Crickets here are still high-pitched and butterflies are still high flying. Swirling within clusters of busy dragonflies, and darting past reigning Monarchs, is the Orange Sulphur. While this insect varies in color, it appears nearly neon against tawny grasses or nearly invisible within honeysuckle and clover.
These quiet days of September are perfect for learning more about butterflies.*
Find a bench warmed by the sun within native meadows across from Silver Eel Cove, and you’re bound to see just how “social” these brilliantly colored insects are, flitting from one flower to the next.
Some populations gather enough nutritious energy feeding on plants (aster family) within Parade Grounds to migrate south. Others stay behind and overwinter here on Fishers Island.
*The painted lady butterfly is one of the most ubiquitous butterflies in the world and is identified by the shape of its wings and its eyespots, particularly evident on the underside of its hind wings. The butterflies flare with orange when flying and are sometimes mistaken for monarch butterflies.
*According to the National Geographic Society, the two-inch painted lady butterfly can migrate nearly 2,500 miles, starting from Europe, traversing obstacles such as the Mediterranean Sea, North Africa’s mountains and the Sahara Desert. Unlike monarch butterflies, chemical signatures in the painted lady wings reveal that they can make the trip in a single generation.
From the Field, Field Note by Justine Kibbe, Sept. 9, 2019
For many diverse species of shorebirds, Fishers Island has become the best “next stop” for fall migration, with tepid tidal pools, thick salted wrack lines and sand dunes buffered with tall beach grass. Birds returning to this ideal habitat feed, rest and recover morning, noon and night.
The Common Buckeye Butterfly is another beautiful pollinator, in addition to the Monarch Butterfly, drawn to goldenrod in late summer.
Thank you to our caring and watchful community! With the help of your stewardship, several species of shorebirds are once again thriving on Fishers Island.
There are several quiet coves on the western end of Fishers Island where Eider Ducks feel quite at home and appear to be thriving this July.
I often think of our late Island Naturalist Edwin Horning’s sightings and field observations. Between 1970-75, he witnessed only eight ducks at Race Point, and only during winter months. But now I see how this diving sea duck, once thought of as a “rare” visitor from the northern tundra, has truly acclimated to climate and available healthy habitat.
This summer, you’ll see Eider Duck families nestled below the cliffs near the Naval radar station south side, or foraging just outside Silver Eel Cove’s ferry slip (Little Stony) and preening in the sultry air on beaches of Sanctuary of Sands.
From the Field, Field Note by Justine Kibbe, July 26, 2019
It has been a banner year for Fishers Island’s returning shorebirds!