Brown County Camping Trip- With Butterflies
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.