May is halfway over, and how have I spent my days? Scouting out the spring happenings, as you might imagine. Shrubs are starting to blossom out and the Shadblow seen at the left is among the more showy. Probably the most exciting sightings were those of butterflies. I found several Painted Ladies, a Mourning Cloak and a Comma! They are a bit slower in flight, so there were a couple of opportunities to take some pictures. All of these butterflies may overwinter as adults, so they are among the earliest to be seen. The Comma may have been a Question Mark since you have to observe closely the underside of the wings to see a , or ? imprinted. How does a butterfly survive the wicked winter we had this year? Probably hiding in a crack in the wall, but it is exciting to observe these flying insects at this time of the year.

I had an interesting find at Center Pond's trails one balmy afternoon. I turned over an abandoned board and found two Newts and a Red Backed Salamander hiding in the moist, dark area. I haven't seen Newts in quite a while. Usually you may see them venturing out on a wet rainy day in the woods. These are amazing amphibians having almost what you would call three lives. Newts are aquatic in the larval stage, then undergo meetamorphosis to become terrestrial in the juvenile and eft stage, then return to water as adults. As they mature through the tadpole stage, they turn into a very different looking, orange animal that ventures out into the woods to live several years in that form. Then, they return to the pond and develop into a different looking, olive green, creature, but retaining the red spots of the woodland Newt. Actually, the picture you see at the left is the stage of the Newt called an Eft!

It has been quite dry and I have been concerned about the Toad tadpoles trying to survive in their evaporating puddles. I moved some to the pond, and enlisted the services of a camper to check the depth of the water and add some if needed. He was quite willing, while enjoying the first camping days of the season. He and his wife were actually basking in the warm sun, though I didn't see any one venture into the 46 degree water! In the picture to the right, you see how desperate these toad tadpoles are!

In an earlier writeup, I pictured an emerging Bracken Fern. Those ferns are growing like crazy, some are 2-3 feet in height, and spreading their 3 pronged fronds. I also counted 45 emerging Pink Ladyslippers on the Center Pond trail, so that is a place to look for those orchids in another week. The Goldthread is in full bloom, and the False Solomon Seals are unrolling their leaves to reveal a flower at the tip. 5/15/11 Ronnie, still in ecstasy!