Questions and Question Marks and what’s this Semi Palmated business?

High and dry! Click image for larger version.

A few days after the passage of Hurricane-turned-tropical-storm Irene I was circumnavigating Gooseberry and as I rounded the southeast point and headed towards the east point I spotted a pretty large outboard-powerded boat well up on the beach. Looking down the beach I saw nothing but huge boulders, so I was surprised it got there in one piece and I wondered how in the heck they were going to get it out of there since the only way it could have gotten there was on the extreme high tide of Irene.

Well today – OK it was a couple days ago, actually – I got my answer as I walked back on the central road near the tower – here’s what I saw coming towards me.

They apparently planned to use this as an off-road vehicle - I haven't been back to see the scars yet - and pick up the boat.

And following close behind this was . . .

I didn't stay around to watch the operation - I wanted to get over to the raptor show in RI that the state Audubon folks were putting on - but the plan seemed obvious.

So that’s one question and the answer.  I had other questions. For example, just before the machinery arrived I snapped this photo  of a butterfly in the road and it had me scratching my head until I got home and loked through the Stokes’ trusted “The Butterfly Book.”

This is an American Painted Lady. Even though the wings are folded, the two large "eyes" on the underside near the back are the key marking.

Seen head-on the crescent of three blended dots near the tip of the wing and visible from either side says it's some sort of painted lady - a close examination of the whole pattern points to American Painted Lady.

Indentification over - to my satisfaction, at least - I really prefer this blurred, in-flight picture which captures the flashes of color you typically see in live action.

Now my painted lady wasn’t half the puzzler that this guy was.

This butterfly fit in so well with the brush I wasn't at all sure I was pointing the camera at it. Click image for larger view and see if you can find the butterfly. It's really pretty obvious once you know it's there.

Wings folded I was struck by what I saw as a white border on black wings.

Wings open it showed beautiful blue and mahogany coloring - but I couldn't find a basically black butterfly with white trim on the border of its wings in the book. I was about to give up, then I noticed that the mourning cloak had a light yellow border. Not only that, but they had one of the longest life spans of any butterfly - as long as 10 months as adults - and so I reasoned that what first looked white to me was really faded yellow. This was obviously an older mourning cloak - the first I had idnetified on Gooseberry!

Now came my real question mark. And at the risk of sounding like a “who’s on first routine,” that’s what it is – a question mark!

The last time I saw a question mark - yes, that's its name - it's wings were folded. I didn't know how beautiful they were! (Click to get a larger image.)

If you go to the butterflies page – it’s on a tab near the top of every page – you can scroll through the ones I’ve seen on Gooseberry which includes a picture of the underside of the wing of a question mark and thus reveals how it got its name.

And speaking of revealing how it got it’s name, how about the smipalmated sandpiper? Yeah, this little guy – which was on the rocks as I went back across the causeway on this day.

I love this little dude. And he handles these slippery rocks much better than I do. But I don't think I've ever gotten a good look at his feet. Notice they're hidden here.

He's easy enough to identify by his dark cap, short straight bill, and other markings. But. . . those feet are the key to his name. Semipalmated means they are partially webbed.

So here they are! And the webbing really is "semi" - just barely visible even in this photo.

BTW – This was the day after Hurricane Katia had stirred up surf from a distance and so I expected to see some today. But it wasn’t there. What was there was this one loan surfer who obviously had the presence of mind to bring a paddle!

This surfless surfer was well off the west beach and calmly paddling across a calm ocean.

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