Holiday Birds of December 2014 in Howard County Maryland

A Bonaparte's and a Ring-billed Gull at Fulton Pond in southern Howard County.  This is the last Bonaparte's I saw in 2014 at this location.

A Bonaparte’s and a Ring-billed Gull at Fulton Pond in southern Howard County on December 11. This is the last Bonaparte’s I saw in 2014 at this location.

 

A male Eastern Bluebird finishes his bath at Meadowbrook Park on December  13

A male Eastern Bluebird finishes his bath at Meadowbrook Park on December 13

Ruby-crowned Kinglet eating suet at our home feeder in Columbia, Maryland on December 18

Ruby-crowned Kinglet eating suet at our home feeder in Columbia, Maryland on December 18.  I have never seen a kinglet eat suet before.

A Hermit Thrush visits our feeder area in Columbia on December 18

A Hermit Thrush visits our feeder area in Columbia on December 18. 

A Hermit Thrush visits our home feeder in Columbia on December 18.  The last time we had one coming was in 2007.

Another view pf the Hermit Thrush. The last time we had one was in 2007.

A Merlin, a small but pugnacious falcon, perches on the top of a tree in Columbia.

A Merlin, a small but pugnacious falcon, perches on the top of a tree in Columbia.

A Winter Wren pops up for a very brief view at Font Hill Park in Howard County

A Winter Wren pops up for a very brief view at Font Hill Park in Howard County

 

A female Puprle Ficnh- the heavy streaking and white eyeline distinguish it from a House Finch- perches amid natural Christmas ornaments in western Howard County in December 20

A female Purple Finch- the heavy streaking and white eye line distinguishing it from a House Finch- perches amid natural Christmas ornaments in western Howard County on December 20.  Purple Finches arrived in larger than usual numbers this year.

 

Female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (white throat instead of red) poses in western Howard County on December 20

Female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (white throat instead of red) poses in western Howard County on December 20

 

A female House Finch finds an apple to its liking–western Howard County, December 20

 

Advertisements
Posted in Birds | Leave a comment

Late Fall and Early Winter 2014, Central Maryland

A nice crop of persimmons at Blandair Park in Howard County on November 11.

A nice crop of persimmons at Blandair Park in Howard County on November 11.

This male Eastern Bluebird was caught at Alpha Ridge Park in Howard County on November 21.

This male Eastern Bluebird was caught at Alpha Ridge Park in Howard County on November 21.

A cold November dawn in northern Howard County

A cold November dawn in northern Howard County

One of two adult Bald Eagles in northern Frederick County on November 28.

One of two adult Bald Eagles in northern Frederick County on November 28.

This Golden-crowned Kinglet came very close to me on a path at Font Hill Park in Howard County on December 5th.

This Golden-crowned Kinglet came very close to me on a path at Font Hill Park in Howard County on December 5th.

A female Greater Scaup floats easily on a Columbia lake in Howard County on November 30.  I usually see Lesser Scaup on inland lakes in Maryland so it was a treat to see her.

A female Greater Scaup floats easily on a Columbia lake in Howard County on November 30. I usually see Lesser Scaup on inland lakes in Maryland so it was a treat to see her.

Posted in Birds, shrubs, Trees | Leave a comment

Late Fall 2014, Bugs, Birds and Herps in Howard County, Maryland

A late Common Buckeye looks for a sunny spot in Elkridge on November 7

A late Common Buckeye looks for a sunny spot in Elkridge on November 7

This yellow Palm Warbler took a break from tail wagging and perched quietly for a few minutes on a fence at the Elkhorn Garden Plots on October 31.

This yellow Palm Warbler took a break from tail wagging and perched quietly for a few minutes on a fence at the Elkhorn Garden Plots on October 31.

Fiery Skipper at the Elkhorn Garden Plots in Columbia on November 4th.  Usually they are gone by now but there has not been a killing frost yet this fall.

Fiery Skipper at the Elkhorn Garden Plots in Columbia on November 4th. Usually they are gone by now but there has not been a killing frost yet this fall.

A Brown Snake looks for warmth along a path at Meadowbrook Park in Howard County, Maryland on November 9

A Brown Snake looks for warmth along a path at Meadowbrook Park in Howard County, Maryland on November 9

This white form of the Clouded Sulphur is at Meadowbrook Park in Howard County on November 9.  Only a few butterflies are left and Orange a Clouded Sulphurs are some of the latest flying species.

This white form of the Clouded Sulphur is at Meadowbrook Park in Howard County on November 9. Only a few butterflies are left now.  Orange and Clouded Sulphurs are some of the latest flying species.

Posted in Birds, Butterflies and moths, Herps and mammals | Leave a comment

Late Last Gasp of Warmth… late October 2014 Birds and Bugs in Howard County, Maryland

A red-banded Hairstreak visits white asters in Elkridge.  The latest of this species I have ever seen.  Overall butterfly numbers way down after the recent storm and loss of nectar plants--end of the season.

