With so many places closed down for the last month due to fire restrictions, I wasn’t very motivated to get out and take many pictures this week. Now that we’ve had a few decent rains and are looking at a week with rain forecast pretty much every afternoon, however, things are looking up and today all the fire restrictions were finally lifted! It’s also been an unusually crazy week with home disasters that took up a bit of my time – first a dishwasher that ceased working, then a large leak where the drip irrigation system connects to the water line, and finally, while dealing with that problem naturally the car battery died in the grocery store parking lot. After taking care of all that, I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to the river and mountains for a few pictures.
One day last week, I did manage to go to Elena Gallegos Open Space, and while the flowers still weren’t blooming to attract butterflies, there were a few birds and other critters about, including this male Prairie Lizard sporting sporting his colorful blue markings.
A few days later on the Audubon Thursday Birder trip along the levee road north of Tingley Beach, we spotted an immature Great Plains skink, a creature I very rarely see around here.
With all the disasters occurring at the house, another thing I didn’t manage to do this week was get down to Bosque del Apache for the Rufous-necked Wood Rail that showed up a week ago and has been displaying all week. Most unusual, this is the first record of this species in the US, is hard enough to find in its usual neotropical habitat, and isn’t seen much further north than Mazatlan, Mexico. Since it usually skulks around marshy cattails, I can’t imagine it can fly all that well, let alone walk, and it’s hard to understand how it ever got here. Causing quite a tizzy in the birder world with folks from all over coming to see it.
We must’ve gotten just enough moisture in the last few days for the little cactus to put on their brief annual show, where these gorgeous flowers appear for just a day or so.
Over the weekend, I made a visit to Shady Lakes, a water lily garden and fishing spot close to the Rio Grande. I’d hoped to find a few dragonflies there since all the other areas I usually go to were closed, and was not disappointed by the large numbers zooming around there that morning. The most common seemed to be the Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa).A good one of which I saw only a single individual is the Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libelulla pulchella), And there were a few Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) perched here and there.
The waterlilies were fun to photograph as well, as they aren’t often seen in this high desert environment.
The mountains opened again at 8 a.m. this morning, and despite it being surprisingly cool and cloudy, I immediately headed up to see what’s been going on up there for the last month. With that weather, birds were fairly quiet, but I did see a loud Red-naped Sapsucker and quite a few House Wrens in the area near the 8000’ marker where I’m sure they nested this year.
Also near that 8000’ marker, it was great to see that we haven’t missed the blooming of the dogbane, which is just getting started and last year was fabulous for butterflies. Even on this cool, cloudy morning, there were Marine Blue, Painted Lady, Two-tail Swallowtail, and Northwestern Fritillary butterflies nectaring on that patch.
Lower on the mountain at Bill Spring, yellow coneflowers attracted several of the fritillaries, and at Cienega Canyon, a few more along with a Reakirt’s Blue, Field Crescent, and new for the year, a Common Wood-Nymph.
It is truly wonderful that our monsoon season is finally upon us, natural habitats are again accessible, and all that fabulous flora and fauna are coming back to life.