First stop (after bagels in Frederick, of course) was Swain Hollow on Sideling Hill Creek in Allegany Co. in search of Northern Metalmarks. But our first sighting was of PA colleagues Monica Miller and Curt Lehman from PALepsOdes who had arrived just moments earlier. Fortuitous timing; the mist had just burned off and the metalmarks were out in higher numbers than I’d ever seen basking on virtually every available woodland sunflower floret– my count was 52. Life butterfly for Curt and Beth. Most were very fresh so as Matt Orsie noted in his blog last week the flight has just begun.
We left Monica and Curt and headed west to Cranesville (our only major stop was at the Sideling Hill rest area, where there is a good bit of nectar on the westbound side being worked by a LOT of Wild Indigo Duskywings–our brief attempt to turn some of them into Horace’s proved futile).En route we got a message from Bill Hubick, who was working the Cunningham WMA near Grantsville, that he had Coral HS near the entrance gate there. We were tempted to swing by but, still nervous about running out of sunshine, we pressed on the bogs.
Cranesville was very dry, with almost no good nectar sources like milkweed and dogbane. The few milkweeds along the entrance road had Great-spangled Frits and some grass skippers; at the visitor kiosk on Muddy Creek there were abundant Appalachian Browns in and among the trees in the meadow, more frits (all GSFs, far as we could tell) on the roadside, and a hairstreak Beth is still mulling over.Bog Copper was enjoying a great flight along the boardwalk despite the dry conditions; small cranberry and a tiny dewberry were in bloom for nectar. We counted 18 in a rather short time on the boardwalk, but they were so skittish I dipped on photos but Beth may have gotten a decent documentation shot. We had single digit numbers of Appalachian Browns and Northern Pearly-eyes along the loop trail. While we were still working over the milkweed stand at the Muddy Creek lot, a car pulled up and its driver hailed us — Fran Pope! Another lepidopsterist sighting. Fran told us about some excellent nectar patches currently producing good butterflies at Herrington Manor SP, so we followed her down and hijacked the rest of her afternoon to show us good numbers of Black Dash (recently emerged), a number of grass skippers, and three frits — Meadow, Great-spangled, and Aphrodite. Fran had had Atlantis earlier in the day but we did not see them on our foray.
As dusk began to settle in on Herrington, Beth and I headed back up toward the interstate via a stopover at a good El Salvadoran restaurant in Oakland before turning back toward DC. We had an unexpectedly long delay at Cumberland owing to a major accident that shut down the east-bound lanes and gave us an opportunity to for moon-gazing at the full “supermoon” rising over the ridges.
About 11 pm we pulled up into the Citgo at Swain Hollow to check out the lights. If you haven’t beenthere, go! The 24-hr mini mart lights draw from the huge dark expanse down Sideling Hill Creek and the Potomac and attract huge Dobson fies, stoneflies by the thousands, and lots of moths. Highlights last night were an antlion adult, an epic Royal Walnut Moth, some good sphingids we’re still working on, and Polyphemus Moth, among others.
I got in at 3 am. Needless to say, no leptreks for me today! I have an early flight out to Spokane tomorrow with the expectation of seeing at least one of the local Parnassian species before I come back at the end of the week.