Archive for August, 2009

Aug 04 2009

Summer Blockbusters

The major studios have come out with their summer action flicks.  Now I have one too.

Nine weeks ago I spent my lunch hours at Schenley Plaza waiting for the peregrines to fledge at the University of Pittsburgh.  On June 2nd WQED's Web intern, Christa Majoras, came to Fledge Watch with a video camera and recorded the event.  Then she edited it into a short video which I've saved as a treat for you today.  (OK, I'll admit it.  I didn't have time until now to learn the Flash plug-in.)

Click the Play button above to see the results.  If you don't know what I look like, now you will.  I'm the one with the hat and sunglasses who's talking all the time.

Special thanks to Linda, Libby and Betsy for being part of this video.

p.s. for after the movie:  The Jersey shore is only part of the answer.  They also go here.

p.p.s.  See the new Peregrine FAQ on fledge watching.


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Aug 03 2009

Summer’s Here: Butterfly Weed

Published by under Phenology,Plants

Butterfly Weed with a Coral Hairstreak butterfly (photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

As Chuck Tague pointed out last week, August is the end of the season for Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) but I couldn't resist showing you a beautiful picture of this member of the milkweed family. 

True to its name, Butterfly Weed is very attractive to butterflies.  Here, a Coral Hairstreak drinks the nectar in Marcy Cunkelman's garden. 

This plant has done well this year and is still in bloom.  Look for it in open, unmowed fields, especially at the recovered strip mines in western Allegheny County (also called the Imperial Grasslands).

(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)

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Aug 01 2009

Thistles and moths or What to look for in early August

Published by under Phenology

Clearwing moth and bumblebee at Swamp Thistle (photo by Chuck Tague)

Summer has turned the corner.  In August it's on the ebb.

If you didn't have a calendar, how would you know?  Here's a quick list of what to look for outdoors.  For a detailed list, especially flowers and butterflies, see Chuck Tague's phenology.

  • Hummingbird Clearwing Moths drink from Swamp Thistles.  This moth resembles a hummingbird when it flies.  Look closely; don't be fooled.
  • Late summer flowers are here -- Coneflowers and Bonesets, Wingstems and Sunflowers, Goldenrods and Asters -- and so are their accompanying butterflies and moths.
  • Bird song is rare.  Only cardinals sing at dawn in my neighborhood and soon they'll be silent too.
  • Hummingbird migration begins.  Visit any place with lots of flowers and you'll see hummingbirds zipping by.  In the eastern U.S. we have only ruby-throated hummingbirds, but during migration there's a chance a rufous hummingbird will arrive.  Keep a watch on your feeders.
  • Warblers and shorebirds leave for the south.
  • Many adult birds, including peregrine falcons, are molting.
  • Some trees show late-season insect or fungal disease.  Stands of black locusts are brown.  Fall webworms will make tents in the trees.
  • By mid-August we should be hearing katydids but I'm not holding my breath.  I'm still waiting to hear cicadas and crickets in the numbers I expected in June and July.  What a strange year!

(photo by Chuck Tague)

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