Sparrow Field

Monarch Butterfly Project at The Landings Entering Its 7th Year

By Fitz Clarke, Citizen Scientist

Fitz MonarchsIn 2008- 2009, I became interested in the Monarch butterfly that I was observing in small numbers at the Landing’s Sparrow Field and about the island, mainly within the yard of Landing’s resident Sandra Wolf whose side and rear yard contained large amounts of the Milkweed species, Tropical or Mexican Milkweed(Asclepias curassavica).  I became a contributor to the Annenberg Learner Foundation “Monarch Journey North,” reporting and documenting by photographs the Monarch sightings here at the Landings, Skidaway Island, Savannah, Chatham County, GA.

During this period I became aware of Project Monarch Health and the research being conducted by Dr Sonia Altizier into a protozoan parasite, Ophryocystis elektroscirrha)(OE), an obligate protozoan parasite responsible for the deaths of the Monarch butterfly . Read more

Got Milkweed ?

Notice from Fitz Clarke:

See below for a heads up from “Journey North” alerting us that the Monarchs have departed their overwintering sites in Mexico.

Our Milkweed, mainly Asclepias curassavica here on Skidaway Island is breaking the surface and will be ready for their arrival. Of course we have been fortunate to have had a goodly number to over winter at the Skidaway Island, Landing’s  Sparrow Field.   They are currently to be observed daily about the 3 1/4 acre field.

The link below is an interesting site and I recommend you click upon it when you have a moment:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Journey-North/314289124930

Hello from Journey North!

Here they come! Monarchs have left the overwintering sites and are appearing on the breeding grounds to the north. According to our observers, monarchs may already have spread more than 1,000 miles from the overwintering sites in Mexico. Our northernmost reports this week came from Oklahoma and Arkansas.

The monarchs will be looking for milkweed to lay their eggs. Has your milkweed EMERGED yet? Have you seen your first monarch? Will you let me know by reporting to our site: http://www.learner.org/jnorth

Or emailing me directly?(If you’ve already reported, please check your milkweed for eggs!)

Because the monarch over-wintering population was at an all time low, it’s going to be a bit harder this year to spot them. Keep your eyes open for monarchs!

Thanks for your help!

Cindy @ Journey North
Plant it and they will come

A Visual Smorgasbord of Bugs at the Sparrow Field

This past month has been an ideal time to see appealing insects feeding from the shallow nectar sources at The Landing’s Sparrow Field Pollinator Berm. These 14 images are but a few of the many species of bees, wasp and flies. ( When you add the butterflies/skippers, you recognize what a rich visual smorgasbord we have here.)

I believe the colors on these bugs can be described in one word — “beautiful.”

Aphids and Mole Crickets meet their Predators: Photos Tell All

SEE IT FOR YOURSELF!

Among the many insects nectaring the flowering plants to be observed along the 133-yard Pollinator Friendly Sparrow Field berm are several species that play an important part in the natural order to be found at the Sparrow Field.

For instance the Syrphid Fly, Pseudodoros clavatus, male on Dill in 8/15/2011 photo, when in the larvae stage this very small hover fly is an aggressive predator of the aphids found on our Milkweed. Those plants were specifically planted for the migrating Monarch and visiting Queen butterfly. Note the compound eyes of the Syrphid Fly meet at the top in the male — they do not touch in the female.

Read more

It’s Official: Dragonfly identified at the Sparrow Field

Dr. Dennis P. Paulson, the top official of The Dragonfly Society of the Americas: Odonata Central, hosts the official website of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas and in June 2011 confirmed a Chatham County addition to the Odanata check list.

Identification came from a 2009 photograph taken at The Landings Sparrow Field by Kirk Rogers. Fitz Clarke first submitted the photo to Giff Beaton, author of the Odonata bible of Georgia, “Dragonflies & Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast.”

The Taper-tailed Darner, Comphaeschna antilope was captured by Kirk, with his tripod mounted 600mm lens, in the beak of a female Purple Martin, just prior to serving it to her chicks on the Sparrow Field gourd rack.

Fitz adds, “I wish to acknowledge the efforts of our volunteers who maintain (monitor) the Sparrow Field’s 16-gourd rack. We go through a lot of bird poop each year to provide the Purple Martins a location to raise their young — 79

fledged this year, 2011. Our visiting Purple Martins in turn provide a wonderful ‘Biological Pest Control’ as relates to the mosquitoes.”

