Ahhh…Spring!

Ahhh…Spring! The world is waking from its winter slumber. The trees and plants are budding and blooming,

the bees are busy gathering nectar and pollinating the flowers,

the butterflies are emerging,

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the birds are migrating and beginning their nests,

and the lizards are emerging from…from…well, from wherever it is they hide away during the winter.

Everything is new and alive and awake…including me. Well, maybe not new, but definitely alive and awake. My mind is awake with thoughts. My lungs are filled with spring air. The very essence of my being can feel the world around me waking up and coming to life.

So here I sit at one in the morning writing while everyone else is sleeping and dreaming sweet spring dreams. I feel the need to create, and this seems to be the least intrusive outlet of my creative urges, as it will allow my loved ones to continue to slumber.

Yet soon, in the daylight hours, I will be out photographing the waking world and sharing its joys and wonders with you, my faithful readers. But until then, I will leave you with a beautiful sunrise

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and a peaceful sunset

Pastoral Sunset

to enjoy until the ‘morrow.

The Joys of Autumn…and Butterfly and Moth Collecting

Autumn is a beautiful time of the year. The leaves change colors, the air gets cooler, and all the colorful harvest time vegetables grace our senses. One of my favorite things about fall, however, are the swarms of butterflies that visit my butterfly bushes in the backyard. Today, after the rain storm, the bushes were teaming with life, and I found yet another butterfly I haven’t photographed and identified yet.

Years ago, I remember seeing a butterfly collection. It was a board with dead butterflies pinned to it. I found that quite horrific, as I love these beautiful creatures. I lamented over this terrible thing while my father listened one evening. I’m not sure he found it quite as horrific as I did, but he loved these creatures too. He had a lovely butterfly coloring book that he worked on from time to time. Now, when I say coloring book, I don’t mean a children’s coloring book but one of those nice ones with the waxy pages that you color with color pencils. He had carefully colored in some of the species he had looked up and colored them with accuracy. I’m not sure what happened to that old book, but I have taken up the butterfly quest. I, however, have chosen to collect butterflies and moths in photograph. So far, I have collected 22 different butterflies and moths.

There’s not much story behind the collection other than what I have told in previous posts, so I’ll just share my butterflies and moths and their names with you.

American Lady

American Lady (4) American Lady Butterfly American Lady-1

Bumblebee Sphinx Moth

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Cabbage White

Cabbage White-3

Cloudywing Skipper

Dun Skipper-1

Common Buckeye

Common Buckeye Common BuckeyeCommon Buckeye

Dun Skipper

Dun Skipper (2) Dun Skipper

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

watermarked edits-33 watermarked edits-21 watermarked edits-2Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (30)

Fiery Skipper

Fiery Skipper (1) Fiery Skipper-2 Fiery Skipper-3

Great Spangled Fritillary

Great Spangled Fritillary Great Spangled Fritillary Great Spangled Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary (1) Gulf Fritillary (5) Gulf Fritillary-2 Gulf Fritillary sipping nectar

Long Tailed Skipper

Long Tailed Skipper-3 Long Tailed Skipper-6 Long Tailed Skipper-8 Long Tailed Skipper-9 Long Tailed Skipper-17

Monarch

Monarch Butterfly Monarch-4 Monarch-6

Pearl Crescent

Pearl Crescent Pearl Crescent Pearl Crescent

Red Admiral

Red Admiral-4 Red Admiral-6 Red Admiral-9 Red Admiral-11 Red Admiral-13 Red Admiral-15

Red Banded Hairstreak

Red-banded Hairstreak Red-banded Hairstreak

Red Spotted Purple

Eastside Trail-18 Eastside Trail-22Red Spotted Purple (22) Red Spotted Purple (23) Red Spotted Purple Butterfly Wing

Regal Moth (Royal Walnut Moth)

Regal Moth (face and legs) Regal Moth (Royal Walnut Moth) Regal Moth (side view)

Silver Spotted Skipper

Silver Spotted Skipper (1) Silver Spotted Skipper (5) Silver Spotted Skipper (6) Silver Spotted Skipper (8) Silver Spotted Skipper (10)

Spicebush Swallowtail

Spicebush Swallowtail in Flight Spicebush Swallowtail Spicebush Swallowtail Spicebush Swallowtail Spicebush Swallowtail Spicebush Swallowtail

Spring Azures

Spring Azures (they are purple on top when they are flitting about) Spring Azure

Zabulon Skipper

Zabulon Skipper Having Dinner Fiery Skipper Fiery Skipper Fiery Skipper

And here are a few caterpillars:

Luna Moth Caterpillar

Luna Moth Caterpillar's face You can see all the fuzzies on this guy in this pic

Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Small Wonders

A few mornings ago, I was sitting on the front porch having coffee, hoping to have a quiet morning watching the birds and squirrels fight over the bird food in the feeders. Unfortunately, it was the same morning my neighbor decided to do some work in the garage. Believing the morning to be ruined by the noise (as it would scare all of the animals away), I headed indoors to put my coffee cup away. Then, as I passed the backdoor, a yellow flutter caught my eye. My camera was right next to me on the chair, and the morning was not ruined after all.

So, what was that yellow flutter? Why, none other than an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Those are common you say? Well, yes. But three of those beauties feeding on my Black Knight butterfly bush…well, that’s just enough to make my morning. What better to photograph than that lovely yellow against a purple backdrop.

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They flitted about for quite a while, allowing me to get some very good shots. I got close enough to get pictures of them feeding from the flowers, dipping their long tongues into each little bud, draining it of nectar.

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There markings were beautiful, though two of them looked a little battle-worn.

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One of them even landed on a flower right in front of me. They were simply amazing to watch.

Returning to the front porch to finish my reading and coffee, I noticed a tufted titmouse and his mate. Camera still in hand, I attempted to capture these beauties, but alas, they were too quick. Since my camera was at the ready, I decided to zoom in on what I thought was a bird nest in the bushes.  A bird nest it was not. In fact, it was a chipmunk. He was sitting still as could be…now whether that was from fright or an attempt to wait me out to get to the bird feeders, I don’t know. But sit there he did, for quite a long time. I got several pictures of this silly little chipmunk, and I began to be concerned that he was hurt (perhaps dropped there by some unfortunate owl who lost his supper). But a little movement of the branches, and he proved to be more than alright. Away he scurried missing out on a birdseed brunch, not before I got several good photos of his cute little self, however.

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Before this little cutie ran off, I called my daughter out to see him. She was amazed at how still he sat. After he ran off, she decided to join me on the porch. As I had my camera out, she decided to ask me if I had taken my water photos for a weekly photo challenge. I explained that I had not, so she pointed out that there were water drops on the blades of oat where the birdseed had dropped and sprouted. Obviously, she has a keen eye, because I never even noticed the water. So off to get my macro filters I went. And the results were satisfactory…

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Later in the day, as she was finishing up her schoolwork, we headed out to the patio. My camera was still close at hand, and I took a couple of shots of some water drops on some jars on the posts (poor lonely jars that were meant to hold herbs that, alas, were never planted).

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Then, as we headed inside before the little biting bugs bled us dry, I noticed something zipping around the butterfly bush. It was my little friend, the bumblebee sphinx moth. Now this little fairy is quick and hard to capture on camera, but capture him I did. A few of the pictures turned out good, though most of them were quite blurry as he flitted from flower to flower drinking nectar.

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And so, a day I thought would be dull, turned out to be a day filled with small wonders that brought a smile to my face and joy to my heart.