Indian Skippers at Sand Flats

2016May29 Calico Pennant fem_MD-Frederick Co-Frederick Municipal Watershed_Sand Flats

Calico Pennant at the Sand Flats ponds in Frederick Municipal Watershed Forest. [photo 2016May29, REB]

Beth, Tom and I originally had plans to lep up in the Frederick Co (MD) Municipal Forest Watershed today, but until late last night the weather forecast for today was for heavy rain all day long linked to tropical system Bonnie.  But Bonnie proved weaker — and more stationary — than predicted, so after sleeping in we all woke to bright sunshine and the prospect that this would be the case until at least mid-afternoon.  So we had a quick email conference and decided to converge on Tom’s house in Silver Spring around 11 to drive up to Frederick.

Our first lep sightings were at the Tearoom picnic area in Gambrill State Park, but our best sightings weren’t even of butterflies to start with.  One was fellow lepster Kathy Barylski, who had been out for most of the morning and gave us some good tips.  Second was a Red-headed Woodpecker spotted by Beth.  Butterflies at this location included our FOY Appalachian Azure, a female obligingly ovipositing on black cohosh plants (the larval host plant) near the Tearoom that Kathy had put us onto.  No sign of last year’s Pepper-and-Salt Skippers, but it is getting a little late in the season for them.

We headed next up to the Sand Flats ponds, well-known as the go-to area nearest us for

2016May29 Hobomok Skipper male_MD-Frederick Co-Frederick Municipal Watershed_Sand Flats

Hobomok Skipper, common today in the Sand Flats area of Frederick MD Municipal Watershed. [2016 May 29, photo by REB]

Indian Skipper, which had been reported last week in WV by Matt Orsie but hasn’t been noted locally in any of the listservs or observation emails I’ve gotten.  Working our way around the ponds, we found Hobomok Skipper fresh and common, and a few other expected summer species.  Somewhat to our surprise, Dreamy Duskywings were also pretty common, and remarkably fresh.  Most everything seemed drawn to the abundant blackberry and dewberry nectar.

Odes were quite the draw at the ponds, too, with multiple Comet Darners (that stayed well out of reach of my net), Blue Dashers, Common Green Darners, and some very obliging Bar-winged Skimmers.  Farther from the water we found both male and female Calico Pennants.

2016May29 Indian Skipper dorsum_MD-Frederick Co-Frederick Municipal Watershed_Sand Flats

Indian Skipper at the Sand Flats in Frederick Co MD [2016 May 29, photo by REB]

Continuing the lep search, we walked up into the grass fields on the periphery of which is plenty of scrub oak, a great habitat in season for Edwards’ Hairstreak.  It’s best to look for these early in the morning, and as we were pushing 3 pm we may not have seen any even if they were on the wing, or it may be a bit early in the season.  But we did luck into at least two Indian Skippers, so we can report the species is now in flight regionally.

Among a couple of other butterflies during the foray were Appalachian Tiger Swallowtails (which would have been an FOY for me too had I not seen several near Linden VA yesterday while attending a wedding on Blue Mountain near the George Thompson WMA).  Eastern Tigers were flying as well.

But the clouds thickened by about 4, and we headed back to the car and mulled our options for a LepLunch destination and settled on the ersatz diner Barbara Fritchie’s (she of flag fame) and claimed seats at the counter directed in front of the pastry cases.  Enough said.

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Tom kept our sightings list for the day:

Zebra Swallowtail  (common)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail  (common)
Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail (2)
Spicebush Swallowtail  (8)
Cabbage White (3)
Orange Sulphur (1)
Eastern Tailed Blue (1)
Appalachian Azure (1)
Summer Azure (2)
Pearl Crescent (1)
American Lady  (3)
Red Admiral (1)
Red-spotted Purple (2)
Little Wood Satyr (abundant)
Silver-spotted Skipper (4)
Dreamy Duskywing (6)
Peck’s Skipper (1)
Indian Skipper (1)
Hobomok Skipper (8)

 

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