Our first attempt to see butterflies at Akeley Swamp was a washout. We kinda knew it would be, which is why we didn’t bother with cameras. But the wildflowers were riotous and the potential was great, so we planned to return in a couple of days when the forecast was more promising.
My car thermometer read 47 degrees and the valley was full of mist. I got there an hour before the other two. I took a leisurely stroll up the trail and I photographed lots of flowers without the distraction of contrast-y sunshine.
More true confessions: I don’t hike much in summer because I don’t tolerate the heat well and the bugs absolutely love me. So, some of the flowers along this trail were strangers to me! I was delighted by the cool temperatures and the opportunity to learn them.
In spring, I have to tell folks all the time that Dame’s Rocket is not Wild Phlox. I explain that Dame’s Rocket is a 4-petaled flower and Phlox has five petals… But until visiting Akeley in summer, I hadn’t ever seen Phlox – at least not that I remember.
Some of the plants had sparser blooms. I’m still not sure if they are a different variety, or just a younger, less robust plant. It seems this variety had white blooms, while the other plants had pink.
This St John’s Wort was familiar to me. I see it all over the place, along roadsides, in fields. I know several other varieties, too, but didn’t find them at Akeley. But this one:
St John’s Wort
This taller, bolder St John’s Wort was completely new to me!
I puzzled for quite some time trying to figure this one out. Leaves kind of like clover. Blossoms like peas. Turns out, it’s alfalfa. Thanks to Kathleen for helping with that ID.
I still don’t know what this one is. If you know, please tell me!
UPDATE: Duh! The Mystery Flower is Purple Loosestrife… I just didn’t recognize it with so few blossoms open. Thanks to the folks on Flickr in the ID Please group for helping me out. (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jenniferschlick/19572581449/)
There were also plenty of old friends:
Tall Meadow Rue
Queen Anne’s Lace (aka Wild Carrot)
My friends, Barbara Ann the Monarch Mama, and Jeff Zablow of wingedbeauty.com joined me as the fog was burning off and the insects were coming out. Of course, insects, unlike wildflowers, aren’t likely to sit still long enough for me to photograph… But I did get a couple:
Ebony Jewelwing (a damselfly, not a butterfly!)
I saw three or four species of butterflies. (Jeff saw many more – but then – he’s experienced!) This is the only one that posed long enough for me to get the camera set up and shoot:
Many thanks to friends who lure me away from desk to go exploring nature!
Jeff Zablow: scouting butterflies
Jeff will be the First Friday Lunch Bunch speaker at Jamestown Audubon in June 2016! He promises to take us on a Butterfly Walk after his indoor presentation.
Barb: the Monarch Mama
Akeley Swamp is a part of the Pennsylvania State Game lands. Be careful and wear blaze orange if you hike there during hunting season. It is also designated by Audubon Pennsylvania as an official IBA (Important Bird Area) because it is a stop over for water-loving birds during migration.