Last week, I did a quick fly-by of San Antonio to meet my mother for a trip to Northern Virginia for a bit of a family reunion to celebrate my cousin’s well-deserved promotion to Colonel in the USAF, and to spend a few days together in my sister and brother-in-law’s fabulous home, which due to their incredible hospitality and wonderful accommodations I generally refer to as ‘The Resort.’ In addition to the great time we had together, there were a couple of opportunities to wander out and check the nearby trails and parks for assorted wildlife. Butterflies, birds, and dragonflies, including quite a few that are rarely or never seen here in New Mexico, were present on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail and especially at the Meadowlark Gardens, both of which are in walking distance of ‘The Resort.’ This post might get a little long, but I wanted to share some of the pictures from Virginia, as well as a few from a morning in San Antonio before I flew home.
Cabbage Whites and Clouded Sulphurs were quite numerous in Virginia (as they seem to be everywhere) and provided plenty of photo opportunities.
While tracking them down, I also noticed the occasional tiny purple butterfly flitting by that turned out to be an Eastern Tailed-Blue, which is quite similar to our Western species, but with a little more orange in the hind wing spots.
On the W&OD Trail were several Pearl Crescents and a couple of Common Buckeyes, the latter I’d only seen in New Mexico as captive species in the Albuquerque Botanic Gardens, and was quite difficult to approach without its flying away.
Those purple coneflowers that the Clouded Sulphur found so attractive at Meadowlark Gardens also attracted several other species, including the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Great Spangled Fritillary.
Those same flowers also attracted the attention of a Sachem Skipper (thanks, Rebecca!), and nearby on some clover what I think is a Least Skipper.
Other butterflies seen in the area included the Silver-spotted Skipper and some kind of Cloudywing, but pictures of those and the Spicebush Swallowtail seen later in San Antonio didn’t come out that well.
Meadowlark Gardens also has several large ponds, including one that has a fairly large number of lotus flowers, and others with a variety of water lilies, both favorites of mine from visits to the Botanic Gardens in Taipei, Taiwan during business trips there in recent years.
Note the bluet damselfly perched there on the petal on the lower right on this white water lily (you might have to click on the picture itself to enlarge it to actually see that little dude).
The ponds at Meadowlark were buzzing with several varieties of both damselflies and dragonflies, but to keep this post from getting ridiculously long, I’ll save those pictures for some other time.
Good birds were about during my time in Virginia, too, including Northern Cardinals, American Goldfinch, Indigo Buntings, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Bluebirds,
Red-bellied Woodpecker, Carolina and House Wrens, an Oriole (immature Orchard, probably), Barn Swallows, Song Sparrows, and lots of Gray Catbirds and Tufted Titmouse.
Wrapping up that excellent visit to ‘The Resort’ and making it back to San Antonio after several flight delays, there was just enough time the next morning for a good walk by the nearby ponds, meadow, and nature trail before heading back to the airport for my flight home. A little early for butterflies (other than that Spicebush Swallowtail), but I did manage to unintentionally scare a Little Blue Heron into flight,
caught a great shot of some Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks flying by,
and spent a little time with a most cooperative Scissor-tailed Flycatcher,
until he decided enough was enough and took off for the field.