Great Egret

Great Egret

Monday, 10 July 2017

My day on the Rondeau Area Butterfly Count

Yesterday was the most recent butterfly count for the Rondeau area. The day was sunny, with light winds to start off, but they steadily increased until by mid day, they were often above 30 km/hr with gusts to 40 or more. Certainly not the conditions one would hope for, and I'm sure the butterflies weren't happy with it either. But at least there was minimal cloud cover and no rain.

I started off in the Erieau vicinity, covering the McGeachy Pond Trail and then the Rail Trail. There were lots of flowering plants, including Canada Thistle, Common Milkweed, Sowthistle, Common Yarrow and such. Except for the yarrow, most flowering plants are non-native, but the butterflies made use of what was available. The butterflies were scattered but not overly abundant.

There were a few Monarchs, but almost all were constantly on the move. This faded individual took a rest for a few moments before moving on.

(Summer) Azures were here and there.

A nice surprise, and perhaps my most interesting sighting of the day, were two Bronze Coppers. I don't think I have ever had them on this count before. They were quite fresh looking and cooperated nicely.

The Rail Trail is mostly shaded at this time of year, but did have a few sunny spots where a few butterflies hung out. I got my only American Lady of the day here.
By late morning, I met up with Steve, Keith and Jim who had been butterflying elsewhere. We normally meet up to cover a nice weedy field close to Blenheim. The milkweed is abundant, as are a few other species that attract butterflies. Highlights here included:
Mourning Cloak

Delaware Skipper
 This next one had the two of us who saw it perplexed at the time. I managed to get one shot, and it was eventually decided it was a more boldly marked than usual Northern Broken Dash. (Thanks, Blake.)

Little Wood-Satyrs were more plentiful here than anywhere else I was over the day.
Common Wood Nymphs were, well, relatively common compared with most other species noted in various places on the day.
 On the other hand, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails were not common. I only saw two all day.

After enjoying a fairly productive time at this large milkweed patch, I went on my way leaving the other three to continue on with various spots. I made several stops at grassy/weedy fields in the Blenheim area, including some railroad track areas, the grassy field NE of Blenheim that has harboured several Dickcissel and Bobolink in the last few weeks, and ended up at a 40 ha pasture a little farther NE of Blenheim where I have had as many as 19 Dickcissels. But the windy conditions were getting a little out of hand, and with the exception of Monarchs fighting the wind somewhat successfully, there was very little else. I did find my one and only Black Swallowtail in a field of horticultural wildflowers. I tried several shots, but there was always too much movement. In a very brief lull this individual managed to hang on to a Wild Carrot (a.k.a Queen Anne's Lace) where I got one shot that was worth keeping.
Altogether I managed to see 21 species of butterfly, which isn't too bad considering the windy conditions and the fact that I had no woodland area to work with. However I tallied fewer than 150 individuals for the day, a bit less than normal.

There were other interesting sightings of winged things over the day, which just might make it into a future blog post.

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