I’m embarrassed to admit that I am capable of naming only one butterfly. The monarch. There are 125 butterflies found in Tennessee, according to a local chapter of butterfly enthusiasts. I have heard of exactly 1 of them. Yes, it’s still the Monarch.
These are the kinds of things that make me wonder what I’ve been doing all my life. I mean really, as someone who spends as much time outdoors as I do and who particularly enjoys wildlife, how did I make it this far without realizing there were so many kinds of butterflies right outside my door?
I am trying to stick to working on birding rather than shifting over to butterflies now. I’m a bit jealous because it seems like many of my new birding acquaintances are as good at identifying butterflies as they are at identifying birds. I’m still working at getting good at identifying birds. It’s been a couple decades in the making, so if I start in on butterflies, too, I will never be good at either of them.
Failing identification, I figure I can at least capture the butterflies permanently as an image. So, I sneak up on a tiny little yellow butterfly flitting in the grass. Apparently I am not so good at sneaking. It flies away with a particularly aggressive flap, which I take as an expression of its disgruntlement over having its meal interrupted.
The next butterfly I chase is a red and black one. It lands on a plant briefly, right next to a grasshopper and then immediately flies away again. This is a great survival strategy as I am, of course, now interested in shooting the grasshopper instead of trying to chase the butterfly into tall weeds. The grasshopper, however, is no more cooperative, just more of a tease. It stays still just long enough for me to get it in focus and then hops just far enough away to require me to refocus. We play this game for several minutes before Tisen gets impatient and insists we go on our way.
(Photographers note: Do I get bonus points for not only hand-holding macro shots, but doing it while holding my dog’s leash? I just can’t help multi-tasking.)
Next, we encounter a larger black and red type butterfly who seems content to be photographed. I take no chances, shooting from far back, taking a step closer, refocusing, shooting again. I work my way closer and closer until I get almost the shot I wanted. Then, when I am so close to getting exactly what I was hoping for, my new model decides it has had enough and abandons its post.
I have similar luck with some kind of skipper (did you know there was such a thing as a skipper?) on a dark purple flower. I’m fascinated by it’s big, fake eyes. It doesn’t fly far, but it won’t hold still.
Once again, Tisen gets impatient with me and we head back towards home.