Journal for July 30, 2010

Butterfly populations fluctuate from year to year, sometimes dramatically.  This week the population of Clouded Sulphurs exploded here in western Wisconsin.

As we were driving along some of the country roads near the farm, we saw hundreds of these small yellow butterflies fluttering over alfalfa fields, across the roads, and along the gravel roadsides.  In one spot, where there are wide gravel edges on the road, there were dozens of butterflies clustering on the gravel.

And a closeup with one flying butterfly.  When they’re resting, these butterflies hold their wings together.  When they fly you can see the black border that gives them their name.  (Cloudless Sulphurs don’t have the black border.)

This is a different kind of yellow butterfly – a Little Yellow.  Little Yellows don’t overwinter here – they fly up from the south every summer.  Some summers I don’t see them at all, but this summer there are quite a few.  Their caterpillars eat the leaves of Partridge Pea – which grows on the hill right beside our house.  They’re very small butterflies – about half the size of the Clouded Sulphurs – and very hard to photograph because they keep moving all the time.

I’ve seen more moths this week – lots that I haven’t identified yet.   Here are the ones I’ve figured out so far.

Red Twin-spot.  This moth often rests like a butterfly, with its wings folded.  It makes it hard to see the tops of the wings.

This one had its wings down – much easier to see.

This one is called “The Gem”

American Idia

Sharp-angled Carpet

A very small moth – about 1 cm long  – Filbertworm Moth.  Its caterpillars eat nuts, and can sometimes be pests on nut trees.

Blackberry Looper – its caterpillars eat blackberries and other kinds of berries

Reniform Celaena

Yellow-headed Cutworm

The farm looks beautiful right now.  We’ve had lots of rain, so everything is lush and green, and all the prairie flowers are in full bloom.

Center Valley, looking toward the house

Western Prairie – our biggest planted prairie – almost 60 acres

Western Prairie

Buffalo Ridge Prairie

Pat’s Prairie

The view from Big View Prairie

Mike just took some beautiful panorama photos of the farm – they give a much better idea of the way it really looks.  Check them out here – on his blog.

We took a boat ride yesterday – our first long boat ride of the summer – and nothing went wrong!  We drove up to Pepin, to go to dinner at the Harbor View Cafe – one of our favorite restaurants. It was a beautiful, quiet evening, with no wind and a colorful sunset.

The river is dotted with small sandy islands, mostly made from material that gets dredged up to widen the shipping channel.

The bridge from Nelson, Wisconsin to Wabasha, Minnesota

The National Eagle Center

We parked the boat at the marina right in front of the restaurant.  It’s tiny compared to all the bigger, fancier boats.

Sailboats in the marina

Gulls on the rocks by the marina

Bald Eagle posing on a snag

Bluffs at sunset