200 results found for ""

    Pages (173)
    • Resources - Books | ButterfliesofOregon

      Resources: Books Finding Lane County Butterflies When the first edition came out in 2004, this was one of, if not the, first butterfly-finding guides in the US. It is modeled after the popular bird-finding guides that now exist for every popular birding area in the States. It includes 32 of the best sites for butterflies in Lane County (and a couple just over the line in Linn County). For each site, it describes when to go, how to get there, and species you are likely to find there. Using this guide, you can, with some luck, find all of Lane County's almost 90 species. ​ Available from the Eugene-Springfield Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA-ES). Proceeds from sales benefit NABA-ES. ​ . Available from NABA-Eugene-Springfield Butterflies of Lane County When it was first released in 2002, this pocket-sized field ID guide to the butterflies of Lane County, Oregon was the first of its kind. Other similar "pocket guides" are appearing around the country as people realize that people don't want to carry around a 5 pound book in the field. Measuring just 4.5" x 5.5" and weighing in at 3.7 oz., there's no reason NOT to take this with you! ​ Available from the Eugene-Springfield Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA-ES). Proceeds from sales benefit NABA-ES. ​ Available from NABA-Eugene-Springfield This is the definitive guide for identifying the butterflies of Oregon and Washington. It's chock-full of information about each species, with maps, history, biological information and more. It won't fit in your pocket, but you'll want a copy for reference anyway. ​ Available from . Amazon.com Butterflies of the Pacific Northwest By Robert Michael Pyle and Caitlin LaBar. This is the latest and most comprehensive guide for identifying the butterflies of Oregon and Washington. It's chock-full of information about each species, with maps, history, biological information and more. It won't fit in your pocket, but you'll definitely want a copy anyway. ​ Available from . Amazon.com Butterflies of the Pacific Northwest This is the definitive guide for identifying the butterflies of Oregon and Washington. It's chock-full of information about each species, with maps, history, biological information and more. It won't fit in your pocket, but you'll want a copy for reference anyway. ​ Available from . Amazon.com Butterflies of Oregon Their Taxonomy, Distribution, and Biology By Andrew Warren. This thorough scientific work provides the most in-depth coverage of Oregon's butterfly species and set the groundwork for taxonomy studies and books that followed it. For a deeper dive into Oregon's butterflies, this is your "go to" source. ​ Available from . Amazon.com Pocket Guide to the Butterflies of Washington, 3rd ed By Caitlin LaBar. This is a great field guide for identifying the butterflies of Washington. So small and light there's no reason not to take it into the field with you! ​ Available from . Amazon.com

    • American Lady | ButterfliesofOregon

      Gallery Prev Next Rogue-Umpqua Divide, Douglas Co, September 1 American Lady Vanessa virginiensis Up to 2.25 inch wingspan Size: ​ Key ID features: Above bright orange with black FW tips that contain a vertical white bar and a few small white spots. HW above orange with submarginal row of black spots with blue centers. Below, HW gray brown with two large eye spots, and web of white lines. FW below has bright salmon orange crossed by black. ​ Other lady species have several small eyespots on HW below. Similar species: ​ Pearly everlasting ( ), pussytoes ( ) and many other species Hostplant: Anaphalis margaritacea Antennaria . ​ Sunny meadows, roadsides, fields, and parks. Habitat: ​ Range: Throughout Oregon except far north on the east side of Cascades . ​ id-April to early November. Season: M ​ Common Abundance: Secure Conservation Status:

