Friday, August 17, 2012

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wrapping up

  The Big Butterfly Year is wrapping up.  I saw two Clouded Sulphurs at the McDonald's in Pataskala where we stopped for lunch after my son's cross country meet on Saturday.  And yesterday in the yard had a beautiful Red Admiral on the neighbor's fence.  Also found two Monarch caterpillars on my Swamp Milkweed.  Sadly, there is a real good chance that they will not make it to adulthood.  They are probably still at least one instar away from pupating, or roughly 3-4 days.  Weather is supposed to turn cold middle of the week with temperatures in Columbus in the mid-30's, which means for us rural folks, temperatures in the low 30's.  These two little guys just got too late of a start in life.  I am not one to bring in such creatures for them to carry out their life cycle.  I have no qualms with people bringing cats in for educational purposes for their children, but I am opposed to raising cats inside.  I think it upsets the balance of nature.  Sometimes life is harsh.  And the fact is, these cats' mother should've been flying south to Mexico in the middle of September rather than laying eggs in southeast Ohio.  I guess some folks have the misfortune of having moms who are crack or meth addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, etc, while others have the misfortune of being born at the wrong time of year.  Each species has its own issues.
  I am going to write a book detailing my big butterfly year.  In a way, I don't think it matched up to the concept of a Big _____ Year, as I came nowhere close to reaching goals and I could not abandon my normal responsibilities as a husband, father, and employee to pursue butterflies.  I had a lot of limitations, including time, money, and motivation (to travel a full cold day on the back of a bike to see one or two species).  The fact that I was trying to do all of this on a motorcycle brought its own issues, all of which will be detailed in the book.  But, with all of the negative, there was positive, including several life species, seeing new places, rekindling friendships, etc.  Several folks who followed the bby commented about how the trip west was so successful, although in my mind it fell far short of expectations, but I had fun, saw some butterflies, and returned home in one piece (which a few times had the potential to be iffy), so, in that sense perhaps it was successful.
  For those who expect Butterfly Rider (the book) to be a reincarnation of Bob Pyle's The Mariposa Road, I am afraid you will be surprised or perhaps disappointed.  I want Butterfly Rider to be geared more to novice butterfliers, so you will see common names rather than scientific names, you will see color pictures, you will see lines and arrows explaining why that butterfly is a Hackberry Emperor and not a Tawny Emperor.  SOme of the pics will be lousy quality, because butterflies do not always cooperate and I did not have time to sit in one spot for four hours waiting for the perfect shot.  One of my self-imposed rules was that to be able to count a species, I had to get a photo.  So, for example, despite seeing a dozen Falcate Orange-tips in the spring, I could only get two photos and they are both horrible.  Likewise, I cannot officially count Arizona Sister, Two-tailed Swallowtail, or Southern Dogface, all of which are very recognizeable at a distance.  But, I think that is something that will make the book educational and effective.  The big question regarding the book, do I directly quote my biker friends at Twin Custom Bikes in Lakeside?  If so, that will render the book unsuitable for younger people!  Feel free to give me your thoughts!
  Thanks for following me this year.  chris

Monday, October 3, 2011

De Ja Vu

  It would seem that the end of my Big Butterfly Year is remarkably resembling the beginning of it.  Since I got back from the trip out west, 13 of the 16 days we have had measurable precipitation.  Of the three nice days, had to work on one, visited my daughter in Athens on one, and spent the day lepping at Trimble on the other.  Was hoping to go lepping today as the forecast Friday said Sunday and Monday would be sunny.  Oops, goofed again.  Raining yet again this morning, the 14th day of the past 17.  I guess I am not yet ready for the BBY to end.  Wanted to go today to see what was still flying after the recent cold spell.  No frost, so there may still be some butterflies out.  Maybe the sun will come out this afternoon?!

