Monday, May 9, 2011

West Rock ho! (Part 2: Birds and flowers and such)

Yesterday, Paul and I had an adventure at Lake Wintergreen in West Rock State Park, and I already posted about some of the creatures we saw there. Here's the second part of the account, filled with birds and plants and other fun things!

I almost never get to see Red-winged Blackbirds anymore, since the lakes at the Naugatuck State Forest where I usually hang out don't have much in the way of reeds or cattails or brush on the water's edge where these birds could make their nests. So I was pretty excited to be around them again, with the males calling and flashing their red shoulder patches in all their glory. Even Paul was getting into these bright displays (he usually isn't very interested in birds).

We also found a flock of Northern Rough-Winged Swallows, seven or eight birds, all careening and diving through the air, and sometimes zooming right by our heads. They were taking turns landing on the path, like the bird in this picture, and picking at something brown and apparently delicious there. And no, that isn't a trick of the camera -- their bodies really are that long and stretched-out. This is a new bird for me, and I don't have any experience with swallows at all really, so it was fun to be able to watch these guys at such a close range.

We found several cool wildflowers as well:

This is Fringed Polygala, a wacky-weird flower that I only learned last year, and with such a bizarre shape, I'm a little surprised that I never noticed it before then. The plant in this picture has two flowers, but you can see the shape of a single flower better in this next picture:

I can't help thinking how much this flower looks like a whiskered face with big ears. :)

This is Hairy Solomon's Seal, with its green/yellow flowers dangling below its stem and just starting to open. You can see the tiny hairs on the underside of these leaves in the zoomed-in picture, and this helps distinguish this species from other Solomon's Seal plants that grow in Connecticut.

The Lowbush Blueberry plants are just starting to open their flowers, in preparation for a delicious summer yield. Yum, yum, yum. I actually haven't noticed many wild blueberry bushes in the Naugatuck State Forest yet, and hopefully I won't miss out on this treat by hanging out there this year.

I was excited to find Pink Lady's Slippers sending up their graceful buds. I love these plants -- I just think it's so cool that we have orchids growing wild around us (this lady's slipper is just one among many different species), and it feels like a treat to find them. Hopefully I'll stumble across some of these flowers open before the season is finished, but the buds are beautiful in their own right.

Here's one last picture, a pretty Orange Sulphur butterfly that flew across our path:

All in all, it was a wonderful trip, and I'm glad we got to visit West Rock again. :)

1 comment:

  1. I was so excited when I first noticed the polygala - it just seemed so exotic in amongst the dried leaves and twigs. It's a treat!