We hiked to the Allenberg Bog in far western New York State. I wanted to find Bog Copper butterflies (themselves very rare) and Barbara Ann Case looked forward to examining the many specialized plants that can be found in Sphagnum moss (acid) bogs. The Niagra (New York) Audubon Society owns this relic of thousands of years ago, it the size of a small pond, but a very ancient small pond.
This field trip stands out in my mind, for Barbara Ann A”H (Of Blessed Memory) passed away some months ago. She made those hikes despite her worsening health problems. Why did she? She loved the outdoors and an opportunity to see a habitat that is fast disappearing, with its pitcher plants, sundew plants, bog blueberry and a host of plants threatened with extinction.
The happy surprise for me was the appearance of this Northern Pearly Eye butterfly, at the bog’s edge. I’d only seen them on trails, where moving water was nearby. Seeing this beaut at the bog? Exciting. It was fresh, richly colored and it came to rest on a leaf, wings extended. Shooting a Pearly-Eye with its dorsal wing surface revealed? Totally Wow! Those ‘eyes!’ Those ‘eyes!’
It’s the kind of early July morning that you savor, just as you savored that cup of coffee before you loaded up and drove to Raccoon Creek State Park. Nichol Road trail was so beautiful, although a bit coolish for early summer, and happily absent of biting mosquitoes and flies.
The section of trail that I especially like was busy with lots of butterflies. Over the years it has offered up some of my very best photographs, as well as some of my most frustrating misses. High on the list of those misses was the Mourning Cloak Butterfly that kept moving each time I drew close. It flew to a lovely area covered with verdant foliage and landed on the vertical wall of this little microhabitat. The sun was early morning sun and it warmed the dorsal (upper) surface of this winged beauty.
But this morning it was a Question Mark butterfly (Polygonia Interrogationis) that challenged this photographer. I approached, knelt down with camera slowly raising, and it fled. Classic Agggh! It flew up to the leaf of a tree directly above me. The morning sunlight was front lighting the leaf, silhouetting the Question Mark. This is one of those photographic images that broke the mold. I shot away, and am happy to share it with you.
Of course there is no such species of skipper butterflies. There are many, many species of skippers in the southeastern United States. This nifty example crossed our path in Asheville, North Carolina.
A large skipper, it’s dorsal and ventral wing surfaces can be seen in this image. Asheville was a beautiful city and was home to many, many photogenic butterflies.
Your help in identifying this butterfly is requested.