Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary
Birding Community Newsletter

Issue 2017-17 | Friday, October 13 2017 | 1,587 Subscribers
White Linen
Tropical Waves Train Together to Extend Summer in the Plains of the Rumney Marshes ACEC
A pinch and a punch, it's the first of the month, of October. A slap and a kick, it has not been that quick, for the summer has declined to roll over. A poke in the eye, for being so sly, until the first frost, when ' børn sover.'

Fall colors in the Rumney Marshes, are held at bay by a summer that refuses to yield. Save for a few, fall warblers, with their wet on dry patterns, continue south, only to be replaced by thick-billed seed crackers of every variety. Dressed in the finest of white linen, the open vales of the grassland, entertain Ladies who travel, into the Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary.
 October 1, 2017 Trip Report
Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary
Saugus, Essex County, Massachusetts, US

October 1, 2017
9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Protocol: Traveling

3.0 Mile(s)

38 Bird Species
Canada Goose 32

Mallard 15

American Black Duck 4

Wild Turkey 9

Double-crested Cormorant 115

Great Blue Heron 15

Great Egret 20

Snowy Egret 10

Turkey Vulture 1

Northern Harrier 1

Red-tailed Hawk 2

Semipalmated Plover 4

Semipalmated Sandpiper 1

Ring-billed Gull 1

Herring Gull 30

Great Black-backed Gull 2

Mourning Dove 4

Downy Woodpecker 1

Northern Flicker 1

American Kestrel 1

Merlin 1

American Crow 6

Tufted Titmouse 1

House Wren 1

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1

American Robin 15

Gray Catbird 1

Northern Mockingbird 1

European Starling 250

Cedar Waxwing 12

Common Yellowthroat 1

Palm Warbler 7

Savannah Sparrow 35

Song Sparrow 25

Swamp Sparrow 1

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1

American Goldfinch 3

House Sparrow 5
Savannah Sparrow
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
American Kestrel
Wolf Spider carrying babies
Friends of the finest sort.
Song Sparrow
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Cedar Waxwing
Savannah Sparrow
3 Semipalmated Plovers & 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper
Palm Warbler
Orange Sulphur
Painted Lady
The Painted Lady
The Bird of the Week this week is the Painted Lady Butterfly. Good friend of the sanctuary, Andrea, had mentioned that the Ladies may visit.

Runner-up this week goes to the Savannah Sparrows that have returned to the sanctuary on their way south. 
Scanning Through the Grasslands
They arrived with all the grand fashion that is befitting of the elevated stature they have attained amongst the Lepidopteran. Not so high, mind you, as to look down their antennae at the Noctuoidea line of superfamily tree, as do the members of Royalty. 

The Royalty… pfft, you know, or at least you have heard about the Danainae, everyone has. What with their brilliant oranges and white dots on black backgrounds, always peacocking about with their black scent patches in the center of their hindwings. They would have you believe that they are the only Papilionoidea to travel the fields. 

Well, no, not hardly. A close subfamily to the Royalty, the Nymphalinea are far more prevalent. They are represented by tribes across the globe, including one member that is quite literally a world traveler. The quiet, the unassuming, Brushfoots are some of the strongest migrants, and yet, somehow they always seem to be overlooked for their royal cousins, the Monarch. 
They certainly will not be overlooked this year. Maybe even, never again in our lifetimes. 

Because in North America, the summer of 2017, was particularly favorable for all of the Papilionoidea, or, as they are more frequently known as, the true butterflies. But, for none as good a year as it was for the Ladies.

Lady Butterflies, subfamily Nymphalinea, genus Vanessa Frabricus, represented in this region by the Red Admiral, the American Lady, and the Painted Lady, had a year for the record books. The Painted Ladies in particular, did exceptionally well. 

On October 3, Denver National Weather Service radar indicated that a 70 mile wide storm cloud of unknown origins was descending on Colorado’s Front Range. Not the Locusts steeped deep in the lore of the West, but, rather a cloud of Painted Ladies, the likes of which had not been seen in the better part of a saeculum.  

With an average wingspan of 2 ¼ inches, that would be a cloud 369,600 feet across divided by the width of a butterfly, 0.1875, carry the decimal… a heck of a lot of butterflies. 
The full dimensions of the cloud was not available, but, 70 miles wide would be a cloud approximately 2 million butterflies wide.

