to our Nature Walk Leaders for these reports on our August Nature Walks!
NATURE WALK REPORT - August 21, 2010
Fred J. Archibald Audubon Sanctuary
Seventeen dedicated nature lovers braved the mid-August, hot and humid
weather conditions this past weekend to stroll through the sunny
meadows at the Fred J. Archibald Audubon Sanctuary.
Although birds were hard to spot due to their quiet skulking nature at
this time of the year, we managed to see twenty nine different species.
The most notable of these were the Indigo Bunting, Brown Thrasher,
Cedar Waxwing and early arrival Dark-eyed Juncos. To see silent Blue
Jays in the woodlands was a unique experience. As usual, White-tailed
Deer frequented the woodland edges.
What made this walk especially memorable though, were the abundant
butterflies that flitted amongst the thistle plants and other flowering
Cheryl Farfaras, a certified butterfly bander managed to net six
Monarch butterflies for the group to see up close. She attached tiny,
stick-on, ID tags onto the wings of four of the Monarchs that she
identified as ones that will make the trip back to their breeding
grounds in Mexico. Two others were released as they were third
generation butterflies who will not be making the trip south. She also
showed the group how to identify male from female Monarchs by noting
the black spots on the upper wings of the males that are not present on
Another highlight of this walk was the Hummingbird Moths who were
drawing nectar from the thistle plants along with the butterflies.
These moths mimicked their namesakes in body and actions and if you
didn’t observe closely, you wouldn’t take them for moths. There is
always something new to discover on these nature walks, isn’t there?
Especially abundant in the native grassland meadows this morning were
Eastern Tiger Swallowtails. Other butterfly species seen were:
Spicebush Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Cabbage White, Little Yellow,
Gray Hairstreak, Eastern Tailed Blue, Great Spangled Fritillary,
Baltimore Checkerspot (a real surprise), Painted Lady, Common Buckeye,
Red-spotted Purple, Hackberry Emperor, Monarch, Silver Spotted Skipper,
Horace’s Duskywing, Common Checkered Skipper, Common Sootywing, Fiery
Skipper, and Zebulon Skipper. Fast flying odonates (dragonflies) also
occupied the group’s attention as they dazzled us with their aerial
Altogether, it was an enjoyable and pleasant outing, despite the hot
weather. At least, it wasn’t January.
Thanks to all participants!
Ron Polniaszek, Walk Leader
Archibald Audubon Sanctuary - August 20, 2011
The day dawned warm, in the mid-70s, the humidity was 45% and the skies
were cloudless. By the time the ten nature lovers who attended this
day's nature walk finished, the temperature had climbed into the
mid-80s. For the past month, significant rainfall has been scarce and
the meadow at the Fred J. Archibald Audubon Sanctuary reflected the
arid conditions. Grasses were dry and flowering plants were late in
blooming. This affected our day's butterfly species count. Last year
around this date, we spotted 38 butterfly species. This year, the
species count was just nine. Because blooming plants were few and far
between, the butterflies gathered around the few bloomers which allowed
us splendid views. Common Buckeyes were abundant. Eastern Tiger
Swallowtails were the most numerous species seen this morning. A few
Monarchs were spotted and we figured they were passing through on their
migration to their Mexican rain forest nesting grounds. Spicebush
Swallowtails, Gray Hairstreaks, Little Yellows, Eastern Tailed Blues,
and Common Sootywings put in an appearance. A Great Spangled Fritillary
stole the show with its rich chocolate browns with silver spots and a
wide cream sub-marginal band on its hind wings and its warm orange
color with black markings on its fore wings.
We were also able to get good views of dragonflies this morning.
Twelve-spotted Skimmers were the most common and largest of the
odonates we spotted. Also seen were Eastern Pondhawks, Common
Whitetails, and Ruby Meadowhawks. The most interesting dragonfly
spotted was a Blue Dasher. Its powder blue abdomen with black tip was
hard to miss or forget.
Hummingbird Moths were everywhere on the Bull Thistle plants. They
out-competed the Bumblebees and Butterflies for prime spots on the 2 to
3-inch wide, purple flower heads. We had a naturalist with us this
morning and we spent some time identifying other wildflowers and shrubs
in the meadow. Prominent plants included: Partridge Pea, New York
Ironweed, Pokeweed, Late Goldenrod, Common Milkweed, Blackseed
Plantain, Common Yarrow, and Common Mullein. Our Big Bluestem and
Turkey Foot Grasses were over six-feet in height.
We did not neglect our bird watching duties on this morning's walk. We
managed to identify 29 bird species. We had excellent views of two
pairs of Indigo Buntings. Other birds of note included a fly-over of a
Belted Kingfisher, a calling Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and a Red-tailed
Hawk who was sunning itself with its wings and tail splayed out atop a
low tree. An Eastern Kingbird and an Eastern Wood-Pewee were doing
their best to keep the insect population in check. Two White-tailed
Deer yearlings were keeping an eye on us as we hiked the meadow trail.
