WABC Field Trip Summary for Sept. 10 Outing

WABC took advantage of the break in the rain from Irene and Lee to head out to the upper Eastern Shore yesterday. En route to our first stop (Adkins Arboretum), we indulged a whim and did a quick stop at Terrapin Park. It was still cloudy and rather foggy, with a few streaks of sunshine, but as the sun strengthened the monarchs started moving in and around the tickseed-filled restored meadow near the picnic area. We circumnavigated the meadow with a quick detour along the path that leads to the shore (and cuts through two marsh areas) for the usually-present Broad-winged Skippers and were not disappointed. A dozen or more piled onto a couple of sparse saltmarsh asters and a few saltmarsh mallows; many more wove their way in and out of the reed beds but resisted accurate counting.

Otherwise, the detour added two particularly interesting leps, Hackberry Emperor (sunning itself on a split rail fence) and a Common Checkered-skipper. Full list is below. The birding was a good bit better than the butterflies, as were able to follow a mixed feeding flock of warblers to pull out Black-and-White, Pine, and Northern Yellowthroat among the chickadees, titmice, and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Adkins was simply not a happening place yesterday, even though the sun was fully out by the time we arrived. We walked the parking lot area and the stream bed, with stops at a couple of likely looking ironweed and Joe-pye clumps, but turned up nothing particularly exciting. Again, the birding was better — good looks at a family group of Blue Grosbeak. So we decided to forego the $5 contribution to the Arboretum to wander about inside and head directly to Eastern Neck NWR.

For all that you can actually see the Bay Bridge from Eastern Neck, it’s a long way around to get there — up across the Chester River at Chestertown, a good haul from there to Rock Hall, and then another 10 miles or so to the Refuge. It was early afternoon when we pulled up to the butterfly garden.

It’s looked better. The summer drought took its toll, followed by flooding and relentless wind during Irene and then Lee. The big draws there were long past bloom — liatris, clethra, and most of the Joe-pye. But what remained was quite active, especially the butterfly weed and the patches of Coloclinium coelestinum, blue mistflower, in the surrounding meadow. Variegated Fritillaries were especially abundant, ranging from the rather small, red phenotype (very fresh) to more faded, larger specimens. Otherwise we picked up most of the expected butterflies but nothing unusual (although the Fiery Skippers were nice to see, and a Peck’s with a somewhat aberrant underside pattern had us thumbing Cech and Tudor during a water break at the picnic table). A mosquito-laden walk around the Butterfly Bay Trail (a short loop through recovering meadow, marsh, and wooded habitats) got us our best bug of the day, Tawny Emperor, and good views of a couple of Yellow-billed Cuckoos. [LepLog readers may remember that Eastern Neck yielded the Kent County record for Tawny last year].

Leaving the Refuge, our total stood at 19 species — not bad, given the chary season it’s been for WABC field trips. We had tried hard to get the 20th to no avail — until a Zebra Swallowtail popped out of the roadside in front of the car for us! (we picked up another just before we exited the Refuge). Only to find when I tallied the list back home last night we actually had 23 species …

Happy to have hit the magic number, we repaired to Fishwhistle in Chestertown for — you guessed it — my much-hyped (deservedly!) fish tacos and a couple of gallons of iced tea. Gull, tern and ode watching from the Fishwhistle deck meant a very relaxed drive back to the DC area, where we arrived just as darkness fell.

Terrapin Park, Kent Co., MD

2011 September 10

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (dark form female) (1)

Orange Sulphur (1)

Gray Hairstreak (1)

Eastern Tailed-blue (1)

Pearl Crescent (14)

Common Buckeye (4)

Red-spotted Purple (3)

Hackberry Emperor (1)

Monarch (8)

Silver-spotted Skipper (abundant)

Common Checkered-skipper (1)

Sachem (1)

Broad-winged Skipper (14)

Eastern Neck NWR, Rock Hall, Queen Anne’s Co., MD

2011 September 10

Zebra Swallowtail (2)

Black Swallowtail (4)

Spicebush Swallowtail (1)

Orange Sulphur (3)

Gray Hairstreak (2)

Red-banded Hairstreak (1)

Eastern Tailed-blue (4)

Variegated Fritillary (common)

Pearl Crescent (abundant)

Common Buckeye (common)

Red-spotted Purple (2)

Red Admiral (2)

Tawny Emperor (1)

Common Wood Nymph (1)

Monarch (6)

Silver-spotted Skipper (common)

Wild Indigo Duskywing (1, female, extremely worn)

Least Skipper (2)

Fiery Skipper (2)

Peck’s Skipper (1)

Common Checkered-skipper (1)

Sachem (5)

Broad-winged Skipper (14)

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

2 Responses to WABC Field Trip Summary for Sept. 10 Outing

  1. Dave Amadio says:

    Hi Rick,
    Nice trip report from Terrapin park & Eastern Neck! also great to see Tawny Emperor reported again. One note of correction from an out of state butterflier: Eastern Neck NWR falls within the Kent County border not Queen Anne’s.

    Dave Amadio
    West Deptford, NJ

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