South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana–Big Year Update 10

I signed up for an event/workshop called Bugshot Montana, which was held from July 7 to July 10. Bugshot workshops are close-up photography workshops where participants learn all kinds of techniques for taking pictures of tiny critters. I will post about it in depth later, but this post is about the first part of the trip.

I drove to the workshop, and allowed myself a day specifically to chase butterflies in South Dakota, in an area called Spearfish Canyon. I also planned to spend an afternoon–four hours if I was lucky–in Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge in western Nebraska on the return trip.

I had allowed myself a full day to chase butterflies but it rained in the morning. So I spent an hour or so eating breakfast, then drove around a little bit. After the rain stopped some butterflies came out, especially in the gravel parking lots and trails. I spent a lot of time chasing tiger swallowtails. Eastern tiger swallowtails, Canadian tiger swallowtails, two-tailed tiger swallowtails, and western tiger swallowtails all seemed to be possible within this range. Western tiger swallowtails have a yellow dot on the leading edge of the upper side of the hind wing. Eastern and Canadian swallowtails have an orange dot. I got one photo with the yellow dot, but mostly the small dot is not visible. I think that all that I saw were of the western variety, but I really can’t say for sure.

One of these butterflies was mudding by himself on the large parking lot when the other one showed up and pushed himself up against him. Was that some kind of aggressive activity? It did not seem to be but I find the behavior sort of curious.

Weidemeyer’s admiral is large and showy and is similar to the white admiral.

Although I have previously photographed the summer azure, I thought the ones that I saw on this trip were especially colorful.

I added three butterflies to the year’s list from North Dakota–the western tiger swallowtail, Weidemeyer’s admiral, and the dreamy duskywing. All three were lifers for me. I also photographed northern crescents and silver-spotted skippers. I saw what I think was a pale swallowtail but I did not get a photograph. The list now contains 53 species.

So it was on to Bugshot Montana…


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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