This post has mostly photos of butterflies from the past two weeks, but also a few other moths, birds, and even flowers. Weather-wise, things have been pretty good with the summer monsoon kicking in regularly and temperatures not too extreme (unlike some other parts of the country). Still not much going on with butterflies in the foothills or down by the Rio Grande, but much better up in the mountains.
On the first of July, Rebecca and I took a look at Ojito de San Antonio for some butterflies. Mostly quiet while we were there, but we did turn up a Common Wood-Nymph (first of the year for us after looking for them the last few weeks),
and a fresh Sleepy Orange.
Later that day, I checked Embudito where we’ve been putting off our regular butterfly survey until conditions improve. Unfortunately, it’s still awfully dry there and not much was flying. Seeing a Weidemeyer’s Admiral resting on an elm tree near the spring got me taking a closer look, which turned up first an underwing moth and, as I looked closer, a Hackberry Emperor (seen most years, but typically only once or twice) that opened its wings for me.
On my way to Embudito, I remembered to stop to look in on the Cooper’s Hawk nest I’d first noticed in mid-June. I managed to get a couple of shots of three little ones, but kept getting dive-bombed by the mom so didn’t hang around long. This is one of the better shots of two of those little ones.
Two days later, we did do our butterfly survey from Capulin Spring to Balsam Glade and picked up a few butterflies, but were expecting more that were probably hiding as clouds came and went. Two of those we did see were Russet Skipperling
and several Taxiles Skipper; this male on the purple penstemon that covered a meadow.
I returned earlier the next day to look again around most of the survey route, and then to visit the Ellis Trail for the first time this year, and later to look around part of the Cienega Spring survey route our friends have been seeing good butterflies recently. Good idea – that worked out way better than I expected.
Right around the spot we cross NM 165 coming from Capulin Spring to Balsam Glade were several fun sightings; the usual Dun Skipper,
but also the first Small Wood-Nymph for the year,
a very fresh Hoary Comma,
and even a Rocky Mountain Clearwing moth.
Walking part of the way down the gravel road from the Ellis Trail parking lot produced a few butterflies drawn to different nectar flowers than I see lower on the mountain. One of my favorites has always been the Red Columbine, which was bloooming rather profusely that day.
Of the butterflies I’d photograph there was the Red Admiral (much more common everywhere this year than in the past),
and Mourning Cloak (common, but not usually quite as fresh).
Wrapping up my morning in Cienega, I’d luck into seeing a number of good butterflies, the highlight of which was California Tortoiseshell (our surveying friends had seen 3 of them there a few days earlier!).
Looking closer at my pictures at home later turned up another one from the Ellis Trail. I’d also see a couple of Tailed Copper (new for the year) and got a nice photo of a (ridiculously common this year) Marine Blue, which was fresh enough to show off that ‘bling.’
Over the next few days, I’d gone to look for birds first at Pueblo Montano Open Space and then Willow Creek Open Space. Not too many birds seen at either spot, but it was a bit of a surprise seeing a single Cedar Waxwing close to the river at Pueblo Montano,
and then several Mississippi Kites at Willow Creek. The Kites hadn’t nested in their usual spot for several years now after construction had removed most of the trees they’d used before, but they had been seen at Willow Creek on July 1 by the newly restarted Audubon Thursday Birders.
Those days also included another run by Ellis Trail and Cienega Spring for a better photo of that Tailed Copper,
and of a Southwestern Fritillary, which I’d only seen briefly flying away on an earlier visit.
On Monday of this week, Rebecca and I drove into the Jemez Mtns. to look for butterflies in a new location for us, the Seven Springs Fish Hatchery near Fenton Lake. We’d also stop by the side of the highway at a few places that had large patches of promising nectar sources. At one of those places, I’d first see a White-lined Sphinx Moth a common daytime species around here, but always tricky trying to photograph.
Moments later, Rebecca spotted a first-of-the-year Pine White. Usually seen flying high around Ponderosa Pines, this one had flown down close to the ground to nectar and even ended up settling on Rebecca’s shirt for several minutes even as she continued to chase after another Pine White.
On a return visit to these spots after our time at Seven Springs, we’d add (for the first time in New Mexico) a Sylvan Hairstreak nectaring on the just-bloomed horsetail milkweed,
and (first of the year) Banded Hairstreak on indian hemp.
Our main location for the day, Seven Springs Fish Hatchery, turned out to be pretty good for butterflies with large marshy areas and a good variety of nectar sources. While (not too surprisingly) we wouldn’t see our target Silver-bordered Fritillary, there would be a couple of Silvery Checkerspots,
several Southwestern Fritillaries, and one that was later identified as a Great Spangled Fritillary (my first for New Mexico),
a fabulous Milbert’s Tortoiseshell,
and another Taxiles Skipper that posed for a pretty good photograph.
Finally, here’s a shot of a baby Black-chinned Hummingbird sitting in its nest on July 14. Rebecca had first told me about the nest at the end of June, and I’d been by a few times, first seeing the mother sitting on her egg(s), then watching her feed the young one whose bill would peek out of the nest while she was off gathering food, and now the little one sitting on the nest just as the mother had done just a few weeks earlier. It wasn’t until I could look at the picture on my computer that it was clear it was a young one, and Rebecca had told me that the mother did show up to feed it several times later that day. No doubt it will fledge and disappear in the next few days.