May 4th, 2007

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Sunny afternoon after storms: butterflies

Yesterday afternoon when the sun came out, we went out on the land.  Butterflies, dragonflies, birds, and other critters also thought it was a good time to come out after huddling in the storms overnight. 

In the southwest meadow, the dogbane was blooming.  This is an attractive plant, with reddish stems, smooth green leaves, and clusters of very white flowers.  Against this background, butterflies swarmed over the flowers, a constant fluttering mass of them.  Most numerous were the Red Admirals, and most of those were fresh, not worn or ragged at all.     Although I've photographed Red Admirals before, I've never seen the bright blue scales at the rear of the hindwing before--those are the first to go when a butterfly gets nipped by a bird.

Some flower clusters had more than one butterfly, though usually one would object and drive the other away.
  This is a fresh Common Buckeye (with the orange epaulet stripes and the eyes) and a Red Admiral with its wings closed, showing the striking markeings of the underside.    Besides the Red Admiral and Buckeye butterflies,  there were lots of American Lady, Variegated Fritillary, and Hackberry Emperor butterflies, plus some little Gray Hairstreaks.  

In addition to butterflies plundering the dogbane,  at least three species of Sulphurs (Dainty, Orange, and one I'm not sure of) nectared on other flowers.   Pipevine Swallowtails were on Japanese honeysuckle; Giant Swallowtails, Monarchs, and Mourning Cloaks flitted through the meadow every minute or so.   I don't know what the various checkers and crescents were nectaring on (never saw them still) but they were also flying past.  An excellent day to enjoy the butterflies.  I was hoping to go out again today, but against the original forecast, it's cloudy and drizzly, not clear and sunny.
woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Sunshine after storms: dragonflies

Not only were the butterflies out in force yesterday, but so were dragonflies.   I saw Roseate Skimmers for the first time this year, and there were at least four of them--two squabbling over who had rights to Owl Water, and another two with the same argument over the west gully system overflow.
These are fairly large dragonflies, stout-bodied as you can see.  The females are golden in the sun; when you see a pair in "wheel" formation during mating, it's stunning.

Before yesterday, I had never seen a Red Saddlebags male holding still (my one previous photograph of a Red Saddlebags was a female, late in the year, on a very cool morning.)    However, I got half-lucky--half in that the male kept returning to the same perch, a stalk sticking up out of the water in the west gully system, but also kept turning to face me, making it hard to get the kind of shot that shows all the details (and is all in focus.)  Still, it's a nice red dragonfly with black on the final segments of the abdomen.  You can see the red face, the black on the top of the final segments, the red veining in the forewings and the dark red-brown hindwing markings that make this dragonfly, in flight, look like it's got "saddlebags" on each side of its body.

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April


I have a rule.   When knives go into the dishwater, they're to be washed immediately, removed immediately (ideally without letting go of them), dried immediately, and put away in the knife drawer immediately.   It's a safety thing--sharp objects under the suds can bite you without warning.  So can knives and other pointy things left in the dish drainer. I broke my own rule.  Put the cleaver I'd been chopping nuts and cranberries with into the sink, and did not take it out before putting the hot water and soap in.  Forgot it was in there, in fact (I was upset about something.)  Reached around under the suds for the scrubber, bit me.

If safety isn't first, an injury will be.  It's not bad, but it's annoying to get "bitten" the first time in years I've broken that rule.