About a week ago, I hurt my back splitting wood so I haven't gotten out like I should. The temperature rose to 80 this afternoon so I couldn't resist going for a walk in the woods. I walked so slowly, my dog Kookie quickly got bored and ran way ahead of me. This turned out to be a blessing because I was able to see and hear more birds than usual. For example, a group of purple finches was feasting on some flowers or buds on a tree.
As I slowly made my way up the hill, I spotted my first butterfly of spring. I could see it had a beige or yellowish border on the otherwise brown wings as it was flying in the strong breeze. It finally landed on a Spicebush branch where I could get a closer look.
Mourning Cloak (March 7, 2009)
The Mourning Cloak, Nymphalis antipoa, is a member of the Brushfoot Family which includes Anglewings and Tortoiseshells. At first, I thought it might have emerged from a chrysalis today because it was so warm. On the contrary, my guide reports that this butterfly, like the Monarch, migrates to the south for the wintertime. Unlike the Monarchs which winter in Mexico, not much is known about the Mourning Cloak's migration movements. So, perhaps my first spring butterfly came up from the south or had overwintered in our woods. Either way, I was happy to get a glimpse of him today.
Slow down and watch for surprises will be my new motto.