The turn up Hoop Pole Road gave us two of our three elfins for the day, Brown and Henry’s.
With the afternoon well upon us, we stopped for a quick picnic lunch before assaying the treacherously steep and crumbly descent (and then ascent) to the best of the known Olympia Marble sites. En route to the sweet spot we found one of several Cobweb Skippers seen by members of the group. We spent an hour or so there, alternately catching our breaths and chasing small whites that invariably turned out to be Falcates.Tim relieved the tedium by hustling up a couple of Pine Elfins to make it an elfin trifecta day, and we had a number of the rare and local Cow Path Tiger Beetles that share the dry barrens habitat with Marbles. We were getting ready to slip-slide back down the shale scree when Mark yelled out “Marble!” and sent us all scrambling over to find a very gravid female nectaring near the ground on small cresses and field pansies. It started to fly off and I netted it for closer looks. We had two more on the descent and climb back up to the waiting cars. Don and Monica took an alternate and less life-threatening path back to the cars and thence back to PA; the rest of us struggled back up the hillside we’d butt-slid down. The sun was starting to drop below the tree level when we made it finally to the start of Kasecamp Road, where our first concentration of Dreamy Skippers fluttered around the gravel lot. On the shale hillside above us, we finally saw Silvery Blues, a lifer for some of the team and one of the our targets (along with Marbles and Cobweb Skipper).
After a stop at the overlook of the Potomac on Carroll Road — and a chance to watch a flock of wild turkeys sort out territorial and sexual hierarchy on the fields below — Mark and Darcy peeled off to return Tim to his car while Tom, Beth and I headed into Hancock for a celebratory dinner at Buddy Lou’s — where Tim rejoined us out on the patio for some well-earned dinner and discussion of our sightings of the day.
We’re indebted to everyone who took photos, but especially to ace photographer Don Weiss, whose other butterfly photography is stunning too.
Here’s the species list Tom put together for us:
Butterfly List for MdLepsOdes Trip to Green Ridge State Forest, Allegany County, Maryland
April 17, 2016
All species were common to abundant except as noted:
Pipevine Swallowtail (2)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Spicebush Swallowtail (1)
Cabbage White (6)
Olympia Marble (3) (2 netted, one on-the-wing ID)
Clouded Sulphur (2)
Orange Sulphur (8)
Brown Elfin (2)
Henry’s Elfin (5)
Pine Elfin (3)
Olive (Juniper) Hairstreak (3)
Eastern Tailed Blue
Silvery Blue (1)
Eastern Comma (1)
Mourning Cloak (1)
American Lady (5)
Pearl Crescent (2)
Wild Indigo Duskywing (1)
Cobweb Skipper (1) (Don and Monica saw more on the way back to their car)