Our featured image for this issue of the blog is of Ezra and Theo Staengl stalking butterflies. the brothers, aged 14 and 10, live in nearby Afton and are avid plantsmen and birders who, because they are homeschooled, are able to travel widely in pursuit of their interests. Ezra writes a blog and Theo contributes many of the photos that appear on it. If your appetite for outdoor exploration and discovery is greater than your time or energy can support, you might try a bit of vicarious adventuring with Ezra and Theo via the blog Birds and Buds. A recent post featured the Quarry Gardens: https://birdsandbuds.com/2017/12/21/quarry-gardens-ecosystem-modeling-under-geological-constraints/ We’ve seen Great horned owls at the Quarry Gardens, but Ezra photographed this one on a nest in Lancaster County PA last March.
The young men are intrepid. The past year’s entries, for example, trace a coastal birding expedition complicated by an approaching snowstorm, a visit to a rare and endangered Loudon County ecosystem, arduous treks through places with such names as Grimm Prairie, Difficult Creek, Dismal Swamp, and Iceberg Lake Trail, among many others—all in search of rare birds, butterflies and flowers almost never personally observed by those with less spirit. Although not particularly rare, this Zebulon skipper was photographed by Ezra in nearby Orange. It is one of 40 species of butterfly documented so far at Quarry Gardens.
Speaking of plants, Ezra said: “I think I like plants so much because they form the most basic, tangible foundations for nature. Their seemingly never-ending diversity is all around us and is so rarely noticed. They create and define different ecological communities, which host all the other life forms. I also like plants because the rich, multi-species reactions and relationships that define these plant communities are still so poorly understood.” If you think he seems young to be so focused, note that he also plays soccer, and violin in the Evans Orchestra, one of the Youth Orchestras of Central Virginia.
Birds and Buds includes a link to Ezra Peregrine on flickr, a stunning portfolio of hundreds of images that document the brothers’ sightings of plants, birds, butterflies, odonates (dragonflies and damselflies), and other animals throughout Virginia, around the U.S., and on travels to other countries.
The final photos are of Ezra’s Nashville Warbler photographed in northwest Ohio, and his Green jay photographed in south Texas.