I had 45 minutes in the afternoon for a short walk. The conditions seemed perfect for butterflies — sunny and warm, with only a slight breeze. I thought I had a chance at finding an elfin, so I decided to check the Bodega Dunes.
Score! One Western Pine Elfin! I found them in March last year, but I think this is my first February sighting. I know these pictures are horrible, but they're the only ones I got before the elfin flew off and disappeared...and I'm excited about sharing this experience with you. For me, this is a very fun aspect of natural history — having a hunch about something, going out to see if you can find it, and then being successful in your search (or even just having fun trying!).
This is a blurry picture from 14 February 2015 (below)...but you can still tell it's a pine elfin (really!). After the image I'll share a link to a better photo taken in 2013.
I wondered what a pine elfin might use as a nectar source at this time of year.
Willow? (This one was being visited by a Painted Lady.)
I also took a quick look around for other butterflies and spotted quite a few Monarchs and a couple of Red Admirals:
Given the opportunity, I would have traded butterflies for snow today. But since it wasn't an option, being able to predict that today could be an elfin day was also a fun game!