Beyond birds: Butterflies and other flying creatures abound

If the birds are shy, I turn to butterflies. I usually can count on spotting at least bird 20 species whenever I visit the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm, but that’s usually under ideal conditions in the morning when the birds are at their most active.

Whenever I get an opportunity to make an afternoon visit to the Pole Farm (or any other birding site, for that matter), the birds can be scarce — especially in the midst of a long summer heat wave.

I ventured out to the Pole Farm on Friday afternoon, Aug. 5, with the temperature in the 90s. Few birds were out, let alone in reach of my camera.

But butterflies do not seem to be deterred by the heat. I was able to capture a few shots of the Eastern swallowtail shown at the top of this post and immediately below.

An Eastern swallowtail lands on a thistle at the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm on Aug. 5, 2022.

Monarchs are also present in all their orange and black glory. On Thursday afternoon, again in heavy heat, I headed to New Jersey Audubon’s Plainsboro Preserve in nearby Plainsboro. I found few birds to see, let alone shoot. But the preserve’s butterfly game was strong, and I spent some quality time watching two monarchs flitting about at the end of the spit jutting into McCormack Lake.

A monarch butterfly lights on a pink wildflower at the Plainsboro Preserve on Aug. 11, 2022.

Other winged creatures buzz by (and sometimes at) me while I’m on my walks. Skippers, dragonflies, moths (not to mention mosquitoes and flies) abound. Most of them are too swift or small for my camera to capture, so I am particularly grateful to the butterflies that land within range and stay for at least a few moments to give me time to focus.

Published by Dan

University media executive by day, blogger by night, I am a well-traveled resident of New Jersey

2 thoughts on “Beyond birds: Butterflies and other flying creatures abound

  1. Lovely photos!

    I think that pink wildflower may be native Joe Pye Weed — a super important late-summer nectar source in the east. (I’m not an expert on wildflowers and especially ones out east, so take my ID for what it’s worth.) It’s a great plant for butterfly gardens, but can also be found growing wild. I bet it’ll be covered with butterflies so long as it’s blooming!


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