Thursday, July 25, 2013

Seen on the Wing

Summer seems to fly by faster than a bird in pursuit of its next meal.  Today I want to pause from the busy-ness to share a few results of my summer outings. Appropriately, they too are on the wing.

Early this month I made a short trip to central Pennsylvania to see a rare butterfly. The Regal Fritillary is very particular about habitat, so it's only location in the eastern US is at Fort Indiantown Gap.  While it proved to be a day not especially favored by the butterfly, we did get to see a few of these colorful insects. I'll have to try again next year and hope for a better day.  Here is my only good image of the Regal.

While the target butterfly was scarce, it was good habitat for the Tiger Swallowtail.

I felt pretty fortunate to actually catch a Tiger Swallowtail in flight.  They are fast and erratic.

Yesterday was another outing that ended up differently than expected.  The objective was water lotus in bloom. But on arriving, we saw we could not photograph. It was too windy, and they were slow opening due to cloudy, cool conditions.  So, the new target was a rarity for New York.  There were reports of Red-headed Woodpeckers near Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. Based on postings I accessed on my iPhone, we found the pair of woodpeckers.  Their head is a deep, rich red that flashes even brighter when the sun catches them just so.

Now, I am especially drawn to observing bird behavior, rather than accumulating a list of new birds.  One of the pair -- both male and female are identical --was hawking for insects from a dead tree until it dropped down to some Woody Nightshade growing next to the tree.

I first expected it to be seeking insects, but it instead began picking the bright red berries seen in the lower left corner of the photo. Little did I know woodpeckers were also berry eaters.  There is always the opportunity to learn something new when your eyes are open and your mind is patient.

Enjoy the summer.

Paul Schmitt