A pretty good day with the Thursday Birder group starting off at the Isleta marsh and then to Riverside Park in Los Lunas, where we saw a pretty good variety of birds. Overall, though, the day was pretty quiet and I didn’t get any good pictures at either of those places. After lunch, however, we dropped in on a family’s yard in Bosque Farms where Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets, and Black-crowned Night Herons chose their yard for a huge rookery. The (human) family fortunately gets a kick out of all their nesting birds, despite the noise, guano, and occasional dead bird that ends up in the yard, and objections of some of the neighbors who don’t seem to get it. We weren’t there at the best time of day for pictures, but I was amused by a couple of the little egrets (don’t know if they’re snowy or cattle), including this guy
who apparently has a similar attitude about humans as the neighbors do about egrets, and this guy
who had more personal issues, having fallen to the ground from the nest and expecting a little more service from the help.
While the rest of the group headed for home after that, Judy and I decided to take a quick look at the Belen (Taco Bell) Marsh a few miles further south. Ridiculously hot and pretty late in the afternoon for birds, we didn’t see any Burrowing Owls out in the heat or the Glossy Ibis that someone mentioned was there earlier in the week, but we did get a better look at some immature Black-necked Stilts that were both younger and closer than the ones seen earlier in the morning at Isleta.
In addition to a couple of ducks (Cinnamon and Green-winged Teal), several American Avocets were present at the pond and I was pretty happy with the picture I got of this one.
On Friday morning, Rebecca and I headed up to Sandia Crest in search of butterflies, and had a really good day seeing several new species (completely new for me and first of the season for Rebecca). Despite the severe fire restrictions in place, most of our favorite spots and a couple of new ones along the road to the Crest were quite productive. New for me and one of our targets for the day (and actually the last couple of outings) was the Arizona Sister we spotted at Sulphur Canyon picnic ground.
One of our most productive spots over the last couple months has been the meadow at the 8000′ mark, which didn’t disappoint with lots of Northwestern Fritillaries, a Wiedemeyer’s Admiral, and across the road at the newly green Indian Hemp plants, several Skippers.
Higher up the mountain, as we were rounding a bend, I noticed several Western Tiger Swallowtails swarming around some wild iris, so we stopped and poked around a little among the iris and some wallflowers. While we were there taking a few pictures of the Swallowtails,
we noticed several Northwestern Fritillaries browsing those wallflowers – one has to wonder if those fritillaries get their orange color from the similarly colored wallflowers.
Onward to the Crest! At the very top of the Sandias by the Crest House (where we saw that Horny Toad a couple weeks ago) is a field of wildflowers that was full of Taxiles Skippers (and several other skipper species), which gave us plenty of opportunity to get good pictures of them.
We also got excellent (tho a bit distant) looks at a couple of Anise Swallowtails, which we’d seen on our last visit but were definitely on our target list for the day.
Just as we were about to leave, another swallowtail species cruised by for a brief visit and I managed to get one quick picture of it that’s way too fuzzy to post. Some kind of black swallowtail, we’re certainly going to have to head back up there soon and find out just which one it was.