Thursday, August 7, 2014

Grasshopper Photo-op

While digging around in the garden today, I discoverd this Melanoplus punctulatusPine Tree Spur-throat Grasshopper. Usually I'm not one for Orthoptera, but this one was quite an interesting species.

A Quote from Bug Guide:

"Traditionally this species is considered rare, but it is one of the most frequently photographed grasshoppers, and has as wide distribution. Perhaps this is because of habitat preferences; entomologists looking for grasshoppers rarely see it because it lives mostly in the trees, but people with cameras often find them in such places (or on the sides of their houses or wood porches and stoops)."

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Soggy Stroll

Drove over to one of my favorite County Parks today, Jamesburg Park Conservation Area.
The trails were pretty soggy from the recent rains but the Canopy of the Pine Barrens was quite alive.
Spotted 3 Great-crested Flycatchers, an Ovenbird and a Coopers Hawk. Those were the "standout birds" from my walk.
I saw quite a few large Bumblebees and the the Jersey State Bird "The Skeeter". Also I hit the trifecta of ticks, pulled Deer, Lone Star & Dog Ticks off my pants when I got back to the car.
Highbush Blueberry Flowers

Camo Pine Bark

Some lovely trash

Burned, Bark & Bone

White Oak Leaves

Friday, December 27, 2013

Cheesequake State Park Post Fire

Took an end of the year walk to Cheesequake SP to check out the fire damage and do some light birding. I was happy the staff finally opened up the Green Trail at the Cedar Swamp.

Boardwalk repairs
Burl on a Cedar

I then headed over to Steamboat Landing / Dock Road too check out what the recent forest fire left behind. It was quite interesting seeing that I never have had the chance to walk through an area like this.

Burnt Cones

Dock Road Wetlands

Dock Road

Control Trench

Monday, March 18, 2013

March Migration

Its that time of year for the Beekman Road Salamander Migration. I'm sure that there is still more to come over the next couple of week.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Is it Ra Cha Cha or Rochester?

While on winter vacation to visit friends in Rochester (You go to Rochester for a vacation?), no trip is complete without a stop over to Mt. Hope Cemetery. When at RIT I was always a little pissed that do to my transfer status I never got to do the Mount Hope Project. The weather was overcast, gloomy & cold so it makes for a fun walk.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wandering Weekend 2

Another part of my action packed weekend was to Six Mile Run Reservoir in Franklin Township, Somerset County. This is a double fun trip because I get to drive on my most favorite of all roads in New Jersey, Canal Road. For those that have never been there think of driving down a road bordered by a ditch on one side and the D&R Canal on the other in a space not much bigger than an alleyway. Trail Map can be downloaded here.

My plan was to hike the full length of all the trails in & out. Due to the muddy conditions with the recent rains I only finished the Blue Trail. Just too much slipping for me while hauling camera gear so I turned around at where the Blue meets the Red and said "Next Time". All in all it was still a good walk, there is something I like about hiking in the fog.

Blue start at Canal Rd Lot
A Nice Foggy Morning
It was pretty quite along the trail, there was bird song every now and then. My spottings included Cardinal, White-throated Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-tailed Hawk, Canada Goose, Downey & Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Carolina Wern and a few Golden-crowned Kinglets. There was one mystery sighting which was either a Kestrel or a Merlin. No mammals to report not even a chipmunk. 

Was just scanning the field
While wildlife was somewhat low, I did have fun searching for my second favorite thing besides insects when hiking. Moss, Lichen & Fungus are always a backup when when I pan out on the trail. While I'm no expert I just like finding new stuff. There were section of the Blue Trail that reminded me of the Pacific Northwest, not that there was tons of ferns but just densely cover tree trunks.

Lichen & Moss
Here some Jelly Fungus for you mycologists out there.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Wandering Weekend

After battling a cold for the last week, I was chomping at the bit to hit a trail system this weekend. While lying in bed, my thoughts were mostly about where have I not been in New Jersey. One of these places was Ken Lockwood Gorge.

So on Saturday Morning at 6, the wheels where on I-287N, the drive was uneventful & quite foggy. There is nothing like having a whole Interstate Highway pretty much all to yourself. Arriving before just Sunrise, I was not the only person there, apparently Fly Fishing is popular in January.

