Saturday, June 16, 2012

Stratford Point butterfly walk

Today the Connecticut Butterfly Association came down to Stratford Point for a butterfly walk, and I tagged along to give a little information about the site and all of our efforts that are going into restoring it. We had a beautiful day for this special weekend event. The target species was Swarthy's Skipper, a rarity Connecticut. Leader Lenny Brown explained that we would be seeking to see if it was present now and therefore actually breeding on site, or present only in August as it was last year, having moved across Long Island Sound from known breeding locations in New York. Here the group looks at a few field guides while discussing the species.

The middle of June is often a quiet time for birds, relatively speaking, being in the small window between spring and fall migration. Shorebirds will start to move south soon enough, but for now we have to watch out for nesting species, and many of those are attending young or on eggs. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a quiet enough day on the butterfly front as well. Nevertheless, a decent number of species and individuals were seen and netted. Using CD cases to view captures is a great idea.

So many butterflies are so alike, and studying them in this way and then releasing them is a very helpful approach. Taking photographs only aids the process. I captured something else while wandering in search of a Swarthy's, this female Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

The group fanned out across the 28-acre upland area, also enjoying the tremendous variety of plant life we have at Stratford Point.

There was much discussion about a few plants in particular, one being a species of Senna growing along the rocky and sandy area just behind our dune. It is a host plant for Cloudless Sulphur and Little Yellow butterflies, and we may be in store for some nice sightings later in the fall. That is the best season at Stratford Point with the migration of many species occurring, and on a good day one can see hundreds of Monarchs and much more.

We were unable to come up with any Swarthy's, and apart from Tawny-edged, the only skipper we saw was a number of European.

Thank you to all who joined us today! We will be searching for the Swarthy's once again this August and attempting to find much more during the busy season on the site.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation Technician

All photos © Scott Kruitbosch and  not to be reproduced without explicit permission

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