This past week I’ve been fortunate to come across three different species of first hummingbirds and then butterflies, some of which aren’t seen very often at all around here. The Audubon Thursday Birders held their annual hummingbird extravaganza and potluck, stopping first at Simm’s Ranch where the owner has incredible number of hummingbirds coming to visit their feeders and gave a presentation on his long-term study of bluebird breeding on his property. Following that visit, it was on to Bonnie and Don’s, where they too have probably close to a hundred hummingbirds draining the more than a dozen feeders they keep supplied.
Of the four species they have visiting regularly, I managed to photograph all but the Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Actually, I did get a couple of pictures of them, too, but none came out all that well.). First up was the one that seems to show up earliest every year and is quite common all over town, the Black-chinned Hummingbird.
Around about the Fourth of July, the Rufous Hummingbird shows up and is known for aggressively defending feeders from any other hummingbirds.
At my house, I’m lucky to see more than one hummingbird on any day and even with two feeders, once the Rufous comes to town he’ll do his best to guard both of them and run off any other visitors. The sheer numbers of birds and feeders at the places we visited must completely overwhelm them and let the others in for a sip. The third species was most special since I’ve only see it rarely and don’t think I’ve ever seen it in town – this male Calliope Hummingbird.
When I’m not looking at birds it’s usually butterflies that draw my attention. My last posting had a picture of the Banded Hairstreak, also one we rarely see and that we had been regularly checking the dogbane for during several recent visits. On Saturday back at the 8000′ marker in the Sandia, we had a couple more of them including this one on something other than the dogbane.
First of the season was also another hairstreak we’d been hoping to see and typically only get once or twice a year, the Colorado Hairstreak.
Rounding out that trifecta was a third hairstreak I spotted yesterday on the trail to Bill Spring, the Tailed Copper, one that can be quite common some years and I’d been searching for all the month of July. An absolutely serendipitous finding, as I was heading back to the car after seeing few butterflies anywhere along the trail that morning, there it was resting on a stalk of grass next to the trail.
With any luck, we’ll start seeing more of the Tailed Copper and maybe even another Colorado Hairstreak in the next few weeks. Friday, I took a quick trip to a few of our regular spots in Las Huertas Canyon looking for those hairstreaks. None of them showed themselves, but it was a good morning ending up seeing 25 species overall. Among the surprises were a few Arizona Sisters, which for some reason have been absent since mid-June, a Question Mark, and a Red Admiral.
At one popular area near the creek were a ridiculous number of nearly two dozen Margined Whites puddling in the damp sand.
The next day, Saturday, while Rebecca and I were busy at 8000′ again looking for all those hairstreaks, we’d finally spot a healthy looking male Pine White working the dogbane.
The Pine White is another of those special butterflies for this time of year and one that tends to spend most of its time high up in the pines. We’ve now seen several this year, but all of them male, so will be still keeping an eye out for the female which has a bit more red on the outer edge of the hindwing. And, of course, it’s difficult not taking pictures of swallowtails when they stop their continuous patrolling for a bit of nectar, such as this Two-tailed Swallowtail working a recently bloomed coneflower.
The other day on my way to look for Mississippi Kites again (I’d see four of them circling in the sky but no nest anywhere), I stopped by Tramway Wetlands. Essentially a large drainage basin to the Rio Grande, sometimes it’s completely dry while at other times it has plenty of water to draw in a good variety of water and shorebirds. With all the rain we’ve been getting lately, it has proven popular for a number of species. While there, I spotted an excellent birder I know on the far side who would submit an eBird report later that day on the 30 species he’d seen. Most I’d see as well, including at least four Great Blue Herons, a couple of Black-crowned Night-Herons, several different species of ducks and sandpipers, a Belted Kingfisher overseeing the area from a power line, and almost two dozen Snowy Egrets.
Snowys are always fun to take pictures of if they let you close enough and if I remember to adjust the camera settings for that brilliant white. The first one I saw appears to be an adult bringing a nice fish back to show what I assume was its young one.
After downing the fish, the adult posed nicely for a portrait.
What I assume is a younger one since its colors are a bit muted also sat nicely for its picture to be taken.
A few minutes later, it took off before making a graceful landing a little further down the way.