First of the Season Sightings

It’s been another interesting week around here as migrating birds begin to move through the area, baby birds are hatching and more butterflies are flying.  A nice surprise kicked off the week during the Audubon Thursday Birder outing to the Alameda and Bachechi Open Space, where a pair of Killdeer are raising their 3 little ones.

Killdeer

Killdeer

If you zoom in on the picture above, you’ll see there are way more than two legs under that adult.  A few minutes later, the secret is revealed as two little ones pop out from underneath.

Killdeer

Killdeer

At the end of that day’s walk, a few of us crossed the Alameda Bridge to look for the Monk Parakeet nesting in the giant yucca near the Satellite Coffee that I posted a picture of last week.  It turns out that several birds have also taken up residence in that yucca, including starlings, sparrows, and a Eurasian Collared Dove.

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Indeed, all these introduced species seem to have organized themselves against the native species.  Here’s everybody but the House Sparrow hanging around together.

Introduced Species

Introduced Species – Rock Dove, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Monk Parakeet, European Starling

Friday, Rebecca and I headed out to several spots along the foothills in search of a few butterflies,  and got a few new ones for the year including a Simius Roadside-Skipper, Funereal Duskywing, and a Sleepy Duskywing.

Sleepy Duskywing (Erynnis brizo)

Sleepy Duskywing (Erynnis brizo)

At Copper Open Space, we saw a pair of Scott’s Orioles for the first time this year and heard another in Embudo Canyon.

Scott's Oriole

Scott’s Oriole

Saturday eventually proved to be a great day for butterflies, as we drove south to Bear Trap Campground deep in the San Mateo Mountains near Mount Withington.   Initially, we weren’t too encouraged and hadn’t seen any butterflies on the long drive in or when we first stopped to look around.  But as the day warmed up, we’d see quite a few species including several that were new for us.  One of the first we’d spot was a number of Hoary Commas that we’d been seeing around Albuquerque since early March.

Hoary Comma (Polygonia gracilis)

Hoary Comma (Polygonia gracilis)

They just glow when sunning themselves with their wings spread, but can just disappear in the leaf litter when they fold those wings up.

Hoary Comma (Polygonia gracilis)

Hoary Comma (Polygonia gracilis)

Their common name comes from the silvery “comma” you can see showing on the hind wing.  A “lifer” for both of us that day was the Morrison’s Skipper with its very distinctive arrow-shaped marking, of which we saw several individuals of both sexes.

Morrison's Skipper (Stinga morrisoni)

Morrison’s Skipper (Stinga morrisoni)

Quite a few other species also put in an appearance, including this Thicket Hairstreak

Thicket Hairstreak (Callophrys spinetorum)

Thicket Hairstreak (Callophrys spinetorum)

and a Variegated Frittilary.

Variegated Frittilary (Euptoieta claudia)

Variegated Frittilary (Euptoieta claudia)

On Monday, I met Rebecca and her butterfly friend from New Jersey, Teresa, to try and find her some new butterflies for her life list in Embudito Canyon.  As we were poking around looking for those, Cactus Wrens, both Scaled and Gambel’s Quail, Black-throated Sparrows, and Curve-billed Thrashers were calling throughout the canyon.   This Gambel’s Quail posed nicely for a portrait.

Gambel's Quail

Gambel’s Quail

We had a pretty good day with Teresa, getting her our target species for the day of a Sandia Hairstreak, the Short-tailed Skipper that was new for her, watching four Two-tailed Swallowtails playing in the water, and spotting Southwestern Orangetips, Rocky Mountain Duskywing, several Mormon Metalmarks, and a number of other species, including this Acmon Blue

Acmon Blue (Plebejus acmon)

Acmon Blue (Plebejus acmon)

and several Spring Whites.

Spring White (Pontia sisymbrii)

Spring White (Pontia sisymbrii)

Wandering around the Copper Open Space this morning, I noticed the Scott’s Oriole is still there and got this nice picture of a Marine Blue on the Apache Plume.

Marine Blue (Leptotes marina)

Marine Blue (Leptotes marina)

Looks like the bling is back!

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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.

2 Responses to First of the Season Sightings

  1. Rebecca Gracey says:

    Your sequencing of the mother Killdeer with the little ones under the wing, and then the little ones on their own was priceless. I also like the glorious Hoary Comma with its wings spread and then the cryptic coloration when the wings were closed. Good “before and after” photography!

    • Rosemarie Schelling says:

      Joe, Once again I thoroughly enjoyed my bird and butterfly walk with you and your camera…
      I call the first one Your “8-legged kildeer.” Those two babies were so cute when they stepped out.
      That Gambell’s quail was perfectly posed…Great! And the Marine blue on the apache plume was a super finish … Congrats!

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