On March 28, Ranger Kristin spotted 3 Blue-winged Teal in the Wetlands.
As far as I’m aware, this is the first of this species to be seen here at the Museum. I’ve been waiting for this species to show up here. They are listed as “very rare” in both winter and summer in the Triangle, being encountered more in the spring and fall than at other times of the year. They do, however, breed in North Carolina. Good spot, Kristin!
On March 29, while standing at the Red Wolf Exhibit I noticed a small brown butterfly buzzing about the visitors gathered to watch the wolves. I got out my camera and waited, hoped, that the butterfly would land somewhere so that I coud get a photo of it. It did. The tiny lep landed on a red cedar next to the Wolf Overlook. It was a Henry’s Elfin (Callophrys henrici), the first that I’ve encountered at the Museum.
This is another species that I’ve be expecting here at the Museum. I look for them each spring. Here in the Piedmont, Henry’s Elfins may be found at redbud trees nectaring on the flowers. Hollies are suspected as being a preferred host plant here in the Piedmont. We have both hollies and redbud planted throughout the grounds.
Yaupon and gallberry are used as host plants on the coastal plain. Yaupon was recently planted in Catch the Wind, just this past fall. Could this butterfly have come in on the yaupon as a chrysalis? That may help explain why I haven’t seen this small, spring-flying butterfly here previously. On the other hand, it could simply be that I didn’t look hard enough for the butterfly in the past. It’s often, though, that the best discoveries are made serendipitously, when you’re not actually looking for them.