Saturday, 25 August 2012

Photos from Pelee (part 1)

As I mentioned in the last post, I spent August 22 to 24 at Point Pelee National Park and area. On August 22nd I spent most of the day looking for butterflies with Chris Law and Alan Wormington. It was hot and calm and quite a few butterflies were present.

This was one of 3 Tawny Emperors I saw for the trip. This species only has one brood at Point Pelee so this worn individual was a fairly late record.

Tawny Emperor - Point Pelee

The main reason I was at Pelee wasn't for some of the regular species that are permanent residents there. I was mainly looking for southern immigrants. Just like birds, certain butterflies exhibit vagrancy, and this was turning out to be a phenomenal year! Earlier this spring, Steve Pike and I found the first Sleepy Orange of several that showed up at Pelee. Around the same time, I saw several Dainty Sulfurs and a Cloudless Sulfur. All three of these species were very rare in Canada, with only a few previous records of Sleepy Orange and Dainty Sulfur.

In the past few weeks, other southern species were showing up - 3 of them which would be lifers for me. The first one, White-M Hairstreak, took a bit of effort but eventually we found one on some goldenrod in the Sparrow Field.

White-M Hairstreak - Point Pelee

Compared to the similar (but smaller) Gray Hairstreak, the White-M Hairstreak has a brilliant blue upperside (only viewable in flight), the white "m" mark near the base of the hindwing, and a small white mark part way up the hindwing, which you can see in these photos.

White-M Hairstreak - Point Pelee

Another common species at Point Pelee is the American Snout, aptly named for its long snout!

American Snout - Point Pelee

We were seeing many Gray Hairstreaks from the start so we made an effort to count them all see if we could set a new record count for Point Pelee.

Gray Hairstreak - Point Pelee

From the visitor's centre south, we managed to find 57 Gray Hairstreaks, smashing the old record high of 48. This individual below was extremely fresh and a great photo subject - too bad the light was really harsh!

Gray Hairstreak - Point Pelee

Target #2 took a bit of effort. A few weeks ago, Sachems (a small skipper) started to show up across Ontario. According to Alan's book (published in 2001), Sachem had only been reported at Point Pelee in 1988 and 1991. Unfortunately many of the skippers had cleared out, but Chris found a female along the west beach for me.

Sachem - Point Pelee

I ended up seeing about 5 for the trip - a far cry from the dozens that people had been seeing previously, but I was happy!

Another southern species of skipper that immigrates north is the Fiery Skipper, though it shows up most years in southern Ontario. This was the most abundant skipper I saw on my trip, with well over 50 seen.

Fiery Skippers - Point Pelee

The following day I slept in a bit before heading into the park. I decided to do a bit of birding for a few hours and was rewarded with an Acadian Flycatcher. I managed to see every species of Ontario flycatcher except Olive-sided just at the DeLaurier trail! I also managed to grab photos of several common species of birds that I had neglected to photograph so far. As well as doing my big year, I am attempting to photograph 300 species in Ontario. With Downy Woodpecker, Willow Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-pewee, Common Yellowthroat, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher I climbed up to 259.

Great Blue Heron - Sturgeon Creek

Unfortunately the numbers of butterflies were a little lower on my second day at Pelee but there were still some good ones around. I was looking for my third target species, the Funereal Duskywing, which has only been seen in Ontario a handful of times. Several had been seen recently at Pelee! No dice with the Funereal but this worn Horace's Duskywing, also very rare in Ontario, was a nice consolation prize.

Horace's Duskywing - Point Pelee

To be continued...

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