By josh • 251 Birds, Nature, Wildlife • 10 Jul 2012

Strafford (Orange County)
Clover Hill WMA
Town #38

I didn’t have high expectations for finding birds when I climbed out of my car at the end of the maintained section of Carpenter Hill Road in Strafford- it was midday, absurdly hot, and I was just trudging up the hill to see if there might be any barns (or remains thereof) up by some hilltop meadows in the Clover Hill Wildlife Management Area.

I was mostly correct, as it turns out.  Heading up the hill I heard some hermit thrushes and a black-throated blue warbler, but the birds were generally keeping a low profile.  The high meadows here are bucolic on a sunny day, full of wildflowers and blowing grasses.  Someone (probably the horse farm down the hill?) is haying the fields to keep them open, and I’m sure this is a good spot for a variety of edge-favoring species.  A small stream crosses the Class 4 road near the west end of the meadow, and here I found common yellowthroats, cedar waxwings, and hundreds of butterflies.

Eastern Comma

Question Mark (thanks for the correction Ron!), Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/10, 1/500s, ISO400

Eastern Comma

Question Mark, Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/5.6, 1/500s, ISO400

Again, I won’t pretend to be an insect expert, so I hope someone will correct me if I have these identifications wrong.  I also won’t attempt to identify the crane fly (?) with the northern crescent below, but he wouldn’t clear out to allow me a solo shot of the butterfly.

Northern Crescent

Northern Crescent, Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/11, 1/500s, ISO400

I think the below is an aphrodite fritillary, but I could probably be convinced that it’s an atlantis fritillary instead.  Also, is it fri-TILL-ary or fri-till-ARY?  The latter seems coarse and the former sounds poncy, but maybe both are acceptable?

**Kent McFarland tells me this is indeed an atlantis fritillary- the field mark to differentiate the two is in this case the eye color.  It’s grayish in the atlantis but yellow-green in the aphrodite and great-spangled fritillaries.  Thanks Kent!–JP-12/4/12**

Aphrodite Fritillary

Aphrodite Atlantis Fritillary, Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/8, 1/500s, ISO400

As it turns out, I had good cause to keep a bird list after all.  On the way back down the hill to my car I heard what sounded like a nervous, sore-throated ovenbird.  It was, in fact, my first mourning warbler!  I wouldn’t call this a bogie bird for me–I’d never really gone out looking for it–but I’ve certainly spent plenty of time in places where you might be expected to find one.

I did get a couple of good looks at it, but never in a place I could get a photo.  The song threw me off because it lacked the descending, trailing notes that give the mourning warbler its name.  The visuals were unmistakable though, and the black chest band was much more prominent than it seems in field guides.

I’d been stuck on life bird #299 since May.  It’s still a paltry list in the grand scheme, but at least my Vermont list is bordering on respectable.  It’s amazing to think that I’ve still seen less than half of the species that regularly occur in the ABA area (basically the continental US, Canada, and Alaska).  Still, I only really began effort-based listing in 2008, so perhaps this isn’t so bad.  Other milestones have been northern harrier at #100 and American oystercatcher at #200.  It’ll be tough to get to #400 without some travel, but I guess I’m willing to bear that burden.

Here’s the full list from Clover Hill WMA:

  • warbling vireo (1)
  • red-eyed vireo (1)
  • winter wren (1)
  • hermit thrush (3)
  • gray catbird (1)
  • cedar waxwing (4)
  • ovenbird (3)
  • mourning warbler (1)
  • common yellowthroat (2)
  • black-throated blue warbler (2)
  • dark-eyed junco (2)


Tags: , , , , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. Ron Payne

    Hi Josh. Congrats on your Mourning Warbler. The anglewing butterfly is a Question Mark, not a comma. On the underside of the hind-wing you can see the little white “?” that gives it it’s name.

  2. Thanks Ron! Corrected above.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *