Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Butterflies of the Cascades

This August we hosted a fabulous retreat with Dr. Robert Michael Pyle, studying the Butterflies of the North Cascades.  Our crew for the weekend was enthusiastic, ready to learn, and ranged from the advanced lepidopteran in the field, to the laboratory researcher studying adaptations of butterflies, and onto those newly acquiring butterflying handling and identification skills.  Smiles and laughter ensued when Bob would post a release butterfly on one's nose.  What a great expression one makes when tickled by butterfly feet!

Here Bob demonstrates proper holding techniques for the group.  But sometimes they held still for us all on their own and photography was just as informative. We learned specifics such the life history of butterflies and their life stages, importance of nectaring and host plants for adult and caterpillars, and how to identify males and females.  Other discussions throughout the weekend were informative, in-depth, and focused on the bigger picture of global warming, nature deficit disorder, to collect or not to collect specimens for study, and impacts of changing habitats for butterflies in a shared world with humans. 

We look forward to hosting Bob in the future, and loved the inspiration of this amazing naturalist group! 
all three species of wood nymphs in one day!
butterflying around the Basecamp gardens to end the fun!

Raptor Migration

The Fourth Annual Raptor Migration Festival fulfilled expectations this year with great raptor viewing from Chelan Ridge to Harts Pass.  The North Cascades Basecamp was proud to be involved with a booth at Pateros Memorial Park. A crowd of 30 joined us at the Basecamp on Saturday night for summer garden vegetable curry soup and emmer brownies with ice cream dessert, followed by a great presentation by Andy Stepniewski of Yakima Audubon.   

Andy and Ellen led 15+ participants up to Harts Pass on Sunday morning to watch more of the migration magic.  The sunny ridgeline was ideal on this day for migrating raptors; wings set back, head thrust forward, and hardly a flap needed except for the balancing act to overcompensate for gusts of wind reaching 20-30 mph.  The highlight of the day was acrobatic prairie falcons at the Slate Peak parking area, numerous osprey riding the winds, and rocket-fast merlins chasing pipets.  We watched over 50 birds in their migration south, catching those thermals and riding the gusty winds.  Happy travels and we’ll see you next year!