  Of course, the forecast for the work week?  Sunny and highs in the 70's.  Go figure!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

southeast Ohio

  Made a follow-up trip to Trimble Community Forest, a couple miles west of Glouster, Ohio.  Had a great day there back in June, when I found 25 species, which still stands as the best day of the BBY.  Not as good of a day today, but still a good day for this time of year with 12 species.  Today's bugs include: Pearl Crescent, Eastern Comma, Common Buckeye, Red-spotted Purple, Eastern-tailed Blue, Orange Sulphur, Gray Hairstreak, Great Spangled Fritillary, Monarch, Clouded Sulphur, Spicebush Swallowtail, and Gemmed Satyr.  I was kind of surprised to see Gemmed Satyr this time of year.  I guess I always considered Gemmed Satyr to be more an early season bug.
  Also made a quick trip to Hope Furnace, in hopes of finding Little Yellow, which I found in that neighborhood last year late in the summer.  By the time I pulled into the trailhead parking lot, the clouds had moved in and skies were overcast, limiting butterfly activity to nearly nothing, but did pick up an extra species for the day, Silver-spotted Skipper.  Also found a couple wildflower species that you don't see everyday, Gentian and Turtlehead.  The Turtlehead was a good find, from a butterfly perspective, as it is the host plant of Baltimore Checkerspot, which means that corner of the property would be a good spot to check next summer for the adult checkerspot.
  Hope not, but this could be the final butterfly hunt of the season, depending on the weather.  Butterfly activity really slows down when the leaves start to turn color.  Last year, my final butterfly was an Eastern Comma observed on November first.  Probably only a week or two left in the butterfly season.

Gray Hairstreak

Gemmed Satyr

New bridge over the creek.  This wasn't here in my June visit to the site.  Not only is the site the Trimble Community Forest, it also serves as the environmental land lab for the Trimble schools.


Turtlehead, the host plant for the Baltimore Checkerspot.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I pulled into calm, quiet little Sugar Grove around 4PM yesterday afternoon.  While I enjoyed my trip (at least certain aspects of it, you which I mean!) it felt good to be home.  So, what was the first thing I did when I got home after hugging the family?  Went butterfly hunting of course.  I knew the weather that was on its way, and that the sun would not be shining for days, so while it was still sunny, the wife and I went over to the magic clover field at school for some lepping  Unfortunately, they had mowed the magic clover field, probably about the time I left, so most of the clover was out of bloom.  Goldenrod was in bloom and we saw a few things, most of them the typical bugs: Buckeye, Monarch, Eastern-tailed Blue, Pearl Crescent, Clouded Sulphur, Cabbage White.  The butterfly I got most excited about was American Copper.  I haven't seen many of them this year, and I think they are really pretty butterflies.  Also saw several of a strnge little noctuid moth that was nectaring from the goldenrod, during the day to boot.  I'll have to send a pic to my new moth friend Nate out in Portal, AZ to see if he knows it.
  Well, after 5,179 miles, I can official award the Idiot Drivers Award to . . . drum roll . . . the great state of . . . another drum roll . . . OHIO!  I had been on the bike over 5,000 miles before I had a really close call.  Some guy pulling out of the Ceasar Creek Swap Meet started to pull out in front of me.  Of course, I'm going 55mph at the time.  Scooted as far left as I could and laid on the brakes.  Screeching sounds and bike fishtailing slightly.  The guy finally saw me and stopped when he was about a third of the way across my lane.  I was where the yellow line would've been, if it wasn't broken for the intersection.
  Then, about 50 miles later, in downtown Circleville, Ohio, a guy, looking straight at me no less, makes a right on red in front of me.  Since I was only going 25mph, that one did not require quite as dramatic maneuvering to avoid.
  By the way, the second place award for Idiot Drivers goes to SHow Low, Arizona.  Had a woman make a left in front of me there, but once again I was going slow enough that I was able to avoid her, and then 30 minutes later I have a different woman drift into the left lane (my lane) in order to make a right turn (go figure).  A toot of the horn got her back where she was supposed to be.  My biker friends at the custom bike shop in Lakeside referred to these two drivers as "f----- flatland a--holes.  Year arounders don't pull that f----- s---."  For non-Arizonans, 'year arounders' are people who live in the mountains all year; 'flatlanders' are folks from Phoenix who go up to their cabins in the mountains for weekends or a few weeks at a time. 
  The third place award goes to the state of Texas, where apparently the shoulder of the road is considered an additional driving lane.  I cannot begin to guess how many Texans I saw driving down the shoulder of the road.
  Haven't talked much about the bike (except for the luggage rack) or shown pics along the trip.  Guess I was afraid if my friends saw how I had it zip-tied together they would've taken my keys away from me, so I'll post some pics of my mighty steed.  Really, engine wise, the bike ran good except for in the mountains.  It did not want to start or idle strong in the mountains, I assume because the air was thinner.  Or, I might need a new air filter.  I will look into that in the next few days.  Early in the trip, it was burning oil like mad.  For the first 1200 miles I burned probably close to two quarts of oil.  Over the last 4000 miles, I maybe burned one quart total.  Not sure what that was about.
  I also learned in the last couple days how much wind resistance there is from my rain gear.  I am estimating that my rain gear cost me about 6 miles per gallon of gas with wind resistance.  On days in which I had the rain gear on all day, I got an average of about 42 miles per gallon.  On days without the rain gear, 50mpg.  On most of the rain gear days I also had a stiff head wind, which I am sure cost me at least a couple mpg.
  Finally, the BBY is not over.  I hopefully have another 3-4 weeks of butterfly activity, although the odds of picking up any new species at this point are really thin.  So, stay tuned for future updates!