A red-banded Hairstreak visits white asters in Elkridge on October 24. The latest of this species I have ever seen. Overall butterfly numbers way down after the recent storm and loss of nectar plants– the end of the season is upon us.

This is a Shadow Darner, a late season dragonfly, at the Elkhorn Garden Plots in Columbia on October 24.

This is a Shadow Darner, a late season dragonfly, at the Elkhorn Garden Plots in Columbia on October 24.

A late Common Buckeye in Elkridge, Howard County on October 27 shows off its bright colors.

A late Common Buckeye basking in Elkridge, Howard County on October 27 shows off its bright colors.

One of three Fiery Skipper butterflies still at the Elkhorn Garden Plots in Columbia on the last warm day of October 28.

One of three Fiery Skipper butterflies still at the Elkhorn Garden Plots in Columbia on the last warm day of October 28.

A Collared Scape Moth visits buddleia flowers at the Elkhorn Garden Plots on October 28.

A Yellow-collared Scape Moth visits buddleia flowers at the Elkhorn Garden Plots on October 28.

A late Grasshopper Sparrow was caught hiding at Meadowbrook Park in Howard County on October 28.

A late Grasshopper Sparrow was caught hiding at Meadowbrook Park in Howard County on October 28.

 

Posted in Birds, Butterflies and moths, Other insects | Leave a comment

Even Later Butterflies in Howard County, October 2014

This Ocola Skipper liked the purple butterfly bush at the Elkhorn Garden Plots on October 8.  This is the second latest date I have seen this southern skipper in Maryland. 2014 has been a good year for them.

This Ocola Skipper likes the purple butterfly bush at the Elkhorn Garden Plots on October 8. This is the second latest date I have seen this southern skipper in Maryland. 2014 has been a good year for them.

A Common Buckeye opens its wings amid white heath asters in Elkridge Maryland on October 6.

Gray Hairstreak at Patel Drive in Elkridge on October 9th.  I am not usually able to get a picture of hairstreaks with their wings open.

Gray Hairstreak at Patel Drive in Elkridge on October 9th.  The light orange abdomen indicates this one is a male. I am not usually able to get a picture of hairstreaks with their wings open like this.

 

A pretty Variegated Fritillary visits the abundant white heath asters at Patel Drive in Elkridge on October 9th.

A pretty Variegated Fritillary visits the abundant white heath asters at Patel Drive in Elkridge on October 9th.

 

One lone Fiery Skipper visits the butterfly bush at the Elkhorn Garden Plots in Columbia, Maryland on October 12.

One lone male Fiery Skipper visits the butterfly bush at the Elkhorn Garden Plots in Columbia, Maryland on a cool October 12.

Wild Indigo Duskywing skipper at Patel Drive in Elkridge on October 17.   These butterflies used to be uncommon until their larvae switched to the introduced Crown Vetch planted alongside many roadways.

Wild Indigo Duskywing skipper at Patel Drive in Elkridge on October 17. These butterflies used to be uncommon until their larvae switched to the introduced Crown Vetch planted alongside many roadways.

A very late Black Swallowtail visits Red clover blossoms at the Elkhorn Garden Plots on October 21

A very late Black Swallowtail visits Red clover blossoms at the Elkhorn Garden Plots on October 21

A Common Checkered Skipper makes an interesting pattern contrast with wood mulch at the Elkhorn Garden Plots on October 21.

A Common Checkered Skipper makes an interesting pattern contrast with wood mulch at the Elkhorn Garden Plots on October 21.

Posted in Butterflies and moths | 2 Comments

More Late Howard County, Maryland Butterflies, 2014

A White M Hairstreak shows just a hint of blue underneath.  When it flies, the top side is a brilliant blue color.  This one was in Elkridge, Howard County on October 4.

A White M Hairstreak shows just a hint of blue underneath. When it flies, the top side is a brilliant blue color. This one was in Elkridge, Howard County on October 4.  This is the latest I have ever seen one in Maryland. The larval host plants are oak trees which are common, but I usually only seen one of these beauties per year.

Common Buckeyes continue flying into October.  This one was in Elkridge in late September.

Common Buckeyes continue flying into October. This one was in Elkridge in late September.

An Orange Sulphur visits white aster flowers on October 4th.

An Orange Sulphur visits white aster flowers in Elkridge on October 4th.

Monarchs are still flying south but not in as large numbers as a few days ago.  This one was in Elkridge on September 30.

Monarchs are still flying south but not in as large numbers as a few days ago. This one was in Elkridge on September 30.

 

Variegated Fritillary--this is another butterfly that continues flying up until the first frost.  Small white aster is a good late season nectar source for many butterflies.

