Sunday, August 07, 2011

A Visit to Scherman Hoffman

By the time I arrived at Scherman Hoffman yesterday morning, a sunny morning had turned into an overcast one. To some extent, this was a relief since Central Jersey residents were treated to a very hot July, and yesterday's overcast sky helped moderate the temperature. However, this moderation came at the cost of suppressing insect activity particularly that of the large insects (odonates and butterflies) that I had hoped to see.

The birds appeared to be mostly the same species that had bred around the refuge this summer. I had nice looks at several Gray Catbirds, a Downy Woodpecker, and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Other birds that made their presence known through contact calls included Eastern Towhee, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Bluebird, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Tufted Titmouse. A Scarlet Tanager was present on one of the trails. The one definite migrant was a Solitary Sandpiper that I accidentally flushed from the pond in the lower meadow.

Several species of butterflies were active despite the clouds. The highlight was an Appalachian Brown, shown above. I have seen these fairly regularly over the past two months, so perhaps they are not as uncommon as I thought. Or perhaps they are just having a good year. Either way, I always enjoy seeing them.

Other butterflies included Spicebush Swallowtail, Question Mark (shown above), Common Buckeye, and Least Skipper.

There are still plenty of flowers blooming in the meadows around the refuge. One trail features a nice bushy crop of butter-and-eggs.