Journal for May 18, 2012

It’s getting more and more summery.  All the early summer flowers are blooming.

Indian Paintbrush


Cream Wild Indigo


Golden Alexander

Some butterfly folks came to visit yesterday, and we did a slow, wandery walk and found some great butterflies – and a few nice day-flying moths.   They were from Massachusetts, on a butterflying trip.

The main goal was to see a Gorgone Checkerspot – which appeared right on demand – on the curve in the driveway.

Gorgone Checkerspot


We also got good looks at a Painted Lady.  It looks like it will be a good year for this species – I’ve been seeing lots of them in the last week.  Painted Ladies are closely related to Red Admirals, and like Red Admirals, they don’t overwinter here; they repopulate from farther south every spring.  Their numbers vary a lot from year to year.  One year in the mid-1990s hundreds of them appeared in the late summer.  Their caterpillars eat thistle leaves.

Painted Lady


Northern Crescent – male


Northern Crescent – female


Juvenal’s Duskywing – male


We found a White-lined Sphinx moth nectaring on dandelions in the driveway.


We walked up Western Road – the farm road that goes up our western valley – checking to see if we could find Duskywings laying eggs on the Wild Columbine.  I’ve always wondered if we have Columbine Duskywings, but the only way to tell them apart from Wild Indigo Duskywings is to see a female laying eggs.  We found several Duskywings hanging around the columbines.  None were laying eggs – they might have been males – but they looked right for Columbine Duskywings.

Possible Columbine Duskywing


Here are the butterfliers – inspecting a butterfly.


And another photo of us – Ron, Sue, Marcie, Barbara, and Steve


I recently got the new version of my Lumix Panasonic camera – the FZ150.  It has a longer zoom, and much better image stabilization, so I can take much better bird pictures.

Eastern Bluebird


Scarlet Tanager


This morning we watched a Wilson’s Snipe circle around in the air over the wetland.  We’ve been hearing them, but never could see where they were.  We didn’t realize that they do their winnowing call from high in the air.  According to the Cornell Ornithology Lab, the sound comes from air flowing over their outspread tail feathers as they fly.

Our friends Gary and Ruth Ann came to visit this week.  We did a tour of the farm, dinner, and then had a spectacular moth evening.

Mike, Ruth Ann and Gary on the Hidden Oaks bench

The moths have been getting much better in this warm weather – more individuals and many more species.

Some highlights from the last few weeks ….

A gorgeous Luna that came by about a week ago


Pale Metanema


Agreeable Tiger Moth


Small-eyed Sphinx


White-fringed Emerald


Dimorphic Bobolocha – the male and female of this species look quite different


The Beggar – I wish I knew how it got its name.


Orange-barred Carpet


Cattail Borer