Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Furiously flapping Fritillaries

Great Spangled Fritillary. Isn't that a great name for a butterfly? You kinda feel like you should rise, put your hand over your heart and sing it.

The hills were alive with these guys late Tuesday afternoon, fluttering from thistle bloom to thistle bloom, but this was the only one I could convince to pose. Obviously he'd been rear-ended and hadn't been to the body shop yet, but still pretty.

The hill he was grazing on is climbed by my favorite part of the trail system at Red Haw State Park. Many of the lakeshore trails there are heavily wooded and, in summer, dim, and (to me) a little claustrophobic (although many prefer them). This trail bypasses a twisting lakeshore route and climbs a fairly steep hill and then meanders with woods to the north and prairie to the south.

This is the best of both worlds for someone who prefers prairie and savannah. It's the open sky I think and, when savannah is involved, the fact you can appreciate the trees (many times oak) that grow there as individuals. And also because of all that shushine, the blooms are bigger and bolder and brighter and because I'm a fairly shallow person I like bright and shiny stuff.

The down side to this trail is the fact that it's outside the "game preserve" limits of the state park, open to deer and turkey hunters in season and because of its proximity to the woods, popular with those who like to park themselves in the tall grass and wait for their prey to emerge from the protected woods. Not an ideal situation for hikers.

A flock of turkeys calls this neighborhood home, too, and they were enjoying coffee and conversation when I crested the hill, parked in the middle of the trail. First they took off running down it, then moved off into the prairie verge to think a about the situation momentarily, and finally took flight and vanished with a collective whoosh! into the treetops.

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