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Old Jul 22, 2012, 9:05 PM   #1
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Default Some Rainy Day Friends

East Tennessee is no longer experiencing a drought! Weeks of extreme (for us) heat and dry have changed to weeks of day-long rains and frequent thunderstorms. Have been very busy with trail repair work and clean up from storms, hence not able to stop by here for a few weeks. But have had the chance to snap a few shots along the trail...
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Old Jul 22, 2012, 9:08 PM   #2
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We saw very few butterflies out during the prolonged dry spell. Apparently they need a certain level of humidity to emerge from their chrysalids, because we're seeing plenty of them now!

We usually see Common Wood Nymphs as early as late May, but this is the first I've seen this summer...
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Old Jul 22, 2012, 9:09 PM   #3
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And Tiger Swallowtails are suddenly becoming common again...
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Old Jul 22, 2012, 9:12 PM   #4
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Skippers were less affected by the drought, and also seem indifferent to the heavy rains...
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Old Jul 22, 2012, 9:15 PM   #5
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Was up at Holston Mountain between the rains to check for one of our rarer butterflies - the Diana Fritillary. These large, shy butterflies need older forests with nearby flowering meadows, and seem to especially enjoy Poke Milkweed nectar (a high elevation species). We spotted a male pursuing a female, but only got a few good shots of the female.
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Old Jul 22, 2012, 9:18 PM   #6
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We found some other "friends" on Holston Mountain that day too - up at Flint Rock. Was checking out the view when one of the dogs began lunging at a sandstone rock-shelf. Look who was underneath...
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Old Jul 22, 2012, 9:21 PM   #7
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There were actually six Copperheads "cuddled up" together under the ledge, but I could only get four of the faces in one photo. Notice in the second photo how the on-camera flash really lit up their heat-sensing pits. Copperheads are pit vipers, and find their prey (mostly rodents) primarily by sensing their warm bodies! Here are two more views - a close-up and an HDR.
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Old Jul 22, 2012, 9:23 PM   #8
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Rainy weather also helped me (finally) get a decent shot of one of our more unusual dragonflies. Black Saddlebags almost never perch, but a sudden downpour convinced this one to perch long enough for a quick shot.
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Old Jul 22, 2012, 9:27 PM   #9
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And soggy days (and nights) are perfect for amphibian-watching too! A local, old-timey name for Cope's Gray Tree Frog is the "Rain Frog," because they are most active, and most vocal, on rainy nights. This individual accidentally wandered into the home park's campground bath house. I took a few snapshots before releasing him in a safer, more remote location.

Here are some typical views - showing how well these frogs blend in with their tree bark and lichen locations...
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Old Jul 22, 2012, 9:28 PM   #10
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And here are some posed shots in some less-natural Tree Frog locations. (I believe that they use the bright colors under their legs to confuse pursuing predators - as they hop, the yellow appears and disappears...)
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