According to the Mass Audubon Butterfly Atlas, the Painted Lady is a cosmopolitan species that occurs practically worldwide. 

In Massachusetts, the Painted Lady is an irregular emigrant, arriving in spring and early summer from its wintering grounds in the Desert Southwest and Northern Mexico.
Sometime in early September, good friend of the sanctuary, Andrea, had mentioned that the Ladies would be coming for a brief visit. We were ready, not for a 70 mile cloud, of course, but happy to greet the Ladies just the same. The last time the Ladies arrived in this area in such numbers, the sanctuary was not a sanctuary. Would they even find us? What would we tell the Horned Larks, when they arrive for their shares of seed in winter?

In the end, fret and worry about not, as nature does as nature does best. When the Ladies did arrive on Sunday, October 1, fields of Asters, the final prime wildflower to set seed, were in full bloom. The valleys were blanketed in white, like the finest of linen, set for a guest that may not return in such great numbers for what seems like, a lifetime.
Wikipedia describes the Painted Lady as a unique butterfly because the species breed the entire year long. It is also a strong flyer that migrates towards the rain. Presumably this behavior allows the species to establish new breeding areas where the dry range vegetation is green and lush enough to support the developing caterpillar’s entire 15-25 day life cycle from egg to metamorphosis. 

After emerging, the adults live for only 14 days. There is no time to waste, the adults must move to the new breeding area, and reproduce to keep their traveling life cycle going.

Lady Butterflies are not capable of overwintering in regions where the temperatures dip below freezing. Some offspring in European regions have been documented returning to their wintering grounds in Northern Africa. However, in the North American population, the return rate of offspring back to the Desert Southwest, is not so clear. It would seem, the research effort, like the fanfare befitting of Royalty, has mainly focused on the Monarch. 
Special thanks go out to Andrea for telling us to keep an eye out, Mass Audubon, all of the Lepidopteran fans who are contributors to Wikipedia, the Peterson Field Guides, the Denver Star, the Denver Post, and the National Weather Service for providing all of the information to track down and put together this fun and informative story. 
 The Next Scheduled Nature Walks are:
Sunday, October 15 at 9 a.m.
Sunday, October 22 at 9 a.m.

NOTE: The Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary is open to the public for guided tours only. If you would like to visit the sanctuary, please attend one of our regularly scheduled nature walks, or contact us to arrange a private tour. Thank you.

Special thanks to Soheil, Mara, Ted, Jarett, Andrea, Ted, Kandy, Cammy, Nancy, Anina, Julia, Wesley, Craig, and everyone else who contributed pictures and support this week. Without your help, this publication could not be produced.

Additional pictures from this week:
The Wheelabrator Saugus Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary is a 370-acre property abutting a 2,274-acre estuary on the outskirts of Boston, located in the heart of the Rumney Marshes ACEC. Maintained and managed grasslands, salt marshes, shrublands and maturing woodlands combine as one of the largest bird migration staging areas on the North Shore and a habitat for nearly 200 bird species, as well as other wildlife such as coyotes, foxes, raccoons and snakes. Visitors can enjoy the more than 14,000 feet of walking trails that permeate the site, a half-acre exhibit garden, and meeting and lecture areas, which are scattered throughout nine of the restored ecosystems. Situated directly behind Wheelabrator Saugus, the Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary is maintained and managed by Geoff Wilson of Northeast Wetland Restoration. Follow along with us as the birds change with each passing season! 
Issue 2017-01 The Short-eared Owl
Issue 2017-02 The American Kestrel
Issue 2017-03 The Peregrine Falcon
Issue 2017-04 The Smith's Longspur
Issue 2017-07 The Horned Lark
Issue 2017-08 The Savannah Sparrow
Issue 2017-09 The Upland Sandpiper
Issue 2017-10 The Killdeer
Issue 2017-12 The Annual Breeding Bird Survey
Issue 2017-13 Salt Marshes / Sea Level Rise
Issue 2017-14 The Common Green Darner
Issue 2017-15 Birds of Prey
Issue 2017-16 The Shrublands