Sunday, June 8, 2014

hedgerow hairstreak ~ 06/08/14 ~ Hastings

bronzed hedgerow hairstreak (aks sepia hairstreak) nectaring on chamise
(Tenney and Walker)

This was our group's last find of the day for the Hastings Count.  It was a long, hot day in a near-futile search for hairstreaks.  Oof.  Maybe we saw 4 individuals that weren't CA hairstreak?  Paul was particularly good at spotting those.  I didn't keep count.  Thankfully, Jerry Powell did.  There are a handful of other small brown butterflies that, from a distance, can look just like the hedgerow hairstreak.  They're tiny, dark, zippy shadows.  Even with binoculars, the hairstreaks have the annoying habit of turning their leading edge towards you so you can't see their wing pattern.  Ya, I'll probably not take a liking to most hairstreaks, because they seem to be best found at the top of very tall buckeye trees or other inaccessible trees, like blue oaks and coffeeberry.  We even resorted to throwing rocks at trees with hopes to flush out the butterflies.  Jerry was particularly skilled at this endeavor with one well-placed hit to the top of a trunk, whereas I was lobbing the first rocks I could find into thin air.  Ha!  This is not regular practice, mind you, just for the annual count's purpose of recording every possible butterfly we can find.  I'll admit I didn't do this for the Pinnacles count I recorded.  I had no idea how to do it before.  Eh, generally, if they play that hard to get, I'm not that interested.  To me, it's easier to search through closer-to-the-ground nectaring plants (although I have found a hedgerow hairstreak on its host plant buckbrush at Pinnacles).  Blooming chamise growing on top of a hill seems to do the job here.  Lots of butterflies like the toppest top.

Chris and Paul prefer using binoculars (pfft, birders.) and have both given me heavy binoculars to pointlessly carry on long, hot hikes.  I'll try most things at least once, and I did try using the special close-focus binoculars for butterflies a few times.  I don't particularly care using them because I have trouble finding and focusing on what are frequently fast moving objects.  Plus, I worry I'll miss seeing the many butterflies that do fly within a few feet of me, as I have seen happen so often when other people are too focused looking through their binoculars.  Eh, the extra effort of hauling them around is not worth the results to me.  I'm not sure if anyone was able to determine the IDs of the ones we saw sitting on the tallest buckeye blooms, anyways.  There you go.   

Oh!  One last ID note, Paul pointed out the rich, suede brown color on the dorsal side of the abdomen also matches the topside wing color.  In the photos above, there's a little nip at the forewing apex that shows the topside color.  Handy-dandy reference, but I already forgot which other hairstreak the comparison was made.  Did, I mention it was a long, hot day?

ps 06/14/14 - Here's the look-alike mountain mahogany hairstreak with a similar nip in the right forewing.  Note the darker brown color with bluish tint of the mountain mahogany.  Considering the tail length, is this a female, then?