Flight

Dried and Hardened, Ready for Flight

Clinging to my sleeve, the newly emerged Monarch wings dried. It is a process of excreting the fluids pumped into wings, crumpled from folding within the chrysalis, to expand them. The clear drips of water on my arm are this fluid. I spent the hour sitting by our pool, savoring the summer morning. The butterfly signaled readiness, wings dried and hardened, opening and closing them slowly. Offered my finger it crawled to my hand, across to the thumb and, running out of space, took off.

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Pre-flight Wing Flaps

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First Flight

Ninety minutes later, I returned to the tree to find the Monarch still perched on the branch. A few minutes later, gone.

I used the IPhone 7 for these views..

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

On My Arm

Settled In

Misjudged by over an hour, I reached into the cage to allow the Monarch butterfly to crawl onto my hand for the first flight. Instead, it crawled up my arm and clung to my cotton shirt sleeve.

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Click me for better experience viewing the following video. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page. Note the replay icon (an arrow circling counter-clockwise.

I used the IPhone 7 for these views..

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Distended

Fully open, soft and useless

Emerged from the chrysalis a butterfly’s wings are crumpled, useless. Here it is fifteen minutes into freedom after abdominal fluid is pumped into the wings, opening them. Full of this fluid, the wings are soft, still useless.

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I used the cage access door and the IPhone 7, with flash, for these views inside the cage.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Crumpled

Helpless

Emerged from the chrysalis a butterfly’s wings are crumpled, useless. Here it is four minutes into freedom, abdomen bloated with fluid.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Emerge

Watch a Monarch butterfly leave the chrysalis

Watch the transparent chrysalis carefully and tiny movements are apparent before the skin splits, the butterfly slowly emerges.

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I used the cage access door and the IPhone 7 for these views inside the cage. Flash was used for the still photograph.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Inside the Cage

Caterpillar to pupa to chrysalis

Still hanging, quiet, motionless the chrysalis from the caterpillar photographed yesterday becomes translucent the same evening, Day 9 since pupation.

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Day 10, early morning, the outer skin, fully transparent, signals emergence is immanent.

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I used the cage access door and the IPhone 7, with flash, for these views inside the cage.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Chrysalis

Caterpillar to pupa to chrysalis

Our monarch butterfly sanctuary is a dense stand of milkweed, over the years the established plants grow rapidly late May through June, blooming in July. The flowers have an incredible scent, attracting numerous pollinating insects.

A colony of pesky sparrows nest nearby. In spite of a reputation for tasting bad, the sparrow actively feed on the hatched caterpillars. My strategy is to examine the plants early morning, placing rescued caterpillars in this old birdcage.

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The caterpillars and milkweed leaf is placed on the cage floor. I pile up the dried leaves, replacing with fresh each morning.

Sadly to report, the last, ravenous caterpillar stage is also carnivorous, cannibalistic. These two, below, were the only ones left except for one in the pile of dried leaves.

Here is a closer view of the two fifth stage instars searching for a safe location to pupate.

A few hours later one has successfully created a silk pad, attached itself and assumed the “J” shape. To the left a second caterpillar and silk pad.

The next morning, the first has formed a chrysalis. The second, hung spent.

This unsuccessful individual never completed the chrysalis, dried up and fell. My sources write the pupa transforms to a chrysalis through shedding of skin, the following photograph tells a different story. The chrysalis appears to extrude from the skin; arising over, or from, the skin rather and beneath it. I have never recovered a shed skin underneath a successful chrysalis.

Nine days later, Tuesday, July 28, the chrysalis hangs. I check several times a day.

These photographs are from a 100mm “macro” lens, handheld. The birdcage works well for protecting the monarchs. Is a poor location for photography.

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Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Brave Leap

First to Leave

In the first video, the largest and strongest Robin chick, the first to fledge, is not quite ready. Maybe I am anthropomorphizing, this individual appears to exhibit the same emotions I feel when approaching a new physical experience, say learning to flip turn, swimming laps in later life. Listen carefully to hear the chick playing the carriage light crown like a bell.

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Here the first chick to fledge screws up the courage, takes a shit, then leaps!! Bon Voyage!!

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I have a lot to learn about making video with this new camera. Color balance is improved in the second video.

Today, the morning after, this nest is not empty. I found the third chick standing, well grown, enjoying the benefits of parental attention. The nest was empty by afternoon, the territorial Robin parents were still terrorizing Blue Jays.

Special thanks to Pam for the heads up on the chicks and for ceding her prime kitchen window spot.

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

A Tight Fit

We watched the parents build this nest in stages from May to June, at times progress was so slow Pam and I thought the nest abandoned. It is a perfect location for them, safe from predators, sheltered by soffit, above, wall, behind. In front, carriage light crown.

Today the two of three chicks flew the nest. Here they are in the minutes before this big event.

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Here is my first video with the Canon dslr.

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Spring Outing X

Please give your opinions of this experiment, via comments. Thank You

Seconds after taking this shot, at f/4, I changed the f-stop to 29 and captured these blossoms with the environment in focus (yesterday’s posting). At f/4 focus is a challenge and I was not happy with the detail of the foreground blossom.

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I am in the experimentation phase of learning the new camera, so in spite of the 100% file size increase I turned on the Dual Pixel Raw feature. The two photos are from the same file. My impression is the adjustment improved the foreground flower details. Is it my imagination?

Click me for another Hepatica wildflower posting.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills