Although the morning was overcast and a bit threatening, the impending rain held off the whole time, and we had a very pleasant walk through the fields below the nature center.  The turnout included Simon Best and his three Best sons, and Charles Brohawn, but despite the cool, overcast conditions we had quite a decent morning, starting with a very woodpecker-rich parking lot.  The grape vines in the Walnut trees were drawing many birds, including Pileated and Downy Woodpeckers, Flickers and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  We also heard a Red-bellied Woodpecker later, but not in those trees.  There were a number of warblers and vireos and some fairly early White-throated Sparrows in the brushy areas, and we got to see and hear one of the local Red-shouldered Hawks both posing and ‘singing’ for us for quite a while.  My final tally was 36 species, with my favorites being the Black-and-white Warbler and the Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  We also encountered a selection of the local insect fauna, including a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on either parsley or fennel, and  Wooly bear caterpillar that had been heavily parasitized by a wasp.  We saw one of the parasitic ichneumons nearby at almost the same time, which was quite suggestive.  The dying Milkweed was still hosting lots of Milkweed Bugs of all ages from young nymphs up to full-grown adults, but no Monarchs – we discovered that the staff of the nature center had been collecting them and they were pupating in a display for release next year.

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