Indiana Central Till Plain Species

Since there isn’t anything to report from the weekend I’ll pick up where I left off on my last post.  The post ended by stating even though there aren’t any unique Indiana Central Till Plain Species, it’s still home to a majority of Indiana’s species.  Which means I don’t have to go far to learn them. And remember to find a rare species you need to know your local species. In fact I can probably see 2/3 of the state’s butterfly and tree species by checking my backyard or local parks.

How did I arrive at the 2/3 figure? For birding I had previously posted my analysis. I concluded that with consistent birding I could locally see 180 – 200 species of the state’s 250 species. Approximately 75%. Of course I would expect a higher percent for birds since my birding skills are higher than my rookie status with other flora and fauna.

Also in the last post I referenced both the Butterflies of Indiana and 101 Trees of Indiana field guides. Both field guides come with maps showing which counties have had species recorded. Of course an argument can be made this isn’t the best way to demonstrate county sightings. The problem is maybe only one sighting might have been recorded in a county. But by studying the maps you can get a sense of whether or not you have a good chance of seeing a species.

Central Till Plain Species
As demonstrated in these maps the odds are good I might see the species on the left in my local Johnson and Marion Counties. But it would be a long shot for the species shown on the right.

After analyzing both books I estimate I might see around 2/3 of the states 101 Native Trees by checking the Johnson-Marion Counties area. And a similar number for the state’s 100 or so reoccurring butterflies.

Which once again shows you don’t have to go far to see and learn the majority of your state’s different species.

Western Colorado Butterflies June 2017

Work still consists of Saturdays and long days so only one bird outing last month. At least next weekend I’ll spend the day birding on the Johnson County Christmas Bird Count. The long days also mean I don’t have time to write before work which was my usual practice. So I continue to use my free time to catch up on photos from last summer’s Western Colorado trip. And I finally found time to identify (as best I could) the Western Colorado Butterflies June 2017 I encountered one afternoon on a high meadow.

The view SE from Divide Road on the Uncompahgre Plateau, Mesa County, CO..
Next to an Aspen Glade was the meadow where I spent the afternoon photographing butterflies.

I think I saw more butterflies than I photographed but I didn’t take notes. Following are the ones I did photograph and think I’ve identified correctly. A couple of these I have already posted about.

A Checkered White – note the dark bar on the forewing.
I’m going with Common Checkered-Skipper on this overexposed photo. The size and markings fit pretty well.
Painted Ladies were the most numerous species on the day.
This Variegated Fritillary took some time to ID. I kept trying to turn it into a Checkerspot. The black-rimmed orange cell spot on the forewing finalized the call. I need to learn to ID in the field and write the photo number in my note.
Another photo I should probably send to a butterfly identify website. I have tentatively identified this as a Sagebrush Checkerspot but that’s a tentative ID.
Later in the week I was birding along the Colorado River and noticed this Silver-spotted Skipper perched on a branch. (Is “perch” the correct term for butterflies? Still lots to learn.)
Western Colorado Butterflies June 2017
This is the same Silver-spotted Skipper as the previous photo.

This will probably be the last post on the 2017 Western Colorado trip. I don’t think I can get any more mileage out my photos!

Late Flying November Butterflies

Over the Thanksgiving break I took a couple of longish walks mainly to get out but also looking for late flying November butterflies. With temperatures around 55 degrees I knew it would be a long shot. But I figured the shining sun would improve my chances.

On my first walk I didn’t have long to wait before I came across a Painted Lady flying along the edge of the local park pond. As a side note the local beaver has wrecked havoc on this pond like it has to the one in my “backyard”.

This Painted Lady was spending time flying back and forth between a couple of spots but always staying in the warm sun.

I thought maybe I was in for a good day but the only other butterfly I saw was an Orange Sulphur that went up and over the tree line before I could get a photo.

On Sunday I walked basically the same route and was rewarded with two Clouded Sulphurs. Both were in a field that had Yellow Dandelions Taraxacum officinale I assume were still providing nectar.

The Clouded Sulphur flew up from the ground into the brush to sit in the sun. Luckily I caught its flight or would have missed it camouflaged in the yellows and greens. It really is in the center of the photo.
Not looking too bad for this time of year.
Late flying November butterflies
The other Clouded Sulphur looked a little ragged.

Unusual for this time of Year?

So are these unusual sightings for this time of year? According to Belth’s Butterflies of Indiana both Orange and Clouded Sulphurs can be seen through the end of December. So nothing unusual there. But Painted Ladies are usually done flying the first weekend in November. So a little late but with the huge movement of Painted Ladies this year it isn’t surprising.

Thoughts after First Year Butterflying

Since I haven’t had time to bird the last two months I thought I’d take time to recap my thoughts after my first year butterflying.

