Monday, August 3, 2009

Butterflies and an assortment of unrelated stuff

Butterfly sightings have been rare this season. Record breaking rainfall and extremely cold temperatures have really decreased populations. Looking out a window on a midsummer day, I can usually see 4 or 5 tiger swallowtails dancing among the phlox blooms. Normally Cabbage Whites cover the Blue Fortune agastache all day long. In years past I could always count on fluttering monarchs above the coneflowers and skippers everywhere. The flowers planted especially for butterflies seem forlorn, waiting out there for visitors who never come.

I safaried out in search of something alive and colorful. The first thing I encountered was a dragonfly or damselfly which I cannot identify. It wasn't shy and continue to lounge in the sunshine on an Autumn Joy sedum while I took pictures. I don't see these often on the farm so it was interesting to study one up close. These creatures are natural predators of mosquitoes so I wish I had more.

A fluttering movement caught my eye a little further along the border. My Volcano phlox and managed to lure a single Tiger Swallowtail in for midmorning snack. These are one of the showiest butterflies we see here in this area. Beautiful color, design and what a graceful shape to the wings.

Skippers are usually so plentiful they can be seen skipping above the grass almost everywhere. Today there was only one, wings a little ragged and worse for wear. He was absorbed in studying the just budding phlox David and posed for me while I took his picture from several angles.

Venturing out farther into the pasture I found this little Summer Azure on a Queen Ann's lace bloom. He wasn't shy and let me take several photos.

There were two monarchs bouncing from red clover to clover bloom along the lane but they wanted nothing to do with photography. I finally gave up stalking them and pretended I never wanted a monarch photo anyway.

Coming back to the house, a little disappointed that I hadn't seen many butterflies, a Tawny Emperor was waiting for me on the Pagoda Dogwood. I begged and pleaded but he would't open his lovely wings for a photo so I made do with this one. (Those red stems once held the tree's black berries but they are gone to the birds or fallen in the hosta bed).

Thank you MissSherry in Mississippi for helping me identify the Tawny Emperor and the Summer Azure. Neither butterfly was in my field guide. And thank you Jeff for recommending the Kaufman and Glassberg field guides which are more complete than mine. Both MissSherry and Jeff hang out on Garden Webs butterfly forum so if you ever have a question or just want to share photos, go visit them.

I'd also like to recommend a site to anyone who loves looking at butterfly and bird photos--really GOOD butterfly and bird photos. Abe Lincoln's Birds is a friendly place to visit, see some birds close up, and read some snippets of personal experiences photographing wildlife.

Have a great week everyone and I'll post again Thursday.