Late Summer Rambling

Ramble (Random House Webster’s College Dictionary): “to wander around in a leisurely, aimless manner; to take a course with many turns or windings, as a stream or path”. Recently, in the absence of major field trips and photo projects, I’ve taken to rambling to break up the routine. This usually involves short, exploratory walks not far from home; streams, meadows, woodlots, roadsides, the backyard – just about any natural area will suffice. For the most part, the flora and fauna in this post are very common and images of them are everywhere. On the other hand, every image is unique, and some are even worthy of redundancy!

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American Toad

All of the images in my gallery are recent, with the exception of two: the butterflies (same time of year, 2012). They are few and far between this year.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

“Butterflies….the essence of cool in the insect world”

My title is from the opening line of an article in the Washington Post by Darryl Fears, published in the Syracuse Post Standard, a local newspaper, on 9July13. Fears connects the health of butterfly populations with that of the environmental with alarming statistics and quotes from experts around the country. Habitat loss, pesticides and other mortality factors are decimating butterfly populations. Nineteen species and subspecies are now listed as endangered or threatened in the U.S. alone; at least one species and two subspecies are presumed to be gone. I think that means forever.

I spend a lot of time observing and photographing butterflies and feel compelled to engage in this environmental wake-up call by blogging about my butterfly experiences in the Northeast, largely New York state. July is butterfly month. I’ve see six or eight species in as many days (a lot for this area), nectaring, perching, chasing and breeding in meadows and brush lots.

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Baltimore Checkerspot, perching on an unoccupied songbird nest box.

My first dedicated butterfly post features the Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton), one of the more abundant and accessible species in early July.

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Baltimore Checkerspot caterpillars on Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), an alien wildflower

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Baltimore Checkerspot; emergence coincides with the bloom of Knapweed (Centaurea; the pinkish glow in the background)

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Baltimore Checkerspot

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A pair of Baltimore Checkerspots; they’ve just perched together following an aerial chase/courtship and are about to mate

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Baltimore Checkerspots, mating

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Turtlehead (Snapdragon family; Chelone glabra); wetland wildflower; preferred species for adult egg-laying and caterpillar feeding.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.