Thursday, September 30, 2010

Time for the Tortoiseshells

Every year, around this time, I start seeing Milbert's Tortoiseshells. The Milbert's Tortoiseshell is a medium-sized butterfly, which has wings bordered by a vibrant orange color. Since these butterflies are such a late-season species, they will nectar on anything that is still flowering. Asters are a common nectar source for these guys.

These beautiful insects can be hard to find, so coming across this species is always exciting. One of the best places to find this butterfly is at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center. The trails and gardens at the LGNC attract dozens of Milbert's Tortoiseshells every year. The native Aromatic Aster in the habitat gardens is a popular plant for many late-season butterflies especially this species.

For more information about the Milbert's Tortoiseshell, visit the Butterflies and Moths of North America website.

Milbert's Tortoiseshell

Sunday, September 19, 2010


This weekend has been great for migrants. A strong push of birds came through after the passing of a cold front on Friday. Although Saturday was good, today was even better. Everywhere I looked, I found small flocks of warblers, vireos, and chickadees. At one point, I found 14 species in one tree. Of the warblers, Northern Parulas were the most abundant. Blackburnian and Black-throated Green Warblers were also fairly common. I found my first Yellow-rumped Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the season this morning. Yesterday, I found my first White-throated Sparrow of the fall.

Northern Parula
Northern Parulas, like this one, were everywhere this morning.

Blackburnian Warbler
Blackburnian Warblers in the fall are not nearly as bright as they are in the spring, but they are still distinctive.

Along with the birds, lots of Monarchs have been migrating. I have been able to tag a few for the MonarchWatch project, but most of the ones I see are flying.

This Monarch (NGL 300) has been tagged and is on its way to the over-wintering grounds in Mexico.

Today, I photographed this Monarch flying overhead. If you look closely, you can see a MonarchWatch tag. This is probably a Monarch that I tagged in my yard that is now heading south.