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VTLEPS  September 2004

VTLEPS September 2004

Subject:

Re: COLLECTING TRIP TO NORTHERN COOS CO., NH

From:

"Grkovich, Alex" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Vermont Butterfly Survey <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 9 Sep 2004 15:25:49 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (278 lines)

Here are some notes from a trip that I made to the Scott Bog region of
northern Coos Co., NH on August 25th (2004)...

In successive seasons at this point, I have regularly found the Hoary Comma
along the East Inlet Road, in low, moist areas along the road dominated by
alders and the foodplant. The most reliable locale is at Mile 7.2 from the
Highway (Route 3N - also known in this region, north of Pittsburg, NH, as
"Moose Alley")...This is near the second one-lane logging bridge which one
passes along the road...The first bridge, Mile 6.2 (approx.) is just before
a small cabin, and there is a good colony of Gray Comma (P. progne) at this
locale...Hoary Comma can also be taken regularly in another low, moist area
at approx. Mile 10...

Gray (progne) and Green Comma (P. f. faunus) have both been encountered
abundantly almost everywhere along both East Inlet and Scott Bog
Roads...Progne appears to fly in greater abundance somewhat later in the
afternoon (between 2 and 4PM) than does faunus...

So far, during visits in four (4) consecutive seasons in the latter parts of
August, I have yet to encounter the elusive Satyr Anglewing or satyr Comma
(P. satyrus f. marsyas), which according to Warren Kiel has been recorded
here...It is always possible that I have been overlooking a specimen or two,
as it is difficult to carefully examine EACH Polygonia specimen that is
encountered, as they are obviously very numerous...But I suppose given the
distinctive DHW coloration, had I seen the species I would have been aware
of it...The Eastern Comma (P. comma) has also not been seen here...

In August 2003, the Compton Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis or Roddhia j-album) was
encountered here in fairly sizable numbers, with one specimen as noted below
being found in 2002...I failed to record it at all this time; apparently
demonstrating the "periodicity" of the species...At the same time, Milbert's
Tortoiseshell (N. milberti) was on this visit found in fair numbers in
chiefly in drier, higher areas along East Inlet Rd., at elevation of approx.
2700 ft. Two specimens have been spread at this time...what is notable is
the absence of orange-yellow in the median bands across the dorsal wing
surfaces...These specimens are suggestive of subspecies viola (of
Newfoundland, at least) in this regard...Milberti from further south in New
England (i.e. Mt. Washington, Kancamagus Highway) are typical milberti, with
a more conspicuous orange-yellow tinge in the orange-red bands...

The Silver Bordered Fritillary populations here appear clearly to be
subspecies atrocostalis - and this may also represent the southernmost
extent of atrocostalis in its pure form in New England, with a broad blend
zone occurring southward between it and myrina...These are very small (not
much larger than a Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes (tharos)...occurring everywhere
in moist meadows and roadsides...One can see how these could be confused
with the Bog Fritillary (Boloria eunomia dawsonii) which has not been
confirmed from this region, but which MAY occur here in suitable habitat; as
there is an unconfirmed sighting of a small Boloria on June 17, 2003 near
the Boundary Pond (a bog is said to be nearby) further up East Inlet Rd.
near the Quebec border...June 17th would be a good time for eunomia (as well
as selene atrocostalis) here...One problem with this sighting is that
eunomia does not frequently venture out of a bog (although I have actually
seen them inside the drier forest cover outside of but also nearby the bog
at one locale in northern Michigan...at Wilsons Mills, Maine, however,  I
have never seen them outside of the bog, away from the
sphagnum)...Atrocostalis here are very small (as noted above), and dorsally
with wide dark borders and somewhat enlarged black postmedian spots...Below,
the HW ground color is very dark brown...The small size and quick flight
makes them particularly difficult to follow in the field...(of course, this
is usual with most Boloria)...

Atlantis Fritillary (S. atlantis) were again relatively few in number and
well past peak at this time...I will need to visit the area much earlier in
the season in order to verify whether the two "phenotypes" which seem to
occur in northern New England -one having the VHW disk reddish brown and the
other having it dark purplish brown - are both present here...Also, no
Northern Wood Nymphs (Cercyonis pegala nephele) were seen as well...On July
31 and August 1st, I collected "Northern" Wood Nymphs near Cobourg, Ontario
(Exit 471 of Highway 401) along the north shore of Lake Erie... I have
hyphenated the name because I wonder whether this latter "phenotype" is
actually the same thing as the nephele which occurs in northern New
Hampshire...Both are dark and generally lack the FW light (or orange)
patch...But there are differences in habits (if not habitat) as well as in
morphological characters...For one thing, the Cobourg populations occur in
the he typical drier meadows near woodlands, exhibiting the standard "Wood
Nymph" "bouncing" flight...and almost NEVER nectar at flowers...They also
have a BROWN ground color...The nephele of northern New Hampshire exhibit a
much more BLACK ground color, as compared to brown...and occur in wetter,
moister often alkaline open wooded habitats, frequently (or typically)
nectar at everlastings and goldenrods etc. and have a faster, more direct
flight, rather like that of an Erebia than a Cercyonis...

Laurentian (or Common Branded) Skipper were taken, as well as Harvesters
(Feniseca tarquinius)...these represent the northern, Canadian Zone
subspecies (is it nova-scotiae) which I have also taken at Streaked
Mountain, Oxford Co., Maine (elevation 1300 ft.)...At East Inlet Road, these
were obviously taken in low, moist alder swales...males were taken while
perched along the road...

No Peck's Skippers were noted this time...but I have vouchers of this
species from this region...They are definitely darker than peckius from much
further south in eastern Massachusetts...How they compare to the material
which I took in the Quebec Laurentides on July 30th will be noted once those
have been spread and taken off the boards...

Alex

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Grkovich, Alex
> Sent: Tuesday, September 03, 2002 6:52 PM
> To:   [log in to unmask]
> Cc:   [log in to unmask]
> Subject:      COLLECTING TRIP TO NORTHERN COOS CO., NH
>
>
> On Saturday, August 31, 2002, I followed up on my plan to visit the Scott
> Bog region north of the Second Connecticut Lake, at the extreme north end
> of Coos Co., New Hampshire. A couple of miles to the north lies the border
> of the Province of Quebec, and a mile or so to the east lies the border of
> Oxford Co., Maine. The prime target species were the northern Polygonias,
> most of which are single brooded and are freshly emerged adults in mid to
> late summer, except for the Gray Comma (Polygonia progne) which is
> double-brooded. The region also represents the southernmost extent of the
> ranges of two of these, the Hoary Comma (P. gracilis) and the Satyr Angle
> Wing (P. satyrus, form marsyas in the east).  The other two range quite
> far south in the east; the Green Comma (P. faunus) ranges south to
> northern Georgia, but nearly always found in Canadian Zone environments,
> while the Gray Comma (progne) also occurs in Transition and Upper Austral
> regions of the east. When I was a youth in southwestern Ontario, I quite
> frequently encountered progne in Upper Austral/lower Transition Zone
> forest environments.
>
> The weather forecast was for high pressure to dominate northern New
> England, while southern New England was in the throes of  continuing
> demonic low pressure, which would actually intensify as the weekend wore
> on, and eventually ruined plans which had for a trip to Connecticut on
> Monday; and also greatly affected the US Open (I am a tennis fan). The
> high over northern New England was, however, situated to the northeast,
> such that the anticipated high temperature was only 70 deg F with winds
> expected out of the east. This was worrisome, and as I drove up early in
> the morning, the skies were continually cloudy and the temps remained in
> the high 50's. However, westerlies developed late in the morning and the
> temperature, by the time I arrived at my destination (the intersection
> between the Scott Bog and East Inlet Roads) at about 10:30, the skies were
> sunny and the temperature had climbed into the mid-70's. I knew I was in
> business.
>
> The route from Massachusetts follows I-93N to Franconia Notch, then US Hwy
> 3 all the way to the Connecticut Lakes region. The area north of
> Pittsburg, NH extending through the Lakes region is also known as "Moose
> Alley" due to the abundance of moose in the boggy/marshy forest meadows
> and clearings. I observed two of them as I drove through the First
> Connecticut Lake area, and one was actually crossing the highway,
> certainly potentially dangerous event.
>
> One of my goals was to locate, if possible, the Moose Bog, which is
> located east of the East Inlet Road about 10 miles north of the
> intersection with Scott Bog Road; I had Topozone maps at 1:25000 and
> 1:100000 scale, as well as my NH DeLorme atlas (these are a must to have).
> To make a long story short, I failed to find the bog itself, but I do
> believe I did find the Moose Bog Brook which crosses the road and empties
> into the bog, along with what MIGHT be the two-track which is said to lead
> to the bog. Along the East Inlet Road, I passed two promising looking
> boggy areas: one is at Snag Pond (which shows up on Topozone 1:25000) and
> another a couple miles south of there to the west of the road. The
> possibility of O. jutta and B. eunomia, along with I. lanoraiensis and the
> Bog Copper is interesting in these boggy areas; and whether any other
> "northern goodies" might occur in this region is also intriguing -
> probably doubtful but...What I have not found up there is that dry
> northern boreal forest habitat with the undergrowth of lichens (as occurs
> in B. t. grandis/freija habitat further north in Quebec) except for very
> limited areas in the boggy places I wrote about above.
>
> Along the East Inlet Road and primarily in lower valleys along the road, I
> encountered the Gray, Green, and Hoary Commas. The males of these species
> perch along the gravel road from about 11 AM, usually along the edges
> where the ground is a bit more moist. They are quite wary and are rather
> difficult to approach. Collecting them involves patience and observation
> (which is true of most species, really).  Faunus has a much more rapid
> flight than the other two, which have the slower, gliding flight that
> Klots and other have written about. Gracilis and progne males tend, also,
> to perch on the vegetation (including the food[plants, this is for both
> sexes) along the roadside, much more frequently than does faunus. The
> females are not commonly seen, as they tend to occur inside forest
> clearings; they also are often seen nectaring.
>
> The females of these species can be quite difficult to determine, as well.
> All tend to have "washed-out" undersides, where the green markings of
> faunus, or the bluish markings of progne can be absent. Mo Nielsen figures
> a female specimen of  faunus like this in his Butterflies of Michigan. I
> have found specimens resembling that here.
>
> I also encountered a Compton Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis [or Roddia] j-album)
> along the same road not far from the he boat launching (called the East
> Inlet) ramp. It occurred to me that this species can easily be mistaken
> for large specimen of P. faunus, particularly if perched on the e ground,
> as this one was, and the uppersides cannot be seen. I actually think that
> I almost over looked it because of this. The flight, however, differs,
> radically, as j-album has a much stronger, more gliding flight that
> faunus, and sails further form the ground, often 2 meters above the
> surface and for longer distances, as opposed to faunus which typically
> patrols at or less than 1 meter above the surface. This species patrolled
> for a few minutes, as I struggled not to lose sight of it, perching on
> tree trunks twice, then returning again to the roadway. Again, patience
> proved the virtue, as I finally collected it after probably a 20 minute
> period of observation. J-album is also wary, although perhaps not quite as
> wary as the Polygonias.
>
> As far as the relationship between j-album and the Polygonias is
> concerned, the above described similarities are reinforced by closer
> examination. To me, j-album DOES have the concave FW outer margin of the
> polygonias, which is lacking in the Nymphalis. And, please examine the
> female specimen of P. satyrus, for example, in the Butterflies of Canada,
> and tell me that this specimen doesn't bear a striking resemblance to
> j-album.
>
> More faunus, progne, and gracilis were seen later in the day as I hiked
> along the Scott Bog Road. Progne males were seen nectaring on everlastings
> and laurel blossoms during the afternoon, especially.
>
> Other species seen along both roads were:
>
> * Atlantis Fritillary (Speyeria atlantis); past peak but some specimens
> still quite fresh, dark purplish brown disks. A footnote: I really haven't
> seen any specimens with reddish-brown disks since much earlier in the e
> summer, and in Vermont. I also have a few such specimens (with reddish
> disks) from northwestern Massachusetts which I collected in early July
> 1993.
> * Northern Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala nephele), a single female
> specimen, fresh actually, which I chased for about a half mile, at times
> in full gallop, before losing it. These northern pegala, I've noticed and
> written about previously, are extremely wary and are very difficult to
> approach. They appear to very aware of the presence of the Lepidopterist,
> and seem also to react to my movements; i.e. as I move toward it, even
> form a distance, it seems to move farther away. Even a wingshot was
> impossible here. I frequently have seen nephele nectaring as well, which
> is uncommon in other pegala.
> * Bog Silver Bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene atrocostalis) common,
> still in good condition. This is a really beautiful subspecies, with
> increased dark markings above and darker ground color below.
> * Common Branded (or Laurentian) Skipper (Hesperia comma laurentina),
> appeared in the late afternoon and were seen perching on the Scott Bog
> Roadway.
> * Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice) were very common, including white
> females.
>
> Notable by their absence were the following:
>
> * Mustard White (Pieris oleracea); I have found it commonly in southern
> Quebec, near Mont Tremblant and Mt. Laurier, but have taken it only once,
> I believe, in northern NH (6-12-93).
> * Satyr Angle Wing (P. satyrus), which is said to occur here, but very
> rarely. Warren Kiel (of Whitefield, NH) told me that he found it on a
> couple of occasions in the 70's along these roads, and Mark also told me
> that he collected it here once. Range maps DO show it as occurring here,
> but I have not yet seen it. Henry Hensel of Edmunston, NB (just north from
> Madawaska, Maine) has told me that he has taken it in his area.
> * Milbert's Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis milberti), which had a huge flight on
> and around Mt. Washington, NH three weeks earlier.
>
> The Polygonias began searching for overnight perches after 3:30 PM,
> although a few were still seen after that.
>
> I packed up at about 4:30 PM, after observing and collecting one final
> male P. progne, and started the 231 mile trip home. I also washed the car,
> inside and out, along the way; I don't want a discouraged Zebra
> Swallowtail girl....it's her Jeep that I drove that day.
>
> Alex
>
> Alex Grkovich, P.E.
> TMP Consulting Engineers, Inc.
> 52 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111
> (617) 357-6060 ext. 329
>
>
>
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