One more week to go before I get my long lens back, so this week’s post is mostly of a few close-up pictures. Last week, while helping some friends who are out of town by picking some of their tomatoes and pinching back their basil, this guy was spotted hanging out near their patio.
At least three feet long, it was way bigger than the itty bitty one I posted back in May. And on a visit to the Botanic Garden last Saturday, those huge garden spiders that I posted about 2 weeks ago were still hanging out. Since then, Jim Stafford’s song ‘I Don’t Like Spiders & Snakes’ has been in my head, but you have to admit spiders and snakes can be pretty cool.
The Botanic Garden recently opened their Dragonfly Sanctuary Pond, which seems to be quite good habitat for them and had several dragonflies and damselflies flitting about, including this Twelve-spotted Skimmer.
A little more difficult getting pictures of them there than at Tingley Ponds, or of butterflies in the PNM Butterfly Pavilion, but it may become a regular spot for seeing a few new species of dragonflies.
The other day I took a walk in Embudito Canyon and was glad to see that green is coming back to the area of this summer’s wildfire, and was surprised at all the blooming wildflowers. All it must take is a little bit of rain, and now that our ‘monsoon’ has started, flowers are popping out just about everywhere. Still not enough water, however, for the spring at the end of the canyon to come back and it looks like a washout has occurred filling in the small concrete basin there. One of my favorite foothill flowers is the large, white, night-blooming Sacred Datura, which I only recently noticed sometimes gets this nice lavender shading on the edges of the blooms.
Although hummingbirds were everywhere enjoying the bounty, there were no butterflies around that day despite all the blooming flowers, including the usual crowd favorite milkweed. Large Milkweed Bugs present, however, and doing what they do best. Thought I recognized it, and sure enough, it’s on the cover of Kaufman’s ‘Field Guide to Insects of North America.’
Yesterday, I decided to see what’s up at Los Poblanos Open Space, which I’d only visited before in late Fall when the Sandhill Cranes, Pheasants, and other birds are present in good numbers. More people were around than I would have expected, some managing the Maize Maze that opened about a week ago and others working the Rio Grande Community Farm that is currently bursting with ripe tomatoes, onions, other vegetables, and flowers.
Most amazing, however, were the hundreds of Clouded Sulphur butterflies feeding on the acres of blooming alfalfa fields. I caught these two in the act of mating, which apparently is quite time-consuming and therefore easier to photograph than trying to catch one flying between short pauses at individual flowers.
In addition to the Sulphurs, every now and then you’d see a flash of white, which, when I finally tracked one down, turned out to be a butterfly called a Cabbage White.