Posts Tagged ‘butterflies’

Before the month of May slid into history, I did a little sliding of my own.  The day after Julia and I visited Nerinx, I did a solo expedition to the western section of the Falls of the Ohio State Park.  Now the sliding part has to do with mud!  In places the earth was high and dry, but in key areas  the mud remained slippery and sticky.  Here’s a picture of what I mean.

It’s creamy and in places you could sink in over your ankles.  To get things over with so I don’t have to obsess about this, well I just find some mud and step into it.  After that there are no worries about remaining clean!  The deed is done.  I have a similar philosophy about the rain.  Once I’m as wet as I can get…I can relax and do my thing as long as I don’t get too cold.  The mud is more treacherous closer to the river’s edge and I decide not to flirt with it too much.  There is afterall, much to see around here.

The willows are in maximum fluff production and there are drifts of the stuff on the ground.  When the wind stirs then the willow seeds become air born and are carried away.  With so much fluff, you would think willows would be even more common than they are.  I have to say that so far, I haven’t seen any birds that have made my year.  Last year’s signature bird was the Summer Tanager.  This year hasn’t been the warbler fest that I experienced just two years a go.  Still, I take what I can get and I always love American Goldfinches.  Here’s a male taking a dip in some water.  Small flocks cruise along the trees nearest the river.

I’m walking west along the river and I came across the only persona that I saw all day.  We eye-balled each other, decided that neither was a threat and so we had a short conversation.  Mostly, it was an opportunity to compare nature notes.  I guess the feature that most stood out about my acquaintance is the bright pink hat she? is wearing.  I said I was looking for birds and junk and “she” said that she was a Lepidopterist.  Oddly, we didn’t introduce ourselves, but she let me take her picture for my blog.  I guess she’s about five feet tall or so and walked with a cane.

After I asked if she had seen any interesting birds…she hadn’t.  I was asked about what butterflies I had come across.  Fortunately, I also like butterflies and try to take their pictures when both insect and camera cooperate.  I really don’t like these autofocus cameras.  Anyway, I noticed many species out on this day including Commas, Mourning Cloaks, Cabbage Whites and then I showed her images of the two butterflies that I did get decent pictures of and she seemed happy to identify them for me.  Here is the more unusual of the two that I came across at the forest’s edge.

Quickly my new friend identified this as being Enodia anthedon or more commonly, the Northern Pearly Eye.  It is a forest butterfly that does not come to flowers preferring instead the fermenting juices of fruits and tree saps.  I reply that I had noticed that there were many butterflies around the fallen mulberries and on the sides of the willow trees. 

I wonder if science has determined if a butterfly can get drunk off the fermented juice and if this is possible…do they experience hangovers?  I know this does happen with birds like Cedar Waxwings that literally get tipsy.  The second butterfly is one that many people know and it’s the pretty Red Admiral or Vanessa atalanta . Even its scientific name is charming.  This is a people friendly butterfly and will often alight upon a person.  I came across dozens of these today.

With the rising heat the promised threat of a late afternoon thunderstorm began to materialize.  First there was the distant sound of thunder and since I had a hike to still make to reach my car…I said farewell to my butterfly friend whom I hope to see again.  I asked before parting if she collected butterflies and she answered that once she had, but was now over that part of her interest in them.  She no longer needed to possess them and instead grew flowers and plants to attract them.

I hope I run into the lady with the pink hat again.  She seemed to share a reverence for the life that is out here in the park.  I would welcome learning more about the butterflies that call this place their home.  One last shot showing willows, the riverbank, fossil cliffs, and the dam in the far distance that keeps the river at bay…most of the time.

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western park scene, Falls of the Ohio, 8/09

For a change of pace, I decided to explore the park’s western section.  It’s a little more of a walk, but you will see more wildlife and less people.  I was priviledged to observe a pair of ospreys gliding in high circles on very long wings.  Usually, there is less Styrofoam to be found in the western end, but I was able to locate a couple pieces along with assorted sticks and plastic bits to make a figure.  This is what I came up with today.

Figure on Green Seat, 8/09

The green plastic seat more than likely came off a child’s riding toy and was the right size for the figure I constructed.  As I was working on this piece, I was treated to the sight of a beautifully marked Eastern box turtle that came walking out of the tall grass.  I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures!

Eastern box turtle, 8/09

head of box turtle, 8/09

I love the golden- yellow markings on its bony- shell and how it shows signs of wear and polish by moving through its environment over many years.  I carefully picked it up and the turtle’s head and front legs pulled within the shell while it’s trap door closed shut.  I set the turtle down and made my art work and slowly the turtle revealed its head, legs, and tail and sneaked back into the grass from where it came.  I heard that box turtles aren’t as common as they used to be.  And, that they prefer to stay in relatively small territories and don’t transplant to new areas very successfully.

Head of figure on green seat, 8/09

This sculpture is made from Styrofoam (polystyrene), driftwood sticks and roots, with various bits of found plastic.  There are several areas in the park that have gravel deposited from the last glacier of the Ice Age.  That’s the kind of rock that this figure’s ears are made from.  At this front row seat were several varieties of blooming plants that were animated with insect life.  Bumble bees and many species of butterflies were taking advantage of the nectar.  All along I have been photographing (when possible ) the different types of butterflies I come across.  Here is an image of the Comma with its well worn angle-wings.  This species is quite common here.

Comma, 8/09

Usually, the lower, hind wings are darker, but this individual has managed to lose a lot of it’s scales.  The edges of its wings are a little more raggedy than normal.  This species has a pugnacious quality to it and I have seen it chase its own kind, other butterflies, and once in awhile…birds!  It has a strong survival instinct…as do these two Monarch butterflies.  This is the image I will leave you with to end this post.  I watched this joined-pair still flying (rather poorly) feeding from flower to flower while mating.  Now that’s multi-tasking for you!

mating Monarch butterflies, 8/09

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