Sunday, March 16, 2014

Exploring and the 1st Butterflies for 2014

Sixty One degrees Fahrenheit and partly sunny today; first warm day (wahoo!!!) this spring. To celebrate I took a wildlife watching trip to Bass Creek NRA to find birds, butterflies, lichen, moss, wildflower (in no particular order though I strongly felt some butterflies could be on the wing). My objectives: a) to use my cameras and  b) be an explorer because " everything is interesting" (check out this great book, How To Be An Explorer of the World by Keri Smith).

Arrived to find much snow still on the ground (immediate photo below) in shaded areas, but south facing slopes had large patches of exposed ground. Advanced up the trail and found my special spot, yep where several trees have "sap wells" (2nd photo below) a magnet for early season leps. No sap and no butterflies (lone Steller's Jay [Cyanocitta stelleri "sheking" up a storm]), so I retreated to the sunny slopes near the trailhead. Within a couple of minutes spied two Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) on "scat" (bottom photo). Great find for me, 15 days ahead of last years first-of-year sighings.  Working slope further flushed a Comma, likely a Green. Finished off my exploration with photos of 3 different mosses, may take quite a while to identify (rookie status).  It was great fun...try it for yourself :-) 
Bass Creek NRA trail in March, snow blanketing ground
Bass Creek NRA landscape

Early Season Food Source for Butterflies
Sap Wells
Mourning Cloak Utilizing Scat for Early Season Food/Minerals
Mourning Cloak on Scat