Most times when I’m out wandering around I really don’t know what to expect to see. Other times I’ll have a specific target in mind and will either get lucky and find it or more often see something totally unexpected. There’s been a little bit of all of these happening over the last couple of weeks.
Awhile back, a friend had texted me to ask when the Mississippi Kites arrive near Corrales, and checking my notes replied I usually first see them in mid-June. But just happening to check eBird recently it seemed several were being reported at the North Diversion Channel Outfall (Tramway Wetlands) since May 20, so we made plans to meet there on May 26 to take a look. Luck was with us and we saw all four individuals that have been reported, with close fly-bys of two chasing each other. My best photo of the day was this one.
Returning a week later with hopes for some better pictures, not a single one appeared for me. Standing around hoping they might fly in or be spotted hiding in the trees, it was astonishing to have a pair of Black-chinned Hummingbirds land on a fence just a few feet away to start mating. I’ve only caught birds in the act of mating a few times over the years and the whole thing only lasts a few seconds. Managed to snap off four quick shots – here’s one of them.
Later that afternoon and again the next day, I walked at Embudito Canyon mostly to check on the butterflies but also since it’s close and usually easy to avoid running into other people during the pandemic. I did get a decent picture of a Silver-spotted Skipper after not being able to get one on May 19 due to social distancing issues.
It was interesting to see a Green Skipper perched close to a Canyonland Satyr…I’d always thought the satyr was a considerably larger butterfly.
Nice look at an Acmon Blue there on another outing.
About a week later it was a treat to see a Hackberry Emperor, a species I usually see only once or twice a season close to a stand of hackberry trees but this time much further down the canyon toward the parking lot.
Seeing several different lizards lately including this one that popped up in Embudito to pose nicely for me.
Even the plants surprised me there. While the cholla have been starting to bloom and put out new growth, instead of the typical thumb-like buds this one seems to have taken a completely different approach.
And, as usual, the Curve-billed Thrashers pose regally on the cholla…I’ve way too many pictures of these and try to avoid taking any more, but sometimes they just insist.
My last posting included a description of a quick trip Rebecca and I took to Arizona that was an unqualified success in picking up three new butterfly species. Acting on a tip from a friend (and New Mexico’s butterfly expert), less than a week later we drove to Galisteo Basin Preserve up near Santa Fe in search of another species for our life lists. At first, just about the only thing flying were a couple of Fulvia Checkerspots, a good butterfly but one we’ve seen a number of times.
Looking around awhile longer, Rebecca would spot our target species, the Simius Roadside-Skipper, on one of just about the only prickly pear blooms in sight.
This brings my US list to a respectable 475 species!
Also wandering around the area were Short-horned Lizards (Horny Toads to most folks).
Two days later, I’d spot another lizard I’d originally mistake for another short-horned lizard because it’s behavior was so similar.
On May 31, I took another look at the Cooper’s Hawk nest I’ve been checking occasionally on my drive to Embudito. It was a treat to see three little ones in the nest with Mom.
Checking in with them again this morning, I was only able to see two of the little ones and managed a pretty good shot of one posing with Mom.
That earlier visit got me thinking to look in on two rookeries I know about, one in town, and one down in Bosque Farms. Events were proceeding nicely in Bosque Farms where I managed to see nesting Black-crowned Night-Herons,
and baby Cattle Egrets being tended to by the parents.
Decided to leave when a neighbor drove up to explain his displeasure at the smell and his desire to break out his shotgun to handle the situation if he could. As long as I was in the neighborhood, I next went to Belen Marsh where I’d heard several other birds were busy nesting. As usual for me, the lighting wasn’t great, but I did get a fun shot of an American Avocet with little ones
and a Black-necked Stilt with what I assume is one of its little ones.
Driving home, I decided to stop by Owlville (behind the Walmart in Los Lunas). I’d heard the area where we’ve had quite a few Burrowing Owls in recent years was being sold for development, that prairie dog holes had been filled in to encourage the owls to move on, and that there’d been a bit of bulldozing going on. That may be, but things looked pretty normal to me and I’d easily spot four Burrowing Owls in different locations.
No obvious nesting or even pairing up of adults, so they may well leave for greener pastures, but always nice to see them.
Wrapping up my morning at the rookery in town (close to the National Hispanic Cultural Center), there were a fair number of Cattle Egrets, a few Snowy Egrets, and possibly Black-crowned Night-Herons doing their spring thing in this quite small habitat of just two or three evergreen trees.
A few more butterflies from a day in the Sandias include a Mylitta Crescent,
Juniper Hairstreak (have seen a good number of these this year, but this was one of the more photogenic),
and, first of the season for me, Weidemeyer’s Admiral
and Russet Skipperling.
This past Friday, Rebecca and I drove up to the Jemez Mtns. looking for a Hoary Elfin, a butterfly we haven’t seen in a few years. We’d have no luck this time so poked around a couple of other spots to see what might be flying. While doing that, I snapped a picture of a new wildflower for me that I’m pretty sure is a Spotted Coralroot orchid.
Our butterfly hunt would eventually turn up a good sighting of what I’m almost certain is a Western Green Hairstreak, which we hadn’t seen in years but had recently heard are being seen in good numbers in the Jemez Mtns.