I spent the morning on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge today in search of pelicans, butterflies and whatever else I could come across. I usually visit the refuge with a pretty open mind and not specifically looking for any particular creature to photograph but I always do hope for a chance to photograph a monarch butterfly this time on year on the refuge.
I am not sure why they fascinate me so much on the bird refuge. There are places where monarch butterflies are a lot more common and much easier to find and photograph than the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. There are definitely places with much more photogenic vegetation for butterflies than the refuge but for some reason I am attracted to the refuge in August and September for monarch butterflies as much, if not more so, than the abundant selection of birds.
Maybe it is the challenge of getting a truly spectacular monarch butterfly image in a place where birds and bird habitat is quite abundant and butterfly habitat isn’t as much. It surely takes a lot of patience to photograph butterflies of any species on the refuge and monarch butterflies can be the most challenging and patience testing of them all. Some days I see a few and other days I see none. The days I see one or a sprinkling of monarchs I hope for a chance to get a photograph I can put on someones wall. There are only a couple of types of vegetation I find conducive to monarch images available on the refuge. One of those is the quite abundant wild sunflower plant and the other is the less common but still easily found rabbit brush.
The wild sunflower poses a hard time for butterfly images, at least in the way I prefer to capture them that is. I prefer the butterfly, the flower itself and a smooth soft toned background. This, however, can be a daunting task with the often untamed nature of the sunflower as its branches tend to go every which way. The rabbit brush, although not seemingly as attractive to the monarch butterfly until the sunflowers start to die off, offers a much easier setting to photograph monarchs. The only hard part is finding them on that particular vegetation as I have found they seem to prefer sunflowers to rabbit brush. At least that is my observation that is, however unscientific it may be.
The image I came home with today is quite possibly my new favorite monarch butterfly image. It depicts a monarch butterfly from the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge on a small piece of rabbit brush. It boasts of great colors, a non-distracting and soft toned background and a great side view of a monarch butterfly. It was the only monarch I found on the refuge this morning but it was all I needed to find to get the image I had been hoping for all butterfly season on the refuge. I am very happy with it and happy I am still finding a few monarch butterflies on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge this fall season before they pack their bags and head south for the winter. But even though they will be gone soon, they will be back next year and so will I, looking for another opportunity to put an image of a Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge monarch butterfly on someones wall.