I know it is cliche, but it is also dead on – Some of the coolest and most interesting things are in your own backyard.
When I read the following article this past weekend, it all hit home as I felt excited yet stupid all at the same time:
Horseshoe Bend Preserve is Home to Gray Comma Butterfly
First off, a little background. I literally live right down the street from this park/preserve and have never been there. How that is possible, I don’t know. I wish I had a bunch of valid excuses, but I don’t. I’m just unaware, dumb and lazy.
But even worse than that, is how clueless I was about the battle/negotiation that has been going on for years over the preservation of this land. You can read about all of the details here, but the short of it is that there was approval to build 70+ homes on this land before the Hunterdon Land Trust stepped in and aided in the preservation.
I vaguely remember seeing the battle in the newspapers/media over the years, but not once did I educate myself on the details of the negotiation. And that is a shame. I can pontificate all I want on land preservation but here was a chance to step in and get involved and I didn’t do that. Strike two against me.
So now is where I step in and avoid strike three. It is time to explore and enjoy this treasure and I did just that over the weekend immediately after I read the article above, specifically the phrase – “the big butterfly news of the year”. Are you kidding me? This is the only spot where the Gray Comma Butterfly has been spotted in New Jersey? I am on this and will locate one myself. It reminded me of a search I attempted as kid to find Bigfoot in the woods, except this is a little less terrifying and life altering (long story).
So off I went with camera in hand ready to spot me some rare butterflies. In addition to the Gray Comma, I was also looking for a White M Hairstreak and a Sleepy Orange.
Nothing was going to get in my way.
Upon entering the preserve, you immediately take in the vistas of the Delaware River Valley:
It was stunning and worth the trip just for the views.
I found a spot to park along the side of the road and realized I was the only one around within miles. My Bigfoot nightmares were creeping back in but I fought them off and ventured on.
There were a number of available paths to travel down and I had no idea where to begin:
I eventually settled on the main passageway figuring I was less likely to get lost and eaten by coyotes if I kept it simple. Upon entering into the “forest” I was immediately taken by how the sunlight filtered through the trees:
It was beautiful and a reminder of how this blog started simply as a diary of my own garden but now has given birth to my love of photography. I am light years away from grasping all of the intricacies of photography, but I can tell you “filtered light in the woods” was something that never crossed my mind even three or four years ago.
Just like with yesterday’s post, I was totally digging the early stages of the changes in foliage color as we enter into Autumn:
I may have only hung out in the preserve for 45 minutes or so, but in that time, a whole lot of lightbulbs went off. Besides the aforementioned photography love, I was reminded that plant life is a lot more interesting and diverse beyond the nice clean plants I’ve added to my own garden. I couldn’t tell you the names of any of the plants I cam across in my little sojourn, but I feel determined to change that:
But enough of my life altering discussions, we were here to find those butterflies and become
famous better educated. I hunted high and low for any signs of critter activity and the first thing I spotted was this caterpillar that I’ve yet to identify:
Pretty cool but I need more details before I can determine if it was “special”.
But ladies and gentleman, the moment we’ve been waiting for. Did he or didn’t he find the mysterious butterfly?
I am happy to report, after running around like an idiot for minutes on end, I am 95% sure I found the elusive creature. I couldn’t get a perfect shot but I think I got enough to prove that I was a successful butterfly hunter:
What do you think? Let’s compare to a good photo I found online:
I think I nailed it right?
I’m liking this A LOT so watch out for more “hunting” in the near future. Not to mention, enjoying what my part of the world has to offer and getting frggin involved once and for all.