During this very same week, the Georgia Native Plant Society (GNPS) shared a FB post, letting us know that native Sumacs were just about ready to bloom. Back up in Pittsburgh, all one heard of was a “poison sumac.” Ellen of the GNPS sung of two native sumacs, and I was interested, wanting to see these trees.
Days later, along county and state roads, I saw them– just hinting of the telltale dark rust indicative color.
Sunday I drove to Townsend, Georgia, and arrived at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge the next morning. Coastal Georgia is wondrous, and Oohs and Aahs! reigned. Great blue herons, Wood storks, Glossy Ibis, Lots and lots of alligators, Clapper rails, maybe 3 species of snow-white egrets, Zebra heliconians, Palamedes swallowtails, Anhingas, Salt marsh skippers, the biggest spiders I’ve yet to see and the sense that snakes were at hand, but hidden out of sight. It was a dreamland for folks like us.
I think it was Wednesday, along the Wood Pond Trail that I saw one of those natives Sumac trees. Its flower buds were beginning to open. A first for me to see, a native sumac in bloom, at the edge of Woody Pond, with all those alligators seen and unseen.
A shadow flew in. What! It was a fresh, deeply hued Viceroy butterfly. They are always “Uncommon” and hard to find compared to Monarch butterflies. (Glassberg’s A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America) I see them rarely, and always briefly, they have something more important to do, with some other wetland to visit, that’s how it seems.
I shot away and exposed lots of film. It was a clever butterfly, remaining within the inner bounds of the sumac. When it flew, I just stopped, and cynically laughed, at how, with all that was around me, this likable Viceroy came in and stirred the pot. It was a party crashing Viceroy butterfly on a McLaren day in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge.