Sunday, August 23, 2009

Butterflies Everywhere!

I had a great day today, despite the fact that I think I am coming down with something. I stayed so busy today that I didn't have time to think about not feeling well. It was a beautiful morning and I had time to do everything that I wanted to before a crowd showed up, almost on cue.
IMG_2954When I untied the rope to put the flags up, a spider dropped in to join me. It situated itself on the American flag while I took a picture. It stayed there too. As far as I know, it went back up the flag pole without having to climb. My best guess is that it is a Frilled Orbweaver. If so, it mainly preys on the male moths attracted to its pheromone. The top of a flagpole is a good place to attract a moth, I think. I opened the gate and fought the urge to take yet another photo of the Morning Glories. The light from the sun was filtering through the trees in a really stunning way and I wanted to get to the office and park so that I could walk around and get a photo. I caught one, just before the best light was gone.
IMG_2956Instead of starting on paperwork, I decided to set to work straight away on leaf blowing. I knew that the walkway looked bad yesterday because of the rain, and I wanted to get it cleaned up and put the noisemaker away before people started coming in. I was able to get the walkway and the parking lot donw and was just putting down the leaf blower when the first visitor arrived. It was great timing. I spoke to him and found out that he was waiting on more people. I headed back to the office, put away the leaf blower and opened the cabin. I started on the paperwork and checked the window often. All of a sudden, the parking lot was full!
IMG_2957As I headed over to the parking lot, I very nearly stepped on a snake. It was a Coral Snake. They do have a very dangerous venom, but they rarely bite. I see Coral Snakes somewhat regularly and they are always moving away from me when I see them. The Coral Snake has a couple of snakes that mimic its color pattern and there is a rhyme to help people remember which is which. Most people that I meet don't remember the rhyme or get it mixed up, so the rule of thumb that I use is to remember a traffic light. If red and yellow are touching, it is a coral snake, if they are separated by black it is the Scarlet King Snake.
IMG_2961After I got some photos of the snake and it slithered into the woods, I made it to the parking lot. Four groups of divers had arrived at about the same time and the parking lot was full. I got everyone checked in pretty quickly and my day didn't really slow down until I left. I stayed busy talking with the different groups, checking in even more divers, answering questions, and selling T-shirts and passes. The spring was bubbly with SCUBA divers all morning. I took a very quick walk on the far side of the spring and took the photo of the divers in the water, and was able to sneak up on some yellow butterflies who were drinking up nutrients from the soil. The two larger ones are Cloudless Sulfurs and I really didn't get a good enough picture to be sure about the little one. It is either a Sleepy Orange or a Little Yellow.IMG_2966
At one point in the afternoon, I was walking though the parking lot and had to stop. There was someone laying on their belly, in the middle of the park drive, taking a picture of a butterfly. I laughed and told him that I was glad that I wasn't the only one that did that sort of thing. It really was a butterfly extravaganza for a little while in the parking lot. There was something on the ground that they were very interested in. Myself and several other people (really, it wasn't just me!) were chasing butterflies with our cameras. The photos below are the best of the bunch that I took. The first one is a Zebra Swallowtail, though its swallow-like tails are missing. These butterflies had seen some abuse. The next is a Spicebush Swallowtail. I have never photographed either of these butterflies before, so I was glad to add them to my collection. I really couldn't tell you how many times I have chased Zebra Swallowtails to try and photograph them, it may be in the double digits. The big fat caterpillar is so far, unidentified. One of the divers saw it fall a great distance out of a tree. He was disappointed that I didn't know what it was. I try, but I just can't know everything.


idyllicchick said...

I was scared to death the first time I saw a coral snake in my yard. I kept repeating the rhyme over and over in my head as I snapped pics of him with my camera phone. The 'Kill a fella' part really got to me! But then I did some research on them and realized that they are mostly harmless. I am now able to really enjoy their beauty when I see them!

Ranger Amy said...

They are beautiful, aren't they? :-)