Saturday, August 1, 2015

On the Far Side of Fifty

It took a month and a half, but I'm finally over 50 butterfly species for the year.  The delay isn't completely due to lack of effort on my part, I've been butterflying nearly every day. The problem was I kept going to the same local places, so I never got species like Hackberry Emperor or American Snout whose larval hostplants don't seem to grow in the spots I most like to visit.

The other reason I think I didn't get any new species in July was I was more than a bit distracted. We got a new kitten! She and her siblings were found abandoned, not even weaned yet. The kind family who found them bottle-raised them to an adoptable age, then started finding new homes. We took the smallest, sweetest one, a soft little brown tabby with the cutest spots on her tummy. We named her Calliope after the instrument played on New Orleans river boats. She is the joy of our lives now and it's great to watch her grow up. So some of the time I could have been butterflying in more distant places, I chose instead to stay close to home so I could spend more time with her. Oh well, she's worth it!

Anyway, today is the first of August and  I'm visiting my Mom in Ohio. Hoping to boost my butterfly count,  we went hiking at a local park: Blendon Woods, part of Columbus's great Metro Parks system. There I was able to snag a Giant Swallowtail, unmistakeable even from a distance with that lovely cross pattern on the wings, as well as a more demure Common Wood-Nymph. I didn't get any photos, sorry; the hike was part wildlife watching and part chatting. Both species were seen along Goldenrod Trail, which is mainly a meadow trail rather than a wooded one. Goldenrod Trail seemed aptly named, we spotted at least two different types of goldenrod in the meadows. Also blooming were Joe-Pye Weed, Ironweed, Swamp Milkweed, and Brown-eyed Susan (or something similar). I might have seen a third new species, Delaware Skipper, but the little thing was so elusive I couldn't get a good enough look to compare what I was seeing with the field guide, so that one has to stay a maybe. And as we all know, maybes don't count in listing. Despite that one frustration, though, Mom and I had great fun and I am very relieved to finally be on the far side of 50.

Other butterfly species we spotted at Blendon Woods today included Silver-Spotted Skipper, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (both males and females), "Summer" Spring Azure, Monarch, Fritillary sp. (seen from the car, so I'm not 100% certain of exact ID), Zabulon Skipper, and Peck's Skipper. Not bad!

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