Butterflies are free

It’s been a while since I posted anything new here – I’ve been working my tail off on my new Etsy shop, http://www.etsy.com/shop/SpringAzurePhotos – but I just had to post some of the butterflies I spotted today at Nasketucket Bay State Reservation.

I hadn’t even gotten out of the car when Ulysse spotted a Red-spotted Purple in the parking lot. I’ve only ever seen them in Dartmouth; I’m hoping they get a foothold at Nasketucket.

Red-spotted Purple ButterflyRed-spotted Purple Butterfly

Viceroys are becoming a common sight at Nasketucket, which must mean they’re getting to be well-established there. There is a lot of birch for them to feed on.


This is the best picture I’ve gotten to date of a Viceroy. I think they must have all just hatched; their colors were beautiful.

And then there were these guys. I looked them up and believe they are Mourning Cloak butterfly caterpillars.

Mourning Cloak caterpillars

I took one home to raise and see what it becomes. I had to go fetch him some willow leaves at the park, and then set him up in a tank with them. I managed to drop him in the tank, where he just lay in a puddle, and I thought he was a-gonner, but then I managed to get him onto a spoon and really look at him, I realized the poor guy was just trying to molt his skin when I half-drowned him. He seems much better now.

After all that walking, I had to go to A.C. Moore, and damned if I didn’t spot a black swallowtail feeding on some clover right next to the parking lot! By then my feet were killing me, but I had to at least try to get a few shots of him since he was right there. (A strong breeze did not help matters.)

Black swallowtail


Orchid Heaven

We went to the Cape & Islands Orchid Show today, and while it was pricy (Ulysse got a hotdog and chips for $6!!!) and crowded, the show itself was beautiful. There is nothing like a room full of blooming flowers in January!

I had been once before, but I hadn’t had my camera long, so I knew one setting – which I had read in a magazine – and that’s what I did for every shot. This time I brought three lenses and some close up filters and went to town!

These were taken using a flash which, of course, captures a lot of detail and the flowers’ “true” colors:


This is my favorite one, compositionally:


These I took without a flash using my 50mm Minolta lens, and I think, of all the pictures I took, that they came out the most interesting:


And, of the ones I took without a flash, this one is my personal favorite:


A Taste of Summer

I’ve been rooting through old photo files, with the thought in mind that I would organize what I’ve taken over the years into some sort of database people could browse and (hopefully) order prints or note cards from easily. Here are three oldies but goodies I’d nearly forgotten – a little dose of summer right before Christmas.


tiger swallowtail


Praying Mantis Patrol

I went to Nasketucket, possibly for the last time this year, in search of praying mantises. The end of the summer/start of fall is their season; at least it’s when they are big enough to spot. The first half of my walk, I spotted only one, and was getting concerned that my 45-year-old, never-particularly-good eyes were starting to fail me.

Praying mantis

On the walk back, however, I fared much better, partly because of the direction of the sun.

Praying mantis

I should also give myself a break, because praying mantises are never easy to spot. They’re well-camouflaged, and they stay stock-still, waiting for their prey to come within snatching distance. But once you learn their body shape and where they are likely to be (and the light is right), you have an easier time picking them out from their surroundings.

But… I had an unexpected high when I spotted a female laying eggs on a branch, which I’d never witnessed before. I saw what I thought looked like a praying mantis’s eggsack, although the shape seemed a bit off. When I zoomed in, I realized why: the female was still in the process of laying her eggs!

Praying mantis

Praying mantis

As I’ve found with most of nature, it was cool but oogy. Or oogy but cool. (Twice this year I got to see a monarch caterpillar transform into a chrysalis, and it’s science-fiction oogy, but still a cool thing to see.)

Blue algae

So, I went to the park this morning, thinking I’d get an hour in before I had to get ready and leave for work, and the water was entirely fenced off. I’d been there just this past weekend and noticed a smell – not an unpleasant one – sort of like when you shuck corn – but I hadn’t seen anything unusual. Now, the water has a polluted look from this unnaturally blue algae growing in it, and the corn smell has morphed into something far less pleasant. I am incredibly disappointed, because this is the time of year when the park is just loaded with butterflies, dragonflies, turtles, birds, herons – everything – and they’re all on or around the water.

So… these may be my last photos for a while. :(


BirdsTree swallowsTree swallows

TurtleWater lilyDragonfly


Mini Vacay

I took two vacation days this week, and while I’ve been getting some work done during them (I am closing my antiques booth because it’s just not something I can keep pouring money into), I have also had some ME time. Today was the first chance I got to get out and take pictures – on my way from one task to another – and it was glorious. I went to the water pumping station, which is just this little plot of land but is rich in wildlife. I saw frogs, turtles, dragonflies, butterflies, caterpillars and even green herons.


Joe-Pye WeedSkipperJoe-Pye Weed and Mint

WildflowersJoe-Pye WeedGreen Heron

Monarch butterfly caterpillarsMonarch butterfly caterpillarMonarch butterfly


This squirrel cracks me up – he was digging around inside a hollow tree trunk for edibles.


Does anyone else see the freakishly huge frog I was totally oblivious to?

Turtle and frog

A whole lotta dragonflies

How many pictures of dragonflies can one person take? The short answer is, a lot. Like, a lot a lot. The frustrating thing for me, however, is that the really beautiful ones – like saddlebags, which are my favorites – never seem to want to land anywhere. Even when I ask really nicely…