Towards Sally Lightfoot

The Thicket Hairstreak ( Callophrys spinetorum ) has bullied me for years. Taunting me with emailings from people seasonally "Are you kidding? They were everywhere!" and "Go to this tree on this date in this month and they are there!" OK, the butterfly hasn't sent those emails, but No, they weren't there and, No, I haven't seen it yet...for twenty years. (I'm not quite sure the butterfly Hasn't been in on this.) I've been at this long enough to know all of us Naturalists have a Thicket Hairstreak in our lives and, no doubt, somewhere some pathetic soul longs to see...a Cabbage White...before they leave the Earth. If only someone would help them.
I'm annually reminded of this Missing Stamp in the Scott's Albums of my Natural Experiences in or around the Mount Diablo Butterfly Count. Paul Johnson or Kevin Hintsa would inevitably bring back a photograph of this quarter-size, chocolate brown Lycaenid with the white, postmedian zig-zag band above it's false eye. "Hmmm, still haven't seen that." One fact might be because I don't normally volunteer to go to it's habitat on these Count Days. The Thicket is a strong hill-topper that sits high up in trees near it's parasitic host: Western Dwarf Mistletoe ( Arceuthobium campylopodium). Males dart about on summits in a pheromone exchange of looking-for-babes. These "summits" ( at least on the Pinnacles Count and the Mount Diablo Count) are slight...death marches?...for this fair-skinned, Irish lepidopterist. So, in full disclosure, that might have something to do with...never seeing it. Or... perhaps...everything to do with it. ( See last Journal entry to see just how far I've overcome this barrier)
In Paul Shephard's book "The Tender Carnivore" he breaks the hunt - something he refers to as 'the venatic art'- into four parts: scanning (the knowledge of the animals habitats), stalking, immobilization and retrieval. Since I don't really collect anymore ( nothing against it, just sort of has been replaced by "iNaturalistmania") immobilization has become "please-for-the-love-of-Jesus-stay-still-for-one-shot" and retrieval is "don't let-me-have-come-all-the-friggin-way-up-here-for-Nothing-and-have-enough-water-and-Skittles-to-make-it-back" The retrieval...of me.
Shephard continues: " In all cases, however, men are engaged in more than a merely physical food-getting activity, for in hunting they are immersed in their most deeply held spiritual and aesthetic conceptions."
Yesterday, after years of this...knowledge gathering...I saw my first Thicket Hairstreak.
Up in a canopy of an Oak tree, below the radio towers, a lone one darted about with a flock of Gray Hairstreaks, hope springing eternal at each rendezvous the other would be a female. I stayed still and...it stayed still. Then, blink, it was gone.
I high-fived my hiking partner. Joy. Happiness. Staring down at the picture in my Powershot. Chug-a-lugged the Gatorade. Watched a haunting squadron of thousands
of dragonflies floating silently up and over this moment, making my victory seem small.
In " The Logbook of the Sea of Cortez", John Steinbeck wrote of the Sally Lightfoot crab ( Grapsus grapsus): "they seem to be able to run in all four directions at once; but more than this, perhaps because of their rapid reaction time, they appear to read the mind of their hunter. If you walk slowly, they move slowly. If you hurry, they hurry"

Posted by robberfly robberfly, August 17, 2014 22:38

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Golden Eardrops Ehrendorferia chrysantha

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014 01:19 PM PDT

Description

I thought I'd missed the big showing of rare "fire" wildflowers that emerged here. A few still in bloom.

Photos / Sounds

What

Western Sagebrush Lizard Sceloporus graciosus ssp. gracilis

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 17, 2014 03:13 PM PDT

Description

Relict population up here not seen by many. I've seen it now at Antioch Dunes and here.

Photos / Sounds

What

Southern Alligator Lizard Elgaria multicarinata

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014 12:51 PM PDT

Description

Exciting find cuz I need to paint this species. Still not quite sure of differences between species. Better it was biting Ken-ichi than me as I got the shots I needed.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Checkered White Pontia protodice

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014 01:16 PM PDT

Description

Perhaps the smallest males I've seen in awhile.
Directly related to brief rains we had extending second flights palatability on host.

Photos / Sounds

What

Gray Hairstreak Strymon melinus

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014 03:37 PM PDT

Description

Out in great numbers today. Helped stir up the main target today: the Thicket Hairstreak.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Mormon Metalmark Apodemia mormo

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014 03:51 PM PDT

Description

A strong flight of these at the summit of North Peak.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Western Dwarf Mistletoe Arceuthobium campylopodum

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014 04:41 PM PDT

Description

Host for the Thicket Hairstreak

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Redwood Keckiella Keckiella corymbosa

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

California Sister Adelpha californica

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014

Description

Lots of these out today. mainly small males.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Variegated Meadowhawk Sympetrum corruptum

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014

Description

The most incredible part of the day ( aside from finally seeing the Thicket Hairstreak...) was the jaw-dropping movement over the saddle between the Peaks of "thousands" of dragonflies. Most larger than this. Probably Darners?

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Mormon Metalmark Apodemia mormo

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014

Description

Perhaps the most abundant lep out today. Prominent on the North Peak Summit.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Mournful Duskywing Erynnis tristis

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014

Description

As well approached the North Peak, the expected Erynnis sps. in full hill-topping mode. 13 species seen today. Had one lone P. eurymedon at the radio tower North Peak summit.

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Thicket Hairstreak Callophrys spinetorum

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014

Description

The Target Species for the day. A lifer for me. Wouldn't have been possible w/out "kevinhintsa" here on iNat. A big thank you, Kevin.
We study a creature's life cycle, we hunt it's location. Season's go by. It's enter' s a...mythology...then...at last!
Cool to share this with Ken-ichi.
Ummm...now what do I do with my life?

Photos / Sounds

What

Oregon Western Rosinweed Calycadenia truncata

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014 02:45 PM PDT

Photos / Sounds

What

Crystalline Gall Wasp Andricus crystallinus

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014 02:34 PM PDT

Description

I.D.ed by Dr. Kathy Schick...

Photos / Sounds

What

Urchin Gall Wasp Cynips quercusechinus

Observer

robberfly

Date

August 16, 2014 01:45 PM PDT

Description

Dr. Kathy Schick, a pal in the Lep Society and a gall expert, helped me with this i.d...

Comments

Thumb

Great commentary Liam! Congrats!

Posted by greglasley almost 7 years ago (Flag)
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Love this robberfly !! congrats on your beautiful find - and sharing it with all of us iNaturalized geeks.

Posted by metsa almost 7 years ago (Flag)
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Enjoyed the post. Way to go.

Posted by sekihiker almost 7 years ago (Flag)
Thumb

Loved your post. Congratulations on your Hairstreak! However, now you need a new nemesis butterfly. What will it be?

Posted by dpom almost 7 years ago (Flag)

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