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Dr. Glassberg’s Excellent Adventure Day 3 Oklahoma

(We rejoin Dr. Glassberg’s journey through Oklahoma. Pictured above, a Monarch on Green Milkweed – ed)

Although the goal of the trip had been achieved, an identifiable photo of an Outis Skipper, today I set out to see if we could find any more individuals and to see if I could obtain better photos.

The Outis Skipper!

Sun – check; warm weather – check;  Outis Skipper – check!  We started on the same gravel road and, fairly quickly, found an Outis Skipper mudpuddling where the road was blocked by high water.  I was able to get reasonable photos of this one.  So – photos of three different Outis Skippers – I’m a happy camper.

We spent most of the rest of the day checking out Green Milkweeds and other flowers. Amazingly, the number of cloudywing dropped off markedly from yesterday.  In fact, although it was warm and sunny, we saw many fewer individuals, and fewer species, than we saw yesterday.  We did a few new species – Silver-spotted Skipper and Dusted Skipper.

With mission accomplished, I was able to take a leisurely drive back to my hotel, stopping to take in the local sights.  For example, they don’t have a school of horseshoing in New Jersey!  Also, although I knew that the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team had disappointedly lost to the Portland Trailblazers in the NBA playoffs, I was stunned to learn that the loss had made the entire city impotent, at least according to the billboard that I saw.

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Dr. Glassberg’s Excellent Adventure Day 2 Oklahoma

(Will NABA’s President Dr. Jeffrey Glassberg snap the Outis Skipper? Read on to find out! Pictured above is a Confused Cloudywing on an indian paintbrush – ed)

Woke up this morning and the blue skies in my eyes encouraged smiles. By 9 am, when I got to the first spot in Lexington WMA the temperature was 60 degrees.  And, in the sunshine, it felt good.  Walking along the road, I saw many butterflies, including lots of cloudywings and anglewings.  I looked closely at many of the cloudywings, because Outis Skipper is awfully similar – but no Outis. 

Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillar on wooly pipevine

At 10 am I drove to Bryan’s house and we went back out together, back to the same spot.  More and more butterflies began flying.  We saw Black and Pipevine Swallowtails, a Southern Dogface, a Silvery Checkerspot, loads of ladies and Red Admirals, Viceroys and Red-spotted Purples, Goatweed Leafwings and Northern Pearly-eyes, but no Outis Skippers.

Encouraged, we continued walking back and forth along the road.  A little after 11 am, we both jumped as we saw a small dark spreadwing skipper dart from the underbrush.  Landing near us – it was an Outis Skipper!! Finally.  I grabbed some photos and then it flew again, but only a short distance away.  It sat with its wings partially open, but stray bits of grass and twigs obscured the view.  Then, it flew off, not to be seen again.  I was elated! 

Yeah! The Outis Skipper!

In the afternoon, we drove around Lexington WMA and ending up seeing 43 species of butterflies – not bad.  You can see the list at the NABA Recent Sightings page.  The highlight of the afternoon was another Outis Skipper, this one nectaring at Green Milkweed.    

Confused Cloudywing on indian paintbrush
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Dr. Glassberg’s Excellent Adventure Day 1, Oklahoma

(We rejoin NABA’s Dr. Jeffrey Glassberg as he searches America for rare butterflies to photograph. Above image is of a Hoary Edge. – Ed)

Here we go again, I’m off to Oklahoma trying to find and photograph an Outis Skipper.  Those of you following this journey may remember that I tried for Outis last year, outside Dallas Texas.  That didn’t turn out well as not only didn’t I find any Outis Skippers, but I was also in the worst car wreck of my life, with three cars totaled.  Now, I’m trying again.

My plane, scheduled to leave Newark at 9 pm, was again delayed. The explanation that United gave for the 2 ½ hour delay was that high winds at Newark were causing incoming flight delays, including of the aircraft for my flight.  Since I was at Newark, and there were no high winds, this explanation seemed dubious. May I suggest that you don’t fly late in the day? 

I did eventually land in Oklahoma City, found a car, found my hotel and was asleep by around 3 am. 

Yucca

Earlier in the week, I had been in touch with Bryan Reynolds, a retired air force lab technician who now was seriously into butterfly photography.  As it turns out, in the past, on a few occasions he had seen Outis Skippers quite close to his house, in the Lexington Wildlife Management Area, in Cleveland County, Oklahoma.  After we got in touch, he went out that afternoon and saw one!  Looking good.

Red-spotted Purple

The weather for Saturday, May 11 did not look good, but we agreed to meet at his house at 9:45 am.  The weather was good – if one considers 55 degree temperature and completely overcast sky to be good.  None-the-less, we drove into Lexington WMA and walked a likely road.  Almost immediately we saw a Red-spotted Purple.  Unfortunately, most butterflies had gotten the weather report and stayed home.  The wildflowers proved to be a worthwhile distraction. There were yuccas, evening primroses, wine-cups, and plentiful Green Milkweed. Finally, around 3 pm, the sun came out.  Immediately, cloudywings started flying to the Green Milkweed.  In short order we saw Northern, Southern and Confused Cloudywings, along with Hoary Edges and a few other species. Then, the sun went away.

Southern Cloudywing

Around 4:30 pm the sun again appeared and, searching near a few acacias, a small dark skipper looped twice around the trail – we were sure that this was an Outis! And then, the Outis Skipper flew outta sight.  Outta sight, but not out mind.  We’ll try again tomorrow.