Spent a pleasant but lepidopterologically speaking fruitless day yesterday traipsing around Maryland’s Eastern Shore on the lookout for mourning cloaks and anglewings coaxed out by the near-60-degree temps and sunny day. Birding was good, but butterflies not in evidence. I’m beginning to suspect that these overwintering adults emerge when the sap flows (and it takes a few warm days and nights to get that to happen) and feed on sap oozing from ice- and storm-damaged bark and branches and from fresh sapsucker taps.
I did some scouting for locations to check out during the summer season; a helpful volunteer at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge encouraged me to visit Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge this summer, where he has counted up to 300 butterflies of various species at a time along the Bayview-Butterfly Trail. This 1/3-mile accessible loop features a restored grassland and native plantings designed to attract butterflies.