Day 2 - I'm hunting butterflies!

After a restless sleep last night (I’m not a great camper…I prefer glamping), I woke at about 5:30am, had breakfast and headed to the lab to see what today had in store for me.

 

Today I was helping Matt who works on butterflies (Lepitoptera). In the early part of the morning, we worked on pinning butterflies from previous field work he had been doing here. It was interesting to hear about the process involved in pinning butterflies and the standards that are required.

At about 10am we headed to the air field to catch our helicopter. We landed at a gorge in the Kimberley and after a small walk to a beautiful location we started to look for butterflies. They were plentiful however my skills with the net were a little amateurish. This led to a less then successful butterfly haul from me; Matt had far better success…to the point where I became more of a butterfly spotter than a catcher. I did catch a few butterflies (ok it was 4), my first was an Orange Ringlet. The butterfly specimens once caught are moved to a “killing jar”, then to thin paper envelopes into the relaxation box. The relaxation box is designed to give the dead butterfly time to go through rigor mortis and become “relaxed” so they become easier to pin later.

After some time at the top of the gorge we headed down (over rocky ledges and through trees and grasses) in to a pool surrounded by long grasses, palms and pandanus. It was wet and swamp like however we were able to find pathways through the water holes as the palm roots were matted together and formed pathways through the area – although you had to be careful as you could find an area that wasn’t that thick and sink! In this area Matt caught 2 fantastic specimens of Varied Eggfly, I helped with the spotting naturally!

After some more searching we headed back up to the top of the gorge so that we could catch the helicopter to our next spot. We were dropped near some water holes, and after rock hopping and ploughing through spinifex down to the first area we spotted a couple of Crows (a butterfly…not a bird), however the butterflies were few and far between. All of a sudden Matt called me over and I was able to see the most incredible site – Aboriginal Rock Art. It seemed to be almost everywhere we looked, it was so amazing and a privilege to be able to see these ancient images. After an hour at this stunning site we were back on the helicopter and heading back to home base – HV8.

After sharing stories over dinner, we did some work in the lab and then headed off to bed…I need some sleep after such a big day!

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