Probably a harbinger of things to come but I found butterflying more satisfying than birding on many levels.

First Year Butterflying
An Anise Swallowtail in Western Colorado last June.

Pros

I can see more Bushwhacking (exploring) down the road to find butterflies.

Maybe my memory has faded from my beginning birding days but there seems to be more things to learn than with birding. Which I like.

Besides learning the physical appearance and ID of the butterflies you need to learn the host plants and where they grow. And if you want to take it a step farther you can learn and look for the egg, larva, and pupa.

You look for butterflies in the heat of the day. Which I really like. (Note all my posts from Western Colorado to be in 90 degree heat!)

In the summer when it is the 80’s and 90’s I can look for butterflies after work. Birds are usually quiet at that time.

Butterflies usually sit for analysis and study – unlike most birds.

Cons

Can’t go looking for butterflies if raining or cloudy.

In Indiana on a typical day you’ll see far fewer species of butterflies than birds. This doesn’t bother me as long as you are seeing a few. For comparison in Indiana with work you could annually see 300 species of birds versus 80-90 species of butterfly.

Butterflies mainly fly April-September in Indiana. You can go birding anytime.

Similarities

To be “good” at either it’s hard work. Nothing is easy. But probably since its new Butterflying seems harder.

Like bird migrants there are certain butterfly species that only appear for a short period of time.

Several butterflies are tied to a particular habitat, more so than birds. But to see gulls and large numbers of waterfowl you go to certain locations. So somewhat similar. But that also means you won’t see as many butterfly species at the local park.

And soon I’ll post thoughts on a larger level of butterflying.

Butterflies September 17

The unusually hot Indiana weather in September – high’s in low 90’s with no clouds – had people complaining about not being able to do their afternoon activates. But for a guy who goes to the semi-arid world on vacation it didn’t bother me. In fact, it felt good. So I was out on the weekend afternoons and can now present Butterflies September 17. And a few photos from August also.

Since I’m still learning butterflies I didn’t stray far from home. Mainly the pond area out back and the local parks. But those areas provided plenty of learning opportunities.

Butterflies September 17
Common Checkered-Skippers made their appearance the weekend of the 23rd. I learned they are migratory and disperse north from Southern States in the fall.
A Common Buckeye kept throwing me since I hadn’t learned its fall pattern.
This was what I was expecting Common Buckeyes to look like this. It was the most numerous butterfly seen mid-month.
If you haven’t heard Painted Lady are having an outbreak this year. It was numerous from mid-month through the end.
By looking through the forewing I could ID this Question Mark from an Eastern Comma. The fourth spot is missing.
A Northern Pearly-eye was a surprise find at Eagle Creek Park.
A Hackberry Emperor also from Eagle Creek Park.
Fiery Skipper is a migrant and I started noticing them arriving from the south early in the month.
I’m sure Sachem had arrived from the south over the summer but I didn’t notice until September.
Peck’s Skipper

For the year I’ve logged around thirty species of Butterflies in Indiana. And I still have a few more photos to ID. Plus ID photos from Colorado. Hopefully things will settle down by the end of October and I’ll start getting caught up. But I’m not counting on it.

Natural History Update

Back in April I blogged about the process to slowly diverse away from birds 100% and on to other Natural History organisms like butterflies and trees. Time for a Natural History Update.

Natural History Update
My one and only Monarch.

With concentration on birds during migration it probably wasn’t the best time to start diverting. But I did get a good enough feel on the few times I went out to know how to proceed. So this summer I’ll devote more time to each.

First let me say birding helped the learning curve with both. Unlike when I started birding I now know to check status and distribution. I have made wrong guesses on butterflies but looking at status and distribution helped to greatly narrow the field. And to a lesser extent it’s true with trees but people have planted them in all sorts of places so it doesn’t hold as true.

I haven’t got the knack of how to see butterflies and should go with a seasoned veteran like when I started birding. Back then our local Audubon Field Trips brought to life what I was learning in the Field Guides. Eventually the Law of Diminishing Returns took over because what I picked up was less over time. But I still enjoyed the group.

For now I’m going to fumble around with butterflies to see what I don’t know and then go with some “old-hands” to show how it should be done.

Trees have been easier since leaves started growing. The problem is looking at the branches up high to check the info in the field guides. And in my opinion the field guides aren’t has helpful as the butterfly field guides. But I’ll get there.

Now for a few butterfly photos.

I think I have them correct but like with my bird photos, please correct me if wrong. Only way to learn is to try.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Clouded Sulphur
Cabbage White
Black Swallowtail on Red Clover
Pearl Crescent
Zabulon Skipper
Silver-spotted Skipper

And I already realize I’m noticing and trying to name butterflies and trees as I see them!