No doubt other deer remained hidden in the nearby woods. It turned out
to be a busy and interesting morning for the group; the two-hour walk
passed quickly. We look forward to next month's walk when more birds
will be moving through both of our ASCM sanctuaries. See you then!
Ron Polniaszek, Walk Leader
Archibald Audubon Sanctuary - August 18, 2012
An overnight sustained rain gave way to perfect weather for this
morning's 2-1/2 hour nature walk in the meadows of the Fred J.
Archibald Audubon Sanctuary. The sky was crystal clear and the
temperature was a comfortable 78 degrees F. Today's seven hikers
included two young girls and their father who were visiting the
sanctuary for the first time. They occupied their time taking in the
many butterflies present this morning in the meadows and they
particularly enjoyed pointing out the Queen Anne's Lace plants and
other colorful wildflowers. It was wonderful to experience the many
treasures of the sanctuary as seen through their young and inquisitive
Mid-summer flora was one of the elements that dominated our interest on
the walk this morning. The meadow was replete with native plantings
which provide food, cover and a place for rearing young. In full bloom
were Partridge Pea, New York Ironweed, Bull Thistle, Common Milkweed
and Swamp Milkweed to name just a few of the plants that were
frequented by honey bees, butterflies, dragon flies and damselflies. We
even spotted a Ruby-throated Hummingbird taking in the nectar. Other
prominent planting seen were Late Goldenrod, Blackseed Plantain, Common
Yarrow and Common Mullein. Our Big Bluestem and Turkey Foot Grasses
were sprouting full seed heads and were in many areas over 6-feet in
Butterflies spotted in the meadows this morning were: Swarthy Skipper,
Black Swallowtail, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail,
Cabbage White, Clouded Sulphur, American Copper, Gray Hairstreak,
Eastern Tailed Blue, Pearl Crescent, American Lady, Common Buckeye and
Monarch. Odonates spotted were: Ebony Jewelwing, Violet Dancer,
Familiar Bluet, Common Green Darner, Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Blue
Dasher and Common Whitetail.
Other wildlife spotted this morning was 12 White-tailed Deer, one Red
Fox, a Garter Snake, and many small Toads. As usual, birdsong kept us
company during our walk. Carolina Wrens, House Wrens, Gray Catbirds,
Yellow-billed Cuckoos, American Goldfinches, Indigo Buntings, Northern
Cardinals, Field Sparrows and American Crows vied with each other to
announce their presence. Fly-over bird species this morning included a
Green Heron, several Northern Flickers and two flights of Canada Geese
in V-formations. Utilizing the thermals being formed over the warming
nearby farm fields were Turkey Vultures, Black Vultures and Red-tailed
Hawks. We may have even spotted a Common Raven in one of the thermals.
Ravens are found mostly in mountainous areas, but they appear to be
expending their range into central Maryland counties. Hawking insects
over the meadow were Barn Swallows, Tree Swallows and Eastern
Kingbirds. During the woods portion of our walk were several Pileated
Woodpeckers hammering away at tree trunks searching for grubs and
The Fred J. Archibald Audubon Sanctuary was alive with wildlife action
this morning. It continues to be a great place for nature lovers to
enjoy a day surrounded by all that Mother Nature has to offer. We hope
to see you soon at our sanctuaries.
Ron Polniaszek, Walk Leader
Archibald Audubon Sanctuary - August 16, 2014
participants came to the Fred Archibald Sanctuary on a delightfully
cool and dry August 16, and all found a place to park in spite of a big
yellow dump truck which was unexpectedly residing in the parking area!
Since birds are pretty quiet at this season, our focus was mostly on
plants and insects. Because it was so cool, the insects were mostly out
of sight at 9 a.m., but as the weather heated up, the bugs became more
active. With many eyes scanning the trailside plants, we started to see
more and more. Butterflies started off with an Eastern Tailed Blue,
followed by a Pearl Crescent, which was captured and put in a
transparent box for close examination. When released, it stayed perched
on a finger for a long time, and numerous smart phone cameras came into
Dragonflies included a spectacular Twelve-spotted Skimmer, a Common Whitetail, and a Black Saddlebags.
all butterflies seem to be remarkably scarce this summer, one
participant's sharp eyes found a very fat Monarch caterpillar, and an
adult flew by just as we were about to leave. Several skippers were
seen, including one Silver-spotted Skipper.
Other insects included some very large robber flies.
we didn't look too much at the birds, we heard several singing Field
Sparrows, saw several young Eastern Bluebirds, and at the end saw a
couple of Purple Martins swirling around the nest gourds.
Just as last month, Crystal helped out showing our wildlife to some of the newer participants.
was good to see some new people on this walk, including some who lived
nearby but were previously unaware of the sanctuary. This may have been
due to good coverage of our walk announcement by a new local paper, the Hometown Observer. We are grateful for all the media which provide coverage of our activities.
Bob Schaefer, Walk Leader