Monday, July 9, 2012

New Wildlife Experience...

Today, I did a NABA Butterfly Count in Missoula, Montana at Rattlesnake National Recreation Area. Joining five other folks at 10:30 am of varying skill and talent we walked the trail of Spring Gulch identifying and counting all butterflies encountered. Initial conditions were ideal for human activity...sunny and 72 Fahrenheit. It quickly warmed up, ending up in the high 90's. As a birder, these temps are death knell for bird activity, birds stop singing and moving. Not so for butterfly action. Frenetic activity was non-stop gliding, fluttering, flitting, darting, diving. Imagine sweeping a net at animals that flap their wings 25 times a second in order to examine it closely for identification purposes, no harm comes to animal in the quick process of netting, id, and letting loose again. It was fun leading the group up the trail; I could see the butterflies in advance of our position coming down to us. I would shout out to folks with nets behind me the general orientation and generic designation, e.g. 2 'blue' coming down trail. Melissa Blue (Plebejus melissa), mere 5/8" in length, approached at ankle high creating numerous gyrations on the part of netters to capture them; it was fun watching them and their smiles at capture. Again, that happiness thing; according to Action for Happiness, 40% of our daily happiness comes from activities/relationships of our choosing...only 10% from income/environment. IMHO, attending a butterfly count as a novice or expert is great fun and a terrific learning experience. Photographer?, opportunity abounds for point blank shots. See below for some species found today; the Coral Hairstreak (Satyrium titus) was a 'lifer' for me. Find a count (typically June or July) in your community and find something great!
Lorquin's Admirals
Painted Lady
Coral Hairstreak