    • About | ButterfliesofOregon

      The Project Butterflies of Oregon is both an online guide to Oregon's butterfly species and a record of my endeavor to photograph all of Oregon's regularly occurring and breeding described butterfly species inside the borders of the state. As I continue to pursue images of those remaining species that have as yet eluded me and my camera, I plan to use the website, the information I’ve collected, and the stories about the butterflies and the photos to educate interested folks about native butterflies in Oregon, their habitats, their ecology and their conservation. Public presentations, and educational publications are likely to come with time. Check back here for updates or to be notified of new Blog entries. sign up The Photos All of the photographs of live butterflies in this website were taken by myself, Neil Bjorklund, of wild, un-manipulated butterflies, within the borders of Oregon. These photos are the best images sifted from my library of more than 6,300 photos of butterflies in Oregon (as of May 2020). Considering all the photos that weren't high enough quality to keep, it’s safe to say I’ve taken more than 8,500 photos of butterflies in Oregon to produce this set of about 300! ​ The images of pinned butterflies from the Oregon State Arthropod Collection were taken by me and by Dana Ross, lepidopterist extraordinaire. Thank you, Dana! ​ I took the live butterfly images primarily in the years 2002-2006 and 2014-2020, so over about 11 years (as of 2020). I have experimented with a variety of cameras and lenses over the years. I began the switch to digital photography in 2003 with my beloved Nikon CoolPix E995. The lion’s share of the digital photos were taken with these six set-ups: Sony RX10 Mark IV FujiFilm X-T3 with a Fuji 80 mm F2.8 Macro Lens Canon EOS 70D with a 100 mm Macro Lens Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Canon EOS 20D with a Canon 75-300 mm Zoom Lens Nikon CoolPix E995 The Photographer I am an Oregon boy through and through, born and raised in SW Portland. The earliest I can remember attempting butterfly photos was on a family vacation in California in about 1968, and my images of Pipevine Swallowtails along the side of Highway 99 taken with my little plastic camera didn't come out very well. Eight years later (1976) I got my first "real" camera - a spiffy Nikormat FT3 SLR! With that camera I took my first decent photograph of a butterfly in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1979—a Common Buckeye on the shore of Green Bay. Click the "More"button below to see that photo and read more history. ​ ​ More

