Sunday, November 21, 2010

Butterflying in North Carolina by Shelby Heeter

Black form of a female Eastern Tiger 
Swallowtail was new to us. 
See the article in the Summer 2010  
American Butterflies magazine for 
more information on this 
interesting mimicry.

Traveling butterfliers can get lots of help from NABA. Last August, in anticipation of some vacation time in North Carolina, we studied  the most recent NABA count publication as a guide to likely hotspots, annual counts that we might join, and local butterfliers who might give us some guidance. Indeed, we found ourselves out with a nice and knowledgeable man, Doug Johnston, who took us to three locations we'd never have found on our own, plus his own house, as part of the Buncombe County, NC annual NABA count. The three of us recorded 46 species, some of which were new ones for us. We were also given directions to specific locations for Diana Fritillaries and Green Commas, both of which we saw. We got some good photos, met some really nice people, and had loads of fun. 

Silvery Checkerspot

Male and Female Zabulon Skipper. 
A well marked skipper, common to the area, 
was also new to us.

A rare Creole Pearly-eye that we found 
in our cottage the first day in town.

Traveling Butterfliers by Elane Nuehring

Lyside Sulphur, rare in South Florida but common in Mission Texas; 
taken by traveler, Linda Cooper 

In recent months we've had several traveling butterfliers contact us for advice about where to find South Florida specialties, and it has been a pleasure to offer what help we could.  When the timing is right, we have been able to include a few out-of-towners in chapter activities in the field.  And what goes around comes around.  Some of our members have been welcomed, included, and advised in new communities they were visiting (read Shelby Heeter's post about North Carolina.). The ability to network among fellow and sister butterfliers is one of the percs of an organization like NABA and its local chapters.

We can go online and determine if there's a NABA chapter in an area -- and if so, contact can be made to learn what field trips, counts, etc. might be scheduled.  In almost all instances, visitors are welcome to be part of any NABA chapter outing or event.  Even if there's no NABA chapter in an area, we can check NABA's web for butterfly sightings that might inform our travels.

We can also study our copy (or a NABA  friend's copy) of the latest NABA count reports by state to see which counts, at what times of the year, have produced butterflies of interest.  Each count published will usually include an email contact for the count compiler...which can lead to communication with local butterfly watchers who might lend advice.

If learning, networking and butterflying with experts appeals to you, you can organize your travel to coincide with a national NABA meeting (they happen semi-annually with the most recent in October 2010 in Mission TX) or a local butterfly festival that will include field trips.There are LOTS of butterfly festivals; do a Google or Bing search for "Butterfly festival" and you will be surprised!

Let us hear about your butterflying travels -- where did you go, when did you go, what did you see -- and did you hook up with local butterfliers?