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Old Mar 29, 2008, 5:43 PM   #1
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Some butterflies are as territorial as birds. Mourning Cloaks are particularly pugnacious, chasing other species as well as their own. Battles between Mourning Cloaks are particularly vicious. One Mourning Cloak has held a territory in our yard for nearly the last year (about its normal life span). Between battling other butterflies and the Santa Ana winds of this past winter, he is much the worse for wear (can you feel sorry for a butterfly?), but is holding his territory and battling on against a challenging newcomer. These were taken on the first really warm day of Spring and the battles were fierce, they weresparring againsteach other like prize fighters in a ring,round after round, each timespiralling upwards out of sight before the victor returned to his perch-- he was so exhausted at the end of the day, I thought him defeated, but he still holds the high ground (atop the still leafless apple tree), and the battles continue daily, but not as continuously, perhaps because the ensuing days have been cooler. I findit hard to believe that he can carry on in this condition, but he is one tough customer.

This week's pictures were taken with the K10D and the Promaster 100 - 400 at 400mm (600 equivalent), hand held). I foolishly failed to check the SR, which on the K10D is easily turned off by brushing against the switch lever (which cannot happen on the K100D, which has a sliding switch), and it was off, hence the pictures are far from the best, and some are overprocessed, as well as cropped and enlarged). However, the story is worth the presentation, even if the pictures are not. Last yearsthree frames weretaken with the K100D and Tamron 70-300.

1) How he looked last Summer


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Old Mar 29, 2008, 5:46 PM   #2
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2) This Winter (left) and Spring (right, this week)
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Old Mar 29, 2008, 5:48 PM   #3
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3) The challenger
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Old Mar 29, 2008, 5:49 PM   #4
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4) The defender
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Old Mar 29, 2008, 5:53 PM   #5
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5) King of the HIll

The position of supremacy is at the top of the highest branch, where the defender sits (black arrow) The challenger can sit undisturbed, so long as he is below the territory holder (left of bottom center, white arrow), but anything flying above the defender will be attacked.
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Old Mar 29, 2008, 5:57 PM   #6
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6) Time out for rest. By this time in the afternoon,they weretiring, and I thought he was losing the battle.
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Old Mar 29, 2008, 6:04 PM   #7
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7) The day is done, and so, I thought, was the old buck. The young buck still had enough gas left to chase other butterflies from this lowposition, and I thought him the victor - but I should have realized he never went to the tree top, and so hadn't really defeated the old buck. Neither is giving up, and I don't know how much longer he will last - he probably won't give up until he dies. . . .
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Old Mar 29, 2008, 6:41 PM   #8
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Greatbehavioral series. This could be use in some kind of nature show. Awesome stuff!
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Old Mar 30, 2008, 4:17 PM   #9
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bmullen@comcast wrote:
Quote:
Greatbehavioral series. This could be use in some kind of nature show. Awesome stuff!
Thanks for looking and commenting.

At one time the challenger made several passes at me, finally alighting on my head. Perhaps he was looking for a safe perch. My wife thinks he was asserting dominance over me! This is the closest I could manage to a self-portrait with a long lens!:roll: The arrow points to the butterfly's shadow on the shadow of my cap.
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Old Mar 30, 2008, 8:02 PM   #10
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Great series.
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