Updated: Jul 4, 2020
Sometimes, it doesn't have to be difficult. You know how our expectation that something will be difficult can seem to create that very outcome? Well it turns out it can go the other way, too. I had a feeling photographing Ancilla Blue would be easy. I had great information about when and where to look for this species in Hines, Oregon, from a post from Mike Stangeland and Kim Davis on the Butterflies of America website. So I set out on a two day trip to visit Hines, and then go poke around King Mountain, north of Burns. About 18 miles west of Burns/Hines, I stopped at the new Sage Hen Rest Stop to stretch my legs, and use the bathroom. Coming out of the bathroom, I saw up on the slope above the rest stop the bright lemon-yellow blossoms of what looked like Round-headed Buckwheat, the host plant for Ancilla Blue. So I grabbed my binoculars and camera, and wandered over there, with mild anticipation.
Within 5 minutes, I had found an Ancilla Blue, and within another 5 minutes, had a nice series of photos. How easy is that? I hadn't even made it all the way to my intended site on the edge of Hines. I thought to myself, "well this balances things out just a little bit, on the other side of all those times I looked for the Nevada Skipper and found bupkus." Bupkus is a yiddish word that means "nothing."
The interesting thing is that when I went to the site in Hines, my main destination for this species, I searched and searched, and even though it was the normal time of year for Ancilla to fly, I couldn't find any. A huge patch of Round-headed Buckwheat was in full bloom, but no Ancilla Blues to be found. Lucky that I stopped and looked at the rest stop! Well, I finally did find a couple of ragged looking Ancilla Blues at the Hines site, but it took a long time to find them. According to reports I'd read, in other years at this time of year, there have been 100's of them flying. That's part of the fun and frustration of finding and photographing butterflies--you often can't really predict when and where they will be with any certainty. Striking out is just part of the process. More on that in another post. For now, I celebrate one of the easy ones!
Oh and King Mountain was really fun. I saw 23 species along the road to the Lookout there, including this Western Green Hairstreak.