    View All
    Blog Posts (27)
    • Seeking Answers In The High Places

      It's 10 am on August 23, and I've just arrived at the bottom of the tramway that climbs 3,300 feet up to the top of Mount Howard, in the Wallowa Mountains. This will be my third attempt to find and photograph the American Copper (Lyceana phlaeas) at Mt. Howard since 2017, and this time I'll have help. Mike Hansen used to be the Assistant District Biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife office in Enterprise, and I knew he had good field skills. Now that he's retired, like me, he spends a lot more time enjoying chasing birds and butterflies. I hadn't met him in person before, and today we were wearing face masks because of the coronavirus, but we had no problem spotting each other in the parking lot--our binoculars, cameras and backpacks give us away. Mike has also been looking for the American Copper in the Wallowas, and two years ago while I was scouring the south slopes of Mt. Howard, he was searching the other known historical site, near Ice Lake and the Matterhorn. When we compared notes after our 2018 expeditions, we found that we'd had the same experience: plants were dried up, and we saw no sign of American Copper or its suspected host plant, Mountain Sorrel (Oxyria digyna). Mike and I share a desire to find out whether this species is still breeding in Oregon. Mike and his partner Kim had seen American Copper in the Seven Devils Mountains across the Snake River in Idaho in late July, 2016. Interestingly, that copper seemed to be associated with a tall species of Rumex, rather than Mountain Sorrel. According to Andy Warren, Ernst Dornfeld proposed Mountain Sorrel as a possible host for American Copper back in 1980, but I'm not aware that anyone has definitively confirmed this in Oregon. A couple of years back, Don Severns shared details with me from the day he and his son Paul found American Copper on Mt. Howard. They found it in August about half-way down a steep talus slope on the south face of Mt. Howard, near Mountain Sorrel. As far as I know, no one has seen one since then. The only other record in Oregon was from decades earlier, when C.W. Nelson found it at 9,500 feet on the Matterhorn, further west in the Wallowas. Mike and I rode the tram up to the summit of Mt. Howard and then hiked away from the small crowd of other tourists near the restaurant at the top of the tram line. Within minutes we were by ourselves. We had to first hike east, and then south to get to where we could cross a steep side slope over to the targeted talus slope. The talus slope was somewhat treacherous for walking on, as the rock was very loose and prone to sliding as soon as we stepped on it. At some points I had to use my hands and feet to keep my place on the hill. This year there were a few butterfly species flying on the talus slope, visiting the bright purple patches of Coyote Mint. Hydaspe and Callippe fritillaries seemed to be most prominent there. We each chose a spot at different elevations on the slope and zig-zagged our way across, up, and down the slope looking for any sign of the coppers or their host plants. When we met up to check in after about 45 minutes, neither of us had seen any coppers, or any dock or sorrel plants. We decided to try the north-facing rocky slope on the far side of the mountain next, as we suspected it would be more moist, and because Mike thought it was more like a site where he had seen a few Mountain Sorrel plants on a recent hike to the west of Mt. Howard. We spent about an hour on that slope, where we ate lunch and enjoyed several more butterfly species, including many Milbert's Tortoiseshells, Mormon Fritillaries, Northern Blues, Juba skippers and some close encounters with Pikas. The Pikas were very sneakily scrambling amongst the rocks under and around us, and occasionally popping up for a loud "peek!" They were quick and hard to catch with a camera, but both Mike and I got some nice photos of them. The north slope was more a boulder field than a talus slope, which is the habitat type we understood to be used by American Coppers in the Wallowas. In the western US, the American Copper is a denizen of the high country, restricted to life on the high slopes of the Sierras, Rocky Mountains, and perhaps, the Wallowa Mountains. Conversely, in the eastern US, American Coppers are widespread in low elevations and in all kinds of habitats, including weedy fields and vacant lots. We saw no coppers or potential hostplants on the north slope either. We decided to finish off the afternoon by skirting the east rim of the summit and visiting some sage meadows and grassy meadows with wildflowers still in bloom. We found several more species in these areas, including many Blue Coppers and Mariposa Coppers. We'd given up on finding American Coppers for the day, and we contented ourselves with padding our species list for the day. As we walked back towards the tram for the ride down the mountain, we discussed potential next steps in our search. We agreed that we probably needed to search earlier in the season, probably in late July based on Mike and Kim's Seven Devils sighting. We speculated that global warming and drying of the summers here had shifted things, perhaps drying out populations and favoring an earlier flight period. We discussed following up on historic sightings of Mountain Sorrel in the Wallowas from the Oregon Flora Project website. As I rode down the tram (social distancing in my own tram car) I wondered if Mountain Sorrel wasn't our target plant after all. I thought about how helpful it would be if we could connect with a mountain-hiking field botanist who knew the habitats, plants and trails of the Wallowas well. If you know someone like this, please help me get in touch with them! Mike and I both felt good about finding 24 species for the day, even if we missed the main target, and we agreed to talk more about how to proceed with the search next year. With only two documented historical records, it would be somewhat of a long-shot. No one knows whether it is still hanging on in some high rocky meadow in the Wallowas. Yet, with global climate change dialing up the summer heat and drought, if we put it off, we might lower our odds of ever finding it again in Oregon.

