Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sorry about that

I just realized that I haven’t posted any butterfly photos for a long time. Watching several of them yesterday evening reminded me I was overdue. Actually, 2009 has been a pretty good year for the larger butterflies, at least according to my totally unscientific memory of their numbers. Tiger swallowtails, zebra swallowtails, the first of the migrating monarchs, all seem to be in decent supply.

I’ve seen more zebra swallowtails this year than I ever remember seeing, though I haven’t been able to snap a photo of one. You’ll have to settle for this photo of a tiger swallowtail. Usually, butterflies are, well, flighty and skittish. Last evening, the ones I saw weren’t. Perhaps they were simply drunk on thistle nectar. Perhaps it was the approach of evening and the need to fill up that kept them still for so long. In any event, they were cooperative.

On Roundtop, several places are great butterfly magnets. One is down at Roundtop’s oldest snow-making pond, often dubbed "the west pond." There, in the sun along the edge of the pond are cattails, thistles and nice puddles of drying mud that always attracts butterflies. It’s down there that I’ve occasionally spied but never photographed Roundtop’s rarest butterfly, the giant swallowtail.

The second good butterfly spot takes less time and arranging of my day to get to, and that’s where I took this photo. Believe me, this little spot is nothing special. It’s just a patch of mostly thistle at the edge of the north parking lot. The patch gets morning sun, and goldfinch find it nearly as wonderful a place as do the butterflies. I don’t know why the spot is so special. To me, it looks like any other patch of thistle that is commonly seen around the mountain. Perhaps, the number of thistle are a tad more here. Perhaps, the plants look a tad more sturdy. Perhaps. It’s a very close call, in any event, to my eye, but apparently not to the goldfinch and butterflies.

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