Not much changed pandemic-wise around here over the last two weeks, but there have been plenty of new butterfly species for the year, further developments among my nesting owls, and several other interesting sightings. I keep seeing reports of a good variety of warblers starting to pass through and a few other rarely-seen birds, but haven’t gotten around to finding any on my own. I’m still probably being a bit over-cautious, but am doing my best to minimize contact with others and to limit the frequency and distance traveled to destinations for observing nature.
Anyway, let’s start with the owls. In my last posting, I noted seeing an owlet and its mom at Willow Creek for the first time on 4/19. On my most recent trip on 4/27, I got to see that there were now two visible owlets with Mom perched on a branch a close distance away.
It was the same story for Pueblo Montano…on 4/19 there was one owlet and its mom, but by 4/29 two owlets were seen but I wasn’t able to spot either adult.
Someone’s reported on eBird reports having seen three owlets and both adults there, but I’ve yet to see the third owlet or the male near that nest. On my most recent afternoon visit on 5/4 , I could just barely make out an owlet snoozing in the nest and was surprised to hear an adult calling attention to itself from not very far away. Looking pretty intently all around, finally I spotted it, naturally looking right at me.
Although I’d managed in mid-April to spot the owls at Calabacillas Arroyo, who fledged so early this year, they’d disappeared entirely during my most recent visits.
In Corrales, where I’d first seen two owlets on April 19, on May 30 I didn’t see anybody on a first visit but returned to see one of them looking back at me from that deep nesting cavity.
By May 4, they had started to venture out from the nest off and on and I lucked onto a interesting interaction with one that climbed out of the nest to look around a bit and check me out. Others have seen both owlets out and about but that will have to wait until my next visit.
On April 23, Rebecca and I met to take a look for butterflies at Embudo Canyon. Not too many butterflies about, but it was good to see water flowing at the far end of the canyon and to spot a few of these poppy flowers already in bloom.
Another day at Piedras Marcadas, several of these lizards were running around. No idea what species it is, but interesting pattern and coloration.
Birdwise, plenty of Spotted Towhees are working the undergrowth anywhere in the bosque,
and Black-headed Grosbeaks and Summer Tanagers have been calling out.
On May 1, Rebecca and I spent the morning butterflying at Three Gun Trailhead where she’d earlier seen good butterflies on all the blooming Fendlerbush close to the parking area. It was pretty amazing what we’d see there that day and satisfying how well the pictures turned out. One of the first I’d see was an American Snout,
followed by a good look at a fresh Checkered White.
Rather common that day, too, was the Variegated Fritillary
and more of the Common Buckeye, which seem unusually plentiful this year.
In addition to the (also unusually plentiful) Sandia Hairstreak,
we started noticing that some of the hairstreaks on the Texas Beargrass, (host plant for the Sandia Hairstreak) blooms were Juniper Hairstreaks.
Several Gray Hairstreaks were also working the Fendlerbush,
and we even had a Great Purple Hairstreak on it.
The blooms of the Texas Beargrass would turn up a Mormon Metalmark,
and once we thought to look for them, quite a few of what we are pretty sure were Sandia Hairstreak caterpillars.
Another reasonably uncommon species seen that morning, of which we’d see several individuals was Viereck’s Skipper.
Also new for the year was a Pahaska Skipper, which I’d start seeing a few days later in Embudito nectaring on one of the few thistles that have opened.
On her earlier visit, Rebecca had also seen a Thicket Hairstreak (I’d see one a few days later in Embudito but didn’t get a good photo) and what was likely an Uncas Skipper.
And, finally, also from my Embudito walk a few days later is the quite commonly seen Common Checkered-Skipper, unusual in being one of the few times I’ve seen one with its wings folded.