Scene stealers: Butterfly-watching at Northampton Community Gardens

  • A giant swallowtail butterfly sits on a zinnia at Northampton Community Gardens, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020 in a garden planted by Tom Gagnon of Florence. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A silver-spotted skipper butterfly sits on a butterfly bush, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020 at Northampton Community Gardens. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A black swallowtail butterfly sits on a zinnia at Northampton Community Gardens, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Bob Bieda of Easthampton looks for butterflies in a butterfly garden planted by Tom Gagnon of Florence, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020 at Northampton Community Gardens. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Bob Bieda of Easthampton looks for butterflies in a butterfly garden planted by Tom Gagnon of Florence, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020 at Northampton Community Gardens. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A cabbage white butterfly sits on verbena, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020 at Northampton Community Gardens. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A monarch butterfly sits on a zinnia, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020 at Northampton Community Gardens. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A black swallowtail butterfly sits on a zinnia at Northampton Community Gardens, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A hummingbird moth hovers over a butterfly bush, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020 at Northampton Community Gardens. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Photographer
Published: 8/11/2020 12:30:54 PM

Bob and Lura Bieda of Easthampton have been bird-watching together for decades, but in the last year they have focused their binoculars on butterflies instead. Bob said that bird-watching can involve freezing weather and early hours, while butterflies can be viewed on warm, sunny days.

“It’s harder than I thought,” Lura said. “They don’t stay still enough.”

On Saturday, they were watching at a butterfly garden planted each year by their old friend and fellow birdwatcher, Tom Gagnon, at Northampton Community Gardens — it’s something he’s been doing for about 15 years.

“I’ve met a lot of good people,” said Gagnon, who lives in Florence. “I’ve met old friends and made new friends. It’s a fun place.”

“I hate to tell you how many hours I’ve spent there,” Gagnon continued. He estimates it takes 60 hours of planting, weeding and watering to maintain the flower garden, which is full of annuals. He has been both the president and vice president of the Massachusetts Butterfly Club. Gagnon logs sightings as do the Biedas.

All were pleased to see four or five giant swallowtails this year.

“They’re the star of the show,” Bob Bieda said.




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