    • I Got Those Low-down, High Elevation Blues

      Andy Warren's monumental review of Oregon's butterflies (Butterflies of Oregon, Their Taxonomy, Distribution and Biology) not only has been an eminently useful book, but his field work also helped clarify the status and distribution of several blues species in Oregon. Reading the results of Andy's extensive field work with blues last month put the idea in my head of trying to find and photograph a couple of the as-yet-undescribed blues taxa he studied. Shortly thereafter, I saw Jacksonville nature photographer Peter Theimann's online posting that he'd just seen those very species in Klamath County. That was all it took. Seeing a promising weather forecast and having some free days, I packed up my camera, binos, and camping gear and headed south in search of some high elevation blues in the land of pumice. My destination was Crater Lake National Park, where Peter had seen the Volcano Blue (an undescribed Icaricia blue associated with Eriogonum pyrolifolium var. coryphaeum), and the Pumice Blue (an undescribed Euphilotes blue associated with Eriogonum marifolium). A few weeks before my visit, he'd seen both species near remnant snowbanks on the pumice flats below Mount Scott, on the east side of Crater Lake National Park. On August 8, I headed there first, knowing at the very least, that I would get stunning views of the lake on the way and of Mount Scott at my destination (I was not disappointed!). I parked north of the main Mount Scott trail access area, and spent a full hour criss-crossing the pumice flats west of the mountain, gingerly sidestepping the wildflowers. I saw very few butterflies there, and only three blues: one Anna's Blue, and two worn Volcano Blues that I wasn't able to get good photos of. The good news: Volcano Blue was still flying! While the butterflies were somewhat scarce in this area, the tourists were not! A constant stream of (mostly) masked hikers headed up and down the Mount Scott trail, making me glad I wasn't planning to climb the mountain that day. On my way to Mount Scott, I had noticed numerous patches of pumice with buckwheats in bloom as I drove to the east side of the Rim Road. So I simply retraced my route, and stopped at a couple of roadside patches with buckwheats in flower. Within minutes, I saw my first fresh male Volcano Blue in a large patch of it's hostplant, Shasta Buckwheat (Eriogonum pyrolifolium var. coryphaeum). The males were bright blue above, and clear bright gray below, with a bold orange submarginal band and sparkling light blue scintillae. Searching for a few minutes more, while trying to minimize my impact on the dry and fragile pumice meadow, I saw about 15 Volcano Blues, including both bright blue males and deep brown females. They were perching very cooperatively, mostly on Shasta Buckwheat flowers, and it wasn't long before I had a nice series of photos that included both sexes. In my personal "game" of photographing all of Oregon's described butterfly species inside the state, this was like money in the bank--I already had photographed a future species that wasn't even described yet! My next goal was to find and photograph the Pumice Blue, which might prove to be a bit trickier. There are two species of Euphilotes blues that could be flying in the Crater Lake area this time of year: the Summit Blue (Euphilotes glaucon) and the Pumice Blue. The Summit Blue usually occurs lower in the Crater Lake area, and flies a bit earlier, but there are always some outliers. Just to make things interesting, the Pumice and Summit blues not only look similar, but they are usually separated by the buckwheat species they are associated with, which are both variable and similar. In the field, I was initially confusing the two host plants, Sulphur-flower Buckwheat (Summit Blue) and Marumleaf Buckwheat (Pumice Blue). Both buckwheat species grow in rocky volcanic soils, and sport bright yellow flowers. After I refreshed my memory with some key differences from info on my phone, I saw that Marumleaf Buckwheat is sexually dimorphic, meaning it has male and female plants that look different. The male plants are shorter with bright yellow flowers, and the female plants are taller with looser flowers that are bright red and yellow. Once I started to see the male and female plants growing together, it got easier to find the Marumleaf Buckwheat, and subsequently, the Pumice Blues. Thanks to Dave Nunnalee up in Washington state, for compiling information on the buckwheats of Washington