After a summer where we had more clouds than sun, wet camping weekends, hordes of mosquitoes and blustery winds, September has turned out picture perfect at Presquíile Provincial Park. I was finally able to put away the bug spray, take off the jackets and bring out the sun screen for many of my recent visits. The seasonal flooding that seemed to last all summer long, finally receded and I could walk comfortably in my shoes on most trails and walkways without fear of sinking up to my ankles in water or muck.
It takes some planning to hit all of the trails that offer both the shorebirds that I love to photograph and the sunny meadows where the migrating Monarch Butterflies gather, drinking in the sweet nectar of the New England Asters. I usually head straight to Owenís Point Trail as soon as I get to the Park, following a steady stream of bird enthusiasts hoping to see a wide range of migratory birds. My favorite spot is right at the tip of Owenís Point, offering a clear view of Gull Island and a wide swatch of rich mucky sediment that the Sanderlings, Black-bellied Plovers and Semipalmated Plovers love to feed from. I was lucky enough on recent trips to find two new species to add to my list, Pectoral Sandpipers and a Baird Sandpiper.
After trekking around Owenís Point, Iíll quite often end up at the beach and spend time just poking along the shoreline. If Iím lucky Iíll catch sight of a Northern Harrier sweeping down the length of Beach Three or just two weeks ago, caught sight of five Sharp-shinned Hawks circling and swooping together as they passed through the Park. Nodding Bur Marigolds add a bright yellow splash of color against the sand and tucked along the Beach Trail adjacent to the shoreline you can find the delicate blue hues of the Fringed Gentian. I love the way Bumblebees dive down into their slender tube and then awkwardly back their way out.
Time always flies by and by the time Iíve explored the
beaches and surrounding trails I am always ready for lunch. Itís a quick drive
to the first day area where I take my sandwich and thermos right to the waterís edge with the waves lapping at my
feet and soak in the scenery.
Photographing Monarch Butterflies is an experience that I never tire of.
Walking along the edge of the field after lunch, itís easy to spot small clusters
of bright orange and black Monarch Butterflies all crisp and new. I was excited
to spot a chrysalis recently and to see a Monarch beginning to emerge, and then
further along, a pair of mating Monarchs caught my eye.
Iím curious about everything, and love discovering the sleepy Garter Snake sunning itself on the edge of a pathway, or Milkweed Leaf Beetle munching away on a leaf. Caterpillars have always fascinated me, and you are bound to find some interesting ones in September. I sighted this Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar tucked under a leaf while I was attempting to photograph a Grey Comma Butterfly that was flitting about. Quite often I find caterpillars when Iím not looking for them! Something usually catches my eye that looks different or out of place and that was the case when spotting this Hog Sphinx Caterpillar.
It wonít be long before the chilly October winds creep back in the Park, along with clusters of, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Orange-crowned Warblers, Yellow-rumped Warblers and other migrating birds. Happy trail walking!!!