Nelson's Sparrow

Nelson's Sparrow

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Butterfly Bonanza

One doesn't normally consider September, and late September at that, to be a prime time for finding butterflies. But then the extended mid-summer weather isn't exactly normal, either.

It had been a little more than two weeks since I had last been to the McGeachy Pond trail and checked on the butterfly bush by the west end parking lot, so I decided it was time again. I went out this past Tuesday morning....another hot sunny day.

The butterfly bush still had numerous flower clusters, with lots of butterflies vying for a spot from which to sip the nectar. It was hard to decide which butterfly to photograph first! The west end of the trail also had numerous butterflies, and overall I ended up with well over 150 butterflies of a dozen species! This area had been mine to cover during the butterfly count back in July, a time when butterfly diversity is usually at its peak, but on that occasion I got only half a dozen species and only a few dozen individuals at the most.

The following photos were taken on this visit. I didn't attempt photos of Cabbage White or Red Admiral.

It has been an excellent late season for Painted Lady. On this occasion I saw at least 30, and most looking quite fresh.

 Monarchs were not surprising at all, as they are well into their southwestern migration. There were at least 22 of them.
 Silver-spotted Skippers were few....no more than 5.
 I didn't bother counting Orange Sulphurs, although there were at least a dozen.
 One which I was hoping for was Fiery Skipper. If it shows up in southwestern Ontario, it is usually late in the season, so not a total surprise but nice to finally see one for the year. There were actually two individuals.
 Gray Hairstreak is also more likely to be seen later in the season, and this single individual was my first of the year, and one of the few I've photographed in recent years.


Along the trail was a profusion of goldenrod and New England Aster, among others, but it was clear that New England Aster was the favoured plant.

There were a few Clouded Sulphurs, another quite expected species.

Common Buckeye is another late season species. The one individual I observed wasn't my first of the year, but I've seen no more than half a dozen so far.
 Certainly one of the highlights was to see a super abundance of Bronze Coppers. I had a couple on the early July Butterfly Count, a little early for them, but only one or two since. It is a species that is often associated with wetlands, so the adjacent McGeachy Pond wetland was undoubtedly a factor. I was quite surprised to count at least 55 individuals along the trail, certainly more than I usually see in an entire season!
 It wasn't uncommon to see three or more in close proximity to each other......
 .....or even 7! There are 6 visible (one only partially) in this tight shot.
 Another first of year for me was this Common Checkered-skipper. It had been reported in other areas, but for some reason has not been common in Chatham-Kent. It is very tiny...about the same as the width of the aster flower head.
While the temperatures are dropping a bit for a few days, getting to be about normal, a slight warming trend early next week will likely continue the butterfly action, so at least one more visit will be attempted then to see what differences there might be. Stay tuned!





4 comments:

  1. Interesting about the Bronze Coppers. I had American Coppers at Algonquin on Sunday in sweltering heat. Strange weather!

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    1. Yes, I was quite surprised by the abundance of the Bronzes. I haven't seen an American Copper yet this year.....maybe next visit.

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  2. Replies
    1. Indeed....I guess there are some benefits to the lingering summer like weather.

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