Over the weekend, while storms apparently rolled across the metro area (I say apparently because my garden was wet and there was standing water in the raccoon/coyote feed bowl), the afternoons on the western and eastern shores of the Bay were sunny until almost dark. Hot, too. I headed down the western shore on Saturday to Patuxent Wetland Park along Route 4 for a quick look at some Joe-pye and ironweed; pretty uneventful with a Zabulon Skipper, a Silver-Spotted Skipper, a dark-morph Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and a Black Swallowtail (ovipositing on hemlock). Farther down the road, I walked the trails at Flag Pond Nature Reserve in Calvert Co. and found not one single butterfly. There may have been a skipper or two on the buddleia at the park kiosk when I drove in — the ONLY nectar source in the entire park — but it was in shadow by the time I finished my peregrination of the North Trail and pond trails. Some interesting odes, though, Great Blue Skimmer and Four-spotted Pennant, and a number of Spotted Sandpipers and a very yellow Northern Waterthrush migrating through. Still, a $6 park fee with little to show for it lep-wise.
Sunday I drove down the other side of the Bay, back to Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center to confirm the Southern Broken-dash, which was still there on the ornamentals (salvia this time) that were really the only nectar sources available (I didn’t walk the circuit of the pond, though, where there is often a little swamp milkweed — it was murderously hot). This has proved a reliable location for Viceroy and Sunday was no exception; Zabulon, Crossline, and Silver-spotted Skippers in small numbers rounded out the lep count. Best ode was a Slaty Skimmer.
I also drove through all of the Wye Island Natural Resource Management Area, again lepless save for a couple of Appalachian Browns around the lip of a small pond along the Schoolhouse Woods trail. But the walk was worthwhile for the sight of a massive Swamp Darner laying eggs in wet, rotting logs along the same pool. She actually made a small “popping” sound with each oviposition. After she finished she flew up in typical Swamp Darner fashion and hung suspended from a branch over the pool, wiping the grime off her ovipositor.
The excursion to the Eastern Shore, however, really was an excuse to pop for steamed crabs and Old Dominion on draft at The Crab Claw. I sat with other customers out on the open deck watching the fireworks across the Bay as rain and lightning pounded PG and Anne Arundel. Nary a drop spoiled my dinner, finished off with that quintessential Chesapeake Bay dessert, Smith Island Cake.