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What’s Outside – No. 1

by Bryan on April 19th, 2012

Here’s a new feature for The Daily Wing: What’s Outside. Each Friday during spring migration I’ll post a summary of what’s flying, walking, crawling, slithering, swimming or just sitting there beside life’s long, green path. These will by no means be comprehensive accounts. I’ll mention what’s noteworthy in my meanderings here in Montpelier and beyond. Please add your own discoveries to the comments section below.


This week it’s all about the Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The male’s crowns are on fire. Although these frenetic songbirds nest in remote coniferous woods, you’ll find them almost anywhere during migration. No self-respecting birder should miss this event. Here’s a link to the song. Other notable arrivals these past few days in and around Montpelier include: Hermit Thrush, Pine Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, White-throated Sparrow. We’re also getting a surge of Brown Thrasher and Eastern Towhee reports from around Vermont. My first Broad-winged Hawk of the year came Wednesday in Plainfield. I also watched a pair of Northern Flickers face off in courtship with some serious head-bobbing.


Red Admirals are flying in huge numbers from Texas to New England. Dark chocolate in color with a cherry stripe on each wing, these are northbound migrants. They’re searching for mates and the females are looking to lay eggs on (mostly) nettle species. They also go by the name Red Admirable. Here’s some biology on this beauty. And here is an (overstated) account of their mass migration into eastern Canada. Scott Morrical reported a dozen Red Admirals from Red Rocks Park in Burlington on Wednesday. Other butterflies now flying include Eastern Comma in good numbers and the first actual hatching butterflies of the year, Spring Azure, offering flashes of powder blue as it bounces around at your feet.


It’s still early, but I found my first Common Green Darner of the year at a small beaver pond in Montpelier on Tuesday and in Marshfield on Thursday. This is also a migrant, arriving from points south this time of year to mate and lay eggs in ponds across the continent. David Hoag also reports them from Lake Champlain this week. Some of our first notable hatching dragonflies, to come in a few weeks, include Beaverpond Baskettail and White Corporal.

Reptiles and Amphibians

Well, it’s been a warm, wacky spring for them. Normally, the first warm rains of April would get Spotted Salamanders and other amphibians moving into vernal pools for their once-a-year orgy. Many have already moved. Others may move with the next rains. Check your local ephemeral pond at night this weekend. Let Spring Peepers be your guide.

Spring Wildflowers

They’re happening. A few bloomed with the heat wave in March. But my favorite wildflower woods was a carpet of tiny pink, purple, yellow and white flames on Wednesday. Spring Beauties covered the forest floor as if peppermint candies had rained from the heavens. Dutchman’s Breeches hung on their little clotheslines. Bloodroot, an elegant array of petals, is about to go by. Much of the Hepatica has gone by already. But spring violets are coming. Get to your local sugarwoods, to Red Rocks Park in Burlington, to Snake Mountain in Addison and Weybridge or to your favorite spot for your blast of blooming before the trees bear their leaves, which will probably be soon this year. I’ve shot some new photos. For the full photo show 



Blue Cohosh


Spring Beauties




Red Trillium


Dutchman's Breeches

Squirrel Corn


Wild Ginger

  1. Mark Batchelder permalink

    Hi Brian, love this, site nice work with the camera ! Thanks for all the up to date information.

  2. Kevin Hemeon permalink

    Sure make my wild flower photos look bad. LOL. Brown and Pine Elfins in the Pownal Spruce Bog today with a lone teneral Hudsonian Whiteface.

  3. Great stuff, everyone. Thanks!

    Kyle, I’ll bet your elfin is an Eastern Pine Elfin; they fly first. Dudley, that flower on the wild ginger evolved to resemble rotting flesh, better to attract flies as pollinators (or so the hypothesis goes).

  4. Great stuff Bryan!
    This week I had Spring Azure, Uncooperative Elfin (my name for it, not the species) joining the other butterflies in Woodstock. Question Mark in the butterfly trap (aka hoophouse) at home in Royalton. Some very crispy wood frog egg masses that didn’t hatch before the pools dried up.

    I also had a darner at Thurman Dix Reservoir on Tuesday.

    Birds have calmed down for now, maybe new arrivals with rain over the weekend?

  5. Red trillium this morning along the path to the North Branch Nature Center

  6. Lovely photos and always appreciate your view of the world. What a feast this early spring has been thus far. Looking forward to some rain this weekend to make this pop!

  7. Dudley Carlson permalink

    Love it! This is such an invigorating antidote to the daily down of world news. My mother loved Wild Ginger and its “little pitcher,” the flower that’s so rarely seen. You must have been down on your knees, sniffing around. Great pictures, and great news. Thanks!

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