My trusted steed!

The evil blue cargo box.  The black trash bag was added to the rigging in Springerville, AZ, when I discovered I had no place for my hiking shoes when I was wearing my rain boots.  Of course, had to buy the whole $10 roll of bags when all I needed was two.  The rest were donated to the El Jo Motel.

Chris engineering!  The bolt below the zip-ties was added at the biker shop in Lakeside, AZ.  The U-clamp and zip-ties were added in Cadiz, Kentucky as a fail safe in case the other bolt holding all this mess together failed.  The conduit clamp, I-screws (slightly out of pic at top) and additional zip-ties added in Springfield, Missouri.

Engineering perfection!  The one innovation that worked perfectly, the entire time, that caught the most teasing from other bikers on.  Rather than coughing up several hundred dollars for proper front foot pegs, I invested $14.95 in a pair of vice grips and used those as foot pegs, and they worked perfectly!

American Copper

Saturday, September 17, 2011

And the Lord brought forth light . . .

and Chris beheld it and it was goooood, REALLY GOOD!

Yes, I saw the sun today for the first time:
a. since Pueblo, Colorado
b. in 71 hours
c. for 975 miles
d. all of the above
If you answered all of the above, you are correct!

  I nearly stopped the bike, pulled out the tripod and camera. and took a pic of myself making a sun angel in the middle of I-72 in Quincy, Illinois, but I figured the highway patrol would frown on that, so I fought the temptation.  What I did do though, was found an exit with a gas station, Wendy's, and large vacant field of flowers, and went butterfly hunting after filling up the bike.  In fact, I was so anxious to get into the field, I ignored the fact that I had to pee.  Later, I ducked in behind a bush, only to realize when I was nearly done that I was in clear view of east-bound I-72, and the school bus that was traveling down it.  I turned and faced the country club instead.
  I did not see anything new for the BBY in the vacant field, which was ok.  I did see lots of monarchs refueling for the trip south, and perhaps even more spectacular, at least for me, I saw the biggest, brightest, most exsquisite (sp?) Red Admiral I had ever seen.  This bug was monarch size (normally they are half that) and had the brightest red I had ever seen on a butterfly.  The pic I post below will not do it justice.
  Speaking of pics, realize I had not taken a picture of a butterfly since John's house near Portal, roughly guestimating about 1,760 miles previously.  Hard to imagine going that far w/o seeing a butterfly.  Although, I did see the nearly frozen four monarchs in Nebraska, and since my hands were nearly frozen as well I did not bother with a pic.
  On the other end of Illinois from Barry (the site of the mis-directed pee stop), I stopped at Kickapoo (do you notice a theme developing here!) State Park near the Indiana border.  Once again, nothing new, but the thrill of simply seeing butterflies.  I will post some pics below of butterfly species I have probably already posted, plus a fun pic highlighting the theme of the blog (in addition to the sun).

migrating Monarch

Red Admiral

My first butterfly stop in 1,760 miles.

Question Mark

Pearl Crescent

Just for fun!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Straight from summer to winter!

