury Airport at around 6:30 pm, where I sat on the picnic tables near the visitor lot and looked vainly through bins and a spotting scope for about 2 hours until dark fell, much to the evident concern of the Homeland Security types!

Full lists for Terrapin and Horsehead:

-==| Field Trip |==-

Date: 07/29/2011
Number of Species: 11
Number of Individuals: 48
Terrapin Park
MD , USA   21666
Notes: Sunny and hot, low 90s and high humidity already by 1000 hours.  One hour in the field 1030-1130 hours; walked the circuit around the meadow and the perimeter of the marsh.  Nectar sources primarily a few swamp milkweeds in full bloom.

Common Name    Scientific Name Life Stage      Number Seen     Notes
Zebra Swallowtail       Eurytides marcellus     Adult   1
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail       Papilio glaucus Adult   1
Spicebush Swallowtail   Papilio troilus Adult   17
Sleepy Orange   Eurema nicippe  Adult   1
Pearl Crescent  Phyciodes tharos        Adult   4
Common Buckeye  Junonia coenia  Adult   2
Monarch Danaus plexippus        Adult   3
Silver-spotted Skipper  Epargyreus clarus       Adult   2
Delaware Skipper        Anatrytone logan        Adult   1
Broad-winged Skipper    Poanes viator   Adult   15      abundant on the swamp milkweed along the salt marsh
Dun Skipper     Euphyes vestris Adult   1
-==| Field Trip |==-

Date: 07/29/2011
Number of Species: 7
Number of Individuals: 34
Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center
MD , USA   21638
Notes: Hot and sunny; low 90s.  In the field 1200-1400 hours, on foot, mostly around the visitor center.  Nectar sources included ornamental salvia, lantana and other garden plants plus thistle and pickerel weed.

Common Name    Scientific Name Life Stage      Number Seen     Notes
Viceroy Limenitis archippus     Adult   4
Silver-spotted Skipper  Epargyreus clarus       Adult   10
Least Skipper   Ancyloxypha numitor     Adult   2
Southern Broken-Dash    Wallengrenia otho       Adult   1
Little Glassywing       Pompeius verna  Adult   14
Zabulon Skipper Poanes zabulon  Adult   1
Broad-winged Skipper    Poanes viator   Adult   2

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