One Week in July

With the first week in July just passed, the local monsoon rains have arrived in a major way, bringing much-needed moisture and encouraging flowers to bloom and butterflies to emerge. Before those dark clouds built up almost every afternoon, several new butterfly species for the year turned up, often on what seems to be one of their favorite nectar plants, Indian Hemp (Apocynum cannabinum, a member of the dogbane family) that has just recently started flowering. Unusual this year has been large numbers of Gray Hairstreaks seen just about everywhere from the mountains to the river.

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

And only in the last couple of weeks have we been seeing Taxiles Skippers, that to my eye closely resembles any number of other skippers from the top.

Male Taxiles Skipper (Poanes taxiles)

Taxiles Skipper (Poanes taxiles)

The picture above is of a female, which is perhaps a bit more distinctive underneath with that lavender wash.

Female Taxiles Skipper (Poanes taxiles)

Female Taxiles Skipper (Poanes taxiles)

New for the season was a single Russet Skipperling on the trail to Bill Spring.

Russet Skipperling (Piruna pirus)

Russet Skipperling (Piruna pirus)

Also seen on that trail was a Dun Skipper, notable mostly for having almost no distinguishing features other than its yellowish head.

Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris)

Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris)

More exciting to see, and it seems to me a bit early for them, was a Small Wood-Nymph up at the 8000′ marker on the Crest Highway and a Common Wood-Nymph at Ojito de San Antonio Open Space.

Common Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala)

Common Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala)

Although we’ll certainly start seeing larger numbers of them once the coneflowers come into bloom, it was a treat to see the first Northwestern Fritillary of the season again up at the 8000′ marker.

Northwestern Fritillary (Speyeria hesperis)

Northwestern Fritillary (Speyeria hesperis)

Butterfly of the week, however, was the Behr’s Hairstreak working the dogbane at that same location and which I haven’t seen there since 2012.

Behr's Hairstreak (Satyrium behrii)

Behr’s Hairstreak (Satyrium behrii)

Our friend, Matt, was in town for that one and also spotted a Mexican Yellow, a butterfly we hadn’t realized until recently flies in our part of the state.

Mexican Yellow (Eurema mexicana)

Mexican Yellow (Eurema mexicana)

We might well have mistaken others in the past for the Southern Dogface, a butterfly Matt first pointed out to me when I was quite new at this butterfly business. He was here with his friend, Julia, who mentioned the one that got her attention after Matt pointed it out as a Question Mark. That’s a butterfly I’d first seen in New Mexico last summer, but had several in Las Huertas Canyon back in April, and was surprised to see this morning at Tingley Ponds down by the Rio Grande.

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis)

Also flying all over the area is the dramatic Two-tailed Swallowtail I just can’t help but photograph when they pause from flying to nectar on the bright red penstemon.

Two-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata)

Two-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata)

Once a year, something triggers the small strawberry cacti in my yard to put out their showy pink flowers for a day or two at most; I’m guessing all it took was that one good rain to make it happen this week.

Strawberry Cactus

Strawberry Cactus

All the rain, especially down by the river, kicked off the emergence of an incredible number of the New Mexico Spadefoot, These little guys, about the size of a thumbnail although they will grow to more than two inches in size, were just hopping about everywhere at the Nature Center. This one was living dangerously hopping down the main gravel path to the river.

New Mexico Spadefoot

New Mexico Spadefoot

Tingley Ponds was once again swarming with Widow Skimmer dragonflies, many of which seemed to be resting on the reeds surrounding the ponds, but would easily fly off at the least disturbance.

Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa)

Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa)

While I was walking slowly around the ponds trying not to scare the dragonflies off, I did manage to surprise both a Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

and an immature Black-crowned Night-Heron.

Black-crowned Night-Heron (immature)

Black-crowned Night-Heron (immature)

Last week’s Audubon Thursday Birder trip headed south to Bosque del Apache NWR. Most popular in late Fall for all the wintering Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese that appear then, the refuge is good all year round for birds and we’d spot a good number of species that morning, including a glorious Bullock’s Oriole, a flock of Wild Turkey with several young ones, a quick look at a Yellow-breasted Chat, Blue Grosbeaks, a pair of Summer Tanagers, and many others. Naturally, my pictures of the special ones didn’t come out all that well, but my shot of a Red-winged Blackbird was a little different,

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird,

and we got great looks at a pair of Great Egrets

Great Egret

Great Egret

and a rather active Green Heron.

Green Heron

Green Heron

A quick visit to my local patch, Embudito Canyon, this afternoon didn’t turn up many butterflies but did turn up three or four Cactus Wrens, either calling loudly from the top of a cholla or so intent on scavenging for insects they didn’t fly off as quickly as usual. I’m guessing a couple of these were immatures that had likely only recently fledged.

Cactus Wren

Cactus Wren

Bring on the rain! We can sure use it and it always brings out an amazing diversity of creatures as the summer comes on.

 

Advertisements

About joeschelling

Birding, butterflies, nature photography, and travel blog from right here in Albuquerque New Mexico.
This entry was posted in Birding, Butterfly, Critters, Dragonflies, Photographs. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to One Week in July

  1. Mike Powell says:

    It’s always a treat to open up one of our postings, Joe, because they always seem to include a wonderful collection of exotic and ordinary creatures wonderfully displayed in all of their beauty. I consider it an accomplishment when I can identify some of the species, as was the case for many of the birds and the dragonfly in this posting. I particularly love the shot of the green heron. The butterflies seem to be more regionally specific and it’s fascinating to see so many different ones there that I don’t see where I live (though I suspect some of them are here and I don’t notice them).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s