   Haven't seen the sun since Pueblo, Colorado, or, since 11AM Wednesday morning, or, the past 770 miles.  Not as cold today as yesterday.  Yesterday was awful.  Temperatures in the upper 30's to low 40's with a constant drizzle, sometimes elevating to rain, and 25 to 30 mph head wind.  Luke, who works at the Shop All in Yuma, Colorado tried hard to help me out.  SHowed me the selection of gloves, reading the labels to me since I didn't have my glasses on, plus gave me a pair of rubber gloves for free.  Thought if I could keep my hands dry it would help.  Helped only a little.  At one point Thursday morning was wearing four pairs of gloves.  Couldn't grip the throttle.  With every bump in the road the throttle would slide through my hand. 
  Finally gave up when I got to Benkelman, Nebraska.  As I guzzled two cups of hot chocolate the woman behind the counter at the CENEX gas station called the one motel in town to see if they had any rooms.  The folks at the Circle B Motel found space for me, even though the sign said NO VACANCY.  During the afternoon I bought six hand warming packs from the hardware store, yes, continued investment in hardware stores, and had pizza at the Stone House Deli.  Of course, the deli's pizza couldn't hold a candle to Edwardos. 
  THis morning left the hotel at a temp of 45 degrees.  The hand warming units worked on slightly, but I guess better than nothing.  Stopped in McCook, Nebraska for hot chocolate, and then stopped every 40 miles or so to hold on to the engine to warm my hands.  I try to make sure I don't burn my gloves, but I am amazed how long you can put your hands directly on the cooling fins of the engine before you will feel the heat!
  On one of these hand warming stops in Cambridge, Nebraska I actually saw butterflies.  Obviously the migrating monarchs I saw were no better prepared for the winter conditions than I was.  I saw four on the ground in the weeds, apparently still alive.  I also saw double that many smashed on the gravel road that led to the little roadside park which I was hunkered down in.  Apparently the smashed ones got knocked to the ground by the high winds the day before, didn't have the energy to climb back up the trees or bushes, and were then smashed by passing cars.  Was kind of sad.
  Evening plans got changed by the Missouri River.  EVERY bridge across the Missouri between Lincoln, Nebraska and St. Josephs, Missouri was closed.  I had reservations for a hotel in Iowa, but ended up going nearly 75 miles out of my way south into Kansas just to get across the river.  Am now in a Super 8 in St. Joes.  Fortunately the Super 8 in Lamoni, Iowa understood my predicament, and did not charge me for the late cancellation.  Tomorrow's forecast for Missouri and Illinois, highs in the upper 60's to low 70's, 30% chance of showers in Missouri, 10% chance in Illinois.  Is it possible that I will see the sun tomorrow?!  Stay tuned!
  Oh, wanted to mention my fashion accessories the past two days.  Starting from the bottom: Two pairs wool/acrylic socks, mud boots, boxers (as if they are a help staying warm!) long johns, cargo pants, rain pants, long sleeve t-shirt, short sleeve t-shirt, University of Arizona sweatshirt, windbreaker, Kevlar jacket, rain jacket, doo rag on top, another across mouth, nose, and chin, exposing only about one ince of face across eyes, brand new HJC helmet.  Haven't needed the sunglasses for the past 770 miles.  Oh, gloves, rubber gloves, silk glove liners, handwarmer packet, leather work gloves.  All worn concurrently.  I feel like the Michelin Man, or from the movie Mr. Deeds, Mr. Puffy Jacket Man!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Weather and Friends

  Yesterday I continued one weather related streak, and today started a new one.  First, yesterday, was the fourth consecutive trip across New Mexico that I've gotten poured on with rain.  It actually continued this morning as well as it was raining as I left Las Vegas.  The new weather streak?  My last two trips across eastern Colorado have been shrouded in a foggy, misty, yuck.  Despite making two trips across, I have never actually seen eastern Colorado.  All I see is moisture on the faceshield.  Did not even attempt to look for butterflies today as they would've all been in hiding.
  Between the two streaks, I had lunch with old friend Abbie Hayutin, formerly known as Abbie Klinger.  Abbie was my best friend in high school (Marcos de Niza HS in Tempe, AZ - Go Padres!), and next month is the 30th reunion which I will not be able to attend.  We ran cross country together a couple years, and would run with each other over the summers.  We also had a lot of the same classes and she never set any of my books in fire in class, unlike my friend Ted who set my chemistry book on fire once in Math class!  We (back to Abbie, not Ted) kinda lost each other until about two years ago, and have stayed in regular contact since.  Abbie's kids are about the same age as mine, so it was fun to share parenting horror stories.  We had lunch at a place called Costa Vida on the south side of Denver, a Mexican place sort of in the spirit of Chipotle.  The food was excellent by the way.
  Abbie reminds me of my own wife Kris, in how strongly her focus is on her children.  Listening to her you can tell how seriously she takes on the role of mom.  Too bad all moms aren't so dedicated.
  Intellicast makes it look like the yucky weather will be accompanying me across Nebraska and Iowa.  Joy!  Guess I shouldn't plan on seeing any Great Plains butterflies.  The ones in Texas were on fire, and the ones in Nebraska will be waterlogged.  Can't win, eh!  ;)

