Western Branded Skipper Butterflies And Rabbitbrush

I needed a dose of the West Desert yesterday, I wanted to smell the pungent aroma of sagebrush, see sturdy pinyon pines, hear scrub-jays calling from the tops of junipers and check out the canyons in the Stansbury Mountains so I headed west before the sun rose over the Wasatch Mountains.

My dusty Jeep up in the canyons of the Stansbury MountainsMy dusty Jeep up in the canyons of the Stansbury Mountains

I hadn’t been out in the West Desert since the end of March and back then there was still quite a bit of snow on the mountain peaks.

Western Branded Skipper on Rabbitbrush, West Desert, Stansbury Mountains, Tooele County, UtahWestern Branded Skipper on Rabbitbrush – Nikon D500, f10, 1/1600, ISO 640, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I didn’t see all that many birds though I kind of expected that at this time of the year but up at the top of the canyon I saw plenty of chickadees and nuthatches and I plan to go back there soon early one morning so I can be there as the first light of dawn hits the peaks.

I saw plenty of Western Branded Skipper butterflies nectaring on blooming rabbitbrush in both the canyons I explored yesterday morning and I can’t resist, nor do I want to, photographing wildflowers and butterflies.

My friend and fellow bird photographer Jim DeWitt had photographed Western Branded Skippers in Idaho recently and the photos of them that he shared on Facebook made the identification of these skippers easier for me without him even being aware of it. I knew immediately they were skippers but not which species they were. Giving credit where credit is due is important to me so thanks Jim!

Western Branded Skipper Butterfly in the Stansbury Mountains, West Desert, Stansbury Mountains, Tooele County, UtahWestern Branded Skipper Butterfly in the Stansbury Mountains – Nikon D500, f9, 1/2000, ISO 640, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

These first two photos were taken using my Nikon D500 with the 500mm VR lens and 1.4x TC attached. I was across the dusty gravel road and inside my Jeep when I took them. I wanted to take a video of them so at first I just did a video while by resting my lens on my photo noodle and it was a little shaky (posted below) so then I got out of my Jeep, set up my tripod behind it and started to take a video of the butterflies at the rabbitbrush.

I hadn’t seen a car on the road all morning long and one second after I started taking the video I heard a sedan rumbling up the road. I stowed my gear back into the Jeep because of all the dust in the air and drove down that canyon to head over to another one that is close by.

Western Brand Skipper Butterfly on blooming Rabbitbrush, West Desert, Stansbury Mountains, Tooele County, UtahWestern Brand Skipper Butterfly on blooming Rabbitbrush – Nikon D810, f10, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 200mm, natural light

I found another clump of blooming rabbitbrush in the second canyon that was practically covered with butterflies, hover flies and bees but it was so close to the edge of the road that even while I pulled over as far as I could on the other side I couldn’t focus on them with my D500 and big lens so I pulled my D810 out of my camera backpack that has an 18-200mm VR lens attached, got out of my Jeep and photographed them with it while standing close to the rabbitbrush.

Western Branded Skipper Butterfly nectaring on Rabbitbrush, West Desert, Stansbury Mountains, Tooele County, UtahWestern Branded Skipper Butterfly nectaring on Rabbitbrush – Nikon D810, f10, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 200mm, natural light

By then the sun was getting high in the sky and I didn’t attempt to take videos with my bird set up instead I decided getting close and personal with these lovely butterflies was really much more important to me.

It was extremely relaxing to get out and enjoy the canyons yesterday, I needed it and I am glad I went.

Life is good.

Mia

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Don’t bother turning up your volume on this video, all that can be heard is a sound of my camera auto-focusing and it is annoying, it seems I need to get an external mic for doing videos with this set up to reduce that irritating nose. I apologize in advance for the movement of the camera.

8 Comments

  1. Pepe Forte September 8, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Your wonderful images of something so ordinary as a Skipper butterfly foraging in Rabbitbrush reminds me that nothing in life is ordinary. It is all unique and beautiful and you give it to us with every post. Thanks Mia.

  2. Trudy Brooks September 7, 2018 at 4:48 pm

    Mia, nice pictures, I did not know what the rabbit bush looked like, and not sure if branded skipper butterflies is what we call a moth hummingbird in Wyoming.

  3. Jane Chesebrough September 7, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Lovely shots of the butterfly and rabbitbush.

  4. Elephants Child September 7, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    Glad that you got out and fed your soul and your heart.
    Love these winged beauties too.

  5. Utahbooklover September 7, 2018 at 9:32 am

    I like the first image that nicely sets the scene. And now I know what those little butterflies are called after many years of seeing them, beginning with Southern California. Thanks for an interesting post.

  6. April Olson September 7, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Beautiful. I need to get out while the rabbit brush is in bloom. It was just starting to bloom up in Midway/Heber area on Monday. The skippers were plentiful too.

  7. Liz Cormack September 7, 2018 at 6:37 am

    Great photos. I love that Rabbitbrush. Wish we had it here. It wasn’t the camera that was moving….it was the bush!

  8. Ken Schneider September 7, 2018 at 5:43 am

    Very nice images at varying angles, Mia. We have many skippers here in south Florida, often with very subtle differences. Maybe it’s my age but I keep misidentifying and then “rediscovering” the same species time and again.

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