Sunday, June 26, 2011

Butterflies at Fairview Farm

Yesterday I spent the morning at Fairview Farm Wildlife Preserve, a small nature refuge in Bedminster managed by the Upper Raritan Watershed Association. The preserve maintains habitats in varying stages of natural succession, from meadows to woodland. The large meadows and edge habitats make it particularly good for butterfly watching, and on a good day, a lot of dragonflies and damselflies can be found there, too. Here are a few of the Lepidoptera species that I saw yesterday.

There were a lot of these little skippers flying around yesterday. This is a tiny butterfly, the Least Skipper. It is one of the few skippers that looks almost entirely orange when its wings are completely closed. In the "jet plane" posture (like above), more brown becomes visible.

Most skippers are a combination of orange and dark brown, with precise patterns that differentiate the species from each other. Zabulon Skippers are typical in that regard, and (at least in New Jersey), they are good butterflies to learn to recognize as a starting point for learning skippers. The Little Glassywing is one of a handful of all-dark skippers. Its name refers to the white patches on the inner (or upper) surface of the forewing. The white patches contrast strongly with the rest of the wing, almost as if the wing has a window.

This mostly drab brown butterfly is a Little Wood Satyr. It is one of several regularly occurring species in New Jersey that combine a brown ground color with eyespots around the edges of the wings. I always have trouble remembering which brown butterfly carries which eyespot pattern. This is one situation where carrying a digital camera really helps. When I see a large brown butterfly I try to get a clear photo and then work out the precise ID later. Yesterday I saw Little Wood Satyr, Common Wood Nymph, and Northern Pearly-Eye all in the same area of the preserve.

The last butterfly species I recorded at the preserve was this Delaware Skipper. This was a butterfly lifer for me, and it is one I have been wanting to see for a while. The open black triangle in the center of the forewing is distinctive.