Wednesday, January 9, 2008

January odes and leps

This warm spell puts me in mind of a few winters back in the late '70s and early '80s, when I was seeing wildflowers in January.

Earlier this week I saw a mourning cloak butterfly flying at the edge of the woods bordering the Blue Ridge Parkway near mile 122. A friend reported an orange sulfur elsewhere in Roanoke. And further east toward the coast, somebody else spotted a green darner dragonfly. It's hard to avoid a touch of spring fever.

The mourning cloaks are interesting because they over-winter as adults in forest leaf litter. They'll come out on warm winter days and fly a bit; then, when it gets cold again, they'll snuggle back down under the leaves and kick back til the next warm spell.

Added to all this, a friend reported seeing a couple of female redwinged blackbirds in his Roanoke yard a day or two ago. They're normally harbingers of spring. And we've had reports of blueheaded vireos and and pine warblers taking their chances on over-wintering in the Roanoke area. What a "winter" so far!

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