The eastern tailed blue butterfly -- a species I observe for Nature's Notebook -- has been out for awhile. Earlier this month, I finally caught up with one that sat still long enough for me to get the photo above as it visited my insect-friendly watering hole.
On the other hand, the crescent butterfly that had come to my window several days earlier sat within a few inches of me for 2-3 hours. He allowed me to get a number of photos, to get right up in his face (literally) for a closer look, trying to figure out for sure if he was a pearl or northern crescent, or a silvery checkerspot. I'm thinking now that he was a northern crescent. A silvery checkerspot came to the window this past week and, though I didn't get photographic evidence, I did get a good look at the black wing markings that help differentiate the crescents from the checkerspots. The more open orange markings on the butterfly below suggest those of the northern as opposed to the pearl crescent:
As I often do when I have such extended encounters with other Earth dwellers, I spoke to this butterfly as I sat next to him, butterfly guide in hand. I've had conversations like this with a number of species. What might they have to tell us, and how might we get their messages?
When I took a short break to see what was up with Facebook friends, I noted that psychoanalytic colleague, Renee Lertzman, had just posted a link about journalist James Nestor’s work with the CETI Project, which focuses on studying and attempting to comprehend sperm whale clicks. As I sat trying to comprehend this butterfly -- after reading of CETI Project questions about what cetaceans are saying -- I decided that I should try to organize some posts at my In Hawk Space blog about my own experiences. Human interactions with the non-human environment is a subject in which my psychoanalytic study and practice intersects with previous work as a naturalist and current interest in phenology. My encounters with plants, birds, insects and mammals as a phenology observer serve to generate both data and narratives about those spaces where humans and nature meet...inaugural post coming soon to hawk space.
For several years, the Echinacea patch and planter garden have attracted at least one pair of Diana fritillaries. I don't record observations for this species, but their presence always prompts me to carefully differentiate the blue flash of a female Diana (above) from that of the the pipevine swallowtail, and the striking orange of the male Diana (below) from the great spangled fritillary.
Earlier in the month I also saw a viceroy. I had spotted one in the holler a few years ago, but hadn't seen another until this one came by:
The ebony jewelwing is another species I don't see much of for long stretches. Then comes a year like this one in which I see them often and can get close enough for photos. This female jewelwing seems to find poison ivy much more user-friendly than I do:
I've noticed a greater variety of dragonflies in the holler this year, including a large blueish one that I could not catch a long-enough look at to identify. One day while I was watching wrens bring food to their most recent nest, one of them landed on a planter geranium, and I was able to get a good enough image to identify it as a male slaty skimmer:
The female's markings are more like that of a female whitetail, though the slatys are noticeably larger. Both genders of both species have hunted near my planter garden this year.
Finally, a brief wren update: I have seen two juvenile wrens, often times with an adult male, around my planter garden several times since the most recent nestlings fledged, so I'm thinking two made it instead of just one.