Marvelous Monarch Morning

Monarch butterflies were active early on a recent late July warm and humid morning in Eliza Howell Park. I began to see them before 8 a.m.

Black-eyed Susan is now in bloom in the park. Based on past observations, it is not a flower I think of when I see Monarchs, so when a Monarch stopped on one to nectar, I approached for a picture.

20190728_115712

Given the numbers of Monarchs flying in the peak of the summer flower season, I decided to record in pictures some of the different flowers Monarchs came to rest on this morning. The second flower was definitely no surprise; I have often seen Monarchs on Red Clover.

20190728_115725

Monarchs are perhaps the best known North American butterfly – large, colorful, easy to spot, often discussed in terms of their migration practice and in terms of their declining numbers. One additional point is that Monarchs will often allow someone to get close while they are feeding on nectar, as long as the approach is slow and without any quick movements. These pictures were all taken with a phone camera.

Eliza Howell Park has several new benches. I was tempted to sit in the shade and watch the Monarchs, but I needed to be on my feet to get close.

20190728_084118

Butterfly Weed is a Monarch favorite, a flower in the milkweed family that serves both a feeding plant for adults and a host plant for caterpillars.

20190728_100036

Another flower that I have previously noted as a Monarch favorite is Purple Coneflower. One of the several Monarchs flying around in the “prairie wildflower field” stopped just long enough for a quick picture.

20190728_124506

I cannot be sure, of course, because there were several butterflies in their irregular flight patterns, but I think that each of these pictures is of a different Monarch.

The last picture I took this morning is of the butterfly on Boneset. Boneset is not one of the more common flowers in Eliza Howell and not one that I have ever associated with Monarchs in the past.

20190728_115923

Five pictures of Monarchs on five different flowers in about 2 hours = a Marvelous Monarch Morning.

I came away with a better knowledge of the flowers in the park that Monarchs select as food sources. After some 1300 Eliza Howell nature walks, I continue to learn something new almost every time.

 

Advertisements

Nature Discovery Day Is July 13

On Saturday, July 13,  there is a great opportunity for visitors to the park to become more familiar with the wildflowers, butterflies, birds, mammals, trees — and more – of Eliza Howell Park: 9:00 – noon. Free and open to everyone.

Resized_20190527_141858_9041

There will be exhibits, activities, and options of guided walks designed to point out some of the natural wealth of this Detroit park. The park entrance is on Fenkell east of Telegraph. The event also includes an opportunity to learn more about the U-M wildlife motion-activated camera project (which includes Eliza Howell Park).

Among the highlights of mid-July are the meadow/prairie wildflowers. Among those catching my attention recently are these.

20190705_121638

Clockwise from top left: Foxglove Beardtongue, Black-eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed, Common Milkweed

The event is organized by Eliza Howell Park Partnership (EHPP), a coalition of persons with different organizational affiliations and a common interest in highlighting Eliza Howell as a place for observing and enjoying nature in an urban environment.

Guides will be present to assist in identifying the varieties of flowers, as well as the specific species of butterflies they attract. These are among the common butterflies at this time of the year.

20190705_123112

Clockwise from top left: Monarch, Common Ringlet, Red Admiral, Pearl Crescent.

While I am often unable to get a picture of a butterfly I see, it is never difficult to find flowers waiting to be photographed.

20190705_122050

Clockwise from top left: Staghorn Sumac, Chicory, Wild Bergamot, St John’s Wort.

Eliza Howell is the kind of nature park it is, in significant part, because the Rouge River runs through it. For those who wish to take it on Saturday, a short walk to the footbridge provides a good view of the shaded river.

20190705_122423

Back in the field, one flower not to be missed is Wild Bergamot, a mint family flower, sometimes called beebalm, that has only recently begun its summer blooming season. It is a magnet for a variety of insects. In this picture, the visitor is a Hummingbird Moth.

20180712_155601

Many mammals are more active at night than during the day. The cameras used in the UM wildlife camera project have located and identified some of the mammals of the night, as will be reported on July 13.

Two that I have recently seen during the day are White-tailed Deer and Groundhog.

20190708_104019

I thank EHPP for providing this opportunity to witness and enjoy the natural wealth of the park.

 

Butterfly Weed: Photogenic for Five Months

From May through September, I frequently check the Butterfly Weeds in Eliza Howell Park, camera handy. There are three major reasons why it is one of my favorite wildflowers and one that “wants” me to take its picture often.

First, the color of the flower clusters is atypical as well as vibrant. The park is filled with yellow and white and purple flowers, but very few other orange ones.

20180731_112400

Secondly, the flower is well-named. It is a magnet for butterflies, especially Monarchs. This year, I have found at least three Monarchs around and on the patch of Butterfly Weed pictured above every time I visited. Butterfly Weed is a member of the milkweed family, but Monarchs do not lay their eggs on it (they use only Common Milkweed). Butterfly Weed is for nectar.

20180725_150406

Good nectar flowers attract other pollinating insects as well. The Bumblebee is just one of a variety of insects that lead me to pull out my camera, especially when the “bugs” are seen against the background of orange blossoms.

20180704_123922

At this time of the summer, the beginning of August, most of the Butterfly Weed plants are transitioning from flowers to seed pods.

20180731_114244

Soon, the Butterfly Weed will “want” to have its picture taken again. Usually in September, the seed pods mature and seeds begin to disperse. Butterfly Weed seeds are spread by the wind and they are fascinating as they prepare to float or fly away.

In the next picture, the seed pod is just beginning to open to let out the silk-winged seeds. In the following two, the seeds are (almost) ready to be taken away by the next breeze.

20180731_113026

20170924_164912

20170924_164856

From its first bright orange flower to the silky seed dispersal, with a great many insects coming to it along the way, the Butterfly Weed has definitely won my full attention.