Not Just Birds and Butterflies

A nice variety of new and interesting creatures since my last posting along with a few old favorites. In addition to the birds and butterflies I post regularly, this time there’s a few moths, spiders, a new for me lizard, a mammal I haven’t figured out yet, and a few other interesting insects.

On most of my recent trips looking for butterflies in the Sandias, the tachinid flies have been present in large numbers and are rather interesting if viewed closely.

Tachinid Fly

One of those trips to Cedro Canyon turned up a Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillar; I’d thought only Monarch butterfly (and its cousins, the Queen and Soldier) caterpillars ate milkweed because it contains toxins disliked by predators.

Milkweed Tussock Moth (Euchaetes egle)

On Saturday, August 17, Rebecca and I drove down to Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area to look for butterflies and to check the visitor center walls for any moths that had been attracted by their lights the previous night. A little surprising to me was how many different moth species we noticed, most of which Rebecca was able to readily identify (I’m still too new at this moth thing to easily identify any of them.). Among them was the Salicet Sphinx Moth,

Salicet Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus saliceti)

the Five-spotted Hawk Moth,

Five-spotted Hawkmoth (Manduca quinquemaculata)

and this small, but very cool looking Purslane Moth, one of which we’d seen during the White Sands Mothapalooza at the beginning of August.

Purslane Moth (Euscirrhopterus gloveri)

Target butterfly of the day, of which we’d see a good number and typically only see at Whitfield, was the Bordered Patch.

Bordered Patch (Chlosyne lacinia)

Another day, I made a visit to Owlville to see how things were going and assumed there would still be a good number of young Burrowing Owls about since we’d seen quite a few in Torrance County recently. Either it was the wrong time of day or more likely too late in the season, but I’d only manage to spot a total of two of them hiding under bushes. There were some guys out there busy drilling a well or some such that day that may also have sent the birds into hiding.

Burrowing Owl

Just a couple of days later, after hearing about it from a friend, it was off to an arroyo at the north end of Rio Rancho for a Barn Owl. I’d long suspected that area might be used by owls or other raptors in addition to all the Bank Swallows that nest there. I’d  heard about this Barn Owl a few years ago but had yet to see it. This time was lucky as there it was peeking out of a large cavity I noticed from still a good distance away.

Barn Owl

It had been watching me the whole time, however, and decided to fly off to better hide in a nearby big cottonwood tree.

Having been successful at seeing two owl species in recent days, I also stopped in on a Western Screech-Owl to see if it was around (nope). A nearby tree had a critter sleeping away the afternoon. I’d expected it would be a porcupine from its size and behavior, but it’s clearly not one of those. Too big for a squirrel, not the right color for a skunk or weasel; maybe a raccoon?

Mystery Critter

Rather slow day for butterflies in the Sandias last Friday, but we did get a good look at a Common Wood-Nymph in Ojito de San Antonio Open Space,

Common Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala)

and a good picture showing all the colors of the top of an Arizona Sister in Sulphur Canyon.

Arizona Sister (Adelpha eulalia)

The day before had been a good Audubon Thursday Birder visit to Alameda Open Space, but my favorite sighting and photo from that day is of a White-belted Ringtail dragonfly, a new species for me and one that sat there patiently for quite a long time for all to see.

White-belted Ringtail (Erpetogomphus compositus)

It was also a treat a few days later to spot a similar-looking Brimstone Clubtail on a walk in Corrales, this one munching on a damselfly.

Brimstone Clubtail (Stylurus intricatus)

That same day, I stopped to check in on the Osprey that had nested at the North Diversion Channel Outfall since about late May. I’d known they’d successfully raised three young ones this year, but assumed they had probably moved on by now. It was entertaining to see one of the adults perched on top of the power pole leisurely digesting what looks like a large piece of salmon while below a nearly mature young one perched on the nest calling incessantly to be fed.


Last Saturday, Rebecca and I joined in on the annual butterfly count at Sevilleta NWR and had a fun day seeing a few species we don’t often see along with a nice variety of other interesting creatures. About the first thing we’d spot that morning was a new for us moth, the Clio Tiger Moth.

Clio Tiger Moth (Ectypia clio)

Shortly after getting a few pictures of it, Rebecca brought the count leader over to show it to him, arriving just in time to watch a lizard crawl down the stucco and snatch it for a snack. We’d see several species of lizard that day, some of which were new for me including what I’m thinking is a Long-nosed Leopard Lizard.

Long-nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii)

Later in the day, a Reginia Primrose Moth was spotted hiding in a bush, a species Rebecca had only recently seen coming to her UV light late at night.

Reginia Primrose Moth (Schinia reginia)

For butterflies, we’d see a few of our usual Reakirt’s Blue,

Reakirt’s Blue (Echinargus isola)

but also see several Rita Blue, a species we’ve only seen there and at Cerrillos Hills State Park.

Rita Blue (Euphilotes rita)

Another good butterfly to see was one we don’t see very often at all but had been hoping for since we’d had it on the Sevilleta count last year, the Palmer’s Metalmark.

Palmer’s Metalmark (Apodemia palmeri)

While busy looking hard for butterflies to add to our count list, we saw several other cool critters, such as this Jumping Spider eyeing me warily,

Jumping Spider

and this tiny Crab Spider, who’d managed to snag a bee.

Crab Spider

Always a highlight for me on visits to Sevilleta is spotting all the Walking Stick insects hiding in the Broom Dalea – it may take looking carefully a few times before spotting one as they’re quite good at camouflage, but once you spot one you’ll soon notice several others usually in the same bush.

Walking Stick

Other people may be able to see Praying Mantis insects here in town, but Sevilleta is about the only place in the state that I’ve ever seen one (and usually quite a few when I do). These guys tend to hang out in the Broom Dalea or clinging to stucco walls.

Praying Mantis



About joeschelling

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

9 Responses to Not Just Birds and Butterflies

  1. C.C. says:

    Fabulous array here in this post!! We had a Common Wood Nymph at our orchard in Placitas – there for at least 5 weeks or more. Made me curious what it was eating – bark?

    • joeschelling says:

      Thanks. Always fun to see them this time of year along with its cousin, the Small Wood-Nymph. From what I see online, they nectar on various flowers but also tree sap and decaying matter. I usually see them in grass on the ground; that one was the first one I’ve seen fly into a tree.

  2. Linda Otterson says:

    Hmmmm, still puzzling over what the mystery animal is. Great pictures this week Joe.

  3. What a superb collection of beautiful creatures! Each one is as marvelous as the next. Did you ever find out who the mystery critter up in the tree was?

  4. John says:

    Great stuff. The owl is so nice.

Leave a Reply

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

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.