A male Common Baskettail (4/7/12).

Although I’ve been seeing Common Baskettails (Epitheca cynosura) for several weeks now, the one above is the first that I was able to photograph.

Bullfrog tadpoles gather near a twig, ready to become frogs (4/7/12). Can you spot four tiny fish in this picture?

Again, not the first bullfrog tadpoles of the season (they’re present all year long) but they are beginning to become frogs. Some are showing short hind legs, they’re surfacing to gulp air, and well, just look at them, they’re huge!

Right on time is the first Eastern, or Common, Musk Turtle. This one was seen basking in the shade on April 7 in a willow a foot or so above the water.

This musk turtle looks for a quiet place to check out the Wetlands (4/7/12).

The first Eastern Tiger Swallowtail of the season was the one below seen on April 7 at the head of the Dinosaur Trail.

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (4/7/12).

These familiar yellow and black butterflies are without a doubt April butterflies. Although you may see them here in the Piedmont during March through May it’s April when they peak. For it’s April when a walk down a country lane or along your favorite woodland stream may yield hundreds of sightings of these large leps.

And finally…

What’s that up in a locust tree?
Groundhog feasts on locust flowers in the Wetlands (4/6/12).

Why, it’s a Groundhog, lapping up the locust blossoms! Never seen a groundhog in a tree before? Well, you have now.

I’ve seen Groundhogs in mulberry trees, but don’t recall seeing them in locusts before. Locust flowers are supposed to make excellent fritters and I’ve seen more than one person pick and eat the flowers here at the Museum this past week, but I’ve never seen a groundhog scrambling over the trunk and branches of the tree hunting down the blossoms. But when you think about it, it makes sense. Maybe that’s where people got the idea to give the locust blossoms a try in the first place, by watching a Groundhog chow down on them.

By the way, locust blossoms are edible, but most of the other parts of the tree, like the leaves, bark, roots and seeds are not and will make you ill, so don’t go munching indiscriminately on a locust tree, take care.

In search of the locust blossom.

Ranger Rock reported to me yesterday (4/9) that he saw a Green Heron in the Wetlands, the first of the season. I saw the heron today (4/10) preening on a snag on the far side of the Wetlands. And, there are still four Hooded Mergansers swimming and fishing out there as of Tuesday (4/10), which ties for the latest date that I’ve seen them here. Maybe they’ll stay the summer?

More to come!

2 responses to Firsts

  1. Shawntel says:

    There sure is a lot going on out there! Thanks for keeping us posted!

    • Greg Dodge says:

      There’s much more going on than I can post, even if I had the time to do it!!

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