I didn't think I'd be writing another Butterfly Park update until next March or April, but this weekend offered a surprise and a challenge. On Sunday the weather was extraordinary with bright sunshine and temperatures around 70. It was one of those days when all you want to do is to be outside. After heading to Brendan Byrne State Forest and finding a few awesome fall-flying buck moths, and seeing a number of butterflies there too, I decided to stop by the Butterfly Park on my way home. It was about 2:30 when I got there and I was running late to watch the Giants and Jets get decimated at a friends home, but it was just too beautiful to be inside. I wasn't there 10 minutes when a rusty orange butterfly flew right past me and into the woods. I was lucky enough to find it and it was a Question Mark! This single wonderful butterfly means that butterflies have been seen this year at the park in every month from April to November. It was also like a gauntlet being thrown down. Can a butterfly be found in every month at the Butterfly Park? A number of years ago I saw a common sulphur flying on the top of Edgeboro Landfill on a Friends Winter Bird Count in early January on an exceptionally warm day. Will similar surprises be found at the Butterfly Park this winter? If anyone spots a butterfly between now and March at the Butterfly Park, please let us know!!!
Amazingly, the East Brunswick Butterfly Park turned 10 this year! Kudos to all the volunteers that have helped make this park so special. Despite its small size and location in a heavily developed area, the park provides lots of opportunities to find a wide variety of butterflies throughout the spring, summer and fall. It just takes a little looking.
Throughout the years, dozens of species of butterflies have been seen in the park. The Friends has developed an Online Field Guide to them that has photographs, ecological notes and tips on how to tell butterflies apart that look similar. The park also has a Facebook page so that everyone can share what they find at the park.
While the Butterfly Park is too small to have much in the way of rarities or butterflies of special habitats, it offers a convenient respite and an opportunity to find many common species right in the middle of 50,000 people. And since "butterflying" is a lot like a treasure hunt, you just never know what you might find even in a small place like the East Brunswick Butterfly Park.
Each year we try to do something new with the Park. This year, with the help of the Patch, we posted regular updates on what was seen at the Park. We can't always get there ourselves to see what is flying, so please share your observations and photos with us either on the Facebook page or at firstname.lastname@example.org.