Amazing how time flies by sometimes and two weeks have now passed since my last update. Although I have been getting out pretty regularly as usual, it’s been rather hot and dry lately and I haven’t been seeing all that many birds and butterflies in most of my usual places. Birds have been busy nesting and keeping fairly quiet and out of sight it seems. Most of the wildflowers that butterflies nectar on have faded away and the damp areas they use to collect salt have dried up. The good news is all those new baby birds have started fledging and flying around, and our summer monsoon rains should kick in over the next couple of weeks and new butterflies start appearing along with the summer wildflowers.
A highlight for me during the last two weeks was a float trip down the Corrales stretch of the Rio Grande organized by Kim Score for Central New Mexico Audubon Society. About a dozen of us gathered at the Alameda Bridge at 5am on June 18 to first drive to Bernalillo to pick up kayaks and canoes, and then drive to the put in spot in North Corrales. On the river by 6:30am, we spent the next four hours floating easily down the river hearing and seeing a good 50 bird species over 8.5 miles, including a ridiculous number of Yellow-breasted Chats and Common Yellowthroats and at least 4 Gray Catbirds (a bird I’ve rarely seen in this area). Excellent day and something I’d been wanting to do for a really long time-next time I might even take a few photos.
Several times in recent weeks has seen me heading around to the east side of the Sandias checking out bird and butterfly spots from Ojito de San Antonio Open Space (~6600 ft, 2012m) all the way up to Sandia Crest (10678 ft, 3255m). One of those spots, Capulin Spring, is full of blooming purple penstemon just now attracting large numbers of swallowtail butterflies, including both the Two-tailed
and the Western Tiger Swallowtail.
While there on one visit, I ran into birding friend Gale Owings who pointed out a Plumbeous Vireo nest near the parking lot, where the mother would fly off and soon return with something for the three little ones to eat.
On the path to the spring, a Hermit Thrush posed for me while I could hear the marvelous song of several more of them calling to each other from the nearby trees.
Several good birds flew in for a drink or a splash there at the hollowed out log on all my visits, but there were always other birders watching so I didn’t stay long or try for many photographs. Up at the Crest, it was good to see a nice display of wildflowers near the Crest House with a lots of butterflies stopping by to nectar. New for the season and never seen that often around here was a Black Swallowtail, of which I’d see at least one at several spots along the route on different days. Most seemed a bit beat up and this is the best one of them I saw.
Among the other butterflies at the Crest one morning was an Acmon Blue. I’ve occasionally seen them around since April this year, but had hoped to see the similar Melissa Blue which should also be flying now.
Several other tiny butterflies are also seen regularly these days, including this fresh Reakirt’s Blue showing off its ‘bling’ in those hindwing spots along with that distinctive row of black spots surrounded by white in the forewing.
Juniper Hairstreaks also have been quite common in most locations this year.
Near Bill Spring, we’re starting to see Taxiles Skipper again, this one a male on a wild geranium flower.
On one visit there, several Hoary Comma butterflies were investigating something tasty along the trail, one of which let me approach close enough to photograph.
Early this week, I made the rounds at Rio Grande Nature Center and Los Poblanos Open Space. At the Nature Center, an Ash-throated Flycatcher posed for me from its perch high up in a Russian olive,
and later at Los Poblanos Open Space, a Painted Lady seemed to be enjoying a Coneflower in the community garden.
I’d forgotten until a friend asked about one today that the dragonflies and damselflies start appearing in large numbers and a variety of species about this time every year, and sure enough, saw a rather unusual one in Embudito Canyon this morning, a White-belted Ringtail.
I’ll certainly need to start looking around closer for more of them, and imagine I’ll start seeing more of those birds and butterflies if I just keep looking.