and the butterflies that depend on them. His data correlate well with the buckwheats and their butterflies in Oregon. From Dave I learned that Pumice Blue females only lay their eggs on the female flowers, and that the caterpillars are thought to eat pollen from the flower in the early stages (instars) and then graduate to the seeds of the flower later on. Fascinating! Altogether I saw a total of about 30 Volcano Blues and 25 Pumice Blues at a few sites on the east, north, and west sides of Crater Lake, along with 10 other species. I did not see any Euphilotes blues that I could definitely identify as Summit Blues (on Sulphur-flower Buckwheat), but then I did not look thoroughly for them since I had photographed them previously at several other sites in Oregon. My list for the day: I came home quite satisfied that I had found and photographed both of my target species at Crater Lake, and had a wonderful time doing it. And it was not my original plan to continue seeking these high elevation blues species at other sites in Oregon. However, after a few days at home, this idea inserted itself in my head like an "earworm" song that wouldn't go away. Admittedly, I didn't fight it very hard! So I went back to Andy Warren's book and reviewed where he had found them and where else he expected to find them. Then I started to scrutinize maps and aerial photos to find a good pumice field to search on the eastern slope of the Cascades. I knew it might be getting late in the flight period, so I my second goal was to make sure that I went to a location that would be enjoyable with or without the butterflies. My brief research and analysis led me to Wickiup Plain, a large pumice field in the Three Sisters Wilderness that lies at the foot of the west slope of South Sister. Most of the pumice plain sits just inside my own Lane County which added to the appeal. I had hiked and backpacked in the Three Sisters Wilderness many times, but I had never made it to Wickiup Plain, and I was excited to experience a new area of the wilderness. The drive would be two hours each way, and the hike in would be about 3.5 miles, so I loaded up for a robust day of driving and hiking on a perfect day for adventuring in the Cascades. I set out from Eugene on August 10, and it took about an hour and a half to hike up to the lower end of Wickiup Plain from the Devil's Lake trailhead. I had saved a GPS point on my phone so that I would know when I crossed into Lane County, for recording purposes, just in case I found anything new. As I began to enter the pumice field, I saw to my delight that the wildflowers were simply exploding! I had timed the hike very well for the flowers! Within minutes of entering the land of pumice, I began to see small dusky-looking blues nectaring on buckwheats and asters. These were my first sightings of Shasta Blues in Lane County, and there were lots of them! As I continued on up the gradual slope, I knew I was getting close to a grand view, and I pushed on after capturing photos of several of the Shasta Blues. When I came out of the trees I was rewarded by a grand vista of a landscape shaped by dramatic volcanic flows, pyroclastic explosions, snow and ice. Wow. As I followed the Le Conte Crater trail to where it meets the Pacific Crest Trail, I kept seeing more and more Shasta Blues. It started to get tedious to check each one to make sure that they weren't Pumice Blues or Volcano Blues, but I had to keep trying. As I continued on into the broad pumice flats, I noticed that there were some swales that must have held snow, and therefore moisture, longer into the early summer, with more dense patches of wildflowers. As I scanned these patches, I began to see a few other butterfly species--a Boisduval's Blue here, an Anna's Blue there. Then I came upon a nice patch of what looked to be the male and female flowers of Marumleaf Buckwheat, so I took off my pack, and settled in to really search the area carefully. First, I began to see California Tortoiseshells, speeding across the flats like there was an important meeting somewhere. Then an Edith's Checkerspot. And a Buckeye. Now we're getting somewhere! I kept searching as the day moved into mid- and then late afternoon. Finally, I saw what looked like a Euphilotes blue without the characteristic iridescent blue spots on the trailing edge of the hindwings, which Shasta Blues have. I saw it flying among the Marumleaf Buckwheat plants, with their distinctive male and female flowers. Tying to moderate my excitement, I deliberately shifted