Portal, AZ

  I decided to make Portal its own note rather than incorporating it into the extreme southern AZ note. As mentioned before, I was blessed to stay at the home of Linda Jaske and Paul Hirt. Such great people. Once again, their hospitality was such that I felt like I had not been away for two years. When I arrived, Linda and Paul's neighbor Zola, and her new husband Nate (Zola is in her early 70's btw!) were over, so I was able to join them for dinner and to toast their new marriage. Wouldn't you know, Nate is a big moth enthusiast. So, of course, Nate and I had to talk bugs. Linda about had to move us by force to the dinner table away from the laptop!
  Portal is such a great little town. It is very spread out, but only geographically. The people, in terms of frinedship, are very close. In fact, I would argue Portal is more like a family than a community. Many of the people who live there are nature/science nerds to some degree. I told Linda before I left that when I become a rich and famous writer (wink, wink!) I want to have a house in Portal for the summer, one in Alpine for the winter (it snows by the foot there!), and then of course the family property in Ohio which has been in the family since the 1860's.
  So anyways, I was loading up the bike to get an early start when I noticed a monarch fluttering in Linda's field. Of course, I HAD TO tag it. While tagging it I noticed a Bordered Patch, the same species I had seen in San Antonio, New Mexico but couldn't get a picture. Well, I got several good pictures, and then of course found another monarch to tag. Linda of course used all this to her advantage. "Since you don't have to stop in New Mexico now, lets run over to Zola's and look at her monarch caterpillars. And we should swing by John's on your way out of town to look at the Desert Holly." Linda knew which buttons to push and I am so glad she did, especially since it looks like I now will not see butterflies again until Saturday.
  Sure enough, we found several big fat monarch cats in Zola's field. Then I followed Linda over to John's house. This plant he calls Desert Holly, I must look up in my books. It was a total butterfly magnet, even better than lantana. Picked up two new species for the BBY, Tiny Checkerspot and Southern Dogface, although no pic of the latter. I promised Linda I would post all the butterfly pics I took so she could start learning some of the other butterflies besides monarchs.
  CAUTION: DEEP THINKING AHEAD! While the impetus of this trip was book signings and butterflies, I am really beginning to think God had something else in mind. And while Hostile Lookout has sold well, and I have seen some new butterflies, the happy thought that is constantly in the front of my mind is the fun I have had with Linda, Paul, Zola, Nate, Chuck, Jim, Marceline, Pearl, Abbie, and many others. I work with some great folks, but those relationships aren't as developed as the ones with the folks listed above. I think God truly knew what I needed out of this trip.

Bordered Patch

Linda's monarch caterpillar (and finger!)

Painted Crescent

Elada Checkerspot

COmmon/White Checkered Skipper (Have to dissect the genitalia to tell which)

Common Sootywing

American Snout

Leda Ministreak

Extreme southern AZ

After leaving the B&B yesterday I made my way towards Portal.  Chris Vincent shared with me a short-cut back to I-10.  For those of you who have never been to Tucson, imagine a large city (not sure of population, at least half a million) with no freeway system.  Interstate 10 enters Tucson on the northwest corner of the city, and kind of hugs the outside edge until it exits on the southeast corner.  Chris' short-cut, which was a good one, still took nearly a half-hour of going the wrong direction to get I-10.
  Well anyways, once I get to I-10 I could see in the distance Tucson was getting pounded by a storm so I pulled off and put on the rain gear.  Putting on the rain gear is a pain, especially along the side of the road, so once the rain gear goes on, its stays on, peiod, until the end of the day.  Well, the interstate ended up going around the perimeter of the storm.  I got maybe four drips of rain on me and that was it!
  With as poorly as the lepping had gone at the B&B due to the weather, I thought I would swing down to Patagonia.  A few folks had seen Great Southern White (a rarity in the US) at the butterfly garden in the city park there in Patagonia.  Patagonia is a neat little town, tucked into the oaks.  It has become a very artsy town and its proximity to the Mexican border, about 20 miles north, also makes it popular with nature nerds looking to see birds and butterflies that one could usually only see in Mexico.
  Well, I did not see Great Southern White, but did pick-up one new species at the butterfly garden, Dull Firetip, which I think is totally misnamed (the dull part).  Look at the pic below and judge for yourself.  I then went by the post office as they have lantana planted out fron and picked up two more new species for the BBY, Palmer's Metalmark and Painted Lady.  Yes, the Painted Lady, the species that every ten year old across the country raises from a caterpillar to adulthood, I saw my first one of the year at the tiny little Patagonia post office.
  Am now in Portal, at the home of my friend Linda Jaske and her husband Paul.  Linda has tagged monarchs for me in this area for years.  She had offered a place for me to stay on my trip back in the spring, before the Horseshoe 2 fire went through.  Linda and Paul dodged a huge bullet.  As I sit on the bed writing, I can look out the window and see the charred remains of the other side of the canyon, a mere 100 yards away.  There for awhile this summer, I was worried whether there would be anything to come back to.  My three favorite places in the state, Alpine, Portal, and Boyce Thompson were all on fire, AT THE SAME TIME!  Thats why it is so important to get out and enjoy your surroundings.  It may not be there tomorrow!

