Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pine Warblers and Azures

Yesterday morning I was at Cheesequake State Park. Having seen Bloodroot blooming at home, I was hoping that some of the early woodland plants might be in bloom, but that was not the case. I saw plenty of fresh greenery, but no flowers. Other signs of spring were around, though. A few Tree Swallows were working the fields by the entrance. An Osprey pair has reclaimed the nest by the parking lot for the lake. A Great Egret was stalking through the marsh near the crabbing bridge. At least six Pine Warblers were singing among the Pitch Pines. An Eastern Phoebe was foraging up in the deciduous woods. All of those birds were my first of the year for Middlesex County.

In addition to the birds, I saw at least seven azures. Most of them were flying or sunning themselves on a stretch of gravel road not far from the nature center. I think this is a Blueberry Azure (Celastrina lucia or Celastrina ladon lucia), an azure that flies in early spring and lays its eggs on the flower buds of blueberries and other shrubs. Azures were previously lumped as a single species, Spring Azure, but in the last decade or so, it has become increasingly clear that they are actually a complex of closely-related and similar-looking species.