a blog about what interests me! birds, baskets, butterflies, moths, biking.............

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Butterflies, Moths and Orchids

African Luna Moth (photo credits Renee Harris)
   Last week when I was in DC doing the Smithsonian Craft Show, (after I set up my booth and before the Wednesday night preview party), I had time to go to a few museums. First stop for my friend Renee and I was the museum of natural history. Renee gets credit for all the photos as I forgot my camera back in the hotel.
   We were in the Butterfly Pavilion where butterflies and moths flitter around, landing on flowers, fruits and visitors. There were so many flying around, we kept saying "look at that one", "omg, look at that one".
   In the above photo, notice how the tips of the African Luna moth's wings cross. This species isn't as big as our American version, but the color is similar.

Great Mormon Swallowtail
Atlas Moth
    How cool is this Atlas moth from southeast Asia! Look at the tips of the wings, the pattern looks like snake heads.

Great Egg-fly Butterfly

Banded Orange Butterfly

Blue Glassy Tiger Butterfly in foreground
    After we left the Butterfly Pavilion, we went to the Ochids, A View from the East Exhibit. According to Wikipedia, orchids compromise the second largest family of flowering plants with between 21,950 and 26,049 currently accepted species found in 880 genera. The number of orchid species equals more than twice the number of bird species and  about four times the number of mammal species.

      A really nice selection of some beautiful orchids.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pink-footed Goose

Don Clark photo
   April 2nd was our annual spring waterfowl trip, led by Don Clark and attended by novice and skilled birders alike. We started at Herrick's Cove in Rockingham, VT, went north along the CT River to Springfield, crossed the river into New Hampshire, following it south along route 12. We had seen a good number of species including Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Rough-legged Hawk and a Bald Eagle sitting on her nest.
   Next, Don decided to stop in Walpole at the Malnati Farm which always gets large numbers of geese and other interesting birds. Once there, Phil Morgan called our attention to what he thought was a juvenile greater white-fronted goose, but when Taj Schottland saw it, he said it looked like a pink-footed goose. For non birding-fanatics, a PFGO is an UNBELIEVABLE find!  (Excuse me for shouting)  We grabbed our scopes, cell phones, field guides and cameras to record and confirm what we were seeing.

Don Clark photo
   The pink-footed goose is aptly named for the bubble-gum pink legs. This European goose who ranges in Greenland and Iceland, occasionally turns up along the east coast of North America. In fact, this sighting is New Hampshire's first. And when one does show up, the birders come from all over to see it! It gets crazy!

JoAnne Russo photo
   In Vermont, where I live, there's been one report in 1999 on Grand Isle. So of course, as Vermonters, we hoped this goose would fly across the river into Vermont. Taj devised a plan to watch and see where it flew to roost that night. Most waterfowl will leave the fields at night, where they are easy prey, to find a sheltered water-spot. Directly across from Malnatis field is Allen Brothers Marsh in Westminster, VT, which has been getting hundreds of waterfowl roosting at night. So Don, Taj, Martha Adams and I waited, watched and sure enough, the geese began to fly across the river and into the marsh at dusk.We saw our pink-footed goose fly over our heads and into the marsh! A second (hopefully, if the review committee accepts it) record in Vermont!!

photo JoAnne Russo
   Some in our group had never been out on a birding trip before, they had experienced a bird that most seasoned birders live to see. The rarity of the pink-footed goose was appreciated by everyone! What a great trip, can't wait for the next.