Friday, October 12, 2012

One Stroky’s Journey: Butterfly mania

Gulf Fritillary on lantana bloom, Photo by Walter Skupien

During a bridge walk in September, walking buddy Ann and I were amazed at the abundance of bright orange and black butterflies whizzing by from west to east across the bridge.

Their color at first made me think that the monarch migration had arrived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Nope. They were Gulf fritillaries, on their annual migration from southeastern states to South Florida.

White flowers created a butterfly welcome station.
When we took the steps down from the bridge’s pedestrian lane, fritillaries covered the white flowers next to the steps. The butterflies were taking a rest and nectar break, flitting from bloom to bloom. I am not sure if they were actually imbibing, but it looked as if they were.

Ann held my gait belt while I maneuvered on an uneven surface, trying to capture a useable image of the brightly colored insects. There were also Common Buckeye butterflies sharing the flowers.

Attempts to position my point-and-shoot Canon close to the moving targets, to steady the camera, to keep my balance, and to actually get a butterfly in the frame just didn’t work.

Although the effort was probably an excellent stroke recovery balancing exercise, the photographic exercise was pretty much a bust. But it was a fun bust. 

Here is sample of my flutterby fragments:
Oops! A bit of a fritillary

Partial view of the underside of a fritillary wing

One of the big eyes on a wing, an example of the protective mimicry of the Common Buckeye

Rather than discouragement, my photo efforts resulted in an acute attack of butterfly mania. I managed to suck Hubby into my new obsession. The result was a trip eight days later to Mobile Botanical Gardens for a Saturday morning butterfly program. I will post more about that pleasurable experience later.

Hubby Walter captured butterfly and other images that he posted here in his chronicle of our trip to the botanical gardens.

At the botanical gardens I did get a few butterfly shots, although the fritillaries were so fast and stayed so far away that I had more success with the Common Buckeye butterflies. The buckeyes shared the fritillaries’ attraction to lantana but perched in one place longer and didn’t startle as easily as the fritillaries.
My snapshot of Gulf Fritillary on lantana

Common Buckeye, taking a nectar sip, perhaps?

One of many Common Buckeyes on lantana at Mobile Botanical Gardens during our Sept. 29 visit.


  1. Practice makes perfect! Beautiful butterflies!

  2. Linda, I was just thinking how gorgeous your photos were when you reminded me that you are still recovering from you stroke. I never would have known.

  3. I am mad about botanic gardens. I didn't know Mobile had one. Got to get there some day. I love subtropical gardens.

    BTW your shot of the Fritillary scooting off the frame is very Impressionistic (capturing a moment in time). Love it. Dianne

  4. Your butterfly shots are just beautiful.

  5. I often find the shots that weren't quite what I planned become the most interesting and remarkable, just as with yours. I like what you got.

    Here's a tip I learned .... When trying to capture quickly moving butterflies or hummingbirds, I set the camera for repeating shots. I suspect your camera has it. Mine is a Canon Power Shot with "continuous shooting." I put it in that mode and just hold down the button. More half my shots are keepers, and only a few are blurry or missed the subject to be disposable. Another thought, do you use a tripod? I know it's another thing to carry, but they make very lightweight ones that might help.

    Keep shooting!!

  6. our yard is always full of the gulfs and they are wonderful. but i have only ever seen one buckeye here. this one is just so pretty. what a fun way to get your rehab kick started. and nice to have someone to hold your belt while you do it. great shot, that first one is gorgeous. he done good

  7. Terrific shots Linda.
    Butterflies can be so uncooperative sometimes. They just flit around so fast.
    I thought the underside of the wings was super.
    Keep on snapping. You are doing great.