The last two weeks have been interesting and fun, checking out all my old haunts after being away for so long on that trip to Brazil. The Thursday Birder trip on August 11 to the 10-K trail in the Sandias wasn’t too productive, but gave us great looks (but no pictures) of a pair of Wild Turkeys on the drive up. Matt’s shorebird trip the following week to the Belen Marsh and Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area was much more productive both in birds and butterflies. Bird of the Day was a Marbled Godwit that I did get a picture of, but it’s pretty far away and fuzzy so not posted here. Nice flyby of some White-faced Ibis, though, at the Belen Marsh.
In addition to a probable Vermilion Flycatcher, Whitfield seemed to have quite a few different butterflies around that called for another trip soon focused more on butterflies than birds. This West Coast Lady, for example, was a new one for me.
On other days, I wandered around places like Embudito Canyon (where there apparently was a small brush fire while I was gone), Tingley Ponds (where the Belted Kingfisher and Green Heron were still present), Rio Grande Nature Center, the Botanic Garden, and even the Zoo.
The Nature Center had a well-lit perch for a female Rufous Hummingbird to guard and visit the nearby hummingbird feeders.
The Botanic Garden was surprisingly lively this week, with a couple of new butterflies in the PNM Butterfly Pavilion, a small snake that darted across the path, and several rather large spiders about, such as this one feeding on a equally large sphinx moth.
This week’s Thursday Birder trip to Cienega Canyon was a little quiet, but we did get 21 species including a Black-and-White Warbler and a nicely-posed Band-tailed Pigeon, but again I managed not to get pictures of either of them. We’d stopped by there late the week before to check out the butterfly potential there and had seen quite a few Northwestern Fritillaries, several Common Wood-Nymphs and Arizona Sisters, and a few others, but very few butterflies on this trip less than a week later. On Friday, Matt, Rebecca and I returned to the Belen Marsh and Whitfield again to look for birds, but focused on tracking down some of those butterflies we’d seen at Whitfield last week. Before going there, however, we stopped to look at the Burrowing Owls and got distant looks at a Red-necked Phalarope. Here’s a picture of one of the three owls we spotted, apparently flying away to distract us from its nest.
On the way from the marsh to Whitfield, Matt spotted a juvenile Mississippi Kite, which we’d hoped to see on several other trips in this area, and was a new one for me in New Mexico.
We also had good luck at Whitfield with the butterflies, seeing several Queens and Monarchs, a Western Pygmy-Blue, Pearl Crescent, several other Blues, and two varieties of Bordered Patch. I liked the following picture of these two Bordered Patches, which I later learned were in the process of mating. Unlike birds who seem to telegraph their intentions in advance but complete mating in about a second or so, butterflies apparently take a much more leisurely approach and may spend about an hour at the task.
The goldenweed was also popular with Japanese Beetles, who were quite numerous in a large patch of that plant.
Whitfield was also quite busy with a variety of dragonflies and damselflies, including a couple I hadn’t seen before such as the Wandering Glider
and, interestingly different from the more usual Common Whitetail, a Desert Whitetail with its two black chevrons on the wings.