Guess Who Showed Up?

May 20th was a good day at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge (Rock Hall, Maryland…On the Delmarva peninsula). The morning sky was mostly clear, with passing clouds here and there. I tried to disregard the fantastic airshow above and around me…Osprey, Bald eagles, Turkey Vultures, Indigo buntings, Ruby throated hummingbirds, Great blue herons, Mockingbirds, Cardinals…. Butterflies were why I came to this Refuge, surrounded by Chesapeake Bay.

The Butterfly Garden, planted next to the house that the Ranger lives in, was planted with nectaring plants, but they were not in flower as of yet. The trails were fun, but didn’t yield too much butterfly action. There were a pair of 50 foot trees near the Rangers’ house, in full, and I mean full bloom! Perhaps hundred of thousands of white blossoms, each producing a faint aroma, not unlike vanilla. The leaves were Holly leaves. Bees of many species were flying around and around the larger tree, oddly not landing, but flying. Protecting their claimed sector of treescape?

I photographed the tree and its blooms. And I wondered. If most of the native plants are not yet in bloom, and most of the nearby garden is still developing its blooms, will butterflies be drawn to these katrillion flowers on what I think is an American Holly tree (Ilex opaca Ait.).

I waited. Waited. Then there one was. It was a good sized butterfly. A brushfoot. Which one? Then it came closer. A red-spotted purple butterfly. Characterized as a generalist, a species that seeks sustenance from a large variety of flowering species. It never came close enough for a solid macro- photograph.

The table was set, the settings were overflowing…and Red-spotted purple butterfly dropped by to enjoy some of the hundred of gallons of sweet that our tree was pumping.


Note: This is not an image of this butterfly on American holly.

Monarda: a flower in the bee balm family

Monarda wildflowers photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

I’m still shooting with film and I try to conserve my photographing to butterflies and related subjects– but. This clump of Monarda (the bee balm family) almost demanded that I give it a look and photograph it. A native wildflower, Monarda is an important part of open field habitat.

A type of mint, they attract lots of nectarers including butterflies, hummingbirds, bee and flies that seek nectar. It’s as if I expect to see a great spangled fritillary butterfly or a ruby throated hummingbird to swoop into this picture at any moment.

Why do the cognoscenti collect a monarda leaf, drop it into their tea and then relax on their verdant patios?


Bear Run Reserve’s Pink Lady’s Slipper Orchid

Pink lady's slipper  orchid wildflower photographed at Bear Run Reserve, PA

Photographed at Bear Run Reserve, this Pink Lady’s Slipper was photographed in Bear Run, PA… just across the road from Fallingwater.

I’d driven to Bear Run to locate and photograph Lady’s Slipper flowers, our native orchids. The hike from the Bear Run parking lot was moderate in challenge, but not especially memorable until I discovered this beautiful stand of pink Lady’s Slippers. They were mid-bloom and fresh, fresh, fresh.

I particularly liked this flower, with its dramatic heart-like appearance.

It was just off the trail and its leaves and surroundings pleased me, with their rich green color and stark angles. So I carefully got into position and shot away…with good result!

Such a delicate blossom amidst the giant trees of Bear Run. So accessible for those who seek it.