Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

September 14, 2012

A Brief Visit to South Mountain

Filed under: behavior, curiosities, Non Birds — richditch @ 1:25 pm
White-lined sphinx

White-lined sphinx

Nikon D300, 70-300 VR lens at 300mm, ISO 400, 1/1250th second @ f/7.1

I made a brief visit to South Mountain Park yesterday in hopes of some birding opportunities, but the temperature was still too high for anything other than a quick look. There are many hiking trails in this largest of all U.S. city parks (including NYC’s Central Park)and they offer lots of opportunities to test yourself against the hills and harsh environment. I used to go regularly and wonder if it is time to add it back to my list of weekly outings.

The first thing I noticed after the temperature was the stampede of large yellow and black caterpillars marching in the same direction. I had a similar encounter just over two years ago about 10 miles south of South Mountain which I’ve written about here before. It was then that I learned the identity of these worms from an excellent web resourceWhite-lined sphinx (Hyles lineata).

White-lined sphinx

White-lined sphinx

Nikon D300, 70-300 VR lens at 300mm, ISO 400, 1/800th second @ f/7.1

These caterpillers are the young of the White-lined sphinx – a medium sized moth that is often mistaken for a hummingbird as it feeds in flight from flowers in a garden. There were thousands of them about and they were mostly all crawling in the same direction. Lots of them had been crushed under foot by users of the trail system.

I also took a couple extra minutes to get shots of a Common Side-blotched Lizard sunning itself on a small stone beside the entrance road.

Side-blotched Lizard

Side-blotched Lizard

Nikon D300, 70-300 VR lens at 300mm, ISO 400, 1/800th second @ f/10

With all the caterpillars about I expected the lizards to be out in force dining on them. But they weren’t. Either the lizards found them to be to big  (almost as long as this lizard), OR they were stuffed on them. Or maybe it was something else.

Side-blotched Lizard

Side-blotched Lizard

Nikon D300, 70-300 VR lens at 300mm, ISO 400, 1/1000th second @ f/7.1

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1 Comment »

  1. I have encounter the same caterpillars and it is good to finally know what they are, wonderful web sites on caterpillars and moths, thanks for posting this.

    Comment by jim — September 25, 2012 @ 8:23 am


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