Yosemite Butterfly Count/Saddlebag Lake

I'd been asked a few month's back if I'd be one of the leaders in the 2nd Annual Yosemite Butterfly Count. Hard to imagine this great National Park is only recently celebrating the presence of these creatures and even harder to imagine considering it is home to one of the great American Butterfly stories.
Colias behri - called by both the common names Behr's or Sierran Sulfur -
was a prized addition to every University during the golden era of Victorian collecting. The way one would obtain this California endemic species -
(and I may have some of the facts janky here - was to leave money in an envelope on a certain tree above the town of Lee Vining and there was a miner who made a great living by supplying educational facilities with specimens of this little green sulfur. Long before a National Park came about there.
Then in 1937 something happened: the Tioga Pass was cut and a place called Saddlebag Lake became accessible to the world. The type locality for this creature is "Yosemite Valley" but the best place to see it known amongst lepidopterist is Saddlebag Lake. I'd seen it there before.
The walk about this place on the Count revealed for me two other lifers -
The Rockslide Checkerspot ( Chlosyne whitneyii) and the American Copper
(Lycaena phlaeas). I was incredible lucky to see these both here this day because they are known to be higher altitude species.
And if THAT wasn't good enough - my first aberrant in-the-field. The underside, mutated markings of this Edith's Copper were CRAZY cool>
Saddlebag Lake - one of the top five destinations for any California Butterfly enthusiast. ( Oh, and the plant life rocked as well...)

Posted on August 01, 2013 12:12 AM by robberfly robberfly

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

Ruddy Copper (Tharsalea rubidus)

Observer

robberfly

Date

July 28, 2013 01:33 PM PDT

Description

Male. Stops you in your tracks on the path. Electric orange tinfoil.

Photos / Sounds

What

Lustrous Copper (Lycaena cupreus)

Observer

robberfly

Date

July 28, 2013 01:42 PM PDT

Description

Female. Slightly duskier than rubidus.

Photos / Sounds

What

Edith's Copper (Tharsalea editha)

Observer

robberfly

Date

July 29, 2013 06:09 PM PDT

Description

My first "aberrant". Like a friggin' Willy Wonka Gold Ticket.! A spectacular mutation.
Took awhile for all of us to figure out editha.

Photos / Sounds

What

Sierra Sulphur (Colias behrii)

Observer

robberfly

Date

July 2013

Description

One of the most highly restricted ranges of any butterfly in North America. The Star of the Yosemite Butterfly Count. A Green Sulfur.

Photos / Sounds

What

American Copper (Lycaena hypophlaeas)

Observer

robberfly

Date

July 29, 2013 11:08 AM PDT

Description

Did not realize I'd seen this till keying my shots. A lifer! Tough to find, but found it without trying...

Photos / Sounds

What

Sierra Nevada Checkerspot (Chlosyne whitneyi)

Observer

robberfly

Date

July 29, 2013 10:45 AM PDT

Description

Another lifer. Literally appears only when trail crosses rockslides. A day full of fantastic sightings.

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