Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mullica River Trail • March 29

The Mullica River Trail is a 9.5 mile hiking trail that runs from Atsion to Batsto in South Jersey. I found it in pristine condition with alternating stretches of cushiony pine needles and good, dry blue gray Jersey soil. About two miles from the Atsion Ranger Station I came upon this small pond. Here I was treated to the sounds of my first Spring Peepers of the year!

White-breasted Nuthatch. Bird activity was sparse, but I did encounter my first two spring songbird migrants of the year: Eastern Phoebe and Pine Warbler. Being a pine forest, the Pine Warblers were in their element, always seeming to duck into a cluster of needles when I tried to get a picture!

Mourning Cloak. My first butterfly of the year! I think Kaufman's Field Guide to Butterflies of North America says it best: "For winter-weary northerners, few sights can be as welcome as that of the first Mourning Cloak, emerged from its hibernation, gliding through leafless woods during the first spring thaw." If you look closely you can see the butterfly has extended its tongue. It is feeding on the minerals in the soil.

Species Seen
Turkey Vulture
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Pine Warbler