THE STARS OF THE SPRING SHOW....
This was one of the "stars of the spring show" on our walk at the Center Pond trails this week. These are beautiful wildflowers that like a wet environment. The underlying roots are yellow and fibrous giving the plant its name, Goldthread. The green leaves are shiny and evergreen, arranged in sets of three leaflets. We were also able to find Wood Anemones in bloom, as well as Bellwort. Buds were forming on Starflower, Canada Mayflower and Clintonia which will be stars on our next woodland walk! Trailing Arbutus flowers were beginning to fade, and we were unsuccessful in detecting emerging Pink Ladyslippers. We found unrolling fern fiddleheads and Sarsaparilla leaves shooting up above the leaf litter.
In standing water, egg masses of the Yellow Spotted Salamander were found. From a distance, these masses look whitish, but hand held that characteristic is not so apparent. In each mass, a small stick can be seen, as another sign that these are from the vernal pool loving salamander. These eggs are slow to develop into tadpole larvae, but they lie protected in the jellied masses. Their tadpoles are distinctive with gills protruding from the head end. We have found these when dipping with nets at the Sprague Pond preserve. The adults leave the wetland (and in the case of a vernal pool if it is still wet) and go back to a solitary life well hidden in holes and under logs and rocks. I was lucky enough to find one small representative under a large rock where it huddled in a cavity. These amphibians get to be quite large - 5 to 7 inches in length. These salamanders are called mole salamanders because of their habit of hiding in holes. Mostly, they seek out existing holes rather than carve out their own. They have four toes on the front limbs and five on the hind legs. The first one I ever saw was in my basement in Connecticut! (which had a dirt floor).
Now that there are more flowers blooming in unmowed fields, butterflies can be seen flying from flower to flower. Here is one that I found in my barn! It appeared to have recently emerged from its pupa and was inactive. However, when I tried to get it to "pose" for a picture, the hunt was on! This is the best I could do without harming the small creature. I helped it find its way to freedom and it took off in rapid flight. I later tried to figure out the identity of this early active butterfly and believe it to be a Cabbage White. The picture is somewhat deceptive since the underside of the wings appears yellow. The top side of the wings is white with a black tip and two black spots more centrally located. Since finding this butterfly, I see quite a few enjoying visitations to mustard and dandelion blooms. This must surely be a harbinger of spring. Another butterfly that overwinters not as a pupa, but as an adult, is the Mourning Cloak butterfly. I haven't seen one yet, but they are more commonly found in wooded areas. I once found one in my barn also. Our barn has many openings to the outside world and recently has been alive with Lady Bugs. I have to open doors and windows to get them to the outside world. They also overwinter as adults. I've even had a slew of them in my house, which must also have openings to the outside world. I don't put up "rooms for rent", but they come anyway. 4/25/10 Ronnie, having fun.