This past week involved several trips tracking down the American Snout butterfly that I was surprised to see in Embudito Canyon last week. Before, I’d only seen them in the Rio Grande Valley very far south near McAllen Texas and once this summer up near the Colorado border, but had never seen them before in this area. On Monday morning, I returned to Embudito to show them to my butterflying friend Rebecca. Among others, we saw lots of Painted Ladies and were surprised to see a Mormon Metalmark that morning, but not a single Snout anywhere! I’m now thinking they hide until later in the day since I went back the next afternoon by myself and easily spotted about a dozen of them.
Rebecca was really interested in seeing them, so we went back again on Friday afternoon, and sure enough, counted at least 39 of them flying around the redolent chamisa. Another nice sighting that afternoon was a Hoary Comma.
Saturday, we’d stop by Copper Open Space and see a bunch more American Snouts, and just to check, on Sunday I stopped by Embudo Canyon where there were also an incredible number flying around. So this butterfly that we hadn’t seen in this area before is just everywhere in the Sandia foothills this year.
This week’s Thursday Audubon group visited several locations in the South Valley on a delightful Fall morning and saw a nice variety of birds in several locations.
Several dragonflies were darting about, most of which were Variegated Meadowhawks,
and a few butterflies were around, including a large number of the tiny Western Pygmy-Blue. Sandhill Cranes have started arriving in their annual migration south and are always fascinating to watch in their graceful flight.
Friday morning, I rambled down to Tingley Ponds, where an American Bittern had been reported this week. Didn’t manage to find that bird, but did enjoy seeing that several species of duck had returned and watching a male Belted Kingfisher busy guarding the ponds.
Then it was off to the Rio Grande Nature Center where Eared and Western Grebes were being seen. Both were present that morning among a large flock of Canada Geese, but too far away for good pictures. I did get several good pictures of a Roadrunner perched quite close on the parking lot fence.
On the way home, I could easily see the wildfire that had started probably by an unattended campfire in a very remote canyon on the west side of the Sandias that would burn for the next day or so until it was finally brought under control.
Before checking out Copper Open Space on Saturday for those pesky American Snouts, Rebecca and I spent some time looking for butterflies on the east side of the Sandias. Butterfly season seems to be about over in that area, but we were amazed to find a California Tortoiseshell near Doc Long Picnic Ground in exactly the same place we’d been surprised to see one back at the end of June.
At first glance, they are easy to mistake for the similar and more common Hoary Comma, but a closer look shows the wings are much less jagged and the lack of spots on the hindwings. By this time of year, the water was just about gone, but there were still a few small puddles and damp areas that attracted about a dozen red-breasted nuthatches and several other birds along with that great butterfly. We also spotted this bizarre insect having a tail longer than its body, which I believe is an Ichneumon wasp.