Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Spring Life at Hasty Brook

I was really surprised to find this butterfly out and about last Saturday. When I got home I looked it up in Butterflies of the North Woods and learned it is a Milbert's Tortoiseshell. They overwinter as adults, hibernating in hollow logs, and under bark or old out buildings. The author Larry Weber says they emerge from hibernation during the first warm sunny days of spring. I wonder what these early butterflies eat as there are no plants yet blooming.

Update- In an email from Sparky Stensaas, editor of Butterflies of the North Woods: "The butterflies that hibernate as adults feed on sap from trees...mainly oozing maple sap."

Here's a cool bracket fungus. It looks like it's slicing right through this little tree.

We sat down at the picnic table for a snack and a drink and before long were surrounded by a flock of chickadees. This one checked out one of the feeders. I'm sure the feeders have been empty since we filled them last in October. Do you think the chickadees associate us with the feeders? I am reluctant to leave seed in the feeders when we're not there. Last summer a bear bent the black iron shepherd's hook over to the ground to get at the seed. The wire mesh bag has big tooth puncture holes in it from being mauled. I really enjoy feeding the birds up there but I don't want to attract bears into our campsite. I need some good advice on that issue.

I saw this glistening orange blob in the leaf litter. A fungus? A slime mold? No one had the nerve to touch it!
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Mary said...

Your mention of bears is frightening! That's a beautiful butterfly - there must be something to feed on. Your next assignment is to find out what it is. I don't think I've ever seen orange gelatin in the woods.

Great story and photos, Lynne!

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Mary- I'm really torn about the bears up there. I know we're in a heavily populated bear area and I'm nervous about inviting them to make our campsite part of their feeding feeding route.

I fired off an email to the publisher of my field guide asking what the early butterflies eat. I'll let you know!

Anonymous said...

I've seen that orange mold stuff - it looks soft but I don't think it is. Of course, my mushroom guide is in the other building, but if I remember to look later, I'll see if I can find it.

On the bears - there's no need to feed birds in spring and summer, so if you're worried about the bears, I wouldn't. Bears will remember where there is a source of food...

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

LauraO- thanks- I'd appreciate help with the fungus. I did touch it and it was moist but not a soft as it looked. It was also a bit more orange than the photo looks.

Deb said...

Orange Jello? :)

We have had problems with bears too. I have a friend who puts all of her feeders on ropes with pulleys so they can be raised out of a bear's reach, then lowered to be filled.

I saw a mourning cloak butterfly yesterday. I was surprised to see it, but I guess they are one of the earliest butterflies to emerge in the spring.

Anonymous said...

So far, I have only seen a few bees here. Some days last week, the temperature was in the low 60s. I have seen that orange mold before, and have had no desire to touch it!

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with beers? I have them around every chance I can get.

Is that orange stuff under a cedar tree by chance? Rurality had a post about a similar find last week that fell off of a cedar.


Unknown said...

My parents have bears up at their place in the Sierras. They have to bring their feeders in at night otherwise the bears come and feed on them. Don't know what your camping situation is but I wouldn't risk it! They LOVE them some birdseed.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Deb- Mourning cloak is probably my favorite butterfly!

Sandy- The insects have really started to wake up here- escpecially the nasty boxelder bugs!

Pablo- No cedars nearby, but I never thought of it having fallen off a tree.

Liza- What worries me about the bears is that we leave our camper parked up there all summer and I think it would be easy for them to do some damage when we're not there.

Susan Gets Native said...

Tortoiseshell is right. Wow!
The birds can make in on their own in the Spring and Summer, but if you want to give them a little boost, why not plant some sunflowers? They will take root anywhere.
And if the bears get to them, at least they aren't wrecking any expensive feeders.

Orange goo. How lovely. Isn't it cool what you can find when you have a blog and are out looking for stuff to take pictures of? That's how I find alot of mushrooms and gooey stuff.
Gotta blog, gotta blog.


Anonymous said...

I just LOVE LOVE LOVE that Tortoishell photo! Colors perfect, framed perfect, just wonderful!

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Susan- You got it right about looking for things to blog about. It makes me so much more aware. even if it's orange goo!

Mon@rch- Thanks for the compliment! It means alot coming from you!

LauraHinNJ said...

Beautiful butterfly pic - looks almost like a red or white admiral doesn't it? I saw a Milbert's once in the Adirondack mountains, but it was old and faded. Yours is so beautiful!

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Laura- I just got the butterfly book and this was my first id. The only other butterfly I know is a monarch! I have lots to learn!!!

Cathy said...

I'll never forget the winter years ago, when a tortoise shell emerged from firewood we'd recently brought into the house.

Susannah Anderson said...

That orange blob is a slime mold, "orange jelly slime". It is harmless. And fascinating; read up on slime molds.

I just did a post on my blog about some others I found a couple of days ago. Check it out. You'll find links there, and again in tonight's post. (I'll link to you, too, in that post.)

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Cathy- that must have been amazing to see!

wanderin' weeta- THANKS for the id! Your links to the others is really cool!

Cathy said...

Lynne! This is so cool. I'm sitting on Cape Cod googling Milbert's Tortoiseshell butterflies (we were discussing their over-wintering habit at dinner) and as I scrolled over the websites - was led to Hasty Brook. Kinda cool, eh?