Saturday, April 23, 2011

Deschutes River canyon

Today I drove the 2.5 hours to the Deschutes River recreation area north of Maupin, for my first butterfly trip of the year.  Not far up the road I came across a group of people with binoculars and tripods looking at birds up the side of the canyon, but some of them were crouched around some plants taking pictures, and I caught sight of a couple butterfly nets, so I stopped and asked them what they were doing. They turned out to be an Audubon group from Portland out on a field trip as part of a butterfly class!  I hadn't met any of them before, except for one couple who attends a yearly lepidoptera workshop I go to.  I wound up tagging along with their group and we saw lots of butterflies, not a wide range of species, but the few that were flying were very fresh and I was able to take a lot of great pictures.

Today's sightings:
Anise swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) 6+
Indra swallowtail (Papilio indra) 10+
Cabbage white (Pieris rapae) several
Sara's orangetip (Anthocaris sara) 6+
Halfmoon hairstreak (Satyrium semiluna) 1
Sheridan's green hairstreak (Callophrys sheridanii) 6
Gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus) 4
Echo blue (spring azure) (Celastrina echo) 2
Silvery blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus) 3
Mylitta? crescent (unsure of species) 2
Mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) 6+
Ochre ringlet (Coenonympha tullia) lots on the photos for larger versions...
Ochre ringlets - mating pair
Silvery blue - male
Sara's orangetip - male
Gray hairstreak
Sheridan's green hairstreak
Tiger beetle
Indra swallowtail

Indra swallowtail
Anise swallowtail and honey bees
Anise swallowtails
Mourning cloak
scarab beetle - not sure what species or why he was acting like this!

Friday, April 22, 2011

First spring azure!

On my way home from work today I caught sight of something fluttering by the side of the road, and when I looked over, I saw a shimmer of blue, definitely a spring azure (Celastrina echo) and my first-of-the-year butterfly! I couldn't be happier, and with the weather forecast supposed to be sunny and in the 60s tomorrow, it's time to take a drive down to the Deschutes River near Maupin and spend the day with butterflies and tiger beetles.
These photos are from my trip last year on May 15th...
Deschutes River near Sherar's Bridge
Acmon/lupine blue
Tiger beetle

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First-of-the-year butterflies

The weather here in the northwest is turning sunny, but is still rather cold. I've heard a margined white (Pieris marginalis) was seen flying near Olympia a few days ago, and others have seen cabbage whites and spring azures (Celastrina echo).  These butterflies all overwinter as larvae or pupae, so are among the first butterflies to emerge in the spring.  Other butterflies such as the California tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica), mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), Milbert's tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti) and anglewings (Polygonia satyrus, gracilis, faunus) all overwinter as adults, and emerge whenever the weather warms up enough to permit them to fly.  Keep your eyes open when the temperature rises above 55-60 degrees, a flower petal drifting in the breeze just might turn out to be a butterfly!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Birds for a change

This evening I visited Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge with a friend in hopes of seeing yellow-headed blackbirds. We heard them but couldn't spot any.  We were thrilled however, to see the first babies of the year, five Canada goose goslings that looked no more than a day old, just getting used to the water.  A bald eagle also flew over the car and I snapped a few good shots of it.
List of our bird sightings:
Pied-billed grebe
Great egret
Great blue heron
Canada goose (huge flocks of the "cackling" subspecies, scattered pairs of the "common" ssp.)
Mallard duck
American wigeon
Northern shoveler
Cinnamon teal
Green-winged teal
Ring-necked duck
Hooded merganser
American coot
Bald eagle
Northern harrier
American kestrel
Greater yellowlegs
Wilson's snipe
Tree swallow
[?] wren (very vocal little guy!)
Red-winged blackbird
Yellow-headed blackbird (heard, not seen)
27 species total, that I know of anyway.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ceanothus moth

Ceanothus moths (Hyalaphora euryalis) feed on ceanothus bushes throughout California, central Oregon and Washington, and parts of western Canada.  In the edges of their range, they often hybridize with cecropia and columbia moths, all are in the genus Hyalaphora.  They have a burgundy red base color compared to the gray wings of the cecropia and brownish-red of the columbia.  These are one of my favorite moths, mostly because they are the largest of the few giant silkmoth (Saturniidae) species that can be found in Washington, and of course because they are quite pretty!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Catching up

Last weekend I had two moths and one butterfly emerge, but my week was so hectic that I didn't have a chance to post any of the photos.  My first ceanothus moth (Hyalaphora euryalis) emerged on April 1st, the second spicebush swallowtail emerged the next day, and my last luna moth emerged the day after that.  I have a couple hundred photos to sort through this weekend, and I hope to post an assortment of them tonight or tomorrow.  Sorry for the wait!