last weeks field reports - resent

Mark Walker MWalker at
Tue Sep 4 20:13:42 EDT 2001

Again, apologies for the repost - but I wanted to make sure the species
lists were successfully transmitted.  Believe it or not, there are a few who
like to keep track of what I'm seeing and where.   I further apologize if
this fails to transmit again.  I don't know what the story is on these
phantom posts, but it's frustrating, to say the least.

Ignore if uninterested:


Saturday, August 25

Northern California includes some of my favorite countryside.  I have
relatives in Plumas County, and I almost moved there once.  My wife would
have no part of it.

Back to the road trip at hand - I left Reno kind of late, and decided to put
some highway behind me.  About 20 miles north, I was detoured momentarily by
a man who was having a heart attack on the side of the road.  There were at
least 15 people assisting - working frantically to revive the poor guy.
These were all motorists who decided that a man lying beside his truck
parked on the shoulder of the road was a reason to change their whole daily
plan.  It's an amazing sight to see people working together for a noble
cause - when you know that any one of them alone might be more prone to
fretting.  We really can do good things - when we put our heads together.
I'm refreshed to know that it can still happen - I almost forgot.

The man was amazingly still alive when professional help arrived.  The
police responded rather quickly - about 15 minutes (not bad for this part of
the country).  A fire truck was about 5 minutes behind, and an ambulance
another 5.  I don't know what the outcome was.  Soon I was back on the road,
wondering about the high cholesterol warning I had just received last week -
and the bear claw pastries sitting on the passenger seat.  Hmmmm.

Warner Mountains, Modoc County, CA

My first time in Modoc.  I'll be back.  The Warner Mountains are incredible.
On the road up to Cedar Pass you can see Mount Shasta in the distance - over
14,000 ft. and still covered with snow.  The habitat is mostly evergreen,
and the pass is just above 6000 ft. - the highest peaks close to 10,000 ft.
Because of the late start, I didn't arrive until almost noon.  The leps were
already quite busy.  Not much nectar - other than the rabbitbrush, which was
plentiful, blooming, and sufficient.  It turns out that this far north, the
stuff is pretty appealing - if you're a lep, at least.

More Fritillaries!  They abound - several on virtually every rabbitbrush
plant.  Easily spooked, but nettable.  The Fritts up here confound me.  You
check the literature, and virtually every species has a light form, a dark
form, a marginal banded form, silvered, unsilvered - depending on what
mountain range you're standing in.  Applying my best Fritillary id'ing
skills (which pretty much suck), I believe that I have at least three
different species.  A very large Speyeria coronis, and a somewhat smaller
Speyeria zerene - both silvered, the latter with a dark purplish brown
ventral ground color.  There were also female Speyeria cybele on the wing -
ssp. leto.  This is unmistakingly different - almost black and white.  I
spooked one out of the grass in a wet meadow.  I didn't see any males.
There were also tons and tons of skippers.  The most common was Ochlodes
sylvanoides.  Also common was Hesperia comma.  There were Pine Whites
floating about the pines, occasionally coming down for nectar.  Also Hoary
Commas and California Tortoiseshells.

I drove over the pass into Surprise Valley, where agriculture is alive and
well.  When I saw the familiar yellow of swarming of Colias philodice, I
couldn't help myself - and stopped for a swing on Old McDonalds Farm.  Even
with all the travel I do, these are the first Common Sulphurs I've seen
since I left Vermont in 1998.  Unfortunately, I made a spectacle of myself.
I have a nagging pinched nerve in my back that has rendered my left side
numb and immobile (thoughts of laying in the side of the road with various
motorists scrambling above).  The ailment has rendered a clumsy
lepidopterist even more particularly goofy looking.  Miss after miss, I
danced like a drunken sailor (I used to be one of these, so I know) about
Ol' McDonalds pasture.  I finally bagged a few, but that was pretty bad
considering how plentiful they were.  Ol' McDonald must have had quite the
entertaining experience - over yonder on front-porch swing.  I'm half
surprised he didn't greet me with his shotgun.

Other leps were in the old timers pasture - including Purplish Coppers and
Checkered Skippers.

More information about the Leps-l mailing list