My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tormented by Butterflies

November 4, 2016

Paddling buddy, Dave invited us to go paddle at Champion Lake, another of my favorite swampy places in Trinity River NWR.  He even offered to paddle both me and Ellen in Natalie's tandem canoe, while Natalie paddled his kayak.  I declined because I'd rather hike then sit and I have spent many happy hours on land there.

I immediately started checking out all the distant birds by taking pictures and then blowing them up in the camera.  A pair of white dots in a distant tree turned into wood storks, a most coveted species in the late summer and fall, when Mexican juveniles sneak across the border and wander along the Texas coast.

Natalie and Ellen enjoying the put-in views

A long view of a pair of wood storks

After the paddlers left, I started walking the mowed path on the levy that forms the lake.  It goes all the way to the Trinity River but I got ambushed by thousands of butterflies and only managed about a half mile of it.  Every step caused twenty to forty butterflies to jump out of the grasses and forbs. The sun was bright and the air was warm. so the butterflies quickly flew out of camera range, while others caught my eye.  Most of the butterflies were less than an inch across their wings so I couldn't even see them on my camera screen. I spent a lot of time trying to capture them, getting ever more frustrated until the sun got too bright for pictures. Then I just enjoyed their bright movement while listening to the hum of honeybees and syrphid flies.

Queens were the most abundant and cooperative 

But only occasionally showed me their monarch-like undersides 

Migrating monarchs were resting in grass.....

Or among willow leaves.....

Or feeding on the abundant fleabane

The waterway narrowed along the trail and I was able to ambush
this pair of white ibis feeding on the far side

Metalmark species?

Think a different species of metalmark

I also checked out a side trail that went through wet woods full of little, mostly dry sloughs.  Finally I turned back so I wouldn't make the paddlers have to wait on me,  I had time to compile my bird list and then add a pair of roseate spoonbills before I caught sight of the returning paddlers.

One of the very few signs of fall

This little slough had enough water to make pretty reflections

There were lots of palmettos,  one of my favorite plants

This comma sat quickly on a tree trunk

There were cloudless, and I think, dogface sulfurs but most were too fast to capture -
this cloudless was in the butterfly garden

The last bloom of marsh mallow - it was across the lake from me

Great blue herons are hard to see against the trees

Returning paddlers

A pair of roseate spoonbills were the last birds on my checklist

Their flight starts with free fall

By the time we were ready to leave - around 2:00 PM, we were starving and had to make a stop for hamburgers. Another beautiful day.

I'm linking up to Wild Bird Wednesday.  Click on the picture to see bird blogs from around the world.