Today was a bit warmer than the other days and I got a really late start. Late summer is notorious for being slow birding. The only birds really active this time of the year are migrating waders and shorebirds. Fortunately, we have had an outstanding “fall” migration so far. Today, around 11 am, I decided to go to David D. Terry Lock and Dam, a nearby favorite. Even though it was hotter than the previous days it was still cool compared to other Augusts with the high in the mid 80s. My target birds were migrating Terns (especially Caspian) and Osprey at the dam.
Starting out on Frazier Pike, I drove by several soy bean fields. On the power lines there were hundreds of Scissor-tailed Flycatchers; mostly juveniles. Doves, Swallows, Martins, and Indigo Buntings were found on these lines as well. In one field, a Kestrel and 3 Mississippi Kites hunted overhead. This is a good location for Kestrels and I suspect that there are at least a couple breeding pairs in the area. While driving along the fields I noticed several different butterfly species but never stopped to look or take a photo. Most I could narrow down to sulphur species but family was about as far as I could go. I came across a muddy pothole on the side of the road and saw dozens of butterflies. There were several Orange Sulphurs, Sleepy Oranges, Eastern-tailed Blues, and Common Checkered Skippers. There were two Cloudless Sulphurs, one Spicebush Swallowtail and one American Snout that would not quit “bug”-ging the swallowtail.
When I came to the Frazier Pike neighborhood I saw several Grackles, Robins, House Sparrows, and I heard a few Blue Jays; Scissor-tails galore. Driving on into the park I saw several Barn Swallows and a few Eastern Kingbirds as well as Four-spotted Pennants and Halloween Pennants. On the water there were a few Great Egrets and a couple Great Blue Herons but nothing else; no Osprey or Terns. Since birds were limited I decided to continue the Butterfly Bonanza I was having and drove around the parking lot looking for more of them. I came upon a gravelly section that was filled with Bitterweed (Helenium amarum). Here were several Arthropods. Most were butterflies, bees, wasps, and grasshoppers, but a few dragonflies and damselflies were present as well. The first butterflies noticed were the Variegated Fritillaries for they were the largest present, save a few fly-by Cloudless Sulphurs and Tiger Swallowtails. After photographing them I moved on to the smaller butterflies: a plethora of skippers and Dainty Sulphurs. The first skipper I noticed was something different: a Hayhurst’s Scallopwing (lifer). Around it were several Fiery Skippers and a Clouded Skipper. There were other skippers that I missed probably but these were the majority of them. While photographing another American Snout, a Hackberry Emperor landed on me and stayed there a while, as is their custom.
In the end it was a great outing. Not the kind of outing I would have expected but a great one nonetheless. There were about as many butterfly species seen as there were bird species.