What's flying Guilford?

Dale Roberts/Bill Yule droberts03 at SNET.Net
Thu Jun 6 14:49:07 EDT 2002

Hi all,
    Everybody ready for a long rambling post?  If not just exercise your delete button. ;>}
    I enjoy hearing Clay Taylor's posts.  The center is always butterflies but he manages to spill over into other areas. Birds. Dragonflies. Amphibians. I like that. That's good. I'm like that. Today I'm going to make a Clay Taylor post. Well not exactly. But something like that.
    Went out to do some errands and driving on route one in Guilford my car inexplicably turned into a side road that leads up to a huge wasteland of dumpings, gravel, broken rock and asphalt called "The Rockpile" by the people of Guilford.  The people of Guilford hate "The  Rockpile"; it's an embarrassment. They even had a town meeting about "what to do about 'The Rockpile'?".  They hired experts to tell them how to get rid of it, or hide it, or develop it, or do anything with it just so long as the ugly mountain of weeds rising above exit 57 goes away and stops blemishing their pretty little town. To them "The Rockpile" is a problem. I love "The Rockpile." I like it better than the famous Guilford town green.  When you get to the top of "The Rockpile" you're not in Kansas anymore. It's strange up there. Strangely isolated.
     Yes it is a scrap pile covered with weeds OR a "Sky Island" festooned with opportunistic annual wildflowers, depends how you look at it. I think you know how I see it. First thing I hear getting out of the car is two Indigo Buntings singing, one at either edge. Also a Prairie Warbler and a Field Sparrow. The top of this strange land has been bulldozed flat and there's about five acres of Purple and White Clovers, Spotted Knapweed, Artemesia, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Sheep Sorel, Sumac, Crown Vetch, Cow Vetch, Wild Indigo, Sweet Fern, Autumn Olive, Goatsbeard, Dautura, Poverty grass, Blue Stem grass, sedges, rushes, who-knows-what-else scrappy two-bit punk-junk plants that can grab-a-little-bit-a-dirt-for-a-season, it's all there. And the butterflies. Right away I see a Northern Cloudywing go face to face with a raggy worn Orange Sulfur defending his patch of turf like a welterweight boxer. Pugnacious. Next victim...American Painted Lady, dainty and fresh, no matter the Cloudywing drives her off... I wander among the weeds... Tawny-edged Skipper, Hobomok, Crossline, a Duskywing (Wild Indigo? Probably)... a Monarch floats by... another, no wait a minute, Viceroy (first of the year)...European Skipper, my guess with all the vetch here Euro's will be here by the dozens in a few weeks... Killdeer are calling and running around and I come upon a huge Black Rat Snake, first one then another, three all together, not good for baby Killdeer... but then they are quick right from the get-go, so they may be alright.  Barn swallows are hawking insects as are the dragonflies... Beautiful fresh lime green Eastern Pondhawks, dainty black and yellow Least Clubtails, Spangled Skimmers, Painted Skimmers, Whitetails, Widows, wispy damsels---Fragile Forktail and Variable Dancer.  It's a sanctuary, these weeds and rubble. Then I hear a bird ruckus; a mob. What an odd mob it is too, catbird, mockingbird, bluejay, four goldfinch and two starlings all scolding a hapless big lunk of a just-fledged Red Shouldered Hawk.  The hawk towers over the others but doesn't know what to do, hops from branch to branch confused. Eventually he glides into the forest below and escapes his tormentors. A half hour later I see a hawk overhead, an adult Red Shoulder and she's carrying something.  I train my binoculars on the hawk to see a dead starling clutched in talons. A coincidence?  I think not! She circles the "Rockpile" three times displaying the dead starling for all to see. A mother's warning I think in my hopelessly anthropocentric mind.
       Someday in the not too distant future the bulldozers will come again, along with the developers and the smiling Chem-Lawn man, greening and sanitizing and homogenizing the world as they go.  Before they get to it get yourself up there and take a look around.  See the persistence of pioneers. Maybe find a rarity. Who knows?

                                  Bill Yule
PS: Other leps-
Spicebush Swallowtail
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Eastern Tailed Blue
Pearl Crescent
Zabulon Skipper
Red Admiral
Anglewing sp.
Clouded Sulfur
Little Wood Nymph

The Rockpile is located behind the Guilford Sporting Goods Store off route 1 in Guilford just off exit 57 of route 95.

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