Ladybugs vs Aphids – Aug 1

This year at the Landings, Skidaway Island, Sparrow Field, “Pollinator Friendly Area” we have had an infestation of “Aphids” on our main “Monarch and Queen” Milkweed host-plant, Asclepias curassivica. The migrating Monarch relies upon the various Milkweed Species to survive. We consider our Sparrow Field berm Milkweed plots to be ” Pony Express Way Stations,”

Catherine Olivier, Skidaway Islands resident, and Sparrow Field berm volunteer addressed the aphid problem by ordering 4500 Convergent Lady Beetles, Hippodamia convergens”. They were released yesterday, 7/30/2011, upon the Milkweed plants arranged along the 75 yard ” Pollinator Friendly Area” berm.

I invite you to visit the Sparrow Field where there are a visual assortment of treasures to be located, photographed, and viewed”.

Some Photos by Fitz around the Island – July 25

Birds at the Sparrow Field – July 16

Today, 7/16/2011, I was following up on the report by Pat Wolters, our island’s resident “Bird Rehabilitator” that she had released a juvenile ” Eastern Kingbird” at the Sparrow Field, The Landings, Skidaway Island, Chatham County, Georgia.

I spotted what I believe was the juvenile bird in company with an adult “Eastern Kingbird.” They were perched, both seeking insects, flying out and back to a limb on the small group of Sweetgum trees, back left of the field, within the path that circles the field.

As I approached they flushed; however, two yellow breasted birds stood out within the swaying Sweetgum limbs. I was successful in acquiring three digital images of two female, “Orchard Orioles.” I originally believed them to be, ” Blue-winged Warblers”; however, Diana Churchill, a friend and former President of Ogeechee Audubon set me straight. She provided the identification as female “Orchard Orioles”. Diana further advised, ” Orchard Orioles nest here and are regulars on Skidaway.”

Shortly thereafter I captured a juvenile “Blue-gray Gnatcatcher” near the pump house, back right of the field.

The recent rain measured 8.5 inches at the Sparrow Field. It has brought forth the many blooming nectar and butterfly host-plants. We have bush-hogged the field and cut the grass at the base of the 75-yard ” Pollinator Friendly Area” on the berm.

I would invite you to visit the field in your golf cart or vehicle. There are so many different species of birds, butterflies, bees, wasp and additional insects to enjoy. 

A Wasp and a Beetle – July 4

Thought I would share with you two wasp, a bee, and beetle species you will find should you visit our “Sparrow field” and Fresh Water lagoon # 2 ( last large lagoon traveling north on Bartram).

The Sparrow Field, “Field Thistle, Cirsium discolor” is, and has been roughing it through the drought, yet it continues to provide nectar to bees, wasp and butterflies, as well as shelter to bugs, spiders, etc. The “Paper Wasp, Polistes bellicosus” provides the spiders as first meals to its emerging young. It appears this food chain is abundant, as long as insecticides are not in use. ( I might add I am constantly spraying myself with “Off-25% Deet” and striking horse flies and mosquitoes with my sweat-stained base ball cap)

The Soldier Beetles, family Cantharidae are active in the blooms of the Field Thistle. The males appear to be attacking each other for the females, the winner copulating with the single female on the thistle bloom. I have been observing and photographing this beetle for the past two days. It is an amazing macro world out there.

The water level, as on all of our fresh water lagoons, is extremely low, to include fresh water Lagoon # 2. Should you park and walk, or view from your golf cart, you will observe many ” Black-and-yellow Mud Dauber Wasp, Sceliphron caementarium” along the shore edge where there is an abundance of fresh mud. It appears to me the bees and wasp, especially the Paper Wasp and Mud Daubers, are very tolerant of disturbance. I have as yet to be stung while remaining extremely close while macro photographing.

Regards,
Fitz

Eastern Kingbird at the Sparrow Field

Today, 6/30/2011, I attempted to photograph a Black Swallowtail butterfly nectaring thistle plants, our Sparrow Field, The Landings, Skidaway Island, Ga. My efforts proved fruitless; however, this migratory “Eastern Kingbird” flew from its Purple Martin gourd perch to a group of “Dog Fennel”, to my left, south/west of me. With the sun to my back, the Kingbird proved to be an ideal photographers pose.

I fired off a few frames, with fill flash set to -3/4 ( to bring out the shadows and color), which I now share with you. This beautiful bird can be located by a visit to the Sparrow field. There is a “Sparrow Field” sign at the intersection of “North Bartram and Pettigrew Dr”. You can drive into the field and park, or drive around the field path. I would ask you take your time to visit the 75 yard berm, which we are turning into a “Pollinator Friendly Area”, a nectar source magnet habitat for the bees, wasp, and butterflies/skippers

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