Monday, August 01, 2011

Wildlife at Lord Stirling Park

On Saturday I was at Lord Stirling Park, which protects the western portion of the Great Swamp basin. (A National Wildlife Refuge protects the eastern portion.) Birds were mostly quiet, though a lot of the summer's breeders were in evidence. I saw a few immature birds following their parents around, with a highlight being two Empidonax flycatchers (most likely Willow Flycatchers given the location) traveling together. As I was crossing the dike between the impoundments at the entrance to the park, I saw a Black-crowned Night-Heron fly overhead (apparently unusual in Somerset County) and two Green Herons flying around the impoundment on the right. The latter two were making some odd noises, more high-pitched and sweeter sounding than I associate with that species.

I had hoped to see dragonflies around the ponds and on the trail along the Passaic River, which flows along the eastern border of the park, but they were a lot less abundant than I expected. There were a lot of Eastern Forktails, like the one above, and some common dragonflies like Slaty Skimmer and Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

This darner took a break from flying around. I think it is a Swamp Darner, but it is difficult to be certain because of the distance and backlighting.

Butterflies were also a bit sparse, but it was nice to see this Appalachian Brown.

Spotted Lady Beetles were crawling all over the emergent vegetation in one of the ponds.

I only saw this Southern Leopard Frog because it happened to cross the path in front of me as I was walking. If it had kept still, I probably would have missed it.