Variegated Fritillary–this is another butterfly that continues flying up until the first frost. Small white aster is a good late season nectar source for many butterflies.

 

A male Fiery Skipper enjoys the late bounty of white asters.

A male Fiery Skipper enjoys the late bounty of white asters.

 

Another skipper butterfly that flies in late summer and fall is the Common Checkered Skipper.  Despite the name, it is an attractive animal seen up close as its picture shows.

Another skipper butterfly that flies in late summer and fall is the Common Checkered Skipper. Despite the name, it is an attractive animal seen up close as its picture shows.

 

A female Black Swallowtail in Columbia, Howard County.  Most swallowtails disappear by late September so I was surprised to find this one in pristine condition on on September 27.

A female Black Swallowtail in Columbia, Howard County. Most swallowtails disappear by late September so I was surprised to find this one in pristine condition on on September 27.

 

Small can be beautiful---an Eastern Tailed Blue at Gateway Business Park in Columbia on October 2nd.

Small can be beautiful—an Eastern Tailed Blue at Gateway Business Park in Columbia on October 2nd.

 

A Gray Hairstreak at Gateway Business Park in Columbia on October 2nd.  This is the more common hairstreak in Howard County in late summer and early fall.

A Gray Hairstreak at Gateway Business Park in Columbia on October 2nd. This is the more common hairstreak in Howard County in late summer and early fall.

Posted in Butterflies and moths | 2 Comments

Late Maryland Butterflies, September, 2014

A Common Buckeye in the Columbia Elkhorn Garden Plots on September 18

A Common Buckeye in the Columbia Elkhorn Garden Plots on September 18

 

A fresh Monarch butterfly on migration visits white eupatorium at Gateway Business Park in eastern Howard County

A fresh Monarch butterfly on migration visits white eupatorium at Gateway Business Park in eastern Howard County

 

A Painted Lady also at Gateway Business Park.  Five of these joined the migrating Monarchs.

A Painted Lady also at Gateway Business Park. Five of these joined the migrating Monarchs.

 

Ocola Skipper is a southern butterfly that immigrates northward in late summer/early fall.  Here it visits Gateway Business Park's flowers.

Ocola Skipper is a southern butterfly that immigrates northward in late summer/early fall. Here it visits Gateway Business Park’s flowers.

 

A late Great-spangled Fritillary visits zinnias at the Elkhorn Garden Plots on September  9

A late Great-spangled Fritillary visits zinnias at the Elkhorn Garden Plots on September 9

 

One of the last swallowtails, this female Black also visited flowers at the Elkhorn Plots on September 5.

One of the last swallowtails, this female Black also visited flowers at the Elkhorn Plots on September 5.

 

A fresh Variegated Fritillary visits the Elkhorn Garden Plots in Columbia Maryland on September 21.

A fresh Variegated Fritillary visits the Elkhorn Garden Plots in Columbia Maryland on September 21.

Posted in Butterflies and moths | 2 Comments

Late Summer Wildflowers in Howard County, Maryland

Autumn Sneezeweed, Helenium autumnale, at the Gateway Business Park on August 28 2014.  Sneezeweed was once dried to a powder and used to make snuff.

Autumn Sneezeweed, Helenium autumnale, at the Gateway Business Park on August 28 2014. Sneezeweed was once dried to a powder and used to make snuff.

 

A Cardinalflower is brilliant even in shade at Gateway Business Park on August 28 2014

A Cardinal-flower is brilliant even in shade at Gateway Business Park on August 28 2014.

 

A Swamp Rose Mallow near Gateway .  Hidden beauty by the side of a busy road. Business Park

A Swamp Rose Mallow near Gateway Business Park . Hidden beauty by the side of a busy road.

 

Salt Marsh Tiger Moth on White eupatorium on September 3 2013 at Gateway Business Park

Salt Marsh Tiger Moth on White eupatorium on September 3 2013 at Gateway Business Park

 

Large Bur-marigold, Bidens laevis, Forebay Pond, September 17, 2013

Large Bur-marigold, Bidens laevis, Forebay Pond, September 17, 2013

 

Rose Mallow, near Gateway Business Park, September 3, 2012.

Rose Mallow–whiter bloom, near Gateway Business Park, September 3, 2012.

 

A Rose Pink, in the gentian family, grows along Route 29 in southern Howard County.

A Rose Pink,  a colorful member of the gentian family, grows along Route 29 in southern Howard County.

 

Yellow Crownbeard is uncommon in Howard County but frequent in southern Maryland.  This plant was blooming near Lake Elkhorn in Columbia on September 25, 2013

Yellow Crownbeard is uncommon in Howard County but frequent in southern Maryland. This plant was blooming near Lake Elkhorn in Columbia on September 25, 2013

Posted in Butterflies and moths, Wildflowers and grasses | Leave a comment

Watts Branch Watershed, Summer 2014

A Green Dragon plant.  This is the less-common relative of the Jack-in-the-pulpit that also likes moist floodplain woods.