into my slow-as-molasses-in-winter mode to sidle in close for a nice photo. Bingo! A Euphilotes blue hanging out on a female Marumleaf Buckwheat flower. Over the next 20 minutes, I saw several more, 12 all together. As the sun was getting lower in the sky, I got lucky and found a fresh mating pair on Shasta Buckwheat flowers--a two-fer! And two new "species" for me in Lane County in one day! After 20+ years of watching and photographing butterflies in Lane County, that doesn't happen often! I'm looking forward to another visit to Wickiup Plain next year, perhaps a little earlier to see what else is flying up there, beyond the 9 species I saw on this trip: It seems I had caught a serious case of the high-elevation blues fever, as I no sooner got home from Wickiup Plain than I was already thinking about whether there was another beautiful hike to a pumice habitat that I should consider. Why yes, I realized right away, Tam MacArthur Rim is another such spot. This time I knew I would be going late in the flight season for these blues species, but the weather was holding, and I couldn't resist getting in another butterfly outing before the weather changed. Tam MacArthur Rim is on the east side of Broken Top, south of the town of Sisters. I'd been there a few times already at different times in August, and this would be the latest in the season of any of my visits. However, I knew that if there weren't butterflies, I would enjoy a hike of stunning beauty anyway! It takes about 90 minutes to climb the trail from Three Creeks Lake up to the rim. From there a couple different routes traverse the pumice flats going toward Broken Top. I'd seen Shasta Blues there a couple of times in the past, but hadn't seen the Pumice Blue, which Andy Warren had seen there in significant numbers back in 2004. Since Andy's work was done 16 years ago, I wanted to verify if the large population he found was still there. I knew I would be visiting about a week later than he had, and I knew that it had been a very dry August, so it was a crap shoot whether I would see the Pumice Blues on August 19, but I wanted to try. As I was hiking up the ascending trail, I saw almost no butterflies. It wasn't surprising, given how dry things were up there. When I emerged from the forested slope out into the pumice flats on top, I began to see California Tortoiseshells, but not much else. A few more minutes of hiking brought me to a slope with a lot of Eriogonum, where I paused to watch for blues. Like the rest of the area, it was pretty quiet in terms of butterflies. I moved off the trail and allowed some masked hikers to pass. When they walked up the slope past me, they flushed a blue! I followed it in my binos, and walked a bit closer. A Shasta Blue--good! They're still flying. A couple minutes later I saw another blue, and it was larger and much brighter below than a Shasta Blue would be, but I could not catch up to it to verify. My guess was an Anna's Blue. I took off my pack, since this spot had more action than anywhere else, and I kept scanning across the Buckwheat flowers for blues. After about 20 minutes, I saw a small blue that was very light on the hindwing below. I slowly moved towards it, hoping that it was a Euphilotes and that I would be lucky enough to get a photo. Well, I got half my wish: I got close enough to verify that it was indeed a Euphilotes blue, but it had no time for this photographer. I couldn't get closer than about 15 feet before it would fly. I decided to continue on up the trail after several failed attempts to photograph the little guy (the hindwing would have been darker if it was a female). I knew there was a really amazing view from a spot just off the trail about a mile up, so I moved on and kept looking for blues. I saw several more Shasta Blues, and 3 more Euphilotes blues, but they were just as wary as the first one, and I struck out on photos of them. Fortunately, I knew the mountain view just ahead was not going to fly away from me, so I headed up there. This viewpoint has one of the most grand views of the mountains of Three Sisters Wilderness, as you can see. That landscape of rock, pumice, lava and scattered trees is one of my favorites in Oregon. I only saw four species of butterflies on my hike, but I went home happy! I knew that I would have a date with this beautiful area again next summer, just a bit earlier in the season. I often joke about my "misses," saying "oh, darn, I guess I have to come back to this extraordinarily beautiful place again next year." Lucky me.