Dull Firetip

Painted Lady

Palmer's Metalmark

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


   This time in Arizona has been so awesome.  Got to spend Friday with my friend Pearl who has voluntarily taken on being my press agent for Hostile Lookout.  Such a great lady!  I got to spend Saturday with my butterfly nerd friends.  It was so much fun to, not only share that common interest with those folks, but also to be treated as an equal with some really knowledgeable people.  Very gratifying.
  Yesterday, I led the butterfly walk at BTA in the morning.  Had several friends come up for that including Roger Stern from Kearny, and Gale and Roger Racut.  Wish I could have had more time to visit with so many friends.  Chuck Haas and his family came up for the morning.  Believe it or not, I had not seen Chuck since 6th grade.  He and I were buddies in elementary school, and we actually went to the same junior high, but did not have any classes together, and then he went to a different high school.  It was so much fun to get to visit with Chuck and his wife Christine and their daughter Jordan (hope I spelled that right!).  Went with the Haas' to Superior for lunch, at, you guessed it, the best pizza on the planet, Edwardos.  Have you figured out yet that I could eat pizza morning, noon, and night everyday if my wife would let me?!  And actually, this weekend I did. WHooHoo!  See what happens when I am unsupervised!
  Then to top things off, none other than Jim Konopka, a groomsman in my wedding, shows up to the book signing at BTA.  Had not seen Jim since the early 90's.
  Was sad a little though because I was not able to make it to Kearny (where we used to live) to visit some folks.  Both evenings I was in Superior, hellacious storms blew through.  For those who don't ride motorcycles, on a bike in a monsoon storm, at night, would be an extremely unpleasant and dangerous situation.  For those who do ride, you already know that.  So, I regret not being able to swing by Lyman Radcliffe's, Ellen Endsley's, and Staci Johnson's places.  Hopefully I will get another chance and they will forgive me.
  In terms of butterflies, I actually added two species to the BBY on SUnday morning, Desert Checkered Skipper and Funereal Duskywing.

Funereal Duskywing

Desert Checkered Skipper

Oasis of WOW Arizona! B&B

  Bed and Breakfasteur Chris Vincent hosted me at his B&B in Catalina, AZ last night.  He has a beautiful facility with an incredible view of the Catalina Mountains.  He has done a lot of work to create some great gardens.
  Hoped to do some lepping this morning as I pulled in too late yesterday afternoon for that.  But, as has kind of been my mantra this year, I was under the weather, literally.  Awoke to find the area socked in by heavy gray clouds.  Looked like they would move out, but then they would back up against the mountains, trapped against the west flank of the Catalinas.  Finally, around 9:45AM or so got about 10 minutes of sun and things started to come out.  Picked up two new species, Gulf Fritillary and Mexican Yellow, and then the clouds moved back in again.
  Chris Vincent has 82 species of butterfly on his checklist for the property.  Another butterfly nerd, John Saba, was telling me Sunday how he thought September and October were the best months of the year for lepping in AZ.  So, I was in a good place, at the right time, and we saw eight species total.  I have been snookered so many times by the weather this year.  I told Chris, if there was a single image that could be the poster child of my big butterfly year, it would be this mornings cloud covered view of the Catalinas!  But, I'm going to enjoy the few bugs I did see rather than mope over the ones I didn't see!
  Chris' B&B is a really neat place.  Something like 20 hummingbird feeders as well as some seed and suet feeders as well.  If you are a nature nerd and would like a chance to be pampered for a weekend you should check it out.

