Still way dry and lately way too hot, but there’s always something out there to catch my eye pretty much anytime I get out to look around. It’s now gotten so dry they’ve closed down access to pretty much all the local mountains and remain on high fire alert, especially as those illegal fireworks will start appearing as we get close to Independence Day. We did get a quick shot of rain a couple of weeks ago, but are starting to get desperate for the arrival of our summer monsoon rains to lessen the threat and hopefully allow the woods to re-open.
Knowing the mountains would close by the end of the week, I made a point a couple of days earlier of checking out most of my favorite butterfly spots all the way to the Sandia Crest. With so little moisture about, it wasn’t too surprising not seeing many butterflies other than lots of swallowtails patrolling along the highway. However, it was cool to find right at the top that the wildflowers were blooming and being attended to by a number of butterflies new for the season, including a Western Tiger-Swallowtail (quite similar to the Two-tailed Swallowtails seen in the foothills earlier in the season),
my first Taxiles Skipper for the year,
and the gorgeous Milbert’s Tortoiseshell that I’ll maybe see once or twice a season, and for the first time get a good shot of the underside.
A few days later wandering around the bosque close to the Rio Grande, a Black-headed Grosbeak posed nicely for me in the shade.
Since early in April, I’ve been stopping to check in on the Osprey nest at Tramway Wetlands (aka North Diversion Channel Outfall). They’ve had a tough time this year. Nests they built at their first spot blew down a couple of times in our spring winds, and they’ve been trying again for some time now in a new spot on the other side of the bridge. I’ve noticed Mom pretty well hunkered down on my last few visits, but have yet to spot any little ones. Word is, however, they’ve now hatched and a couple of folks have seen them – if successful, this will be a first for the County. What I have seen there the last few visits are the Mississippi Kites, at least three of which seem to be sailing around.
Good thing, as the Rio Grande valley in New Mexico is almost the farthest west they are found and I’m on the hook for tracking down one of their nests for the Thursday Birders in about a month.
It has been pretty slow for birds and butterflies around town lately, but a nice variety of dragonflies have started to appear especially around the river, irrigation ditches, and ponds around town. Quite numerous lately at spots like Tingley Ponds has been the Widow Skimmer,
a location I also had fun watching a young Cooper’s Hawk hiding in the trees close to where we’d spotted an active nest earlier this year.
Excellent day trip to Villanueva State Park with the Audubon Thursday Birder bunch last week. Fortunately, it was still open despite the drought conditions and the group got a good bird tally and had some rather unusual sightings, including a Common Black Hawk, Indigo Bunting, nesting Cassin’s Kingbird, and a few Western Wood-Pewee.
On that trip, a friend told me about a nesting Summer Tanager at the Rio Grande Nature Center that I went to find a few days later. Not spotting it right off, surprisingly my friend showed up right then to point it out to me. Always fun to get to watch the little ones getting fed.
Elena Gallegos Open Space is still open and one of the few foothill spots one can still visit while the fire restrictions are in effect. It, too, was pretty quiet in the dry heat and it was a bit of a surprise that about the only bird I’d see was a Scott’s Oriole that popped in about as close as I’ve ever been able to get to them.
Hoping those summer afternoon rains show up soon.