Nine people joined Phil Daley and Joe Coleman on a nature walk at the privately-owned Dulles Greenway Wetlands Mitigation Project Wednesday morning, August 31. Photos were sent over by Sheila Ferguson and Lisa Streckfuss (Thank you!). We’ve posted them to our facebook gallery here.
While we were surprised by how low the wetlands were in spite of Hurricane Irene’s rains, we did find a lot of wildflowers, some interesting birds, and as the morning warmed up, lots of butterflies.
The only place that had a fair amount of water, and it was much shallower than one would have expected right after a hurricane, was the central pond where we found some Mallards, a half dozen Great Egrets, a Great Blue Heron, two or three Green Herons, a Greater Yellowlegs, and a couple of Solitary Sandpipers. On the pond’s edges were a couple of singing White-eyed Vireos and a Common Yellowthroat. Perched on top of a Black Willow was a single Trail’s Flycatcher; while probably a Willow Flycatcher since they nest at the wetlands in decent numbers, we were unable to pin it down as it never vocalized. Only one Barn Swallow darted over the wetlands while we were there and only a couple of Field Sparrows were vocalizing.
We also spent some time identifying tracks in the mud on the edge of the pond and, in addition to the numerous deer tracks, there were a couple we thought belonged to River Otters and Raccoons.
However, the highlight of the walk was the many different late summer wildflowers. Phil Daley, with some assistance from the others on the walk, identified Wild Indigo, Daisy Fleabane, Dogbane, Common and Swamp Milkweed, Selfheal, Wild Ageratum, several species of Goldenrod including Swamp, Tickseed, Wingstem, and a couple of species of coreopsis including Lanceleaf.
Not surprisingly, all those wildflowers attracted a lot of butterflies and other pollinators. While the most seen butterfly was the Common Buckeye, there were also Tiger Swallowtails, Cabbage Whites, lots of Eastern Tailed Blues and Pearly Crescents, a Variegated Fritillary, Red-spotted Purples, a Viceroy, a couple of Monarchs, and several skippers including Least, Peck’s, as well as several Sachems and Zabulon Skippers. The other pollinators included several Honeybees and solitary wasps and bees.