After leaving the Dare County, NC butterfly count I found a motel in Edenton, NC and hoped that the heavy rains would subside in the mourning so I could butterfly the Great Dismal Swamp like I'd planned for months. I didn't have anyone interested in joining me on this remote trip so I did it solo.
My luck prevailed on the rain as it was done in the morning, yet the area called for a 70% chance of rain in the area! I also had this kind of luck in Ohio a few weeks back, as it rained the entire week in NC while Ohio was gorgeous.
I started out along highway 17 on the southeast end of the swamp and headed northward. True butterflies were out in fair numbers, yet skippers were hard to find. I checked out a few spots along hwy 17 mostly Jewelweed had Palamedes Swallowtails and Cloudless Sulphurs on it. There was a little Mist Flower, Goldenrod and Joe-pye-weed that did some other butterflies on it. At noon I headed back south on hwy 17 and headed west on hwy 158 and checked a huge over grown field with lots of Goldenrod and found considerably less numbers of species than Will Cook and I had last year, I did find a Dion Skipper though.
Next I decided to finally put on bug spray and head up the only trail along hwy 158 in NC in the Dismal Swamp. Well I didn't hardly need the bug spray as the mosquito population must have been sprayed because of West Nile Virus. My girlfriend's yard in Durham has three times the mosquitoes I saw in the swamp.Two Pearl Crescents and a Sleepy Orange was all I found in a 1/4 mile walk of the road.
I had heard on September 7 a Zebra Longwing was found along the George Washington Ditch in the VA portion of the swamp, so I walked about 3 miles of it. Again no mosquitoes to speak of, about half the ditch was bone dry and all of the swamp was dry. I did find several goodies along the trail including 2 female Tawny Emperors (not recorded in NE NC at all) and 9 Southern Pearly-eyes.. Also a fresh Red Admiral and Question Mark made them selves known along the trail. The coolest thing I found was a Clamp-tipped Emerald hammering in eggs in the sand bar that's supposed to be the Washington Ditch!
After exiting the Washington Ditch I headed north and found a huge patch of Joe-pye-weed, granted it was very cloudy by now and yet most butterflies were hiding. I did find 4 Ocola Skippers and a Tawny-edged Skipper. I headed up to the Jericho Ditch at 3:30pm and it was gloomy out and only a Common Buckeye showed up there, yet birding was picking up. All day I did not run into one migrant flock, yet now with rain ready to let go I found a huge flock of Gray Catbirds (they surrounded me), Red-eyed Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, American Red Start and Magnolia Warbler. Other warblers were present but with failing light and eventual rain I had to leave.
Here's the lists:
Camden County, NC (sunny to partly cloudy)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (7)
Chesapeake City VA (partly cloudy)
Suffolk City VA (overcast and partly sunny)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (16)
After the trip I asked myself one question. In all the Dismal Swamp there's 170 miles of roads and why do all the roads seem fresh mowed EVERY TIME I visit there. There's mainly good flowers in short supply because of it. The flowers encountered along the roads were Jewelweed, Joe-pye-weed, Mist Flower, Sweet Pepper Bush and a few yellow composites.
All photos taken on September 15, 2002 in the
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