Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Brown County Camping Trip- With Butterflies

Our beautiful home away from home

Two weekends ago, Leon and I took a long weekend and headed south to Brown County, Indiana for some camping. It was a trip down memory lane. We used to go camping there on a regular basis with the gay and lesbian outing club- but we haven't been back since the late 1980s. We drove down on Saturday morning, arriving just in time for the requisite lunch at Nashville House, a country-style restaurant that features amazing yeast raised, deep fried biscuits with apple butter. Health food it isn't.

Leon with Flowering Dogwood

Rattlesnake Master (Goodyeara pubescens)
An orchid whose foliage is much prettier than its flowers

The weather was uneven during the trip. Although the drive down was cloudy, we began out hike in beautiful sunshine with temperatures in the mid 60s. The trees were not yet leafed out, but the dogwoods and redbuds were in full bloom, as were many wildflowers. It was splendid. We began seeing butterflies as soon as we parked the car.

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

Juvenal's Duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis)

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

We camped near a pretty stream. Dinner was pasta with pesto and Raspberry Newtons. Sometime during the night, I was awakened by the flicker of what I at first thought was somebody approaching the tent with a flashlight. The rumble of thunder followed moments later. It rained with thunder for the rest of the night and for much of Sunday morning. We ended up in the tent until about 11 waiting out the rain.

Pretty Stream

A gloomy, rainy Sunday morning

During our late breakfast the sun emerged. Our camping site was was quite beautiful. In addition to the stream, we were treated to a profusion of spring wildflowers, including all 3 colors of violets.

Purple Violets

White Violets

Yellow Violets

Sunday afternoon, we left our backpacks in camp and took a day hike. It ended up to be a bonanza of both butterflies and wildflowers. We saw several clumps of dramatic scarlet fire pinks.

Fire Pinks! (Silene virinica)

Before departing Chicago, I made a shopping list of early spring butterflies that I had hoped to photograph on this trip. Chief among them were Henry's Elfins and Falcate Orangetips. Although I only got a brief glimpse of the elfin, the orangetips put on quite a show.

Falcate Orangetip (Anthocharis midea)
Only the males have bright orange wing tips.

Orangetips are hard to photograph, as they land infrequently- and then only fleetingly. I wasn't pleased with even the best image of a male that I was able to get. I got luckier with a female. They are far less frequently seen then the males- this was the first time I had ever encountered a female of this species. She was being intensely courted by a male- who she was rejecting by raising her abdomen. So intent were they on the courtship display that I was able to approach closely for a crisp photo.

Female Falcate Orangetip
Translation of her raised abdomen:
Buzz off, creep!

Sunday night dinner was an old camping favorite- a pasta and cheese dish nicknamed aquarium gravel due to its appearance. Monday we enjoyed a leisurely drive back home. It was a wonderful weekend that included opportunities to see a total of 17 butterfly species.

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At 18:31, Blogger Ted C. MacRae said...

Always glad to see a Gossamer Tapestry post come up. Welcome to spring!

At 19:29, Blogger Roy said...

Some butterflies to shoot at last Doug, roll on the summer.
I find with our species of Orange Tip, the best way to shoot them is to wait by a bunch of Cuckoo Flowers (Lady's Smock) which they love to pitch on and shoot them as they land. Chasing after them is a pointless exercise.{:)

At 23:09, Blogger Ur-spo said...

By now your trip is over and you have been camping in past tents.

At 15:18, Anonymous Mark H said...

WHAT a fabulous spring day to experience.

At 12:47, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So beautiful!


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