Friday, March 24, 2006

ENV: Not Really A Cat Friday

Every spring, there is a short period in which our endemic Edwards Plateau Redbuds bloom. In addition to just liking the color it provides against our sky (especially after a cold-front induced rainfall), it is also an impetus for me to fire up the still and film cameras. In that brief window we also get the first spring explosion of butterflies, and it’s an excellent way to find the scarce Henry's Elfin, an early season butterfly with a brief flight season here at its westernmost range edge. The peak of blooming is so brief that some years i miss filming the bugs altogether because of the weather.

On March 18th, the plants finally opened enough to attract hordes of swallowtails, but there were dense clouds presaging a front and little else was present. The 19th produced our first heavy rains in about 6 months and filming was a washout. But on the 20th i was able to locate three elfins among lots of Olive Juniper Hairstreaks and Juvenal’s/Horace’s Duskywings. Lots of swallowtails were around also. Unfortunately, at midday, i had only a still camera with me, and by the time i returned with a DVcam, a stiff wind had picked up and most of the bugs had left. I got some more film on the 21st, but the elfins had gone, perhaps for the year. Last night we had an extended freeze, with a low of 25, after a high yesterday of only 50. Kinda crazy for March here, but i remember an early April about 10 years ago when the temps hit single digits, so i guess anything could happen. This weekend i plan to be out filming the newly arrived male Golden-cheeked Warblers, and perhaps more leps if the sun is out and the temps back near normal.

Be sure to visit the Friday Ark at Modulator.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus
Edwards Plateau Redbud, Cercis canadensis v. texensis

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