Mexican Yellow

Gulf Fritillary

Pipevine Swallowtail cat

B&B hummers

B&B gardens

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Boyce Thompson Arboretum (the butterflies)

  Today was the 4th or 5th (I forget) annual butterfly count at BTA, co-sponsored by the Central Arizona Butterfly Association (CAZBA). I have participated in all of them but one, pretty good since I've lived in Ohio the last three years! We had 15 people or so who gathered to count butterflies.  It is similar to bird counting.  We have a formal 15-mile diameter circle that we work within and then report our findings to the North American Butterfly Association.  The circle center is Superior High School.  Believe or not, I did not win the prize for the person who traveled farthest to particpate.  We had a couple from England who participated!
  I was not the count coordinator (had that job when I worked at BTA!) this year, so I am not sure exactly how many butterflies were counted, but between all the different teams, there were about 40 species reported, which actually exceeded a lot of folks expectations, considering how dry it has been locally, as well with all of the nearby fires.  Will have to wait for Dave Powell to share the final numbers.
  The team I was with, Karen and Sharon from Tucson, Marceline VandeWater, and the British couple spent the morning roaming around BTA.  Then went to Jade Grill in Superior for lunch.  The owner of the JG is Lucy Wing.  When I worked as the education coordinator at BTA, Lucy was on the BTA Board of Directors and was always very supportive of the programs I developed, especially the school programs.  BTA's education pavilion is named for the Wing Family.  Good folks.  And Lucy whips up a yummy Chinese BBQ Bun to boot!
  After lunch our team went up to Devil's Canyon.  We were hoping to see Arizona Sister for me to get a picture.  Marceline saw a Sister, but it did not cooperate for the pic.  In the backs of our minds we were also hoping for Arizona Giant Skipper, a special prize we saw at Devil's Canyon on the count three years ago I think.  No Arizona Giants, but had a good time all the same.  Made a quick stop at Oak Flats on the way back to BTA, but didn't really see anything of interest except for some handsome little caterpillars.  Will post a pic in case any of you are cat experts.
  For me personally, I saw 22 species, fourteen new to my big butterfly year, and managed to get pictures of 13 of the 14, although one pic is so bad, the only way you can tell what it is is by knowing what it is ahead of time! Hopefully tomorrow morning before my 10AM butterfly walk I can get pics of number 14 (*), and a better pic of the Golden-headed Scallopwing.  The other BBY newbies seen today were: Empress Leilia, Queen, Ceraunus Blue, Arizona Powdered Skipper, Fatal Metalmark, Sheep Skipper, Orange Skipperling, *Acacia Skipper, Eufala Skipper, Common Sootywing, Elada Checkerspot, Erichson's White Skipper, and Leda Ministreak.
  I needed today in the worst way.  Was so much fun spending the day with so many friends, friends who share my interests in learning about nature.  In all honesty, it felt like I had never left the area.  It was a great feeling.  I know eventually I will develop these type of friendships in Ohio (have already started to a small extent). 
  WARNING: Philospohical Moment ahead, REDUCE SPEED!  Something that my kids do not really appreciate I think is how much we (my family) has moved over the years.  And yes, it has been a burden, especially financially.  But you know what, I have friends in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, California, Colorado, and Indiana who I know would do their best to help me in a pinch if they could.  So, I try to convince my kids, we are not moving, we are casting the blessing net a little bit bigger!
  Well anyways, I better start uploading some of today's new BBY's, its going to take awhile and I got a big day tomorrow!  I'll put some pics here and some on Butterfly Rider facebook page.
Mystery caterpillar

Queen (No, not a Monarch!)

Empress Leilia (which completes the Emperor trifecta for the year of Leilia, Tawny Emperor, and Hackberry Emperor)

Cloudless Sulphur which I had first seen in western kentucky but couldn't get a pic.

Fatal Metalmark

Orange Skipperling

Erichson's White Skipper

Broad-billed Hummingbird.  Nothing to do with butterfliesbut a cool pic I thought.
My fellow butterfly nerds at Jade Grill in Superior, AZ