Monday, September 05, 2011

Butterflies and a Moth at Cold Brook Preserve

Until Saturday, I had never visited Cold Brook Reserve, a small wildlife area in northern Hunterdon County. It has a reputation as one of the best places in northern New Jersey to look for sparrows and other open-country birds, particularly during autumn migration after the preserve's fields have been harvested. On Saturday the sparrow numbers were not very high yet, though I did see individual Song, Chipping, and Field Sparrows. However, I did see a Bobolink fly over one of the fields, and there were a few hatch-year Indigo Buntings around.

While there were not a lot of sparrows, there were a lot of butterflies around. Among the most common were sulphurs. An Orange Sulphur is above; the orange color is only obvious on the tops of the wings.

I was delighted to see a Common Checkered-Skipper, which has a beautifully intricate pattern on its wings.

Another skipper at the refuge was this Dun Skipper, which I found in the brushy edge bordering the stream that flows through the refuge.

A lot of Eastern Tailed-Blues were fluttering around in the grass. These small blue butterflies have tails and hindwing spots that give the appearance of an additional face at the back of the butterfly. It is thought that these might fool predators about which end is the true head.

It is often difficult to get a good look at the uppersides of an Eastern Tailed-Blue's wings, but one individual sat with its wings open for a long time. In contrast of its light undersides, the upperwings are a dark bluish-black.

Finally, I also saw a few small moths flutter in and out of the grassy trail. Most were crambid snout moths, but one of them was this lovely Chickweed Geometer.