07/01/11 – Vassar Farm Hike

Green Heron

It felt like a lifetime since I had hiked around Vassar Farm.  Thankfully, summer hours are in full swing at my job!  To make it even better, I was able to secure a car for the afternoon and made my way to one of my favorite locations.

As always, I started at the front pond.  Almost immediately, I found some green herons jumping into the water grabbing fish.  I managed to photograph the entire sequence until another heron chased him off.

From there, it was off to the community gardens to look for sparrows and finches.  I spotted some house sparrows, house finches, goldfinches, robins, a juvenile baltimore oriole, and some bluebirds.  Once I got to the fields, I began to see several species of butterflies fluttering from flower to flower.

Common Wood Nymph

The species that stuck out to me was the common wood nymph, which I hadn’t photographed since 2009.  I saw plenty of them out in the fields, as well as cabbage whites, clouded sulphurs, and some great spangled fritillaries.

As I made my way to the back ponds, I noticed something sitting in the bird box on the utility pole.  Turned out to be an american kestrel!  I figured they used the box, but I’ve never actually seen one perched inside of it.  I made sure to take some photos of the sight.

Northern Water Snake

At the back ponds, I spotted a couple of brown thrashers, yellow warblers, blue-winged warblers, cardinals, blue-gray gnatcatchers, and even a ruby-throated hummingbird zipped by at one point.  I’ve always been cautious around these ponds though, as I have found northern water snakes frequently here.  This hike was no exception, as there was one laying near the trail.

The rest of the hike was relatively quiet after the snake sighting, with only a rose-breasted grosbeak sighting towards the field station, and a barn swallow perched at the community gardens as I went back through to leave.  Full sighting list below:

Bird Sightings / Sounds:

  1. Mallard
  2. Green Heron
  3. Turkey Vulture
  4. Red-tailed Hawk
  5. American Kestrel
  6. Mourning Dove
  7. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  8. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  9. Downy Woodpecker
  10. Northern Flicker
  11. Eastern Phoebe
  12. Red-eyed Vireo (heard only)
  13. American Crow
  14. Barn Swallow
  15. Black-capped Chickadee
  16. Tufted Titmouse
  17. House Wren (heard only)
  18. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  19. Eastern Bluebird
  20. Wood Thrush (heard only)
  21. American Robin
  22. Gray Catbird
  23. Northern Mockingbird
  24. Brown Thrasher
  25. European Starling
  26. Cedar Waxwing
  27. Blue-winged Warbler
  28. Yellow Warbler
  29. Eastern Towhee (heard only)
  30. Field Sparrow
  31. Song Sparrow
  32. Northern Cardinal
  33. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  34. Indigo Bunting
  35. Red-winged Blackbird
  36. Common Grackle
  37. Baltimore Oriole
  38. House Finch
  39. American Goldfinch
  40. House Sparrow

Non-Avian Sightings:

  • Cabbage White
  • Clouded Sulphur
  • Black Swallowtail
  • Great Spangled Fritillary
  • Common Wood Nymph
  • Eastern Painted Turtle
  • Snapping Turtle
  • Northern Water Snake
  • American Bullfrog (heard only)
  • Eastern Chipmunk
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