Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lepidoptera at Negri-Nepote Preserve

I was at Negri-Nepote Grasslands Preserve yesterday. It was another blisteringly hot day, one of too many this summer. The sky was a gorgeous blue (click image at right for a larger version), and a variety of insects were buzzing. Some birds were active, but most of the singing has stopped at this point. I saw more Eastern Bluebirds than I usually do, including a few juveniles. I think that a Field Sparrow and an Eastern Kingbird that I saw may also have been juveniles. American Kestrels were active in the main field.

One question on my mind was what had become of the dead Glossy Ibis, which was found under suspicious circumstances. I did not see any sign of a dead ibis at the pond, but the blind that overlooks the pond was still full of plastic pellets. (You can see a small portion of them in the photo at left.) I hope this means that a state wildlife official took the bird. I did see some shorebirds at the pond, including Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Least Sandpiper. There was also a Green Heron; according to eBird it was the first time I have seen one in Somerset County.

There were a variety of butterfly species active, including the ubiquitous Eastern Tiger Swallowtails and Clouded Sulphurs, as well as a lady species that I did not see long enough to identify. The butterfly above is a new species for me, Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta). It is new for me mainly because I did not know to look for it until recently; I had always assumed these were a summer population of Spring Azures (Celastrina ladon). You can read more about the identification and taxonomy azures at BugGuide and about the Summer Azure species at Butterflies and Moths of North America.

Another common summer blue is the Eastern Tailed-Blue (Cupido comyntas), notable for the small tails on the hindwings. Though they are common, these butterflies are small and move quickly, so that it is difficult to approach closely to study or photograph them.

This moth is a new species for me, Obtuse Yellow (Azenia obtusa). It is a very small member of the Noctuidae. I flushed this moth from the grass as I walked.

The final species is a Maple Looper Moth (Parallelia bistriaris) that I flushed from the trail through the woods. I was able to watch where it landed and find it; luckily it sat long enough for a series of photos, none of which is very good. The one above shows most of the key markings.