It is that time again. Time to go looking for butterflies. Actually, birding in July is not the doldrums many people say it is. Birds are easy to see because populations are probably at their maxima because there are so many recently-fledged juveniles, and even a few migrants already headed back south.
Nonetheless, this is a wonderful time to look for butterflies. For extra excitement, you might even try to find some satyrs (http://www.gjsentinel.com/blogs/birds_and_more/entry/looking-for-satyrs)!
Learning to be good at butteflying is the same as for birding. Simply pay attention. Just as we often pay no attention to a passing bird or their songs emanating from a nearby forest, it is easy to ignore a fluttering insect passing by. But take a close look. It may be worth it. You may see something as beautiful as this Milbert’s Tortoiseshell.
Looking for and identifying butterflies is great fun. What do you need? Well, just like birding, you need a pair of binoculars and a field guide. A pair of close-focusing birding binoculars, something like 8 x 42 will work well. Many birders use 10x rather than 7 or 8. Because butterflies are small and close, the lower power is a bit easier to use.
I would also add, “Take your camera.” Butterflies often permit a close approach. That way, when you arrive at home, you can compare your photos to those in a field guide. Because I’m such an amateur and often, in the field, cannot tell a fritillary from a checkerspot; the photos give me time to look for field marks and figure out what I’ve seen.
For a field guide, I like Butterflies Through Binoculars: The West by Jeffery Glassberg. I’ve also learned that the internet has many resources for identifying butterflies. Probably thousands of photos are available for you to examine. You can type in something as simple as “blue butterflies” and find many photos. Beware, however, the differences among species are often subtle and may require many minutes (if not hours) for proper identification of some species. (Indeed, I hope my IDs’ are correct. I would appreciate corrections from readers.)
In a previous blog (http://www.gjsentinel.com/blogs/birds_and_more/entry/swallow-tales-tailsa-lesson-in-jizz), I included a photo of a pale swallowtail, one of the most abundant, large butterflies in our area—so that’s a good one to know. Once you know one or two, your eyes will adjust to picking up more fluttering flights and you may see, for example, one of the several varieties of “Blues” that navigate Western Colorado. This is a Reakirt’s blue—photographed a few days ago in a mountain meadow.
My last photo shows both a Painted Crescent and a White Checkerspot.
These four species were all found in Mesa County. Seeing them, photographing them, and, finally, identifying them added to the enjoyment of some recent hikes.
This post provided by Nic Korte, Grand Valley Audubon Society. Send questions/comments to firstname.lastname@example.org]To learn more and to participate in the activities of Grand Valley Audubon, please see our website at audubongv.org and “like” us on Facebook!]