With both the bosque and the mountains essentially off-limits due to fire restrictions until we get some rain around here, this week’s Thursday Birders visited the Tijeras Ranger Station, which is just about the only open area in the mountains just now. An unusually large swarm of dragonflies were present especially in the small garden plot throughout the morning along with a couple of good butterflies. Feeding on some purple flowers in the garden and white poison milkweed along the road were several Juniper Hairstreaks.
A small patch of globe mallow held a new butterfly for me, the Marine Blue, with its striking brown and white striping.
Lots of other bees, wasps, tarantula hawks, and other insects were busy that morning as well, including this bee, which I think is some kind of digger bee.
On Saturday, having decided to cancel our planned expedition back to the Santa Fe Ski Area again due to severe fire restrictions, my friend Rebecca and I instead decided to return to Tijeras Ranger Station and see if we couldn’t find a few more butterflies.
The morning started out incredibly slowly, with no butterflies and even the dragonflies had disappeared, but just as we were about to give it up, a couple of dragonflies started buzzing about and we spotted our first Juniper Hairstreak in the garden plot. Things got quite lively after that and after several rounds of checking the poison milkweeds, mallow and verbenas, we had quite the morning spotting a number of great butterflies. One of my favorites was the Ceraunus Blue, which one of the people on the Thursday trip thought they’d seen, but this time we definitely saw one and got a pretty good picture of this diamond-encrusted little gem.
Other Blues seen that morning included the Melissa Blue, Marine Blue, and Reakirt’s Blue.
In addition to the Juniper Hairstreak that first kicked off the show, we also saw Thicket Hairstreaks and this Gray Hairstreak.
Other butterflies seen that morning included Field Crescents, Common Checkered-Skipper, and a quick fly-by of some kind of Swallowtail.
It wasn’t all about butterflies either, and there were some other pretty spectacular insects about, including this wasp dining on unsuspecting ants,
and this colorful specimen who seems to have captured a meal.
A most productive morning all in all and definitely worth a return trip sometime soon.