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More Adventures In Trophy Hunting

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.


The loads of skippers here entertain me so much. Your butterfly shots are fantastic! And, like you, I prefer birds in flight. How do you do that?! Are you using a burst mode? That heron shot is turning me green.

And, the last shot makes me smile. Those moments in time are so precious, as are our cameras.

Phoebe looks like she could have a deer or two quietly walking beside her.

Those canoes look a lot different from the ones I grew up with! Very cool. They look like a canoe/kayak hybrid.

Thanks for the owl feather ID!! Makes my heart glad. I heard screech owls when I first moved into my house 10 years ago but with the felling of a number of huge oaks in the last five years I haven't heard any for a long time. Good to know they are still around.

I'm an Option B kind of girl too. Isn't it fun to wander around for hours trying to get the "perfect" photo?

Love all those skippers. My ID skillz are lacking on those little jobs (kind of like when I was a beginner birder and couldn't tell one sparrow from another).
This post and the last one reminded me...
Tonight, I let Lorelei choose what I was to read for a bedtime story. She bopped out of her room to ours, and brought back Birdwatcher's Digest.
"Read Julie's (Juwee's) story... the one with the fisherman and the herons".

(I skipped over the hormonal warbler part)
: )

Aw, geez, three of the world's cutest critters in one day - skipper, Fowler's, and Phoebe.

I remember the first time I had an Indigo Bunting at my feeder. I was shaking so much and my heart was pounding with so much excitement and glee I had to call husband to get a decent shot. Trophy hunting indeed! Love your flutterbys! Phoebe is going to have such stories to tell her own someday.

Sounds like a wonderful day. Wish I could have had such experiences growing up.

Skippers are well-named; I just skip 'em. Too difficult for me.


Waaak! Skippem's! Kathi, you are too much. I don't think they'd be so scary if you'd let me annotate your Kaufman (you do have one--the new butterfly guide?) with little checks to narrow down the possibilities.

Mare, I'm not using burst mode. Too lazy and dumb. But I am going to try it the next time I get an opportunity.

Christine, they are decked canoes, Fiberglas, only about 11' long, very maneuverable and not as macho as a kayak. We don't roll them, for instance. Mine has never had water in it that didn't come off my shoes or paddle.

NW nature nut--yes, photography becomes its own reason for being, in a very pleasant way. I think of it as collecting souvenirs.


Catbird: She is just as cute as a baby toad.

Jayne: I have so many blurry bird photos thanks to panting.

Wow, what wonderful images, as always. And yours is the third or fourth site I've seen this week showing off Gray Hairstreaks, not counting my own post from earlier in the week.

Looks like y'all had a wonderful day together out on the water and enjoying nature. I'm jealous! Thanks for sharing.

What a fun day for you and Phoebe. Thanks for all the neat butterfly pics.

You really got some great shots. I love the birds in flight. They're just a thing of beauty.

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