Tag Archives: silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

All in a day’s walk – August 22, 2009

It all started with two birds way the hell across the lake…

Two black terns (Chlidonias niger) perched on half-submerged branches (2009_08_22_028472_c)

Even using a 400mm lens, the viewfinder showed me nothing but two dark specs perched atop half-submerged branches.  I might as well have been looking at a bit of spilled pepper on a blue tablecloth.

Still, I snapped a few images because I already knew I was looking at less conventional fare.  Only when I viewed the photos full-size the next day was I able to see the birds more clearly, and only then did these black terns (Chlidonias niger) finally have a name.

It’s a shame I didn’t have a 1200mm lens with me.  For that matter, it’s a shame I don’t have a 1200mm lens period.  Oh to be rich…

A silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus) feeding on flowers (2009_08_22_028487)

Even as I stood hoping beyond hope that I might get a decent picture of the terns, this silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus) flitted up beside me to enjoy a nectar breakfast.  A leaf-footed bug joined it momentarily but proved too fleeting for an image.

For that matter, the small butterfly sipped its liquid nourishment for only a handful of seconds before darting off into the bright morning sky.  I suppose the two insects quickly escaped in response to me hopping about and fussing vehemently after discovering I was standing in a pile of coyote droppings.

Needless to say, I dragged my feet for some distance trying to dislodge the smelly hitchhiker attached to the bottom of my shoe.

While checking the progress of my cleaning effort, I spied something of interest lurking about near shore yet distant from the trail that carried so many joggers and cyclists.  I tried to ignore the pungent cloud that encompassed me so I could sneak up on this latest discovery.

A green heron (Butorides virescens) standing still in the southern watergrass (Hydrochloa caroliniensis) (2009_08_22_028512)

Little more than a stone’s throw separated me from this green heron (Butorides virescens).  The verdant hues of its plumage melded with the southern watergrass (Hydrochloa caroliniensis) surrounding it.

And I wondered if it could smell me, smell the horrid guest still clinging to the bottom of my shoe.  I certainly could…

Something about the mysterious nature of green herons intrigues me, beguiles me, captivates me.  Secretive they are, stealthy yet evident, boisterous whilst disinterested in attention.  Only when a second green heron flew in to cause trouble did this one flee the scene.

I was so close

With horrid stench in tow, I moved on.

A red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) sunning on a log (2009_08_22_028529)

Red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) remain ubiquitous here.  Painted and softshell and snapper turtles join them, along with a host of other tortoises, but this one proudly grabbing some rays on a log epitomized the pedestrian nature of these reptiles: They’re everywhere!

I knelt in the wet grass to watch it.  That unfortunately put me in a position to smell the full weight of the reek stalking me from beneath my sneaker.

How can one man walk such a distance without losing the coyote sign he stepped in long ago?  Such questions vex me.

When a lumbering giant dragged his fatigued dog too close, the slider lived up to its namesake and vanished with nary a gesture.  I scarcely heard the timid splash before realizing my eyes rested on an empty log.  Amazing how they do that.

Sick of my own smell, I moved on—scraping my foot all the way.

A Sonoran bumble bee (Bombus sonorus [sometimes Bombus pensylvanicus sonorus]) collecting pollen from a buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) flower (2009_08_22_028535)

It didn’t take long before I stood near one of the many jumbles of buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) growing along the lake’s edge.  The bulbous flowers smell of treats for children, and wafting on the air to taste of this splendor are many insects.

Sonoran bumble bees (Bombus sonorus [sometimes Bombus pensylvanicus sonorus]), like all their kith and kin, dart about with drunken abandon, flitting from bloom to bloom sans concern for the world of men.  All they care for is filling their pollen sacs so they can return to the nest as providers, unsung heroes in the world of insects.

Even as I watched them, I came to realize I didn’t stink.  Well, at least not as much.  In fact, one could have said at the time that my pungent aroma was distant, aloof perhaps.

