Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Through the years I have watched videos and marveled at photos of migrating Monarch butterflies. Usually each spring brings the Monarchs here in sparse numbers. It was always a hallmark of spring to see them flutter in for the first time. Following the appearance of the "local" hibernating butterflies, such as the Mourning Cloak and Compton's Tortoiseshell.

Mourning Cloak Compton's Tortoiseshell

 This spring, an infestation of orange and yellow butterflies have literally painted the landscape. First, the Monarchs flew in on a howling south wind. Tens of thousands orange and black butterflies seemed to be everywhere. They were like Christmas tree ornaments, hanging on the blossoms of the pin cherry trees.


It seemed every wildflower that bloomed had a perched Monarch Butterfly.

It seemed not to matter where you walked or hiked in the arrowhead, the Monarchs were omnipresent. I hated to get in the car to drive anywhere, because they also dotted the roadways. 

To make things even more colorful, another butterfly phenomenon occurred. The Canadian Tiger Swallowtail butterflies decided not to be outdone by the infiltrating Monarchs. They also flew in by the thousands, creating a butterfly spectacle never before seen in my lifetime... or by other old timers on the north shore.

Smaller versions of butterflies mingled with the large Monarchs and Canadians. Spring Azures and Red Admirals were also as numerous as I have seen them.

Spring Azure

Red Admiral

 The Harris Checkerspot is like a miniature version of the Monarch, a particularly lovely butterfly.

 Harris Checkerspot

 One of my favorite tiny butterflies that just arrived is the Eastern Tailed-blue. It is difficult to tell the difference between him and the Spring Azure.  I have seen many Painted and American Lady butterflies along with these colorful butterfly imitators, the Luna Moth.

Eastern Tailed-blue


 More butterflies wait on the horizon, the fritillaries are now flying in, so I suspect the remainder of the summer will sport unending color.
"May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun 
And find your shoulder to light on,

To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond."
                  ~Irish Blessing

Thursday, June 14, 2012


A windy day in May, I took a 300 mile wildlife photo junket with my friend Paul. Our first stop was a Red Fox den that had three kits and their parents. We were pleasantly surprised that mother fox greeted and checked us out. 

 Evidently we passed the non threat test and she returned to the den and brought out the kits.

We stayed there for an hour or so, watching the kits play and chase each other.

Our next stop was an eagles nest on a lake not too far from the fox den. We spent another hour or so, watching the parent eagles flying in with food for the eaglets. On this nest, we never saw the eaglets.

We had a difficult time finding the heron rookery. When we found it, we had to battle a thirty mile an hour wind taking photos. At least the dreaded black flies were held at bay by the strong wind. The most interesting shots occurred when a Great Blue Heron got too close to an Osprey nest... the following sequence pretty much sums up the disdain of the Osprey and "interesting" facial expressions of the heron. Who said birds are expressionless. 

 "Zeroing In" 

Another highlight was whistling in a particularly beautiful White-throated Sparrow. He alighted close to me and was not too enamored with my presence in his territory.

Leaving the heron rookery and the dazed Great Blue, we meandered back toward home. Our next stop was a Pileated Woodpecker nest, where mom was sitting on eggs. We managed to snap a few shots when she peeked out of the nest. 

The last stop on our whirlwind tour was another eagle's nest, this one on the shore of Lake Superior. We had to set up our blinds, to make our presence non threatening to the parent eagles. The eaglets were at eye level, so we got a few shots of them enjoying the warm sunshine, before we had to leave.

It is not too often each planned stop, yields such a variety of unique photos. It was a day when observing the images were as inspirational as mastering them.

“Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson