Tuesday, November 29, 2005

As winter approaches

Black Swallowtail chrysalis

Common Witchhazel [Hamamelis virginiana]

On October 4th in the Shakespeare Garden [see archives] we watched a Black Swallowtail caterpillar metamorphose into a chrysalid. Today after the weekly filling of the bird feeders at the Evodia Field another member of the Feeder-filling Squad and I checked to see how the pupa was doing. We could hardly find it, though I knew exactly where it had attached itself to the latticework fence, for it no longer resembled a living creature. It looked like a little piece of wood. Only when I stared at it for a few moments did I notice the delicate little threads by which it attached itself to the fence.

The next act of this drama should occur next May, when the butterfly is due to emerge from its winter refuge. I'll keep you posted.

The second photo shows a paradoxical plant, the common witch hazel. Just as the trees are becoming bare and wintry, a mere three weeks from the winter solstice, this lovely plant begins to flower throughout Central Park.