Last Thursday while I was wondering around the North Mississippi Regional Park looking for the heron rookery I had a pleasant surprise. I started off down the path that runs along the river, like the directions on the MOU list server stated, but I was going the wrong way down the path. I headed north along the river from the interpretive center instead of south. It was not really a bad thing though because sometimes a mistake can turn into blessing in disguise. On this afternoon the sun was warm and it was the first really beautiful day of spring. As I walked I spotted some pied grebe on the river, first of the year, some hooded mergansers, a phoebe, first of the year, and an old brown leaf.
A Brown leaf? Wait a minute that is not a leaf that is actually a eastern comma butterfly and the first butterfly which I have seen in 2008. Don't you just love its camouflage.
Now some of you who live in a warmer climate are probably thinking, "So what" right about now. Well I live in Minnesota, just in case you have not been paying attention, and 3 days before I took these pics we had temps below freezing and blizzard like conditions as we got over 8" of snow. I did not expect to see any butterflies until the end of the month or more likely May but there it was right in front of me. Good thing that I went the wrong way.
The following day, last Friday, I saw my second butterfly of 2008, a mourning cloak, at Wood Lake Nature Center. I followed it for a while but it did not land. Instead it flew up and over the tree line so unfortunately no picture, but spring has just begun so I am sure that I will have more chances. Today the butterfly cage that I ordered came in. It is made of pvc and netting and is about the size of a 38 gallon aquarium. That should give me plenty of room to raise monarchs, black swallowtail and maybe even order some painted lady caterpillars too. My plan is to set up a web cam or two so that I can get pictures of all the different stages since last year they always seemed to hatch from their chrysalis while I had my back turned.