A Green Dragon plant. This is the less-common relative of the Jack-in-the-pulpit that also likes moist floodplain woods.

This is a female Broad-headed Skink, a larger relative of the Five-lined Skink.  This lizard can grow up to a foot long and it prefers to be in trees more than its smaller relative.

This is a female Broad-headed Skink, a larger relative of the Five-lined Skink. This lizard can grow up to a foot long and it prefers to be in trees more than its smaller relative.

Walking Fern--very rare in the Watts Branch watershed, is normally found on limestone outcrops.

Walking Fern–very rare in the Watts Branch watershed, is normally found on limestone outcrops.

Possible Leatherflower,  Clematis viorna. leaves.   This rare vine has small pink urn-shaped flowers in late spring and early summer.

Possible Leatherflower, Clematis viorna. leaves. This rare vine has small pink urn-shaped flowers in late spring and early summer.

The Watts Branch valley in late May.  Traces of a major flood in April can still be seen.

The Watts Branch valley in late May. Traces of a major flood in April can still be seen.

This is a young Broad-headed Skink. It is larger than the immature Five-lined Skink and had seven lines on its body.

This is a young Broad-headed Skink. It is larger than the immature Five-lined Skink and had seven lines on its body.

This is Violet Wood Sorrel, an attractive ground covering wildflower of late spring and early summer.

This is Violet Wood Sorrel, an attractive ground covering wildflower of late spring and early summer.

 

A Woodland Sunflower graces the edge of the stream in late summer

A Woodland Sunflower graces the edge of the stream in late summer

 

An Elephant''s Foot Plant also known as wild tobacco, growing along the Watts Branch floodplain.  This is a southern wildflower.

An Elephant”s Foot Plant also known as wild tobacco, growing along the Watts Branch floodplain. This is a southern wildflower.

 

In contrast to the above southern plant,  this large Sweet Birch, Betula lenta, is more typical of the Appalachians or New England.  It is growing on a north-facing slope along the lower Watts Branch.

In contrast to the above southern plant, this large Sweet Birch, Betula lenta, is more typical of the Appalachians or New England. It is growing on a north-facing slope along the lower Watts Branch.

Posted in Herps and mammals, Landscapes, Non-flowering plants, Trees, Trees, shrubs, and vines, Wildflowers and grasses | Leave a comment

Visiting Two Sites in the Triassic Basin: Upper Monocacy River valley in Maryland and Grant Conway State Forest in Virginia; August 19 and 20, 2014

Tall Sunflowers grace an overgrown field north of Taneytown in upper Carroll County MD

Tall Sunflowers grace an overgrown field north of Taneytown in upper Carroll County MD

Biennial Gaura, a relative of the common Evening Primrose, along a roadside in northwest Carroll County MD.  For some reason I find this wildflower only in the upper Monocacy valley.

Biennial Gaura, a relative of the common Evening Primrose, along a roadside in northwest Carroll County MD. For some reason I find this wildflower only in the upper Monocacy valley.

I was surprised to see this Giant Swallowtail feeding on thistle flowers along a narrow road right near the PA line, just east of Emmittsburg

I was quite surprised to see this Giant Swallowtail feeding on thistle flowers along a narrow road right near the PA line, just east of Emmitsburg.  This is the first Giant I have ever seen in Maryland.

These Orange Coneflowers (Rudbeckia fulgida) were growing along the entrance road to Conway Robinson State Forest in Prince William County Virginia.  They are rare in Maryland.

These Orange Coneflowers (Rudbeckia fulgida) were growing along the entrance road to Conway Robinson State Forest in Prince William County Virginia. They are rare in Maryland and become more common the farther south you travel.

Scaly Blazing Star is a late summer wildflower that prefers dry wood edges in the south.  There are a few spots it grows at  Conway Robinson State Forest.

Scaly Blazing Star is a late summer wildflower that prefers dry wood edges in the south. There are a few spots it grows at Conway Robinson State Forest.

A small wet area  at Robinson S.F. had several bright scarlet Cardinal Flowers.  They are one of my favorite late summer blooms.

A small wet area at Robinson S.F. had several bright scarlet Cardinal Flowers. They are one of my favorite late summer blooms.

Another species of coneflower at Conway Robinson, the Green-headed, Rudbeckia laciniata.

Another species of coneflower at Conway Robinson, the Green-headed, Rudbeckia laciniata.

Pink Wild Bean growing alongside the entrance to Conway Robinson State Forest.

Pink Wild Bean growing alongside the entrance to Conway Robinson State Forest.

Posted in Butterflies and moths, Wildflowers and grasses | Leave a comment