Monday, October 4, 2010

Flat River Impoundment (Durham, NC)

This past weekend, I brought my family to a Lepidopteran wonderland: the Flat River Waterfowl Impoundment in north Durham county, North Carolina.

Variegated Fritillaries, Flat River Impoundment, NC (photo by M. Cagle)

Butterflies (Order: Lepidoptera) abound at the small, goldenrod rimmed wetland, originally created to mitigate the loss of bird habitat after the Neuse River was dammed to form Falls Lake. Recent sightings by Rougement resident, Randy Emmitt, include scores of Variegated Fritillaries, Pearl Crescents, Common Buckeyes, and Common Checkered Skippers. Our own expedition also yielded a number of migrating Monarchs, Cloudless Sulphurs and a Variegated Fritillary caterpillar feeding happily on a passionflower vine.

Variegated Fritillary caterpillar, Flat River Impoundment, NC (photo by M. Cagle)

Our favorite location at the impoundment was "the butterly tree" -- a large willow loaded with Buckeyes, Viceroys, as well as some Question Marks, Red Admirals, and Red-Spotted Purples. Butterflies often congregate on willows to lay eggs (e.g., Viceroys and Red-Spotted Purples) and to glean sap (e.g., Question Marks and Red Admirals). We were also lucky to see a number of Great Egrets and a low-flying, white-rumped Northern Harrier (aka: Marsh Hawk).

The butterfly tree, Flat River Impoundment, NC (photo by N. Cagle)
Common buckeye butterfly, Flat River Impoundment, NC (photo by N. Cagle)

Great egrets, Flat River Impoundment, NC (photo by N. Cagle)

Warning: Make sure to visit on Sundays, when hunting is off limits at this popular fowling spot.

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