Annie’s Blog #1 – Spring; new beginnings and some farewells
In Victoria here my spring started quite dismally with the weather being…well, I suppose “grouchy” is as good a word as any. Like the butterflies I love, I am deeply affected by the weather here, especially cool and damp weather which is pretty much what we had everywhere. But now things seem to be shifting a bit drastically and the mercury has shot up.
It constantly amazes me though, how different the ecosystems vary on Vancouver Island, even between the relatively short distance between Victoria and the Comox Valley where Terry lives.
I managed to get through the winter by focusing on the activity of my two bird feeders and one suet feeder, and there was a lot of it thank goodness!
For the first time we managed to attract a small flock of Goldfinches in their winter plumage as Terry described it in his first blog. They arrived in early January along with a larger flock of Pine Siskins. I was told that having American Goldfinches hang around in Victoria in the winter was “unusual”, so I cherished them even more. They stayed until April, slowly starting to change back to their brilliant yellow except for the females, and then one day they disappeared, thankfully just as butterflies were showing up!
I think that Terry may well have my Goldfinches!
Now there are only a very few House Finches left as all the rest have disappeared, no doubt to breed.
So at this time of year my focus quickly shifts to finding butterflies. This can be a frustrating business that can end in elation or depression, depending on what I find when I venture out, which can often be nothing at all and then, if I do find anything, whether I manage to get a decent photo.
My first sightings this year were of the Satyr Comma, also called the Satyr Anglewing by some people . After I sighted and photographed my first, many people in the Victoria area started to see them popping up in many different locations. This is not all that surprising as this species overwinters as an adult.
Since this time I have had a number of butterfly sightings; approximately 11 different species to date, with 10 being photographed. The species so far that I’ve seen are Satyr Commas, Sara Orangetips, Western Spring Azures, Propertius Duskywings, Cabbage Whites, Mourning Cloak, Western Elfins (or Western Brown Elfin, as I like to call them), Green Commas, and, happily, all three of our Swallowtails (though only one of each); the Anise Swallowtail, the Pale Swallowtail and the Western Tiger Swallowtail. The Pale Swallowtail has not been willing to come down from its soaring about, so it is the one sighted species I have not been able to photograph as yet.
It has actually been a bit comical because as I was writing up a poem with photographs to send out to the people on my friends list, another species would emerge here and….well, I’d have to add another stanza or two to include it. But the poem got so long, that I never ended up sending it out!! I still may and I may even post it onto this blog.
So far though I have to say that the butterflies are pretty late, and yet in certain areas, if one knows where to go, some have been early.
The Western Spring Azures, also known as Echo Blue or Blue Echo lately (don’t ask) are doing well all around Victoria, as are the Satyr Commas. Some of my friends are even reporting sightings to me now, but they are mostly of the Azures in flight. Getting a photo of an Azure with wings open is next to impossible once it warms up beyond a certain temperature, so I was lucky to get them when it was cool enough. The male and female differ not only in appearance, but in the order that they emerge. The males emerge first, and around 2 weeks later, sometimes more, the females appear. I imagine they let the males “duke it out” over territory issues and then they come along to take care of “domestic matters” concerning the continuation of the species.
This first blog entry, and it is my very first time blogging, is a bit of a mishmash of cramming together what I’ve seen so far.
But I haven’t really talked much about how I even got into birds and butterfly photography yet…..I suppose that is another story so stay tuned. I shall leave you for now with two “poetographs” of a male and a female Western Spring Azure which I took a few weeks back.