While I usually try to update this blog no more than about once a week, it’s been a little less than a week this time because things will be kind of busy for a while. Since mid-August, it’s been great fun fooling around with my new Nikon D7100 camera, a substantial upgrade from the D90 I’ve been using since 2009. It’s usually not so much about the equipment as it is being in the right place at the right time with enough experience to get the shot, but I’m hoping to get some pretty good pictures with this one in the coming days.
As has typically been my experience, heading out with a particular subject in mind usually doesn’t work out and instead something else pops up that draws my eye. A stop at Tramway Wetlands on Tuesday morning in search of dragonflies, for example, didn’t turn up many dragonflies but surprised me with a number of Snowy and Cattle Egrets working the pond.
Several shorebirds were also about including this Solitary Sandpiper.
It also seems autumn is closing in on us rather quickly with the asters and sunflowers making their annual appearance (not to mention the heavenly aroma of roasting chile all over town).
Wednesday, I headed to the Rio Grande Nature Center in hopes of getting a few more hummingbird pictures, but that didn’t work out since the feeders were all in the shade. Wandering over to take a look at the pond through the openings in a concrete wall by the Nature Center, I spotted this Green Heron sitting quietly in the shade right next to the wall and managed to get this picture that required essentially no cropping at all to fill the frame.
The Audubon Thurday Birders this week spent the morning at the new Valle de Oro NWR in Albuquerque’s South Valley. Not as birdy as we’d hoped, but there were astonishing numbers of butterflies working the alfalfa fields, including about 6 Monarchs,
plenty of Orange Sulfurs,
hundreds of the closely-related Clouded Sulfurs, including this mating pair (the brighter yellow male is above the lighter female),
and a number of other species, including Marine Blue, Checkered-Skipper, West Coast Lady, and a Painted Crescent.
Several of us were quite taken with a fascinating flower mixed in with the alfalfa that no one seemed to be able to identify. Once back home, a Google search quickly identified it as Hibiscus trionum, an introduced species in the mallow family. Its common name, Flower-of-an-Hour, refers to the fact that it only blooms for a single day for an hour or so before wilting. The flower, leaves, and seed pods are all quite striking.
A short visit to the Michael Emery Trailhead in the High Desert community and then to check on things in Embudito Canyon proved surprisingly productive on Friday. My friend Steve had told me about the huge number of large hornworm caterpillars being seen in the first location. Sure enough, there were plenty of those guys munching away in the grasses near the parking lot, which I later identified as White-lined Sphinx Moth (Hyles lineata) caterpillars.
Next, in a quick loop around Embudito I spotted a total of only nine butterflies, but each was of a different species. Two new ones for me there included a Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) that got away before I could get a picture, and a Meridian Duskywing (Erynnis meridianus),
bringing my list of species seen in that canyon to 49. One more for a nice round number of 50 species for that canyon and I plan to post an illustrated list at the trailhead for anyone who might be interested.