How many Palamedes Swallowtails did we see those 5 days in Florida’s Big Bend Wildlife Management Area? I’d say 65 to 75 Palamedes. Spicebush Swallowtails? More than 5 Spicebush. Tiger Swallowtails? A good 10 or so. Georgia Satyrs? Some 15 or more. What I think were Zabulon Skippers? Probably 20 Zabulons. Viceroy Butterflies? About 20 Viceroys.
When I saw my first Gulf Fritillary, on our 4th day in the field, I was triggered. April 11, 2019, in the Florida Panhandle, and all we’ve seen was one (!) Gulf. When we climbed back into our truck the next day, April 12th, our Gulf Frit counted stood at that one Gulf Fritillary. Sunny, days, highs by 1:30 PM reaching 81F, and just that one Gulf.
I tossed that around in my head, and I’m still weighing the criteria. Passionflowers, the hostplant for Gulf Fritillaries were not seen anywhere that week, not in any of the diverse habitat that Big Bend boasts. Glassberg in his A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of North America cites them as “most common in late summer/fall.”
The Plan always impresses me. There is complex timing for all you’d see in such a destination as Big Bend WMArea. Regretably, the No-See-Ums (Sandflies ?) seem to resist such restraints.
This sweet Gulf here was seen in 2018 at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge along the Georgia coast in August, where there were then, legions like him, on the wing.
Trails, Meadows, Forests, Fens, Roadsides, Marshes, Bogs, and Swamps. I cannot count the number of times that we work our way through diverse habitat, and there! is something new to me. Never seen before.
Me? My encyclopedic knowledge of fauna and flora is NOT encyclopedic. I have come to peace with myself, I no longer ‘Beat myself up’ for not knowing a myriad of wildlife and plants. With trees, shrubs, annuals , perennials, orchids I now am more than Happy to stop, admire, and reflect on H-s work. The overwhelming variety impresses me. That I am impressed with what I see in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, Florida, Israel, Canada and in a few days, Texas. This all pales, when I consider that in Mexico, Alaska, Sri Lanka, Sicily, France, Bolivia, Brazil, Poland, Australia, Iran and beyond, 99.98% of species will remain unseen by these eyes.
This mushroom stopped me at Lynx Prairie Reserve in Adams County, Ohio. There, Dave and Angela and Barbara Ann approached that ‘encyclopedic’ level of species recognition. I remained silent, happily impressed.
It’s a problem. My Neumade slide cabinet already has quite a few American Copper butterfly images, and each time I go to cull out several, I end up keeping almost all. Culling is a dirty business, and I just can’t pitch good images to the trash. Can’t.
Then here I was, on September 4th, 2014 in Doak Field, Raccoon Creek State Park. Haven’t done a presentation there for, what is it now, 2 years? Nevertheless it is terrific for butterflies, has diverse habitat, I once saw a Goatweed leafwing there, and . . . I just love Doak field, all 100 acres of it.
This Lycaena Phlaes flew from the mowed trail, onto this very nearby shoot. 1/1,000,000th of a second internal debate, then decision, way too beautiful to not attempt a keeper of an image. Crisp, sharp spots, borders, contrasts. My loyal followers know that I am fond of this butterfly.
Winter antidote? Absolutely. Spring is coming, the ticking of the clock assures that. Winged beauties like this one will soon be on the wing. Love.