All posts for the month May, 2012

By Derek Stoner, Conservation Project Coordinator

Training their cameras on a Bald Eagle overhead, these photographers captured great images at Dragon Run Park. Image by Derek Stoner, March 11, 2012.

The two key challenges for wildlife photographers are Proximity and Lighting.   In other words, can we get close enough to the subject and can we capture it in lighting that enhances the beauty of this subject.  And when you head out for a full-day photography field trip, you do your best to have the group in the best places and the best times to see wildlife.

A juvenile Bald Eagle soars overhead, delighting the photographers below at Dragon Run Park. Image by Derek Stoner, March 11, 2012.

On March 11, 2012, participants in our Photography Series program went on a special “Waterfowl and Raptors” field trip.  During the course of the day we saw more than 20 species of waterfowl and 7 species of raptors.  But for the first hour of the trip, we could not believe the show that the wildlife put on for us at Dragon Run Park in Delaware City.  We had very-close looks at some great birds, and the light was right!

A drake Wood Duck chases two hens through the marsh at Dragon Run Park. Image by Hank Davis, March 11, 2012.


Dragon Run is by far one of the best places to see Wood Ducks in the region.  These birds are often very secretive an difficult to observe, but at Dragon Run they are often seen out in the open waters of the marsh in easy view.  Our visit coincided with the peak of mating activity, with lots of drake Wood Ducks chasing the hens in hopes of winning their favor.
If you visit Dragon Run at this time of year (late Spring), you are likely to see the hen Wood Ducks being followed by their ducklings.   All of the large tan nest boxes on poles in the water are for the ducks, and they produce lots of ducklings!


A pair of Gadwall wing by at Dragon Run Park. Image by Eric Roberson, March 11, 2012.

Many other ducks may be found at this location in Spring, as this is a favorite area for waterfowl to rest and fuel up before their long migration.  Gadwalls (photo above), Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, and Ring-necked Duck are a few of the more common species seen at this site.
An elegant Great Egret in full breeding colors flies by our photography setup at Dragon Run Park. Image by Eric Loken, March 11, 2012.
Dragon Run is also one of the best places to observe large wading birds in flight, like the Great Egret pictured above.  Being located just a half-mile from Pea Patch Island (which hosts the largest wading bird rookery north of Florida), there is a constant stream of herons and egrets flying back and forth as they travel in search of food.   In the month of March, Great Egrets are just returning from a winter spent in the Deep South. 
If you travel to Dragon Run Park to view the wading birds, the best times are close to dawn and dusk.  I prefer going in the evening, for the last hour of daylight.  You may see Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egrets, or any other species of wading bird that occurs in Delaware. 
Link to Google map of Dragon Run Park.  Enjoy your visit!
Thank you to trip co-leader Hank Davis, and trip participants Eric Roberson and Eric Loken for use of their photos for this story.

By Joe Sebastiani, Seasonal Program Team Leader

Last Wednesday, we were excited to host an evening with Seabrooke Leckie, co-author of the new Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America.  Seabrooke is on a book tour and had a night to stop by Ashland for a lecture and moth capturing and identifying session.  After an informative lecture about moths and a book signing, the 40 participants went to the lodge to examine white sheets and lamps to capture moths.

Participants look for moths attracted to the light and white sheet and capture them wtih a small jar.

Jar after jar containing a captured moth were brought into the lodge for Seabrooke to identify.  Seabrooke knew these moths like an experienced birder calls out flitting birds in the treetops.  She knew the all by sight and only had to look in her new book a few times for verification.  It was amazing to see the diversity, and to see how quickly she knew what each moth was.  Most were of the “little brown moth” variety that you might see at your porch light, but others were colorful, and all were exquisitely detailed.

A Virginia Creeper Sphinx moth was a popular find during our mothing event.

We were all thrilled to learn so many new species, and we all kept running in and out of the building to find more for Seabrooke to identify.  Freshly bought books were being marked in, and notes were taken as to what we found that night.

Seabrooke Leckie identifies a moth that Holly Merker brings in from the wild.

Explicit Arches was a moth that the author had never seen before, and it is at the northern end of its range here in Delaware, so at the end of the night it went with her for a photography session.  Her photo of it is below, and if you see the caterpillar of this plant eating something, get a picture, because no one knows what the host plant is for this insect.

Explicit Arches (Lacinipola explicata) is a moth that the author had never seen before. Photo by Seabrooke Leckie

If you are interested in purchasing the new moth book, we still have a few copies here at Ashland Nature Center selling for $29.  Stop in and get one!  Also, visit Seabrooke Leckie’s website at to see what she is up to and say hi!

Many of the participants wanted the list of moths that were seen and identified that night, so here they are in no particular order:

  • White Spring Moth – Lomographa vestaliata
  • Rustic Quaker – Orthodes majuscula
  • Celery Leaftier – Udea rubigalis
  • Bristly Cutworm – Lacinipolia renigera
  • Harnessed Tiger Moth – Apatantesis phalerata
  • Ursula Wainscot – Leucania ursula
  • Explicit Arches – Lacinipolia explicata
  • Bilobed Looper – Megalographa biloba
  • Hop Vine Moth – Hypena humuli
  • Yellow-collared Scape Moth – Cisseps fulvicollis
  • The Slowpoke – Athetis tarda
  • Agreeable Tiger Moth – Spilosoma dubia
  • Pale Gray Bird-dropping Moth –
  • Blackberry Looper – Chlorochlamys chloroleucaria
  • Bent-line Carpet – Costaconvexa centrostrigaria
  • Texas Mocis – Mocis texana
  • The Wedgeling – Galgula partita
  • Isabella Tiger Moth – Pyrrharctia isabella
  • Great Black Letter Dart – Xestia dolosa
  • Yellow-collared Slug Moth – Apoda y-inversum
  • Delicate Cycnia – Cycnia tenera
  • Lucerne Moth – Nomophila nearctica
  • Diamondback Epinotia – Epinotia lindana
  • Virginia Creeper Sphinx – Darapsa myron