Spring Colors

I know it sounds like this should be a blog about flowers, but it’s not. It’s about butterflies. This week has brought an onslaught of butterflies moving across Yale West Campus. The listserv has been alive with reports of bird watchers on the shore amazed at the number of ‘angelwing’ butterlies moving onshore. On campus we are just over 1 mile away from the West Haven beach (as the crow or butterfly flies) and the butterflies are moving North.

Question Mark warming on a rock

Question Mark

 Thanks to a great book called the Connecticut Butterfly Atlas I have recently discovered that a couple of butterflies in the ‘angelwing’ group don’t overwinter in CT but actually move north in the spring. With the amazingly warm weather this week it seems like this has begun.

Cabbage White


The cabbage white butteflies have been around on campus since March 8th (the first sighting of the year). A few of weeks after that we had sulphur butterflies and on April 4th we had our first skipper of the year, Juvenal’s duskywing.

Juvenal's Duskywing

Juvenal's Duskywing

I finally grabbed my camera today and got a couple pictures of some of the butterflies moving through campus. Most of the time they are not stopping but just heading straight through making it difficult to photograph. But I managed to find a little patch of flowers that slowed a couple down.

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

 Three species have been seen this week to add to our list. Eastern comma, red admiral, Eastern tiger swallowtail and question mark butterflies have all been seen on campus and are all first of the year. The first two listed are actually new to our total list that we started midsummer last year. It’s a fun time to be outside!

Question Mark

Question Mark (top side)


The Start of Another List

For the past 2ish years I have been birding.  I suddenly decided after taking a 10 year hiatus from the hobby, I would start again and take my coworker down with me.  In all honesty she (Sue) is a good birder and has been for some time.  I just started forcing her to spend her break times with me teaching me how to bird again. 

Now 2 years later I would say I’m doing a fairly good job at it.  I feel confident in most of my ID’s and if I don’t, I feel confident enough to admit that and not make something up.  I’ve even started studying (a scary concept for someone who never did it in school) and have started to learn birds and calls before I’ve ever even seen the bird.  It’s especially gratifying to be able to make an ID on a life bird.  ID stands for identification by the way. 

Oh right back on subject.  After going out on a butterfly count this past weekend (I’m worse at ID’ing butterflies than I ever was at ID’ing birds), I have decided to now start a butterfly list for work as well.  Day one and we have 2 species on the list.  Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) an introduced species from Europe and Eastern Tailed Blue (latin to come). 

And now, I’m heading outside with my binoculars to see if I can add to the lists.  See you all in the field!