Thursday, May 5, 2011

A catbird on guard, and more flowers and bugs

Today was another good day for birds in the Naugatuck State Forest. I saw three new species that I'd never seen before, all awesome, and all moving too quickly and too far away for pictures: a Wood Thrush (pretty enough, I think, to suit its beautiful song), a pair of Black-throated Blue Warblers, and an American Redstart. (The Wood Thrush has a brilliant white breast, so I'm tempted to make some poorly-formed comment about the patriotic aspect of this trio of birds, but I won't stretch quite that far.)

This Gray Catbird was singing softly near a thick rose bush next to the path:

It was quite a pretty song, all warbling and ramble-y. When it saw me standing there, however, it switched to the mew-like call that gives this bird its name -- an alarm perhaps? I've seen a catbird hanging out around this bush before, which makes me wonder whether there might be a nest in there. Don't worry, little bird, I wouldn't bother your babies. ("Oh, no?")

In another part of the forest, I found this tiny, bizarre bug relaxing on a leaf by the path:

From a distance, this looked like something the trees might have shed after flowering, but nope, it's got eyes and wings. The body parts are a little strangely-proportioned, but it's definitely a creature. After a little research, I'm pretty sure this is some sort of Thick-headed Fly (Myopa sp., I think), so called because their heads are, well, thick, in comparison to their thorax. I have never heard of -- nor seen -- a creature like this before, but I am convinced even more of how weird bugs are!

I've been watching these plants for a little while now, waiting to see what kind of flowers would grow so I could try to identify them:

Presumably these flowers will grow larger, straighten out, and turn white (as they are in the pictures I've found online), because this is most likely False Solomon's Seal. "False" because, well, it's not Solomon's Seal -- another plant that grows in these woods -- although the one plant without its flowers sure looks a lot like the other. Poor plant, named for not being something else. To be fair, though, it has other names as well: Solomon's Plume, or Treacleberry. So I guess it's OK. Also, sometimes I just have to laugh at the silly names people think of for plants. :P

Here's the last picture for the day, an Orange Jelly Fungus growing on a branch:

In a post about birds and flowers, did you expect a fungus to be the brightest thing around? Sometimes nature is surprising like that. :P 


  1. Look at all the birds you see! - I'm jealous ;-) I hear them, but rarely can find them in the trees, and even more rarely, take a photo. Good for you!

    If I'm remembering correctly 'false' solomon's seal has its white, plume-y blossoms at the end - 'true' solomon's seal has tiny yellow-green blossoms that dangle along the stem, under slightly hairy leaves.

    Thick headed fly - guess we know, now, the source of all the sci-fi monsters :-)

  2. Agreed about plants with weird names. Lauren, her parents, and I were rolling at some of the names of plants we saw the other day at a conservatory. My favorite was "Compact Dumbcane," though now that I look it up on Wikipedia, it doesn't seem so funny: it's toxic and causes "oral irritation, excessive drooling, and localized swelling." (And by the way, this is Peter, your music/game colleague!)