Monday, July 23, 2012

Up In The Mountains

As promised/threatened the lastest post comes from the Banished family vacation in the valley of the  Shenandoah in NW Virginia. Its a whole lot less distant than last years trek to the far north in Maine.

Its still very different from our coastal home and theres lots of very different bugs and beasts to explore. We have a cabin with a river frontage and a nice little garden in front. So in the first two days I've managed to grab a bunch of new species.

The first big surprise was right here in the little garden in front. We arrived Friday afternoon and then and Saturday it was rather cool and rainy. So nothing much was about. Now Sunday lunchtime the rain stopped and the sun came out and so did the butterflies. And there on one of the shrubs was something I've wanted to see for ages. A green butterfly. I'd seen the Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus ) at BugGuide before and thought what a beautiful thing it was but I'd never seen one myself or really expected to anytime soon. But Sunday lunchtime, there it was. Tiny as my little fingernail but wonderfully coppery green.

At the same time other butterlies appeared on the path and on all of us. They were drinking from puddles on the ground and from the sweat on our brows and whereever else sweat was to be found.

These were Hackberry Emperors. Butterfly in the lower photo is on the Banished arm. One of those butterflies where a close look at the underwing reveals subtle beauties.

All our dragonflies at home are either pond or swamp species. But up here there is a whole different set of stream and river dwellers particularly the clubtails; something we never see at home. This is the Common Sanddragon (Progomphus obscurus). They hunt close to the rivers surface cutting quickly back and forth but also perch on the riverside rocks.

And this is the Black Shouldered Spiny-Legs (Dromogomphus spinosus). Both belong to the Gomphidae

There are river damsels too and a whole new crew of moths but I'll add some of those in a day or two. And there will be more butterflies to add when we head up into the national park with its wild flower meadows not to mention the wildflowers themselves.  

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