Clouded Sulphur: Kennebunk Plains Preserve, Maine, USA — Monarchs are not the only butterflies to be happy to see the Northern Blazing Star in bloom. While there were not as many Clouded Sulphurs as Monarchs, there were still good numbers, and the numbers will increase as the full bloom comes on. Nikon B700 at 1440mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Monarch Butterfly: Kennebunk Plains Preserve, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — More of the Monarchs among the early Northern Blazing Star on the Kennebunk Plains. A study in color contrasts. Nikon B700 at 1440mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Monarch Butterfly on Northern Blazing Star: Kennebunk Plains Preserve, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — The first early blooms of Northern Blazing Star are just opening right now. It looks like a very good year for Blazing Star on the Kennebunk Plains as there dense stands of plants about to bloom over wide areas of the plains. Already the insects are gathering. I saw more Monarchs than I have seen in several years yesterday, even in my short hike through one section, as well as a couple of Cloudy Sulphurs and Wood Nymphs, hundreds of Bumble Bees and wasps, and some very large and very loud hornet like things. The Monarchs, in particular, are beautiful feeding on the Blazing Star. For those who don’t know, Blazing Star is a threatened and protected species across most of its historical range, and here in Maine. The Kennebunk Plains are managed, in part, for Blazing Star. I leave on Monday for a week in New Mexico and I hope the full bloom is still going on when I return. Blazing Star and the insects it attracts in August always make for one of my favorites times of year on the Plains. Nikon B700 at 610mm equivalent. Program mode. Spot focus. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Northern Crescent Butterfly: Emmon’s Preserve, Kennebunkport, Maine, USA — I frequently see dragonflies in a mating wheel in flight…mating butterflies less often. It amazes me that mating butterflies, joined as the are back to back, can fly at all, but they do. There were several pairs in the meadows at Emmon’s Preserve when I visited on Sunday. I managed this shot of one with the Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Long-dash Skipper: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I think. Definitely a skipper, and definitely small, and in southern Maine in June. There are a few it could be and I am no expert, but I think this is a Long-dash. There were numbers flying around the drainage ponds at Southern Maine Health Center in Kennebunk on Saturday when I stopped by looking for dragonflies. Nikon B700 at 1440mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
I am falling behind…not because I am not posting every day, but because I am taking too many photos 🙂 Not a bad problem to have. Of course a string of rainy days might cure that, but for now, I am going to group this set taken at the same location on the same outing: I rode my trike out to Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains near home here in Maine, to see how spring was coming along. We have the Plains landscape on the way into the pond at 24mm equivalent (all with the Sony Rx10iv, this one with HDR, and the rest with my birds and wildlife modifications to Program), a Northern Water Snake (one of the largest I have ever seen) at 465mm, Dogwood in bloom against a stand of white birch at 24mm, two Painted Turtles sharing what appears to be a tender moment (but probably was not really) at 600mm, and Eastern Pine Elfin at 600mm and about 3 feet (this is a tiny butterfly, about 1/2 inch across). In leaner times I might have stretched this out over 5 posts, as each shot has an interest of its own. (I did already post the Elfin to some of the Butterfly groups on Facebook, but it belongs here too, in the context of the the visit to Day Brook Pond.)
Kennebunk Barrens Nature Conservancy, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I had been disappointed in the crop of Northern Blazing Star on the Kennebunk Plains (now known, after the most recent changes in management, as the “Kennebunk Barrens Nature Conservancy”) after the prescribed burn of last September. Northern Blazing Star is an endangered flower, with a very limited range, and the Kennebunk Plains is one of its last strongholds. It is a fire dependent plant, and needs periodic fires to maintain a healthy population. I will admit, I did not know exactly what to expect after the fire, but I was hoping for a bumper crop this year…and we did not see that…at least until the last few days in August. It might be that the bloom was just later than usual due to the fire, or that it was late due to an abnormally dry July and August, but it was certainly late. We had some tropical storm remnants come through the last days of August, with some significant rain, and suddenly there are a lot of Blazing Star in bloom on the plains. Not the best crop I have seen, but better that it looked like it was going to be this year. We also had a sudden influx of Monarch butterflies. This has happened other years, but I am always surprised. This year I have seen, until last week, maybe a half dozen individual Monarchs…few enough to be somewhat worried. Even when the Milkweed was in bloom, there were very few Monarchs to be seen. However, when the Blazing Star finally bloomed, I saw more individuals in one day than in the rest of the summer. It was hard to get a count as they were actively feeding on the Blazing Star and moving from patch to patch, but first impression was that they were every where…and maybe about 20 individuals in the few acres along the shore of the pond there. It makes me wonder were they have been all summer…or if they are newly emerged to match the timing of the Blazing Star bloom?? They were certainly “fresh” looking butterflies. Sony Rx10iv at 24mm equivalent in HDR mode for the landscape, and at 600mm equivalent in Program with my custom birds and wildlife modifications for the butterfly. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Common Banded Skipper, Kennebunk, Maine, USA — I am not a butterfly expert, or a skipper expert at that…but I think this is the Common Banded Skipper. Not 3/4 of an inch long. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Northern Blazing Star, Kennebunk Barrons Nature Conservancy, Kennebunk, Maine — Though the Blazing Star crop this year is not what I expected after a controlled burn, there are clearly enough blossoms to attract a wide variety of pollinators. Many different insects are attracted to this endangered plant, which is good, as it gives the plant its best chance at survival within its highly restricted range. It’s a good deal for the insects as well. 🙂 Left to right and down, Cabbage White butterfly, Clouded Sulphur butterfly, Cuckoo Leaf-cutter Bee (sp?), Green Metallic Sweat Bee (sp?), Leonard’s (?) Skipper, and Monarch butterfly. I am sure if I had spent more time there I could have found others as well. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Great Spangled Fritillary, Emmon’s Preserve, Kennebunkport, Maine — Here is a creature to inspire dreams…in this photo it looks like a fantastically winged horse…actually the Great Spangled Fritillary (great name!) is one of the larger butterflies in New England and always a treat to see. There don’t seem to be as many this year, even at Emmon’s Preserve where they are generally common in August. There also does not seem to be as much Joe Pie Weed…which seems to be a favored feeding plant for the Fritillaries. I found this plant and butterfly in the ditch along the hay field just as you emerge from the woods at Emmon’s. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.