I mentioned how impressed I was with the numbers of insects using the endangered Northern Blazing Star boom on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area here in southern Maine this week. Here are 4 leps (to add to the White-lined Sphinx Moth posted earlier). Painted Lady, Common Wood-nymph, Monarch, and what I think is a Wandering Gem moth. Something very Gem like anyway. The moth was tiny…it just covered the tip of my finger. Sony RX10iv at 600 and 1200mm equivalent (1200 at 2X Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
My friend Stef and I took a loop out through the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area yesterday to take in, among other things, the last of the Northern Blazing Star bloom. Blazing Star is endangered in Maine and the Plains are one of its last strongholds. I was reminded just how important a resource it is. Besides flocks of busy Goldfinches and Pine Warblers, the Blazing Star along Day Brook Pond was full of insects…butterflies and moths and bees and flies. When I first saw this White-lined Sphinx Moth I took it for one of the Clearwings. I have seen both Snowberry and Hummingbird Clearwings working the Blazing Star in the past. A closer look showed that despite similar size and behavior, this was a different moth. No transparent wings. I had to look it up when I got home. The White-lined Sphinx, like many Hawk moths, is mostly nocturnal, and mostly seen early and late, during dawn and dusk, so I can be forgiven for assuming it was a Clearwing. If I remember correctly, my only other sighting was years ago by artificial light on our back deck, feeding on the potted plants we keep there, when I, like many others, called it a Hummingbird Moth because of its size and behavior. (That name actually belongs to the Clearwing.) The White-lined Sphinx Moth occupies a huge range, all of North America and parts of Central America, and there are apparently known populations in Europe, Asia, and Africa. This one was very cooperative, working the same patch of Blazing Star for 15 minutes or more, and coming in close enough for lots of photos, before zooming off in search of a new patch of flowers. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
I began chasing butterflies on my very first day in Peru, walking my first section of the Manu Road. Turns out there are lots of butterflies on the east slope of the Andes, in the run down from the Elfin Forest above Wayqecha Lodge to the emerging Rainforest around Villa Carmin. Butterflies were everywhere, but the easiest place to see (and certainly to photograph) them was where something sweet had been spilled, or something rich in minerals was seeping out into the road or into a roadside ditch. These were gathered at the entrance to Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge where, I can only assume, runoff from the staff quarters moistened the dirt. Still, what an assembly! If I am right in my identifications, they are Pink-banded Sister, Blue Perisama, Manu Perisama, and Rusty-tipped Page, all within a few square feet. Though they all look the same size in my collage, the Rusty-tipped Page is 3 times the size of the Blue Perisama, and a third again as big as the Pink-banded Sister. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
I posted another in this sequence of images the other day. I was delighted to watch this Coral Hairstreak working a Wood Lily on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area here in Southern Maine. As this panel shows, and I tried to describe in the previous post, the butterfly worked its way across the flower and then back again as I watched. Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical equivalent, plus enough Clear Image Zoom to fill the frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
This shot will justify the largest view you can provide 🙂 It was a cool, dry, sunny day in Southern Maine yesterday so my ebike photoprowl was delightful. And in the midst of the delight, while photographing more Wood Lilies out on the Rt. 99 side of the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area, something caught at the corner of my eye and I turned in time to see this Coral Hairstreak land in another Wood Lily. It proceeded to harvest something from the petals, dragging its proboscis across the surface, working its way down one petal and back up, before moving on to the next petal. Here it is poised for the turn, with its proboscis tightly curled. Coral Hairstreaks are common on the Plains in July, and around the Wood Lilies (this is not the first I have photographed on a Lily), but here the light is perfect and the composition eye-catching. Beautiful flower. Attractive butterfly. What more could you ask for? Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical equivalent, plus enough Clear Image Zoom to fill the frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
As part of our photoprowl when my friend Stef visited last week, we went to East Point in Biddeford Pool. There were stands of Daisy on the brink of the headland above the rocky shore, probably Oxeye, an invasive plant along our coast, and there were many Pearly Crescent Butterflies working the flowers. Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (600 optical plus 2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
While visiting Saco Heath last week with my friend Stef, we were treated to this Tiger Swallowtail feeding on the Sheep Laurel next to the Atlantic Cedar grove at the end of the boardwalk. I am still not sure how to distinguish Canada from Eastern, though the Colby College butterfly list has Eastern only as a “Rare Stray” in Maine. The safe bet then is Canada Tiger Swallowtail. The real zone of overlap seems to be in Northern Massachusetts…which is not so far south of us as the crow flies. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm optical and 2x Clear Image Zoom for 1200mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
I have been seeing Tiger Swallowtails in the forest for several weeks now, and not been able to get one to light long enough for a photo. I have pretty much stopped chasing them. Yesterday, this one was sipping minerals on Gravely Brook Road near Emmon’s Preserve in rural Kennebunkport. I have had success in similar situations in the past, so I stopped my ebike and, with patience, caught it several times in several different poses. Since we are here in Maine, at the northern edge of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail range, and the southern edge of the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail range, it is impossible for me to tell which it is. It might be possible for someone who really knows…but not for me. Canadian is supposed be, on average, smaller than Eastern…but with a single specimen size is hard to judge. All I know is that it is big and bright and beautiful! Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (600 optical plus 2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
Pic for today: Blue Doctor Butterfly
We were on our way back from a hike in the secondary rainforest at La Selva Biological Station in the Sarapiqui River Valley of the Caribbean lowlands in Costa Rica when this amazing butterfly flitted across the path in front of us. We immediately started calling for John, the bug guy in our group, to come running and get a picture of it. It was like nothing either I, or John, had ever seen before…well, it was a bit like a swallowtail, but I had certainly never seen anything with this color pattern. It took a bit of searching when I got home, but I tracked it down as a metalmark, the Blue Doctor, Rhetus periander, one of three similar Rhetus species in Central and South America. Some authorities have it ranging from Mexico to Peru, some limit its range in the north to Costa Rica. It is generally listed as “common” in its range, but elusive. Amazing bug! Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
It was a very slow day for birds in the Rio Grande Valley. We went to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Lots of butterflies and dragonflies…more than I have seen there in years, but practically no bird activity. Very strange. After Santa Ana we went to Fronteria Audubon in Weslaco, Texas where the buzz of the day was a intermittently visible Golden-winged Warbler. We missed the warbler by minutes on several occasions, but again the butterflies did not disappoint. This Clouded Sulphur on Turk’s Cap was one of the last photos I took there before heading back to the hotel to cool off before evening activities. Sometimes nature provides light you would be hard pressed to duplicate in the studio. I should add a disclaimer here. I am not a butterfly expert and if someone were to tell me this is an Orange Sulphur and not a Clouded, I would not be totally surprised and in no way offended. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr.