Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Red Admiral update

Red Admiral update -- © Dave Spier

I had forgotten about the massive spring migration of Red Admirals until June 14 when I noticed a very tattered and faded adult on the trunk of a dead Quaking Aspen. I assumed it was something on the order of a lone survivor.

Two days later I received an email from a birding friend describing spiny, jet-black Red Admiral caterpillars with yellow marks on the flanks. They were feeding on Stinging Nettles and a new life cycle was progressing as "planned." He also described a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak eating the caterpillars! (Remember the concept of a food chain?)

Fast-forward three more days and I find a beautifully-colored, fresh adult Red Admiral in the field behind our house, and I was finally able to get a descent shot of the underwing pattern, slightly marred by several leaves in the way.

Corrections, questions and comments always welcome at

Photo notes: both with 70-300 macro zoom at 300mm, 1/200 sec., ISO 400, external 580 flash
tattered adult on aspen - Canon 5D body, f/22, fill flash at -2/3
fresh adult in the shade - XTi body, f/19, flash accidentally set at +1, overexposure corrected by editing RAW capture

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