Wednesday, September 10, 2008
You can only paddle for so long before your butt starts to rebel, so Phoebe and I beached our little craft and climbed a steep slope up onto, of all things, a plateau where perches the humble Noble County Airport. It's apparently unmanned on Sundays. There was a beautiful airstrip just full of dogbane and bursting with butterflies that love its nectar.
Here's a gray hairstreak, Strymon melinus, one of my favorite little delicacies of summer. Vladimir Nabokov loved hairstreaks best of all. Maybe it goes with writing loopy descriptive prose, to love those little trembling tails and sly hindwing-rubbing antics.
It never ceases to amaze me that an ordinary person with a halfway decent lens can get pictures like this. The 300 mm. telephoto allows me to photograph butterflies without creeping close enough to disturb them, and I like that. Here's a common buckeye, which is only common toward fall, when it makes a northward migration that brings it to Ohio, the Buckeye State. I think they named our fair state for the tree, but I'll pretend it was named for a butterfly.
I kept seeing a skipper on the rocks at lakeshore that bedeviled me. I worked and worked to get a decent shot of it as it whirled and settled, puddled and flew.
Wait. Is that a flare of orange on the leading edge of the forewing underside? Or just a trick of light?I think this is a tawny-edged skipper. I saw the same critter in the dogbane, and took this strange shot--just to show you how different skippers can look when they open their wings and show you the markings on their dorsal surfaces.
Finally, I captured an image that I felt confident depicted a tawny-edged skipper. It's the same butterfly as in the shot above, odd as it seems. People talk about the thrill of the chase. Well, you can shoot a trophy buck and cut his head off and hang it on your wall, or you can annoy a skipper for twenty minutes. I pick Option B.
A dun skipper, Euphyes vestris, perched quietly. It's notable precisely for its lack of notability. Which, in the odd world of butterflying, makes it instantly identifiable. Got that?
Actually, when you've been skippering for a couple of decades, the dun's elongated forewing sticks out like a happy thumb and tells you you've got something Other.For an Other, he's sure cute.
Our butterfly excursion over, we repaired to the lake. On our way back down, we found a little Fowler's toad, identifiable by the single wart in each black spot (American toads have 3-5 warts there). It's a toad of sandy soils, and those were in evidence in this dry forest. Everywhere, great blues perched on bowers of grapevine.
I amused myself by trying to get good flight shots. I much prefer shooting birds in flight to resting. (That's an interesting sentence. It can be interpreted a couple of different ways, but both are true). It's harder to get a decent flight shot, and more fun to look at the results. Sometimes you get photos that make you crow like a rooster. That trophy hunting gene being expressed again, harmlessly...
And sometimes you look up, and there's a sylph fluttering through the forest ahead of you.
Never to be here, in this precise pose and lighting, again.