The Circle of Life

I have never seen so many swallowtail butterflies congregating in one place before. Convict Lake must be a major breeding ground for these magnificent butterflies, because they are literally everywhere. I saw about 15 fluttering along the lakeside by the boardwalk where wild iris blooms have proliferated. Swallowtails are surprisingly swift and aware of your presence. It is difficult to tiptoe up to one to take a photograph. If they notice you, they will fly away! The reason I believe I was able to capture so many of them with a photograph, was because they seemed intoxicated by the sheer abundance of flowers that this winter’s rain and snowfall have produced. Flowers and butterflies are everywhere; that and the mosquito. It is paradise for the trout too, except that they have to worry about the increase in the numbers of fisherman. The cycle of life is an interesting one. Survival of the fittest can mean many things. Strength, intelligence and the good fortune to be born at the right time and in the right place. For the swallowtails, this is a good year to be born!

When Michael and I reached the part of the boardwalk that was washed away, we turned around and low and behold, there were the swallowtails. I was able to sneak up on them by hiding behind the birch trees. I also found that if I stood really still- (a difficult task because of the mosquitoes) I could snap off a photograph before one would fly away. They have such a beautiful wingspan and are large for such adept fliers. It has got to be somewhat mind blowing to go from being a lowly, ground hugging caterpillar, and then become an airborne butterfly. They also fly with little regard to predators! I will have to do some research to see if they are poisonous to birds…..* Metamorphosis also seems miraculous and almost divine to me. I am not religious, but nature is as close as I can get to believing that there is something more and bigger then ourselves out there. Watching these magnificent butterflies is quite extraordinary and I am grateful for the opportunity to capture and record them with a camera, and to disturb them as little as possible.

So, to leave nothing behind but footsteps and to shoot photographs of nature’s animals with a camera instead of using a gun is my weapon of choice. I realize that because I am not a vegetarian, this is a bit of a double standard, but I am at least trying to eat less meat and animal products and I am appreciative of the sacrifice when I do decide to eat one. It has more to do with modern animal husbandry and the conditions in which most domestic animals that are raised for human consumption have to endure, that prompts me to eat less meat. And to be driving around in an RV that uses diesel fuel is an extravagance that I am aware of. At least we found the Fleetwood (Icon) to be energy efficient! It gets close to 15.80 mpg. That is pretty impressive for an RV. Some day there will be electric and hybrid RV’s too! The circle of life continues and I can only hope that swallowtail butterflies and nature in its “wild” state, will be there for generations of humans to witness and admire for years to come!

* from what I have read, some swallowtails practice mimicry in order to pretend that they are poisonous. I do not know if this is the case at Convict Lake but was very surprised they could fly about with so little concern about predation. 

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