Deciding to have a snack before hitting the trail/road, I made my way to the dock. While finishing my coffee and enjoying the sounds of a fast moving Raritan River’s South Branch, I noticed some movement about 20 yards away. At first thought I figured it was some debris flopping around but moving closer it appeared to be an animal. Thinking it was a Raccoon or an Opossum, I moved a little closer. I was wrong on both accounts; it turned out to be a North American River Otter or so I thought. As soon as it caught a glimpse of me it hit the water and I lost it to the pre dawn darkness. This has been the only time I have saw one, my closest spotting was some tracks in the snow at Natirar Park about 5 years ago. Being quite disappointed that I left all the cameras in the car I headed off. About a 10th of a mile into the trail, I ran across those Fishermen. Having a quick conversation with them, they told me that they saw two Otters swimming down river before my arrival.

The road was quite for the most part; I spotted a Great Blue Heron, Tufted Titmice, Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated Sparrow, Hairy Woodpeckers, Carolina Wren and the big bird of the day, Pileated Woodpecker / Dryocopus pileatus! Not just once but what I think was six different ones, unless it was a pair I spotted 3 times. The air was cold & refreshing and there was still some snow and ice on the path.

Reaching the end of Raritan River Road, my hike looped onto the Columbia Trail and headed back to the parking lot. This section was for the most part uneventful with the exception of finding Gnome Homes placed along the trail. By now there was a lot of people using the park system and that means to head home. I will be putting Ken Lockwood Gorge on a 4 season visit plan, which I usually don't do.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Top 12 of 2012, Backyard Moths

2012 was pretty crappy in the way of my freelance business but it was a pure gold mine in the way of moths. My plan for Moth Season 2012 was pretty simple, set up a station 3-4 nights out of the week & record the species that showed up. While getting bored of just photographing them on the sheet in 2011, I did what any photographer would do and built a small portable studio. It is pretty fancy and cost a whole 20 dollars to make, unless you add in the cost of strobes.

My backyard moth station consists of a 400 Watt Mercury Vapor Light, a Queen Size white sheet and a lot of containers. The studio is make out of an old box, which I designed after a swoop table, one flash over the top and one flat panel flash under the white background. This sits right near the light on an old card table I picked up at a yard sale.

Using this system and my new light which was nicknamed MorningStar, I was able to photograph over 300 species of moths in my backyard alone. This count excludes Micro Moths and add in another 200 for field trips & moth nights elsewhere. Now not all of these moths were "lifers" but I like to reset my count every year. I feel that it is a fun way to keep me in tune with what's flying and also keep a population count or a high count for individual moth species per year.

So hear are some of my favorite moth visitors from 2012, in Latin Alphabetical Order.

1. Agrotis ipsilon - Ipsilon Dart (Male)

2. Amphipyra pyramidoides - Copper Underwing

3. Anicla infecta - Green Cutworm Moth

4. Anomis privata - Hibiscus Leaf Caterpillar Moth

5. Atteva aurea - Ailanthus Webworm Moth

6. Ceratomia amyntor - Elm Sphinx

7. Ceratomia catalpae - Catalpa Sphinx

8. Cisseps fulvicollis - Yellow-collared Scape Moth

9. Hypena baltimoralis - Baltimore Hypena

10. Hypena madefactalis - Gray-edged Bomolocha

11. Marathyssa inficita - Dark Marathyssa

12. Zale lunata - Lunate Zale

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Megarhyssa greenei

Back during mothin' season I started collecting other non-moth creatures. I figured that it would give me something to do during that long time frame before the start of the next moth season.
Going through my Hymenoptera folders I ran across this one that I brought into the studio. After giving up on searching Bug Guide I decided to post it in the Request ID section. Not more than 15 minutes had past and I had an answer. So I give you Megarhyssa greenei.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Frost Woods (Post Sandy)

One of my favorite places to take a walk is Frost Woods over in East Brunswick, it is also the site of Moth Night. It was quite a surprise to see the wind damage that was done, there was quite a bit of Widowmakers for you Arborists out there. While I didn't walk my usual route, it would be safe to assume that most of the place looked like this. Wonder what the clean up plan for this place is? I'll be checking out the two other places that National Moth Week uses in East Brunswick, Elk Pine Woods & Dallenback Lake within the week. So if you decide to visit, just make sure you use caution.