Several good trips this week to different habitats in the Sandias, a loop trip through the Jemez and Bandelier, and another to the East Mountains and Galisteo. Domingo Baca Canyon was excellent for butterflies on Tuesday, and even better on a return trip Saturday where we saw more than 20 species. One non-butterfly that caught my eye there was the rather striking Eight-spotted Forester Moth, whose latin name is pretty entertaining, too.
Keeping with the black and white theme, a Wiedemeyer’s Admiral was also hanging out by the creek in Domingo Baca, but didn’t stay around very long for photographs.
We’d seen them earlier this year, but both a Marine Blue and Fulvia Checkerspot posed pretty well for pictures this week.
This was also the week for the short-blooming Strawberry Cactus in the foothills,
and higher up in the wetter areas of the mountains, the Wild Iris.
Wednesday it was off to the Jemez and Bandelier in search of the Hoary Elfin and other butterflies. In the same place we’d seen it about this time last year, we again were able to track it down.
The real highlight of the day, however, was at Burnt Mesa in Bandelier where a pair of mating Variegated Fritillaries were spotted.
Bandelier National Monument is still open for business after last year’s fire and flood, and although the main visitor center and creekside path are closed at the moment, the nearby area looks pretty much the same as before with huge cottonwoods, plenty of wildflowers, and birds and butterflies. This Abert’s Squirrel with those cute tufted ears are still running around the woods and checking out the parking lot.
The Thursday Birder caravan headed out the next day to the east side of the mountains and up to Galisteo, which proved unusually quiet for wildlife – surprisingly few birds or butterflies about that morning. In contrast, the town’s mailboxes did seem rather lively.
Along the way, we stopped at a farm where we’d seen a Barn Owl last year and would see a pair of them this time, including this one who kept flying from tree to tree harassed by smaller birds.
Friday in the Sandia’s would turn up a Mylitta Crescent and a Silvery Blue, both new for the season,
and the next day, a Reakirt’s Blue, also new for the season, nectaring on the first milkweed we’ve seen blooming this year.
This cryptic Painted Lady was also seen in the Sandias on Friday – normally quite colorful from the top and present in unusually large numbers everywhere this year, when it closed its wings, this individual blended in perfectly with the gray gravel.
At Capulin Springs, which is again open after being closed for renovation the last few years, a variety of birds came into the hollowed-out log that captures water from a spring, including this Western Tanager.
We’d also spot a ground nest of a Dark-eyed Junco there with several little ones, but hidden away in the grasses it didn’t allow for very good pictures. The next day, on a return trip to Domingo Baca, where a real puddle party was going on with the butterflies, we’d also spot a nesting Black-chinned Hummingbird.
With migration seeming somewhat delayed this year, it’s been surprising to me how quickly birds, and in particular hummingbirds, are to get their nests built and begin incubating eggs so soon after their arrival.
It’s also good to see that dragonflies and damselflies are starting to take to the air, including this Wandering Glider seen in the foothills the other day.