    • The 600 Club

      In American major league baseball, the group of players who have hit 600 or more career home runs is an elite and very small group. Just nine players have reached that mark in the history of the sport (or eight if you nix Barry Bonds for his use of performance drugs). If you are or have been a sports fan, you know that "stats" are a big thing in that world. This week, I too reached a career milestone of 600, in the arena of butterfly watching, a milestone that I would not have even noticed if I wasn't such geeky lover of stats and data. Like a professional sports statistician, I log each and every butterfly site visit I make, with weather notes, site notes, species list, and in the past couple of years, the number of individuals of each species I see. It's a citizen-science style effort, and over the years I have shared my data with various government agencies, non-profits, and interested individuals. A few years ago, much to my surprise, the Forest Service thanked me on an interpretive sign at Box Canyon Meadows in Lane County, simply because I shared some of my data and observations from the meadows with them. A few years back, a friend of mine was hiking there on a summer day, and sent me a message on Facebook asking about the sign. I wrote back "what sign?" The following summer when I was in the area, I went to check out the sign. I'll admit that I was pleased that they spelled my name correctly (that's rare!) and thought it was awfully nice to give that recognition (lower right corner) to me and other contributors. As a bonafide data geek, I find it fun to collect and tinker with information to see what I can learn from it, how I can use it to get better at what I like to do, and how to organize the data so I can efficiently share it with individuals and organizations that are engaged in education or conservation work based on site data. There have been other inspirations, too. Back in 2006, I had begun writing a book on the key butterfly habitats of Oregon with my friend and talented environmental journalist Meera Subramanian. We had a publisher on board, and had submitted several draft chapters. Unfortunately, just at that moment, the little publishing company we were working with got bought out by a large publishing house, and the new owners nixed the project. With or without the excuse of writing a book, I stayed the course, and steadily kept on collecting and organizing data on my observations, just because it is enjoyable to me. As a result of my geeky data collection, I know that over the years I have: Recorded 7, 537 Oregon butterfly sightings Explored and documented 316 butterfly sites in 30 Oregon counties Recorded sightings of 160 butterfly species in Oregon Recorded 30 or more species on one day in one site 23 times Recorded 6 Oregon county records Recorded 40 or more species on one day in one site 1 time And, as of this week, made 601 site visits. Site visit #600 was a visit to Marys Peak in Benton County last week, where I stopped at Parker Creek Falls hoping to find and photograph an Oreas Comma (Polygonia oreas). Instead of Oreas, I found bright, fresh Satyr Commas by the waterfall. It was a good opportunity to experiment with using flash to enhance the sharpness and clarity of the images. The results made me want to continue to experiment with using flash: Earlier that day, I had stopped at Plunkett Creek, on the Kings Valley Highway north of Wren, also in pursuit of Oreas Commas. There were very few butterflies flying there that morning, and no sign of any commas, so I only stayed about an hour, during which I saw a total of 17 butterflies altogether. A paltry number for late July! After photographing commas at Parker Creek Falls, I had a hunch that I should go back to Plunkett Creek for the late afternoon light. Andy Warren had told me some years ago that Plunkett Creek was a good site for Oreas Comma in late July, and last year I took a trip up there to look. I spent several hours there on the shady trails along the creek, and in the mid-afternoon, an Oreas Comma finally showed up. It was in a little patch of sun poking through the forest canopy next to the creek, which is typically a good place to look for commas. I slowly walked over towards it. As I got near, it suddenly flew a fast circle around me, and promptly landed on my hand! Apparently I was sweaty enough to have an enticing odor and/or taste. It was a lovely, up-close and personal encounter with a brand-spanking fresh Oreas. The only problem for me was that it had landed on my right hand, which was holding my camera, so I couldn't easily attempt a photo. Not surprisingly, when I tried to encourage the little guy to move to my left hand for a photo, it flew off, not to be seen again. Doh! The Oreas Comma found in this area is of the subspecies silenus, which can be a stunning almost jet-black underneath, and I have been keen on getting a photo of one! So when I returned to Plunkett Creek that afternoon last week, I was especially watching for commas flying in the sunny patches in the forest along the stream. Eventually I did see one--it was in a really tough place to reach, in a ravine below me, on the other side of a tangle of blackberry vines, and I quickly scared it off by trying to get down there. There is just no way to smoothly and gracefully move directly through a blackberry thicket! Twenty minutes later, on the other side of the stream corridor, I saw two commas swirling in flight in a patch of bright sun, each trying to chase the other off. A couple minutes later, I saw one of them land--a Satyr Comma now perched on a Stinging Nettle plant just out of the sun. I took a so-so photo of it just to record it and to check my camera settings. Then I stood and hoped for the other one to return. Yes! It was an Oreas, and it landed not far from me, near the edge of the clearing. The only trouble was that to get close to it, I would have to immerse myself up to my head in Stinging Nettles! Which is exactly what I did! The adrenalin of seeing such a fresh P. o. silenus land near me helped me ignore the stinging on my hands, neck and face. I persisted with shot after shot until I was satisfied that I had some that were clear and sharp. Only when I finally backed out of that tangle did I really notice the sharp stinging of the nettles. It brought to memory a hike several years back with my friend Peg, during which we deliberately "shook hands" with some nettle leaves so we could time how long the stinging would last. As I recall, it lasted about 30 minutes, which my recent Oreas adventure confirmed. It is always fun to actually find and get decent photos of the butterfly I am after, and the nettles made this one memorable. A few days after I got home, a poison oak rash showed up on my forearm, so apparently it wasn't a pure stand of nettles! The Oreas individual I photographed is somewhat atypical in that the flattened "v" on the underside of the hindwing is rounded at the bottom making it look a lot like a backwards Nike "swoosh," instead of the more typical pointed-bottom "gull in flight" mark. As I reviewed my photos and sighting lists back home, and reflected on my 601 site visits, I wondered how many other butterfliers in Oregon have exceeded that number and what the number really means to me. I'm sure the great Oregon collectors and lepidopterists like Ernst Dornfeld, Harold Rice, Andy Warren, John Hinchliff, Dana Ross and others have made many hundreds of site visits. I concluded that mostly I am grateful that I've been able to make some modest contributions to educating folks about Oregon butterflies, some small contributions to our collective knowledge of Oregon butterflies, and that I've been able to enjoy this butterfly chasing game for more than 20 years. For me, that's a home run! Plunkett Creek List: Parker Creek Falls List:

    View All

© 2018-20 by Neil Henning Björklund