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.
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.
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
Thicket Hairstreaks (Callphrys spinetorum) and Sandia Hairstreaks (Callophrys mcfarlandi) sharing the same bush.
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.
First for the season at Priest Canyon was also a Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus) and a 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,
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.
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.
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.
Yesterday, on an unsuccessful look around High Desert for butterflies, I did find a rather cooperative Black-throated Sparrow,
and today a Black Phoebe at the Open Space Visitor Center.
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.
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;
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.
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.