Well, here it is: the final tally for my DelMarVa Butterfly Big Year. The total stands today, at the end of November, at 71.
A bit off from the very ambitious push to 100 that I was hoping for!
Then again, it’s about half of all the butterflies known from the region, including a huge number of leps that occur only sporadically or that once occurred but are presumed extirpated.
There were some very good finds: Yehl’s skipper at the Great Dismal Swamp, Leonard’s skipper at Soldier’s Delight, and Olympia marble at a Maryland location I chose not to disclose to protect this fragile population. But there were equally disappointing misses, including brown elfin, European skipper, silvery blue, white M hairstreak, and – most perplexing! – coral hairstreak. A little more diligent searching and a more relaxed work year would have picked these up easily.
I’m currently reading Robert Michael Pyle’s Mariposa Road, and feeling very smug that I had just as many great field experiences over the course of my local big year as he did in what he touts as the first national Butterfly Big Year. And the truth is, as I look back and reflect on where I found each of these butterflies for the first time in 2010 (and sometimes for the first time ever), it’s hard to feel any kind of disappointment at all.
Here’s to a great butterflying year in 2011, and I hope to see you all in the field next year!