Syrphid fly (Palpada vinetorum) on a buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) flower (2009_08_22_028541)

Not that this syrphid fly (Palpada vinetorum) cared either way.  Right next to the ravenous bumbling leviathans, this fly-looking-like-not-a-fly hunkered down and played quiet.  Known to me by sight yet not by name…

At some point during my walk I realized my attention was nothing short of lacking.  Several hours walking and several hours of seeing little.

So I turned and headed toward home.

Along bamboo-encompassed walkways I strolled.  People came and went, faces melded with sun and shadow, voices danced silently on the wind.

Then I noticed it behind a woman pushing a stroller.  She never even knew it was there.

A mourning dove (a.k.a. rain dove; Zenaida macroura) fledgling resting on the ground (2009_08_22_028589)

Its breathing writ in the language of sleep, this fledgling mourning dove (a.k.a. rain dove; Zenaida macroura) opened its eyes only when I stopped nearby, its gaze focused on me and me alone.

How long had it rested unseen so near the walkway?  One needed but to turn toward the bamboo to be a single breath from it.  Atop earth that matched its plumage and before shadow that hid its life, this babe had gone the entire morning without being seen by the legion of people wandering by.

I could have reached out and touched it.  I could count the reflections in its eyes.  I could see the intricacies of its feathers as molting gave way from a child’s garment to that of an adult.

Not wishing to disrupt it more than I already had, I took a picture or two before moving on.  My attention would draw that of others, others who would not share my appreciation and respect, others who would feel indifference at endangerment.

Besides, I felt joy at the lack of smell.  Suddenly I felt less putrid.  Amazing what a bunch of wet grass can do.

For LD and nathalie with an h

nathalie with an h suffers from an allergy to wasp stings that rivals my own anaphylactic reaction.  You can therefore understand why she has been rather disapproving of my affinity for wasps and the resulting mania with which I’ve posted their photos recently[1].  She certainly has every right to be weary of them (and the spider I need to go rescue from her home before she does something untoward), so I gleefully enjoyed her ribbing me at Starbucks each morning about her not wanting to see more wasp photos.

LD dislikes insects in general.  Her own words do better justice to this phobia than any I could write.  In an e-mail to me about a horde of critters around their front porch[2], she said this: “I’m kind of a nut about bugs[3] and ones that fly REALLY freak me out.”  While some might think her a bit hysterical, she shares this manic fear with a majority of people.  Her feelings on the subject actually are quite normal in the scheme of human responses to insects.

Upon consideration of these two people and their collective view of insects, I felt behooved to share more of my fanaticism in this regard, only this time I want to post creatures I’m sure both of them would enjoy.  So, ladies, this is for you!

A painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) (20080412_03322)

Painted lady (Vanessa cardui)

A fall webworm moth (Hyphantria cunea) (20080314_02566)

Fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea)

A red admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) (20080420_04206)

Red admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

A common buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia) (20080420_04300)

Common buckeye (Junonia coenia)

A white checkered-skipper butterfly (Pyrgus albescens) (20080601_05981)

White checkered-skipper (Pyrgus albescens)

An eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) (20080601_06173)

Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

A silver-spotted skipper butterfly (Epargyreus clarus) (20080701_08707)

Silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

I hope both of you found a wee bit of respite in knowing this marvelous group of creatures offers you some of the most profound beauty and gentility that can be found on our planet.

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[1] Offering posts involving wasps happens to be something I’ve not yet completed this year, especially of my local cicada killers.  Be warned.

[2] I identified the insect invasion xocobra and LD have near their front door as being the result of eastern boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittata).  My dear friends have another month or two before they need to take action on that problem.

[3] By “bugs,” LD actually means insects and not just true bugs[4], a subset of the class Insecta.

[4] True bugs constitute a type of insect in the order Hemiptera.  All true bugs have mouthparts capable of piercing tissues and sucking out fluids.  In addition, usually their forewings have hardened bases, their antennae are five-segmented, and their leg tarsi are three-segmented or shorter.