Recap? No, too long – I’ll sum up.

November 3, 2011

So, a very dry summer up until late in the season, when it turned very wet and ran into the fall that way.  Butterfly sightings low; a couple of Variegated Fritillaries, a couple of Buckeyes (although elsewhere in the area, it looks like the Buckeyes had a good season), and odds and sods of stuff.  I think one each of Black and Tiger Swallowtails, a late-summer Blue of some kind, and the surprise of the season was some sort of large, dark Skipper in the latter half of August; either a Sootywing or a Duskywing – my excellent Peterson Butterfly guide didn’t quite match up; the individual I had was more or less intermediate among several different possibilities in our area.  We often have a selection of the smallish Skippers and almost every year at least a couple of the big Silver-Spotted Skippers, but this was one I can’t recall ever seeing before.  It would seem that the Giant ‘Something-Flowers’ (I never remember their names, but they have huge, tufted, almost “furry” green stems and the occasional large flower opening up) have a strong attractive effect.  I discovered this year as well that the neighbors had several Hummingbirds on their Mimosa this summer, so I guess it’s time to get the feeder out of storage for next year.  Over at Loch Raven, we had a nice walk a couple weeks ago – dozens of each Ruby- and Golden-crowned Kinglets, and a trio of Ospreys (family group?) fishing and playing, and bounced by an adult Bald Eagle at one point.  What a difference thirty years makes!  Things have really changed in the city – on my way in to work a couple days ago, there was a Red-tailed Hawk sitting meditatively on a streetlight near the jail, right on Monument street, and barely 20 feet past it, a large flock of Canada Geese flew low over the road, apparently heading for a landing in or near the Jones Falls somewhere nearby or downtown (or maybe in the harbor).  Urban wildlife has become way wilder than when I was a kid.  We have had Kingbirds nesting downtown for some years now, but this year I noticed Barn Swallows flying in and out of a decaying building in the heart of East Balto.  Considering that I’ve twice had adult Bald Eagle sightings right over the hospital during nesting season in the past couple of years, and had a fox denning up in my toolshed behind the house at least for a short time (judging by the smell and the leavings), I feel like the city has become more rural by leaps and bounds.