Sure Signs of Spring

Spring has certainly arrived this week, so far without weird weather or huge windstorms.  Things are greening up, trees are blossoming, and a few more seasonal birds and butterflies have started showing up.  The Audubon Thursday Birder trip to Pena Blanca and Cochiti Lake turned up the hoped for Black-billed Magpies at some distance and a close fly-by of an Osprey.  Bald Eagles have all headed north for the summer, and the Ospreys have arrived and will be nesting soon.

Osprey

Osprey

The next day, I wandered over to the Rt. 66 Open Space wondering if the Great Horned Owl I’d seen there earlier this year had mated and started nesting.  Surprisingly, it was sitting in pretty much the exact same place I’d seen it back on February 10, but no evidence of a mate or nest.

Great Horned Owl - Rt. 66 Open Space

Great Horned Owl - Rt. 66 Open Space

Looks like it’s dozing rather peacefully, don’t you think? Last year, they nested there much later than those by the river, with nesting owlets as late as mid-June, so I’ll have to keep checking back.

On Saturday, Rebecca and I headed back to Priest Canyon at the south end of the Manzanos in search of a few butterflies.  Luck was with us that day, seeing quite a few species in the short time we had to look around.  A plant called Squaw Bush (Rhus trilobata) that we’d first heard about in Tucson last month proved quite popular with all the butterflies, including this pair of Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), with

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)

Thicket Hairstreaks (Callphrys spinetorum) and Sandia Hairstreaks (Callophrys mcfarlandi) sharing the same bush.

Thicket Hairstreak (Callophrys spinetorum)

Thicket Hairstreak (Callophrys spinetorum)

Sandia Hairstreak (Callophrys mcfarlandi)

Sandia Hairstreak (Callophrys mcfarlandi)

Actually, the above picture of the  Sandia Hairstreak was taken the next day at Embudo Canyon, and just for comparison, here’s a Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus) we’d see on Monday in Otero Canyon.

Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus)

Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus)

First for the season at Priest Canyon was also a Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus) and a Field Crescent (Phyciodes pulchella).

Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus)

Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus)

Field Crescent (Phyciodes pulchella)

Field Crescent (Phyciodes pulchella)

(Ooh, don’t the latin names makes it sound like I know what I’m talking about? – LOL.)

Since it was on the way home, we stopped for a couple of minutes at the Belen Marsh where we saw a surprising variety of birds, including a pair of Burrowing Owls, Black-necked Stilts,

Black-necked Stilts

Black-necked Stilts

Ruddy Ducks, a Cattle Egret, American Avocets, and about four Franklin’s Gulls in full breeding plumage including that unique rosy pink color.  Passing through on migration, these are a sure sign of Spring around here.

Franklin's Gull

Franklin's Gull

My Sunday trip to Embudo Canyon, and trip to Hondo and Otero Canyons with Rebecca on Monday picked up a couple of other good butterflies, too.  For weeks, I’ve been seeing the large Two-tailed Swallowtails (Papilio multicaudata) passing up and down the canyons, but Sunday I finally got one perched on the Trumpet Gooseberry.

Two-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata)

Two-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata)

In Otero Canyon, we got a nice look at a Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia), but Hondo had quite a few more butterfly species checking out the Squaw Bush.

Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)

Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)

Yesterday, on an unsuccessful look around High Desert for butterflies, I did find a rather cooperative Black-throated Sparrow,

Black-throated Sparrow

Black-throated Sparrow

and today a Black Phoebe at the Open Space Visitor Center.

Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

Actually, I took off this morning with no clear idea of where to go or what to see, but as I was driving decided I should first check in on the Burrowing Owls just west of the Rio Grande on Paseo del Norte.   Approached them this time from the east for better lighting and saw three of the four we’d seen awhile back.  Here’s a picture of two of them.

Burrowing Owls

Burrowing Owls

The guy on the right could only take so much attention and soon flew off, but the other guy just stayed hunkered down guessing I wouldn’t notice the rock that was staring at me.

As long as I was in the neighborhood, after a quick but productive stop at the pond at the Open Space Visitor Center (yay – dragonflies are back!),  I checked in on the Great Horned Owl nests at Pueblo Montano (Mom was tucked in the nest, but no little ones peeking out just yet); the Rio Grande Nature Center where the two little ones have about doubled in size since my last visit;

Great Horned Owls - Rio Grande Nature Center

Great Horned Owls - Rio Grande Nature Center

and Tingley Beach, where we seem to have Mom and the little one poking out of each side of the trunk trying to look like one BIG OWL – that’s Mom on the right and Baby on the left.

Great Horned Owl - Tingley Beach

Great Horned Owl - Tingley Beach

Finally, I’d like to take a moment to thank those of you who’ve commented on my posts, subscribed to my blog, and recently highlighted my blog by nominating me for blog awards.  Last November, my friend Judy Liddell nominated me for the Liebster Award, and this week, Max Reynolds  nominated me for the ABC (Awesome Blog Content) Award.  I appreciate it and have enjoyed viewing their blogs and those of the other people they’ve nominated.  One of these days maybe I’ll get around to responding with a list of some of the blogs I’ve seen that you might also enjoy.

Advertisements

About joeschelling

Birding, butterflies, nature photography, and travel blog from right here in Albuquerque New Mexico.
This entry was posted in Birding, Butterfly, Photographs. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Sure Signs of Spring

  1. Fulin says:

    Hi Joe, This is my first time to visit this blog. These are nice view pictures.

  2. Rosemarie Schelling says:

    Joe, Great “Natural Moments.” That Juniper Hairstreak is a real beauty. The photo of The black neck stilts is super.
    Yes, your using the Latin names makes it sound like you know what you are talking about; AND I think you do…
    Love, MOM

  3. Rebecca Gracey says:

    The owl pictures are great and now you have some owlets photographes with the adult. Three different hairstreak butterfly species is very good too. What will this week bring?

  4. Shannon says:

    Great blog, this was my first time visiting. Love the owl pics. I have been visiting the nest near the nature center a couple times a week for over a month now, just can’t get enough of those babies. I was hoping you could direct me toward the nest at Pueblo Montano. We park there to bike but I haven’t seen the nest. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s